Friday, February 24, 2006

Milk I - Lactation Consultant Exultant

This is a very long post about boobies, breastpumps, nursing, and breastmilk. Sorry for the length, but I have a lot to get off my chest. (ar ar ar) Perhaps I'll split it into several posts.

Lumpyhead was never a very good nurser. He did fine with colostrum; he latched-on well and chomped happily and it didn’t hurt. Before we left the hospital, I attended the breastfeeding class with him and we showed off how well we were doing.

We went home, and then my milk came in. He no longer latched well. He would attach, then fling his head from side to side and squeal. It hurt. More importantly, we worried he wasn’t getting anything to eat.

Lumpyhead’s bilirubin count was borderline high when we left the hospital, so after a day of boob wrestling with no results, his bilirubin levels became unsafe. His pediatrician ordered him to the hospital for phototherapy.

While the phototherapy stay was stressful for Bump and me, Lumpyhead didn’t seem to mind. He would spend two-and-a-half hours under the lamps, then get a diaper change and a feeding. The nurses gave us formula for him, saying that phototherapy was the one time they actually recommended formula over breastmilk. Formula took a bit longer to work through the baby’s system, so more of the broken-down bilirubin would get picked up and eliminated.

To keep him from rejecting the breast, we would start each feeding session trying to get Lumpyhead to nurse. After five or ten minutes of booby rasslin’ with me, he would get a bottle of formula from Bump while I hooked up to a breast pump.

To my amazement, the amount of milk I pumped would match exactly the amount of formula Lumpyhead would eat. We would carefully label the pumped milk and the hospital stored it for us in their refrigerator. “Put it in the freezer when you get home,” they told us. “You’ll be glad to have it someday.” I treated each drop like liquid gold.

I watched a segment on the hospital cable channel about pumping. The woman on the show handled a bottle with maybe four ounces of milk in it. I was stunned. You could get that much?

“Production will keep up with demand,” I was told. Seemed to make sense to me. Lumpyhead couldn’t eat more than 2 ounces per feeding, and that’s how much I was pumping.

Lumpyhead’s hospital stay was shorter than expected, but when we got home, there was more booby rasslin’ and not much nursing. We met with a lactation consultant, who proclaimed I had flat nipples and gave me a nipple shield. (Really? They don’t look flat to me. Okay, I’ll try this thing . . . holy crap!)

It was like a magic bullet. Lumpyhead latched on and stayed there. He looked at me like “It’s about time, Woman!” He sucked so hard his elfin ears wiggled.

We went home singing the praises of the lactation consultant. They should be mandatory, like car seats. But seeing one before your milk comes in is like giving a tampon to a boy.

Happy ending? Not quite. There's more.

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