Breastfeeding with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS

					       Mothers’ Stories


Breastfeeding with Polycystic
                                                                           disorder. I was also incredibly        A local LLL Leader observed us.
Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)                                                      frightened of miscarrying again.
                                                                           But the pregnancy lasted and the
                                                                                                                  The latch was still perfect, but after
                                                                                                                  weighing Isabella a few times
                                                                           only obstacle was my gestational       after nursing we found that little
                                                                           diabetes.                              to no milk was being transferred.
                                                                                                                  She’d lost close to 14 percent of
                                                                           The hospital staff was helpful         her birth weight. I couldn’t pump
                                                                           and supportive in my decision          a drop, and the fullness I had
                                                                           to breastfeed and room in. They        experienced shortly after birth was
                                                                           did not supplement my daughter         gone. Tearfully, reality set in that
                                                                           with any formula. And though           supplementation was inevitable.
                                                                           we were separated for four hours
                                                                           after the birth, Isabella Rose and     Rule No. 1: feed the baby, by
                                                                           I shared a 40-minute, blissful first   any means necessary. Goat’s
                                                                           nursing session. The memory is         rue, fenugreek, Motherlove’s
                                                                           foggy because of the medications       More Milk Plus, lots of water,
                                                                           I received, but I will remember it     quinoa—nothing seemed to help
                                                                           forever. She latched on like a pro     me produce more milk. I went
                                                                           and I marveled at her perfection.      to an endocrinologist to check
                                                                                                                  my hormone levels. Long story




                                                                           I
                                                                                ’ve redefined what breastfeeding means to me. It’s
 Photo: Anna Earley and Izzy
                                                                                personally tailored to each baby. Every nursing
                                                                                relationship is different—no two are alike.
When I got pregnant with my first child, a son, back in 2005, I
                                                                           We nursed round the clock, on          short, I received a diagnosis
promised myself I would breastfeed him. I didn’t educate myself or build
                                                                           demand and exclusively from that       of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
up a support system, like so many new moms do. I thought breastfeeding
                                                                           moment forward. And though             (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal
would come naturally. After about two weeks of supplementing my
                                                                           my baby slowly lost a bit of           disorder similar to diabetes.
son Aidan’s feedings with formula milk, he was no longer interested
                                                                           weight, the hospital staff seemed      Mothers, especially those who
in breastfeeding, and we bottle-fed from then on. My well-intentioned
                                                                           unconcerned as she was passing         noted no breast growth during
husband urged me on with praise and told me that I had tried my best.
                                                                           urine and stools. Three days later     pregnancy, may have inadequate
Aidan needed to eat, he wasn’t gaining weight and he was hungry.
                                                                           we went home. I felt my milk           mammary tissue. I began my
After many tearful days and nights, and a brief bout of postpartum
                                                                           come in on day four. My baby           goat’s rue regimen again,
depression, I found peace, vowing to educate myself and promising
                                                                           nursed herself to sleep and she        added shatavari (asparagus
myself that my future children would be breastfed.
                                                                           seemed content. On the sixth day,      racemosus), Motherlove’s More
                                                                           my breasts felt empty and on the       Milk Special Blend and was given
When my son was almost a year old, I became pregnant again. I
                                                                           seventh day the crying started.        a prescription for domperidone.* I
quickly called my local La Leche League Leaders and started attending
                                                                           She was attached to me every           drank special teas as well. I got a
meetings. Even after a miscarriage, I continued attending the meetings.
                                                                           minute. Thank goodness for my          good pump and began working.
I needed and wanted all the information I could get. I read all the
                                                                           husband taking some time off to        My supply has gone up, but only
breastfeeding books I could find. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
                                                                           stay home and care for our four-       slightly. It’s minimal, but still more
proved to be an invaluable resource for me. I got to educate my
                                                                           year-old, because I did not have       than before.
husband during this time as well and, two years later, armed with
                                                                           one moment when Isabella was
knowledge, resources and an unfailing support system, I became
                                                                           not latched on. She was hungry,        Isabella Rose is now 12 weeks
pregnant again. My main concerns at first were 1) my recent diagnosis
                                                                           she was nursing to sleep, but she      old. She still latches on like a
of celiac disease and my prenatal health and 2) my first son. He is a
                                                                           was not happy.                         pro. She refuses the breast in the
wonderful, happy child, who is very high maintenance due to his autistic
                                                                                                                  late evening, almost knowing




