Tuesday, April 26

Breastfeeding and Jaundice

When I was pregnant with Turkey I labored under the delusional that many first time mother's labor under - everything was going to be perfect and I was going to go according to my plan.  I was going to exclusively breastfeed for a year, he would only have educational toys and would never watch TV (until he was 3 at least I said)... but then reality set in....

Turkey was tongue tied at birth and had jaundice.  I pumped into a teaspoon while at the hospital and he was fed via syringe.  But then his bilirubin levels got very high and the hospital staff threatened to admit him unless we gave him some formula.  The "cow milked" based formula didn't go over well and he got sicker, but he responded well to soy.  I keep pumping and we kept feeding him breastmilk and soy formula via syringe, until his tongue got clipped.  We were sent home with an arsenal of formula.  And while I was able to cut the formula out after a while and exclusively breastfeed, he did wean at 9 months and we had to go back to formula (I had no freezer supply of expressed breastmilk, what I pumped at work he ate the next day).  I'm not ashamed of this, this is just how it happened. I've come to realize that when it comes to child-rearing you can have the best of plans, but you need to be flexible and go with the flow.

When I had Monkey I was more determined to exclusively breastfeed.  I wanted all of the benefits that go along with it: lower cost, better immunities for baby, quicker weight loss for mom, etc.  I did my research ahead of time, and Husband was a huge supporter.  I was not going to go through with Monkey what I did with Turkey.

When Monkey was born he had jaundice as well, but no tongue issues.  He was a champion nurser from the first hour of his life.  And despite his bilirubin levels being high we were sent home.  But once his "at home" bili-level got back to the pediatrician's office we were told he needed to be admitted to the Children's Hospital.  (Talk about an emotional roller coaster we hadn't even been home for 24 hours when he was admitted.)

I was so worried as we drove there that they would insist again on giving him formula.  I saw my struggles with Turkey coming back again.

But they didn't.  Not once did a doctor or nurse suggest we give Monkey formula.  I was allowed to nurse him all he wanted, as long as he was on the lights and went back under the blue lights in his isolet as soon as we were done.  They brought me a pump (which was a big improvement in the pump they offered 7 years ago) so they could monitor my supply and ensure he was getting so many ounces (in addition to time spent on the breast).  And when he became dehydrated (which is very common in jaundice and had nothing to do with my breastmilk or supply) they gave him IV fluids.  Formula was never mentioned, and for this I am thankful.

I don't know why formula was pushed so hard on me with Turkey.  Maybe it was his tongue issues, maybe because it was 2004 and policies have changed since then, who knows.  But Monkey's jaundice was twice as bad as Turkey's..... so it makes little sense to me.

Monkey eventually got over the dehydration and finally went pee, and we were released from the hospital, with a bili-blanket to aide in getting rid of the rest of the jaundice.  Within a day of coming home (the 2nd time) he was as good as new.

These days breastfeeding is going well, it really has become like second nature.  I have in the neighborhood of  500 ounces of breastmilk in our chest freezer, and with each bag I freeze I get a renewed sense of accomplishment and realize I may just be able to realize my goal of exclusively breastfeeding for a year (at least).


justadrienne said...

Kate, I think times have changed in terms of awareness that breast is best and hospitals policies (esp in our area).
HOLY CRAP about your 500 ozs!? How many times per day do you pump, what kind of pump do you have, and how much milk do you get at each session (and how old is the Monkey now?) I'm super impressed, I was pretty good about pumping for the first 4 months and have about 400 ozs saved probably, so I know how much work goes into freezing 500 ozs!

By: Kate Nadeau said...

LOL Adrienne. I pump 2x a day once when I get up after feeding Teddy and once between 9 and 10 pm (he goes to bed 7ish). I usually get about 10 oz (4 OZ at night and the rest in the morning). a day, but it really ranges from 8 to 14 oz. I have a hospital grade Mendela rental.

Anonymous said...

Kate, you're awesome! I'm glad you shared your breastfeeding story. Many moms would have given up with the issues you described with your older son, but you didn't! I'm totally jealous of the 500oz :)

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