Tuesday, 23 July 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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Karen Cypret said...

This also happens when you adopt a baby and hold them only one way when you feed them. I have one breast that is a full cup size larger than the other. I understand how she feels about her breast and have done the same thing until my husband told me he thought I looked beautiful like this because we couldn't have children biologically. If someone stares, so what. Let them look and wonder. God knows why, I know why and my husband knows why.

Sweetluviegurl said...

Good for you for being such a strong milk maker. I had the use of both breasts. I had the full support of a loving husband. I had supplements. Hospital grade pump, paid for out of pocket. I also have insufficient glandular tissue. I nursing every 20 to 30 mins for a SOLID 3 months and pumped when I could. Exclusively nursing until my 2nd son was 7 months. My first son got what I could make. After blood, sweat and so many tears, my first time nursing was horrid. I wish I COULD have made HALF the milk you did with one breast. I'm glad you feel the need to bash other mothers, what you did was so "amazing".

Amanda Amanda Gilbert said...

Pacifier use significantly reduces the risk of SIDS. But what do I know, I'm just a lazy parent.

Having opinions is great, but make sure you know the facts before you make such a judgmental statement.

Kudos to you for working with just one side, though. That is truly indicative of your perseverance in doing what was best for your daughter.

hanna panna said...

You are so ignorant and uneducated. Just because breastfeeding worked for you doesn't mean it's going to work for everyone else too. Save your lazy comment for parents who let their babies cry themselves to sleep. Most normal babies love to SUCK and wants to do so far beyond a feeding, this is where the baby is given a pacifier, to satisfy his/her urge to suck. I hope you just learned something new.

Anna said...

I have been nursing with one breast for almost 8 months now. I had a cyst removed from one of my breasts when I was in high school and apparently some of the ducts were damaged so when my milk came in nothing would come out of that side! I tried for weeks to use both but in the mean time my "good" breast just took over! Like you because of the overuse, it hurt every time he nursed for about 10 weeks but my nipple finally healed. I am so lopsided it is ridiculous and I also have back pain because of it. I have never needed to supplement or felt like I wasn't producing enough. After this experience, I feel the same as you about people saying they weren't able to breastfeed because they don't produce enough. No matter what I feel like breastfeeding is hard for anyone at first and it hurts like crazy, but if you want to do it, I think most anyone can. I got mastetis 2x and shed many tears over the pain, and my lopsidedness the first few months, but It is a natural process and our bodies will do what is necessary to make it work if you are determined enough! I just randomly googled "breastfeeding with one breast" today and found your post. I was desperately looking for a post like this when my baby was first born but couldn't find anything about feeding on one breast then. I didn't know if it was going to be possible but I obviously stuck with it and found out it was! Hopefully if there are any other new moms struggling with this they will find your blog and be encouraged to keep going!!

C&D said...

I am so glad I found this blog! I have been exclusively breastfeeding my daughter with one breast as well for 6 months. I had really bad plugged ducts in my right breast and was never able to get milk out even with pumping and seeing a lactation specialist. Like you, I was DETERMINED to breastfeed my daughter no matter the circumstance. I tried for months (even now) to get the milk back in my right breast but no luck so far. My non- working breast has now become ere favorite pacifier. I struggled in the beginning, having to feed her and depend on one breast was really rough (the very cracked nipples, the excruciating pain every time she latched on) but I never gave up! So far my left breast has been a trooper, making enough milk (and then some) to feed my chunky little girl! She is the chunkiest little girl ever, people cannot believe that I only feed her with on breast! It's amazing what our bodies can do! Now that she is 6 months, I would like to start her on solids but I am afraid that I could start to lose supply. How did you keep up your supply when you started your daughter on solids? Do you have any tips for me? I want to be able to breastfeed my daughter until her 1st birthday at least. Looking forward to hearing from you!

willowsprite said...

There is absolutely no need to break an arm while getting a baby out via c-section! That's terrible! And on top of that they cut her face!? I hope you wrote a letter to the hospital after your experience! They should be charged with neglect/bodily harm.

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