10 New Beginnings | Issue 3 | 2010
                                                                                                                      Mothers’ Stories



intuitively that is when my breasts     that day, I will keep on taking the
                                                                                      Endings and Beginnings
have the least amount of milk in        extracts, the teas, and the herbs. I
them. I pump instead. Nearly            will continue to pump after every
every feeding is followed by a          nursing session until the day that
bottle. Nursing is her appetizer        signals the end. What that signal
and her bottle is her main              will be we have yet to find out. But
course—except for the first feeding     for now, this is how it is.
of the day.
                                        It’s bittersweet and far from
Already sleeping through the            perfect, a little sad, but also
night, she wakes to find my             wonderful.
breasts full and leaking. She
nurses calmly, happily, on both         Thank you La Leche League. I
sides, and it’s enough. She nurses      could not have done it without
herself back to sleep. If she           you.
doesn’t empty my breasts, I pump,
but that’s not often. I know as she     Anna Earley, Bellport, Long
grows, my morning supply may            Island, NY, USA
have to be supplemented as well,
                                        * In many countries doctors prescribe
but for now, it’s enough.               domperidone, a drug used to treat
                                        gastrointestinal disorders, as a
                                        galactogogue. It stimulates milk production
I’ve redefined what breastfeeding       by increasing the milk-making hormone
means to me. It’s personally            prolactin. Domperidone has few side
                                        effects, but it is currently not approved
tailored to each baby. Every            by the FDA in the United States. Some
                                        physicians, however, may be willing
nursing relationship is different—      to prescribe it for a mother who needs
no two are alike. Many are cut          to increase her milk supply. For more
                                        information on domperidone in the USA
short, accompanied by tears,            see
                                        http://tinyurl.com/domperidone-safe
while others go on for years            LLLI does not recommend the herbs referred
without a hitch. Ours, though           to.

supplemented, is continuing. I’m
fortunate enough not to have                Resource
                                            Marasco, L., MA,                           Photo: Kelly Langdon and her baby
experienced a clogged duct,
                                            IBCLC, Polycystic Ovary
mastitis, sore or bleeding nipples.         Syndrome Leaven April/
My baby’s latch is still as beautiful       May 2005, 27–29.                          When I was pregnant with my first child I decided I would breastfeed. I
as it was on day one.                       http://www.llli.org/                      had a background in public health and had read several baby books,
                                            llleaderweb/LV/                           so I knew the importance of breastmilk, but never did I imagine what a
She prefers a bottle at night,              LVAprMay05p27.html
                                                                                      big part of my life breastfeeding would become.




                                                                                      G
but her very last nibble is at the
breast. Whether there’s any milk
there or not, it brings her the
peace she needs to sleep. She’s
                                                                                             oing back to work when Owen was three
my dearest little nursling and I’m
so grateful for the gift I’m able to
                                                                                             months old was probably the most difficult
give, however small it may be.
And even more grateful for the gift                                                          thing I’ve ever done. It felt so wrong to be
it’s given me. This is mothering—
doing everything I can to give her
what’s best, no matter what.
                                                                                      separated from my baby.
                                                                                      I had hoped to give birth naturally, but became the victim of a totally
She’s getting more breastmilk
than many babies do at her age.                                                       medicalized experience. After a long induced labor and delivery,
And there’s no end in sight. Until                                                    which included an epidural, Owen entered the world. I put him to my
                                                                                      breast soon after his arrival, but found he wasn’t very interested in
                                                                                      breastfeeding. We could barely wake Owen up to nurse. The hospital



