Rock Solid (TMI - You've Been Warned) | Giftie Etcetera: Rock Solid (TMI - You've Been Warned)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rock Solid (TMI - You've Been Warned)

My boobies, that is.

Do not let anyone tell you that breast size does not matter in your ability to breastfeed. Small breasts can certainly produce milk. But large breast size DOES INDEED MATTER. My breasts are hard as rocks and big as houses. I'm going downstairs to shop for a nursing bra that fits in the hospital (as I'm too large up there to get one anywhere else) and I'm prepared to spend $80. That's right, Mrs. Didn't-Make-An-Income-All-Year is desperate for a bra that fits and does not hurt like Hades.

I pump. I feel let down. I make plenty of milk for my son. Two minutes later, nay, immediately, hard as rocks! They are too hard and too painful. I cannot drain them and the more I pump, the more I produce. Heck, I cannot walk without leaning forward and that's not because of teh c-section. I just weigh too much on top. (Huh, with my luck, all the childbirth weight loss is back as boob weight.) Any advice? mathochist? EBeth? Someone?

I'll talk to the lactation consultant in the morning. I might need bigger attachments for my breast pump. I might need a wet nurse. Hell, I might BE a wet nurse. (Yah, right!) I don't think I can pump more often. After all, I am pumping every two and a half hours at this point. Alan and his mom are incredibly helpful, with Alan helping with the pump while Mrs. Rose takes care of Ander, but both are getting sick and dragging, a lot. Tonight, I had to ask Alan three times for bottles. "It's not that I didn't hear you or listen, sweetie. My brain just didn't understand." Poor was true. I'm getting a cold, too, so I'm dragging. And I can't sleep because of all the pumping, and calling or walking down the hall to check on Loki, or cuddling with Ander for even a minute.

I called the nurse and Lochlan has now done THREE feeds without spitting up at all. Oh my gosh! If I get to actually try to nurse him in the next couple of days, I'll be giddy.

Oh, a couple more breastfeeding questions. Everyone talks abotu how calming and nice they feel when they nurse. I cry. And cry and cry and cry. Is that normal? Also, I feel drugged and fall asleep - as in out of my chair asleep - about three minutes in. I've spilled milk that way. I've almost fallen down that way. I've hit my head that way. Will that go away? Or will I drop/smush Lochlan?



Janelle smells said...

The "spells" that Loki is having will go away when the antibiotics have taken their effect and he will breastfeed amazingly. I just know it. I wish they had a room for you to stay in until he was discharged. I am so sorry that it had to start out this way but I am confident that everything will be beautiful very soon and just how you want it. He looks just like Ander, he is very beautiful.
I can give you some clinical advice about breastfeeding if you want me too, but the short answer is that your situation is not normal and so everything that you experience is a reflection of that and is a perfectly acceptable response to the stress that you are going through. Give Ander my love Kristi and stay strong!!

Brien Louque said...

Why, oh why, did I not heed the warning!

Unknown said...

Ok, Kristy. Here goes with my attempt at some advice. I can say that for me, breastfeeding had the effect of making me very sleepy and thirsty. The sleepiness did decrease over time. I suppose it could just be your body reacting to new hormones, but after your body adjusts, hopefully, it won't be so bad. But I can tell you that I always got a little tired, even after a year. I, too, produced a lot of milk at first. Probably not as much as what you are describing, but it was a lot. I pumped every two and a half hours at first, but gradually started waiting a little longer. (As long as I could stand it). You'll want breast pads and good nursing bras for sure. But some of my friends have told me that they soaked through the breast pads. I just think every woman is different. Anyway, eventually, I only had to pump every four hours or so. (That was my experience with Aubrey, because she never took to nursing). Now, with Alex, I still pumped, because even though he was a dream of a nurser, his tiny baby stomach couldn't possibly keep up with all that I was producing. So, I stored it away for later. You'll want to clear out a large area of your freezer, by the way. I remember how hard it was breastfeeding/pumping at first and I am keeping you in my prayers, but the good news is that it WILL get easier. Hold onto that! Please call me if you want to talk more about this. I have had two very different experiences with nursing with two very different babies. I am so glad to hear that Loki's feedings have been successful! I can't wait to hear more good news.

Anonymous said...

Short on time and fighting a toddler for my keyboard and mouse.

Extreme sleepiness during pumping - your body's reaction to your over exhaustion and new hormones. Will decrease over time.

