Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Triumphant Tuesday: breastfeeding with just one breast

Most women notice a difference between their breasts when it comes to the flow of milk, volume of milk pumped and size. This is normal; no two sides of a person's body are exactly the same. However sometimes, a baby’s preference can lead to nursing from one side only, leaving the neglected breast to dry up and shrink in size.

Many factors can lead to baby making this decision: differences in nipple shape, breast surgery, even differences in the taste of breast milk. And it doesn’t necessarily need to be an issue with mom’s breasts. In the story you are about to read, baby experienced birth trauma which made it excruciately painful for her to nurse on one of her mother’s breasts. Yet, as her story illustrates, it is perfectly feasible to breastfeed from just one breast. Baby will still receive all the nourishment they need, although mom may need to deal with a few inconvenient anomalies, for instance, the illustrious ‘Crooked Chachas’.


“When I got pregnant with my daughter I knew I would be breastfeeding, nothing was going to stop me! I felt that as a mother my body was made to provide this gift to my daughter and not giving her that gift would be selfish and uncaring of me. 

C-section with botched pain relief

At 42 weeks on the day I was schedule to be induced, I went into labor. After 36hrs in the hospital I was only dilated to 7cm. I remember telling the nurse I could feel the baby way up in my ribs, which she dismissed. Also dismissed was the fact that my epidural was not working. I remember the sound of the baby’s heart monitor beeping and the nurses trying to flip me over because they had given me way to much of the epidural and pretty much paralyzed one side of my body while the other felt everything.  Nothing the doctors tried was bringing her heart rate back up. I was rushed in to the operating room for an emergency c-section.  To this day I still get chills talking about this, but I remember screaming in horror as they were cutting me open as I could feel it all. A mask went onto my face and that was that. I woke up in a room all alone, no baby, no family, nothing.

Baby harmed by medical staff


 As if this wasn't traumatising enough, when I finally got to see my baby they had cut her face. I remember her crying she was hungry so I asked the nurse to show me how to breastfeed. I was only 20 and had no clue what I was doing but wanted so very much to breastfeed. The nurse told me she would be back to show me, 20 minutes later my baby is still crying. So I decided I would just try, she latched on like a champ, as if she had been breastfeeding forever. She just knew what to do! 

However, when I switched her to the left side she would scream and scream. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. It was really frustrating. I didn’t understand why she could latch on and do so well on the right side and then scream bloody murder every time I tried to feed her on the left side. My mom told the nurses that something must be wrong with my baby, and they just dismissed it. They said they examined her previously and everything checked out fine. 


The next morning I was changing my daughter’s shirt and her right arm was black and blue. I had never seen anything like it in my life. Only now did the medical staff finally concede that something was wrong. They did an xray and the results showed that her humorous was broken, which happens to be the hardest bone in a baby’s body to break.  I asked the doctor what had happened, and she told me they had to get her out, it was a broken arm or a dead baby. I was still determined to breast feed no matter what.

No pacifiers!


One day I returned to my hospital room to find my baby with a pink pacifier in her mouth! I was so mad, I ripped that sucker right out of her mouth and she never had one again. I was pretty much the only person in my community who had a baby that was breastfed. Everyone else used formula. As much as I don’t like formula - I hate pacifiers even more. I think they are for lazy parents who don't want to soothe their crying baby. I’ve always been a very opinionated person and pretty much speak my mind. So all of my family and my friends knew that I would not be formula feeding or using pacifiers. My opinions really pissed off my friends, probably because I said they were lame and lazy for using them.

Finally, it was time to be discharged from the hospital. I was filling out the paper work when a duty nurse saw the state of my baby’s arm and asked me, "What happened, who did this to your baby?" I was so mad, she made me feel like because I was so young I must have snapped and hurt my baby! I lost it and yelled and her.

Deciding to use only one breast

Every time I tried to feed her on the left side she would just scream and scream. I felt so cruel, so I stopped feeding her on that side. I tried to pump to keep the milk supply but I couldn't get much out on that side so I gave up.  Instead I focused on the right breast, the one she preferred. I fed her whenever she wanted, and when she wasn't feeding I pumped. It was a lot easier to get milk out of that side then the left. 


Let me tell you, this sucked! My nipple would crack and bleed and crack and bleed. Then there was the lopsided factor, which made me feel a little insecure. It was a huge visual difference so I started stuffing the right side of my bra when I went out in public! I just folded up some ankle socks and stuck them in there. Worses still, the lopsidedness caused back pain. 

Also, the aftermath of my c-section was proving problematic for breastfeeding. I was literally opened from hip to hip during the operation. I could not believe how long of a cut they had to make to get my daughter out. This made it really hard for me to get up and down. But to me it was all worth it. I knew I was doing what was best for my daughter so that made all the pain and discomfort bearable.  


I fed my daughter on one breast exclusivity for 12 months until I introduced solid foods and then continued another 8 months during bed and nap times, or when she needed some mommy time. I got mastitis and thrush a few times, but there wasn't really any challenges that ever would have made me not want to breastfeed.

I truly believe that breast feeding can be done no matter what! It takes extreme dedication in some cases and that is too much for some mothers. I don't buy the whole 'I can't produce enough milk' bull-crap! My one breast produced enough milk to exclusively feed my daughter for 12 months! You can say I'm lucky I was able to do this, but it has nothing to do with luck. Only determination and the fact I refused to feed my daughter formula!” 





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