"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Monday, June 6, 2011

This Kid is Getting on My Nerves


My babies nurse quite frequently. I've never had a baby- or a toddler- who didn't.

When this child
was a baby, life was crazy. I was on my own Sunday evening till Friday afternoon, caring for 2 energetic, high-need little people while my husband traveled for work. And Rosie was a screamer. I was very sore and my milk supply was very low (due to undetected low thyroid function) by the time she was 13 months old. I pumped to regain my milk supply, which thankfully worked, but nursing was still more or less uncomfortable during her whole second year. I had lots of painful, pebble-like lumps in my breasts which several doctors told me were normal- nothing to be concerned about. Additionally, I developed a cyst on my areola right where her upper dental arch hit. I was sad and also relieved when she weaned just after her second birthday when the milk dried up due to my third pregnancy.

I had the cyst removed during my pregnancy and prayed and hoped that nursing would be more comfortable the third time around. But my nipples were still tender.

I spent lots of time talking and emailing with doctors, lactation consultants, La Leche League Leaders, and NFP teachers trying to figure out... something. Here's what I found:

-Strict avoidance of caffeine of any type
-Supplementation with 1,000 IU natural vitamin E and several grams of flaxseed oil 10 hours away from taking my multivitamin (iron destroys vitamin E)
-Minimize sugar intake
all help with breast pain and tenderness, plus nerve sensitivity in general.

(All of these suggestions, by the way, can be found in the current addition of Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon. Mrs. Shannon was one of the experts I consulted during pregnancy and she was very helpful.)

And a little bit in the way of explanation- essential fatty acids like flax oil nourish and soothe nerve endings, like those found in the areola; vitamin E soothes inflamed tissue, like tender or lumpy breasts; caffeine robs the body of vitamins and also exacerbates inflammation; ditto for sugar. According to the healthcare professionals I consulted, so many American women experience inflamed breast tissue, especially around the time of their mentrual period, that sadly many doctors consider it to be a normal phenomenon. But nutritionally aware healthcare providers have long recommended limiting caffeine and sugar and dairy products for women with symptoms of PMS. And yes, painful breasts are a sign of PMS.

Thankfully, these strategies worked to soothe my breasts and when John Paul was born,
nursing went very smoothly.

But last month, the merry, merry month of May, I wasn't my usual disciplined self. Several things beyond my control converged to make the month vey stressful and rather sleepless. Coffee, dear? Well sure, thanks. And my vitamin E ran out; I didn't replace it because it kept slipping my mind. And suddenly I found myself wanting to run the other way screaming every time John Paul asked to nurse.

I panicked at first, worried and confused. I cut out the caffeiene 100%, which helped some. But it wasn't till I added the vitamin E back in that the pain really started decreasing. I'm back to being able to nurse normally now.

I'm sharing this story here just in case it helps someone.

"...a little child, born yesterday,
A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed..."
-"Hymn to Mercury" (one of the Homeric Hymns), translated from Greek by Percy Bysshe Shelley

1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing these tips, Mo. I didn't realize you had such a hard time with Rosie, you are a trooper for your kids!