Try massaging your breasts with warm compresses. That really helped my with the hardness and the pain. You can also hand express small amounts of milk in between pumping after using the warm compresses, that will help ease the hardness and the pain without stimulating more milk production in the same way pumping or nursing does.

Crying during nursing....or trying to nurse. Been there too, lasted for several weeks for me, until I was able to feed Mason easier. We had such a hard time getting started and it was no relaxing experience. Give it time, the relaxing enjoying part will come.

OK, if I missed anything I will be back later.


Mamaebeth said...

It sounds like you might not be completely draining your breasts when you pump. try using hot compresses before and during pumping. also try massaging your breasts before and during pumping. try to feel for any plugged ducts. if you feel a hard knot rub it while you pump to help prevent mastitis. you might also get a more/better let downs if you are you double pumping.

Cabage leaves (use the white not red) are supposed to help with engorgement but i never tried it.

you probably could shorten your time to 2 hours if that would help, but check with your LC.

also, ask her what you can do for an overactive supply and an overactive let down. i suspect you will have to deal with those issues.

Sleepiness comes with nursing, but i suspect it is more pronounced right now because you just had a baby, surgery, etc...

After my c-section all i wanted was a recliner. it hurt to sit up and it hurt to lie down. plus, it was just easier to nurse sitting slightly reclined. Do y'all still have your recliner? in a recliner i could nurse JD in a way that if i nodded off he would be ok.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I had to rush off like that...yeah what she (Elizabeth) said! All of it! I never tried the cabbage leaves either. Leah

Mathochist said...

I could write a whole book on my pumping troubles, but I am in a big hurry so I will try to be brief while still hopefully helping.

It took me 5+ months and 4 consultations with 3 IBCLC-certified LCs before I found someone smart enough to realize that no pump will ever get more than half the milk I make out of my gargantuan breasts. My personal pump, the hospital grade pump, every size nipple shield including the giant glass-only funnels... it didn't matter. There just isn't enough suction in the world to draw the milk out from that far away. (And if there was, it would have taken my nipples off with it!)

You *might* have the same issue. But maybe not since you got started pumping so soon. Even if you do, as long as you are able to get plenty of milk in the freezer before returning to work, it shouldn't be an issue. The discomfort of not getting emptied gets less as the baby gets bigger and your milk supply regulates itself. I just was extra-stressed because I was trying to pump enough milk to keep up with an exclusively-breastfed 4, 5, 6 month old who had exhausted my entire (meager) freezer supply because I hadn't known enough to build up a bigger stock. I was pumping while nursing 2-3 times at home, plus pumping twice during my 6-hour work day, and barely (and some days not) keeping up with what he drank at daycare.

Anyway, double-check what I am about to say with a LC because I am not one, but it sounds to me like the breastmilk law of supply-and-demand is really working against you at this point. If it was me, I would (double) pump every 4 hours instead of 3 at this point. Then in-between pumpings I would use the cabbage leaves and hand express as little as possible to get relief until the next pumping. You have plenty of milk in storage, are making way too much every time you pump, and it sounds like Loki will get to start nursing in the next couple of days??? (praying!!!)

Tips to get more milk out of your breasts while you're pumping (you may need a 2nd pair of hands with some of these)... Double pump. Bend over or lean forward (if you can) to let gravity help you. Use warm compresses around the base of your breasts for a couple of minutes before you pump. Look at a picture of your baby while you pump. Relax as much as you possibly can while pumping (much easier said than done, I know!). Have something that smells like him near your nose. Hold the nipple shields with your index & middle finger, and use your thumbs to massage/rub from under your armpits toward the nipple shields to help push extra milk out. (You may need help to do this as it took me a good month to master it!)

That is all I can think of on the fly. I also agree with MamaE - find out about overactive supply/letdown. It sounds like you may need that info. Roomie can probably help you find some good articles about it.

Your body is still full of pregnancy/postpartum hormones. Give yourself at least 6 weeks before you even think of applying the word "normal" to yourself. The relaxing feeling of nursing and your falling asleep experience are actually the same thing. Every time you nurse (or pump) your body is producing a hormone to help the baby (and you) relax. My experience is, sometimes this manifests itself as a relaxing giddiness. Others it's an "OMG I need to fall asleep RIGHT NOW!!!" You will probably have more of the first and less of the second while you two are separated and you are not sleeping as much.

