Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Relactation, Lu's Story

I’d always read about how natural breastfeeding was and how perfect it was for babies and I dreamed that I could one day breastfeed my own children. It all seemed so simple. I never managed to breastfeed my first son and when the time came for my youngest son to be born, I was excited that I could get to breastfeed and determined to do it. Everything went really well – perfect latch, good drinking sounds, it was wonderful. For 2 days it was bliss. Then my milk came in. I tried to persevere but the pain was too much. Something had gone horribly wrong. I couldn’t seem to figure it out. I was a mess. My dear husband and I decided that we would go to formula feeding. By the end of day 4 my breastfeeding dream was shattered. I had given up on the thing I had wanted to do most. It took a lot of doing but right then I had to choose; be miserable and beat myself up for not breastfeeding, or move on and focus on enjoying being a mother. I decided on the latter. I did everything I could to make my milk dry up as quickly as possible and began to get used to bottles and sterilising again. But then my son started to get ill. He was being sick, a lot. It wasn’t a large spit up, it was really violently sick. It was awful to watch. He was treated for reflux, which didn’t help much and he was beginning to lose weight. We tried changing milk to another brand, no change, onto soya milk, still no change. My poor little man was still losing weight and was so upset; it was heartbreaking not knowing what to do.

One night as I was looking on a forum, someone mentioned about how they had lactated for their adopted baby. I was surprised this was possible and after doing some more reading and research I began to think that trying to breastfeed may just solve my son’s problems. I didn’t get as much support as I wanted but with the help of one doctor, 2 months after my sons birth, I attempted to relactate. I was told that it was very difficult and I wasn’t to expect full relactation but to do what I could. It required dedication and strength and there may not be any results to show for it. I had to take a tablet that would help to induce lactation (I have recently found out that it can be done without this, but it does help) and I was aiming to use the breast pump for 15mins on both breasts every 2 hours. I also had to make sure that I was doing it once in the night as the hormone production is stronger at night and that would help too to produce more milk! It was very difficult what with 2 children to look after too!

One of the things I had to be careful of was confusion for my son. He’d had bottles and dummies for 2 months. I had to try and get him to latch on. He was a bit confused at first but I was very lucky as within a day he was really trying to latch on. I’m told that this is one of the biggest battles with trying to relactate, so I know I was so lucky there.

I was told not to expect any milk until day 7 at least! But in the afternoon of day 3 I had drips in my pump! I was so excited and by the evening I managed to express 1.5ml!

On day 4 I managed to give him an evening feed and I only had to top him up with a bit of formula for bedtime. He was still latching on but was getting frustrated when nothing came out. My friend, Rachel, who had part relactated for her daughter, sent me something called a lact aid – it has a tube that goes on your nipple and into baby’s mouth and at the other end is a bottle/bag of supplement milk, when baby latches on, he can drink from the supplement and mum, and build up mum’s supply too! I had that by day 5 and then continued to feed and use the lact-aid to supplement. I was very sore, very tired and drained. I decided to go and see a breastfeeding consultant to make sure everything was ok with the latch and I felt more confident after a lovely session with her. She checked our positioning and discussed why I was in pain, she talked through any worries I had and I left feeling confident that I could continue with this.

By the end of the first week, my little man was taking feeds every 2 – 2.5 hours from me with the lact-aid and gradually we watched his health improve. I was amazing. He was still being sick but it wasn’t as often or as forced. I couldn’t believe that this may be helping him.

We perservered with much prayer and support, and 21 days from starting to relactate , he had his last ever supplement. From 12 weeks old he was fully breastfed, stopped being sick and gained weight well.

I know that I was very lucky to have had such a successful time relactating, there is enough reading out there that tells people how unsuccessful it is but I am so thankful that it worked for us.

Breastfeeding is not easy, it’s a new skill that both mother and baby need to learn and with the support out there it can be done successfully right from birth – I wish I had gone for support straight away. I am so thankful that it worked out for us and I hope I can help other mums in the future.

Written by Lu landymore.

Lu is married to Ross and they have two boys who are 4 and 2. They live in the UK. She loves staying at home with her boys and showing them new adventures everyday. She didn't know much about AP when her dfirst son was born, but followed what her heart felt, finding out later that that matched most of the AP principles. She goes to church regularly and enjoys most needlecrafts, cycling and hopes to spend more time offroading in the Land Rover when the boys are bigger. She wants to make every day count and not have any regrets.


Bec said...

I have to comment and say WOW, your story is really similar to mine!! Although I didn't relactate for medical reasons, it was just because I didn't want to give up forever!! I also had two young kids at home, plus the baby and spent a lot of days around the house hooked on a pump :) It's SO worth the work though isn't it?? We also achieved full relactation.For me my doctor scoffed.....but the LC at my hospital was just FANTASTIC. I owe her so much. Good on you for writing this :) oh and congratulations!

Lilly Rose said...

Congratulations :D It really isn't easy, nursing, and takes a lot of work, dedication, refusal that there is any "option" (primarily, with acceptance and support for the less than 2% who can't nurse without supplementation or the less than 5% who can't nurse at all for other medical reasons) and support, support support!

greenapplegirl said...

this is a fabulous story of courage! And I wondered if you know that when your blog shows up on my google reader there is an ad for nestle goodstart formula on the bottom

Rebekah C said...

This is awesome!

Kristy said...

Very exciting and very encouraging! Way to go mama! Your story and determination are both beautiful. :)

Lu said...

Thank-you so much. You have no ide what your comments mean to me.

Dia said...

This is such a great story!! & as folks say - what a wonderful decision to make - & then to be able to carry it out! YEA for all of you! & what a great example to other moms with babies who aren't doing well on formula!!

Over 30 years ago I had friends in La Leche League who relactated for adopted babies - one had a late term miscarriage 'years' before, & was always sad no one wanted the milk she produced back then!
She had adopted a little girl, & used bottles; then studied relactation before adopting their second child, a son. She nursed him ~ 6 months, which we all thought was great! (she used a lactaide, too - they had just been invented!)
I later heard they'd adopted a second son, & she'd nursed him as well. She had to supplement throughout - but how wonderful for everyone! & she said she learned to nurture her daughter more, after cuddling her son(s) so much!

Another friend's adopted baby 'arrived' just after her natural son had been ill, & nursing more (a toddler) - so she never had to supplement - but needed a note on her fridge, reminding her to DRINK lots & lots of fluids, & TAKE naps!! :)
I was so delighted that both my dau & dau-in law (angie of 'Angelbums') wanted to & were able to nurse my grandbabies!! Such a gift of love

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