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Friday, November 9, 2007

Does Breastfeeding Hurt?

My new medical assistant student, who was grossed-out by breastfeeding, told me that she would never breastfeed again, because with her first child--it hurt too much.

She assisted me with a new mom who came into the office 4 days postpartum with sore nipples and swollen, red engorged breasts. Her nipples were cracked. She had mastitis on both sides. With empathy, I agreed, "Breastfeeding can hurt." My student stayed in the room and busied herself while I talked with my patient, examined her, obtained milk for culture, and formed a treatment plan with antibiotics, antifungals, and topicals. I showed her the positions and holds she could breastfeed in to minimize the pain. Our patient was better in two days.

Our patient later reflected on the mismanagement that lead up to her problems:

"After my daughter was born, I asked to breastfeed her. The were sewing me up and said I’d have time later, "When you get to your new room then you can try." I was so numb from the epidural I couldn't move in my bed for 6 hours. When we finally got to our new room, my husband fell asleep on his cot and our baby started crying in her bassinet that they had her in at the foot of my bed. I tried to wake my husband up, but when he’s out, he's down for the night. I could not get out of bed; I was so numb. I paged a nurse and said I want to hold my baby and nurse her. She said, “You really need to rest. She’ll be fine.” I told her that I wanted my baby with me and she said, “Are you sure, you’ll have plenty of time to hold her after you rest.” My breasts eventually became engorged because of the delay in nursing. My baby had trouble latching on swollen nipples and they became cracked and it was downhill from there."

My student was amazed. She thought what she had suffered was normal breastfeeding. Now she realized she had the same: mastitis, thrush, and cracked nipples. She learned that mismanagement and infection hurt. My assistant did nurse her next baby without pain.

5 comments:

pearly1979 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Permission to Mother said...

Lenore Goldfab has a good website that includes adoptive breastfeeding. Her link is listed under resources on my blog. I called it "induced lactation and fertility." I'll add adoption in the title. I'll have to compile some of my own observations with adoptive breastfeeding and share more. Maybe soon. Obviously I think its a great thing when an adoptive mother desires to feed a baby at the breast.

Denise

Christine said...

I think breast feeding is a great thing. Support, education about breastfeeding, and determintaion go hand in hand for making it successful. What do you think about attempting to nurse a one year old that is adopted? I know it is possible to nurse an adopted newborn, but I never heard of nursing an older child who is already into eating and or bottlefeeding. Just curious.

Permission to Mother said...

Christine,

You never know until you try! The adoptive mother of a one year old can do the protocols to bring in milk supply just as a mother adopting a younger baby. If an older baby won't latch, you still have the milk which will benefit the baby with an unknown and questionable medical history. If the baby won't latch, it's still possible to provide to provide alot of skin-to-skin type nurturing. So while its great to to provide 100% breastmilk at the breast, I don't see it as all or none situations. I hope as more adoptive mothers find these posts, they will share their experience.

Catalina :D said...

Grrr! That makes me so upset! It's like the nurses don't know what's best for the baby or the mother! I had a similar experience, and as you know, I had to come in and see you immediatly! I was determined to nurse regardless of all the pain ... it's pain from lack of wisdom ... lack of knowledge! I'm glad your assistant nursed her next baby!! My friend recently had her second, but she didn't nurse her first ... but I was persistant in her pursuing it by telling her my story and how much I enjoy it now. She did and passed all the initial so called "pain". I think the best part now a days is when I hear her giggle in excitement when she's about to nurse.

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