Posted by: Admin | March 8, 2011

Part 4 – What does breastfeeding mean to you?

It is said that if a child is placed in skin-to-skin contact immediately following his birth, he will be less stressed and more able to maintain stable oxygen and sugar levels and body temperature. My daughter did perfectly well even though she was unreactive when she was taken from my belly. The medical team needed a long time – almost too long! – to get her out by caesarean, because she was lodged way up near my breasts in a transverse position. It was so difficult getting her out that she even had bruises on her arms and legs from the doctor trying to grab her. When I look at the size of my trunk, I have a hard time understanding what happened that day. I am a small woman with a very short trunk.

When these things happen at delivery, we qualify this as a difficult birth. A baby that has experienced this stays somewhat traumatized. I am not saying he will remember it in some way for the rest of his life or anything like that. That is something we do not know. But what we do know is that the difficulties he encountered during labor or at birth can affect him in ways that will disrupt the normal process of breastfeeding. In my daughter’s case, she breastfed well as soon as she was put on me, but she started having difficulties as soon as the milk came in and my breasts became swollen with milk. It seemed she was not able to open her mouth wide enough.

As a Lactation Consultant, I have had to help many mothers deal with this. Most of the time, the baby has no problem opening wide. The problem is usually that the mother simply had not been informed that her baby’s mouth had to open as wide as when he yawned: very, very wide! Once the mother starts to ask the baby to do so, it usually goes well. In some cases, when the labor or the birth has been difficult, the baby may be sore. Perhaps he stayed a little too long in the birth canal, or perhaps he had been pulled in order to be helped out. His shoulders might hurt and he could suffer from torticoli. His head could also be in pain. In some cases, the baby’s face is affected, and it can be difficult for him to open his mouth. Face asymmetry is quite obvious, and while it usually goes away quickly, it can influence how a baby breastfeeds for the first few weeks. Following her difficult birth, my daughter’s jaws were sore. For the first few months she could not open her mouth wide enough. She had trouble latching on, and the fact that I was prone to engorgement made things even harder. The fuller my breasts were, the more difficulty she had. There were times when she could not latch on at all.

So what is a Lactation Consultant to do when encountering problems with her own breastfeeding? At three o’clock in the morning, alone with my baby when all is dark and gloomy, tears welled up in my eyes and I started thinking about all the mothers who had told me they could not persist with breastfeeding. Many of them had received some formula samples and had given a bottle to their baby on impulse. I had to admit to myself that this was tempting…

What do you think I did? What was the solution to my problem?

From now on, I will continue to post regularly even if I might not be able to post every day. But I will always share a story from my life every Tuesday of the week!

Next Tuesday, I will post part 5 of Is breastfeeding important for you?



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