Written on Monday, July 24, 2006 by Jessica
For starters, Seth was on his best behavior. Rather than ravenously attempting to eat his hand (he always attempts to latch onto his hand even as I offer a milk-laden breast in vain), he merely nibbled at his hand, as if to say, "Mother, I'm peckish. If you have a moment, please feed me." Plus, he latched on beautifully. Why can't I get him to do that at home? What's more, he opened his mouth wide, never once lunging at me when I didn't put him to breast immediately. (Seriously, the kid has a strong neck.)
I confessed my sins -- using a pacifier and bottle-feeding with the Haberman nipple -- to the lactation consultant, Judy. She didn't even chastise me. Probably because I looked so ashamed. Her evaluation? Says the latch looks very good from the outside, which probably means he's not suckling correctly. This could be due to nipple confusion or it could be the way he's always suckled. There are ways to train/retrain an infant to suckle correctly, but she said that was beyond her expertise. As the saying goes, "I made my bed. Now I must lie in it." (She didn't say that, but that's my interpretation.
She said my nipples' turing white were caused by Reynaud Phenomenon.
Thanks to S. and the website she referred me to (kellymom.com), I know that I don't suffer from Reynaud's. I do experience nipple blanching -- which can be caused by Reynaud's -- but in my case, I'm actually experiencing compression blanching. I frequently have a compression stripe, which I found I can minimize by trying harder for a good latch.
Judy pointed out that even though we started out with what looked like a textbook latch each time, Seth tended to reposition himself, which was causing more pain. This made sense. Even when I start out with a relatively pain-free latch, I usually end up wincing in pain by the end of the session. (Plus, the little vampire tends to suck harder at the end when the milk doesn't come as fast.)
We also got creative by trying out a nipple shield. Nipple shields are usually intended for use when the baby has latching and feeding problems (such as with preemies), but it seemed to help alleviate the pain a little.
Judy's overall advice?
1. Make sure he opens wide so I can get a good latch. If he repositions later in the feeding, be sure to break the latch and start again. (This is probably my worst problem. As the pain increases throughout the feeding, I tend to grin and bear it, thinking, "It's almost over. It's almost over."
2. If desired, use the nipple shield when nipples become really sore.
3. When soreness becomes intolerable, pump instead of nursing.
I know one thing fore sure. If I ever have another kid, s/he's not getting a pacifier or a bottle (not even a Haberman) until I'm sure nursing is going well. By that time, s/he probably won't even accept a bottle or a pacifier!