Monday, 26 November 2007

The Milk Trail: What a letdown!

The Milk Trail is not all about milk supply. It's also about how the milk gets to the baby. When the baby is born, he would have to learn how to suckle, and the mother should do her part to ensure that the baby latches on correctly. As with anything else, good guidance is important.

In the beginning, I had my fair share of sore, bleeding and cracked nipples. As time went by, I realised that the cracking of the nipples was nature's way of adjusting us and making us suitable for the baby to suckle. I found that my nipple is now deformed. That's to say, it certainly has a different shape from before I delivered.

Coz when the nipple cracks, it is like an earthquake fault line. But it heals very quickly - with an application or two of the wonderliquid breastmilk, it heals right up - a new layer of skin forming over it. Over time, with many of these healed cracks, the nipple starts to elongate and become rather disfigured. A fellow mummy I was discussing this with said that the disfigured nipple looks just like a witch's hat! How apt a description! hahaha!

But I think this is just nature's way of adjusting our body - to fit the little one. Clever, ain't it? :)

This isn't what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to tell you guys about is this all about LETDOWN. What's that? Well, according books and websites - letdown is when the body sends a signal to the brain that milk is required, then the body releases some chemical to cause the ducts in the breast to constrict to force milk from the milk sacs/glands within the breast into the area around the nipple so that the baby can suck. Something like that.

So anywayz, before we knew what a letdown was, it was pretty miraculous to us. Coz it would seem that there was no milk, or insufficient milk, and just after some chanting of "God, please give us more milk. God, please give us more milk. God, please give us more milk." and the milk would come! Like a bolt of lightning it would hit me! and hit Isaac! For the milk would come shooting out from the nipple! Gushing forth like a water hose! Sometimes there'd be one spray, sometimes two, and sometimes many!

And when that happens - Isaac would SCREEEAAAM in terror!!! He'd choke and splutter and screeeaam with all his might. He'd cry and cry and be soooo angry that he can't drink his milk at all. I would tell him:" okay okay, no more already, no more spray already!" But he'd be too busy screaming and crying to hear me.

If hubbs was around, he'd have to whisk Isaac off to walk and pat and cuddle him to calm him down before returning him to me to let him drink his milk. If I was alone with Isaac (which I often was during the 2nd and 3rd month of my maternity leave), I'd have no choice but to carry Isaac half-dressed and with mybrestfriend breastpillow strapped around my waist (looking like an UFO) and walk around the house trying to calm Isaac down.

Initially, we didn't know why Isaac would cry and cry shortly after he latched on. Then I realised that he would cry when I get a pain in the breasts (it's a warning sign that the letdown is coming), and Isaac would disengage (un-latch) himself, and the nipple would start sprraaaying milk in Isaac's face.

The first time we saw that we were all so amused. hahahahhahaa... actually we still are. hahaha so mean, yeah?! But we can't help it! It's hilarious to see milk spurting out like a shower head! It'd rain all over Isaac's face and he used to get soooo pissed! I'd try my best to aim the sprays of milk into his mouth, or to try to re-insert my nipple into his mouth but he'd get even more pissed. what?!?! don't waste milk mah... :p

After awhile, we got kinda worried. Coz this'd happen everytime I fed Isaac, and sometimes he'd be so angry he'd refuse to drink altogether! So he wouldn't have drank very much. We started to call the letdown The Bolt. It was just like a bolt of lightning! I started to give him suggestions:"Why don't you just swallow? When The Bolt is here, just swallow - you don't even have to suck! isn't that great?!"After some time, I got so desperate I started to tell him:"Isaac, come on, just drink it. Don't waste milk! You know The Bolt is going to come, and Mummy can't stop it, so you just have to learn how to DEAL WITH IT. You hear me?! Learn how to deal with it!!!"

Poor lil' guy!!! Such a demanding Mummy! My million pep talks didn't work, of course. So I went on the internet to go search for some solutions. Some websites suggested that I express some milk before I fed Isaac. I tried that, but it didn't quite work. Even if I'd express out most of the milk, when the letdown come - it was The Bolt striking again.

So, the time came when we went to the paediatrician for Isaac's jab, and we told her the problem we had. So she taught us a very simple solution - whenever I felt the letdown coming (when it hurts lah), I should disengage Isaac from the nipple, and soak up the sprays in a tissue paper, and let Isaac latch back on when the sprays have ended. The only problem is that during the period of time that I disengage him, he might cry coz he'd hungry.

So we tried it. Sometimes I didn't disengage him early enough and he'd be choking and spluttering already and be angry and wouldn't drink. Sometimes I caught the sprays in time and he'd be fine. Yet again, sometimes I didn't disengage him when The Bolt came but he seemed fine with it. So I started to be complacent and did not disengage him all the time. Kept trying my luck. However, most of the time, he'd still get pissed.

I realised it had something to do with the direction of the spray. Then I remembered what the PD said:"Of course he's angry. How would you like it if someone shot a jet of water down your throat using a hose?" hmmm... good point. So I realised that if the spray was shooting down his throat, he'd be really pissed. but if it was shooting at the top of his mouth, then it wasn't as bad. Also, if my breast wasn't very full, the spray wouldn't be as forceful, then he wouldn't choke and cry either.

So how was I to know whether he'd be affected by it or not??? So I started my pep talks again. "Isaac, you don't have to cry. If you can't handle The Bolt, just disengage, and Mummy will soak up the milk, and then you can continue drinking." I repeated this to him everytime I fed him , when he was drinking calmly. After a few days, he stopped crying. He'd disengage and let me soak up the milk. Even if the milk was spraying all over his face, he'd just smile and wait for me to clean it up.

He is such a good boy! Smart too!!! He actually knew what I was saying!!! (YES, I really think so.) So, we finally got past the problem of The Bolt. So much so, that now, at night when I feed him, I can't see the tiny milk sprays in the night, right? So Isaac sometimes ends up with a face spotted with milk till daybreak! hahaha... I truely think this is the secret of his flawless complexion. kekeke... (anyone wants breastmilk? I'm giving away frozen milk... kekeke...)

Here's a picture of Isaac after he was hit by The Bolt :) what a sweet boy!

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