After reflux, and reactions we didn't understand or know about at the time, my son was put on Alimentum at 2 months old. And this is when my medical issues became the big problem.
Bleeding after birth, whether vaginal or c-section, is common, and often lasts up to 6 weeks after birth. Mine never went away that early. Apparently this little piece of placenta kept open a spot in my uterine wall. So I didn't stop bleeding at 6 weeks.
The dr gave me some medication (hormones), where if I had been nursing, I would have to pump and dump anyway. So it was a blessing that my son was on formula by this point. These hormones were supposed help stop the bleeding. I was on them for a couple weeks, but it didn't change anything.
I still hadn't passed the placental piece by 3 months after birth, so my OB started to explore what was going on. A biopsy revealed that I had 2 uterine infections in the 3 months after birth. It didn't show why I was bleeding, but the infections could have been from the birth or the placental piece they were missing. My dr gave me antibiotics, just in case that was causing the bleeding, but that didn't stop it either.
My doctor decided to perform a D&C to remove whatever was causing the problem. If the D&C didn't fix it, I would have been at risk for a hysterectomy. Apparently, however, this scared the placenta out of me because 4 days before my surgery, I finally passed it. We still went ahead with the D&C, just to make sure but the bleeding had already basically stopped by that time.
The most difficult part for me by this point was that my milk seemed like it had dried up, also. By the time that I had my D&C, I couldn't squeeze a drop out. They say that you shouldn't do this, but I had to try. It was actually VERY painful to even try, and I just felt like my body had failed me. I had no recovery time from the birth, because of all the issues we had following it.
After the D&C, I began to leak like never before. Suddenly, my sheets and nightclothes were soaked. I even felt like I went through a second round of “baby blues.” Still no engorgement, but more milk then I ever made before. No one had prepared me for all this. I knew the placenta controlled a lot of things, but I had no idea that every post-partum issue would come back.
If I had been in contact with a lactation consultant, they might have suggested that I nurse again. If my OB had known what was going to happen, they might have supported me in my nursing efforts more than they did in reality. If I had known that I was going to start producing milk again, I might have pumped and dumped for those middle 2 months.
But without the support and the knowledge that I needed, my husband and I decided the best course was just to continue to feed our son formula. It is a good thing, but we only know this is hindsight. With his reactions, reflux, and my placental issues, I did the best I could without much support regarding nursing.
I honestly have no idea whether the 2 months that I was able to nurse him helped him or did nothing for his reactions. But I do know that I gave him the best that I could at the time, and since. There is nothing wrong with nursing for only 2 months; there is nothing wrong with baby-wearing to stop baby from screaming; there is nothing wrong with not figuring out cloth-diapering before baby came along; there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping or having baby sleep in a crib. When my husband and I decide to have another one, which may be awhile considering everything we have gone through this time around, I might try all this again from the get-go.
But I will not be afraid to co-sleep, or baby-wear, or maybe even cloth-diaper. I will not be afraid to ask for a consult with a lactation expert. And I will not be afraid of formula.
After all, “successful breastfeeding does NOT mean EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding.”
Photo courtesy of Idils' on Flickr.