                                                                                                                           2010 | Issue 3 | New Beginnings 11
       Mothers’ Stories

staff was hesitant to release           they would satisfy him. Once he         his second birthday, I realized I     I didn’t waste any time getting a
us because no one had seen              latched on and realized he was          couldn’t remember the last time he    lactation consultant to assist me.
him nurse and I had refused             getting milk and lots of it, he never   nursed. This realization saddened     It took us about four weeks to get
any supplementation. We were            turned back. He gained weight           me as much as it excited me. I        the hang of breastfeeding and
reluctantly released from the           quickly and by the time he was          knew my baby was growing up           for my nipples to heal entirely.
hospital and told a nurse would         a week old he was happy and             and becoming more independent.        There were days I couldn’t feed
be sent to our home for a follow-       thriving. But that was the longest      But a part of me regretted            her at all and had to pump my
up visit in a week’s time.              week of my life.                        not having one last nursing           milk instead. And there were days
                                                                                experience to savor.                  when I cried in pain throughout
Those first days at home were           Going back to work when                                                       all of the feedings. But again,
very difficult. Breastfeeding was       Owen was three months old was           A few weeks later, Owen hurt          we made it, and now Adler and
not going well and Owen was not         probably the most difficult thing       himself and asked to nurse for        I are reaping the benefits. She is
sleeping at night—nobody can            I’ve ever done. It felt so wrong        the first time in weeks. I agreed     a healthy three-month-old, who is
prepare first-time parents for the      to be separated from my baby.           and pulled him up into my lap,        still an avid breastfeeder. I look
lack of sleep. He would latch onto      The one thing that helped me get        excited for one last nursing          forward to our long breastfeeding
my breast and attempt to nurse,         through those days was pumping          experience with him. But as soon      relationship.
but he was impatient and easily         my milk for him. To be providing        as he latched on, he looked up at
frustrated. It seemed he was not        him with something no one else          me with his big blue eyes, lost in    While breastfeeding Owen
getting enough milk, as he would        could made me feel somehow              thought, came off my breast for       I turned my passion for
suck for a few minutes and then         closer to him, even though I wasn’t     the last time and said, “No, no       breastfeeding into a career
start screaming uncontrollably          with him.                               mama.” He pulled my shirt down        and became the Statewide
like he wanted something more.                                                  but continued to snuggle against      Breastfeeding Coordinator for
Eventually he refused to nurse          I was on a strict schedule,             my chest. Our breastfeeding           Nevada. I have been enjoying
altogether and started screaming        pumping twice a day at work             relationship had ended, but it was    my job for over a year now, and
every time I offered my breast          and going to his daycare center         a relationship I was immensely        feel extreme satisfaction every
to him. I kept trying, and we           every day at lunchtime to nurse         proud of and would treasure           time I help a new mom learn to
would cry together each time.           him—I couldn’t imagine any other        forever.                              breastfeed. I am about to return to
Even with the amazing support           option. I kept this up until he was                                           work from maternity leave, but this
of my husband and mother, I             13 months old when he started           Around this time I discovered I       time I get to bring baby Adler with
felt lost and confused and didn’t       drinking cows’ milk during the          was pregnant with my second           me to the office.
know what to do. I’d never              day. But when I was home he             child. I wanted a natural birth
imagined breastfeeding could            continued to breastfeed and those       this time to start my breastfeeding   Kelly Langdon, Carson City,
be so challenging and thought I         times became special to us both.        relationship in a more positive       Nevada, USA
must be doing something wrong.                                                  way. I am convinced the drugs
I spoke to a lactation consultant,      My goal had always been                 I received during Owen’s labor
and although she was comforting,        to breastfeed for a year, but           and delivery caused most of the
nothing she said helped our             Owen’s birthday came and went           breastfeeding problems I had          “Mothers’ Stories” are edited by
situation.                              and I never considered ending           with Owen. So I read natural          LLL Leader Brenda Carroll, who
                                        something that meant so much to         childbirth books, attended local      lives in Shawnee, Kansas, USA
It seemed to take a long time for       both of us. Many of my friends          Birth Network meetings, and even      with her husband, Scott, and their
my milk to “come in.” And during        were surprised I was nursing him        hired a doula. My entire labor        three sons, Ian, Noah, and Kyan.
those first few days I considered       for so long, but no one was more        and delivery lasted less than         She is an International Board
feeding him formula on multiple         surprised than me. I never thought      three hours and was completely        Certified Lactation Consultant in
occasions. One day I woke from          I would be “one of those women”         drug-free.                            private practice.
a nap and my husband and mom            nursing a toddler.
                                                                                                                      Please send your stories to
told me they had fed Owen some                                                  My daughter, Adler, latched           nbeditor@lllusa.org

formula using a syringe. The            Owen nursed less and less.              onto my breast within minutes
formula seemed to satisfy him,          Soon he only asked to nurse in          of her birth and didn’t let go for
but made me feel like a complete        the mornings and evenings, and          about 24 hours. As a result, my
failure.                                eventually he quit his morning          milk came in very quickly, and
                                        session. But for months he              my breasts were extremely full
On Owen’s fifth day of life I finally   continued to nurse before bed.          by day two. Adler did not latch
woke up to full breasts and hoped       Then just a few weeks shy of            on well and my nipples were
                                                                                bleeding by her third day of life.


12 New Beginnings | Issue 3 | 2010
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