Do try to drink as much water as you can stand and get as much rest as you can because these will help fight off any plugged ducts you might be getting from the oversupply and the pump's inability to drain you.

Try a L or XL Medela Comfort Maternity Nursing Bra to tide you over until you can get fitted for a good supportive one. These are not the best daytime/walking around bras, but I like them for the first few days while your breasts can't decide what size they want to be, and for nighttime/holding nursing pads in place.

Also just so you're warned, you'll probably need at least 2-3 nursing bras per day in the beginning because they will probably get wet with milk from your non-nursed breast for a while. Even with nursing pads. (I had 4 bras and just did a wash/hang to dry of them every night.) Keep an extra one with you in your bag for this reason.

(So much for brief, and now I am late as usual, but hopefully you can take at least 1 helpful thing away from my experience...)

If I think of anything else, I'll comment again. Meanwhile y'all are all in my prayers.

Rachel said...

Well, I was all set with advice, the other ladies have already covered everything I had to say. So I guess I'll just mention that the massive overproduction and painful swelling should get better in a week or so, as your body figures out how much milk Loki actually needs.

Not that this makes you feel any happier right now.

Anonymous said...

Cabbage leaves DO work and so do frozen peas in your bra! It sounds like Loki is doing well - he will be home in your arms before you know it!

Charlene from PW

Giftie Etcetera said...

Thanks everyone for the advice. I am already incorporating lots of it, and it is helping.

mamaebeth - You said almost exactly what my lac consultant said this morning. Thanks, it was spot on!

Mamaebeth said...

i like what mathochist said.

Mathochist said...

"You will probably have more of the first and less of the second while you two are separated and you are not sleeping as much." Doh! My crazy placenta-brain said that exactly backwards! Hopefully you figured that out, and didn't get confused!

Now that I've had time to read through all the other comments... Wow! Lots of great advice from everyone! Well, except for Brien. (Dude, yeah, you shoulda known!)

Also, thought of something else. It has been said already, but maybe not in so many words... When you're trying to get milk to come out (pumping) or produce more milk, use heat. When you are just trying to relieve pain, or you are trying to produce less milk, use cold. (I forgot about the bag of frozen peas trick! Thanks Charlene from PW for mentioning it!)

Lastly, I wanted to say, I know (well, can imagine) what a tough time you are having. If you need someone to talk or vent to in the next few days until he gets home with you, feel free to call me ANY TIME 24/7. I mean that!

Anonymous said...

Breastfeeding made me sleepy, too. It wore off after a while - or it had less effect once I was caught up on sleep (i.e. kid slept through night). It also made me thirsty. I got in the habit of drinking water when I pumped to combat the loss of fluid and to help keep my output as high as possible.

As for the rock hard boobs... This too shall pass. Your boobs will never be as hard, full or painful as when your milk comes in with the sole exception of when you decide to stop breastfeeding and your body takes a few days to catch up with your decision.

Certainly invest in a good nursing bra as it is well worth it. I also used both the disposable pads and the washable ones. At different times one was handier than the other. Once your body adjusts to a set feeding/pumping schedule, you'll have fewer accidents. You'll also be able to tell (usually) when your breasts are getting fuller and you are close to let down. This will help avoid accidents.

I cannot recommend lansolin enough. One tube lasted me the entire year I pumped - little goes a long way. But it was a blessing!

Remember the cardinal rule of breastfeeding (yeah, there are several, I know): everyone's experience is a little different. You and Loki will get into your own rhythm.

It gets easier! Just remember that!

Crying is normal. You've got a zillion hormones running through you. Your pumping and stressed. As much as I grew to love the breastfeeding experience, some part of me also felt like a chuck wagon.

Anonymous said...

First of all, congrats!

I don't have much to add to the tricks already listed. My little bitty boobs ballooned up to hard rocks, and yes it passes, but it's painfull until it does. Do put that milk in the freezer, it keeps for a while and you will need it later.

I found a damp wash cloth also helped, and yes I cryed, including on the phone to the nurses at the hospital after we were home. I sware her itty bitty mouth just wasn't big enough!

When pumping at work, I found that taking my mind off of the plastic at my chest helped - so I would read a book.

Good luck, thinking of you, and hang in there!

Krumpledwhiskers said...

I have no advice. Just wanted to say hello and express how wonderful it is that Loki is nursing so well. Sorry about the sore boobies!