lactation


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I’m a total lactivist: a “breastfeeding nazi” if you will. There are few things I think are more important that breastfeeding education and when I’m an OBGYN I will make it my mission to ensure that my patients are well informed. Whether it’s a socio-economic thing or simply a result of the type of people I surround myself with it just so happens that all two dozen of the children I take care of have been breastfed. (With only one exception and that is a result of a very serious metabolic disorder.) As a result, I guess I took it for granted how lovely breastfed babies smell. Sounds kinda odd, doesn’t it? Well, if you’ve never smelled an exclusively breastfed baby’s breath you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. But for a full seven and a half months (that’s how long Winifred exclusively breastfed Buddha) Buddha had the loveliest breath imaginable. The three musketeer’s mom calls it “applesauce breath” and it really is: it’s soft and sweet and subtle. Even when he was immediately post-sleep or completely congested, Buddha had the most wonderful breath. So his sweet, gooey baby kisses? Well, they were that much sweeter. Now, this isn’t just a Buddha thing because Aramis was also exclusively breastfed for seven months and he too had delicious breath. Even now, both he and Buddha (who are both still nursing) continue to have lovely breath. Though, not quite to the extent that they did when they were exclusively nursing.

Up until now, this lovely aroma of theirs I totally just chalked up to the fact that they were brand new babies and it makes sense that nature would make babies smell good because really, when they’re tiny and scrawny and ugly and all they do is scream and poop and pee, you kinda need something to make you want to take care of them, otherwise the entire species would have gone extinct by now, right? Well, kinda. I don’t actually know why breastfed babies smell yummy, all I know is that formula fed babies do not. In fact, they straight up stink.

And yes, I’m fully aware that as a lactivist, I’m completely biased against formula however, I think there’s something to this. As if anybody needed any more reasons not to formula feed; here’s another one: formula stinks!

I make no secret about my disdain for baby formula and my contempt for formula companies and the uneducated parents who feed their kids that crap. (Before I’m attacked by all the formula feeders, let me just say that I fully understand that formula can be helpful in some situations and that it’s not entirely evil – just mostly so.) In any event, I think it’s a testament to the amazing parents of the children I take care of that in the past four plus years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve never actually had to mix up baby formula before. It sounds a bit bizarre doesn’t it? A nanny that’s never put together a bottle of formula? The thing is, it never actually occurred to me that I would be expected to know how to do it.

Well, I took care of my neighbor’s ten month old twins on Tuesday and guess what I had to do to? Fix them some formula. The last time I babysat for them, the mom had already had the bottles ready so this time it was all up to me. Well, I knew where the bottles were, I read the directions on the back of the can, I then dutifully scooped three ‘unpacked’ scoops of the nasty stuff into each bottle and then filled it with water to the six oz mark before I put my finger on the nipple and shook them. Woot! For me! I did it.

Only a little while later, after downing the entire thing and then rolling around all over the living floor, Thing 1 decided it would be lovely to spit up all over himself. Now, Buddha had some serious reflux issues until he was about a year old. I’m talking goob everywhere! I honestly don’t know how he got so fat, so fast because he spit up so much, I can’t imagine he had all that much to fully digest. So, basically, goob doesn’t phase me – at all. It’s just another of the lovely bodily functions that I’m so frequently privy too. Except that I’ve never been exposed to formula goob before! And formula spit up is way different that breast milk spit up! Seriously. It’s not really something I had ever thought about before, though it makes perfect sense. See, I’m quite accustomed to breast milk spit up. It’s a bit sour and kinda yucky, but it’s completely sterile and easily washable so whatever, I’m used to it. But formula spit up? Is absolutely fucking disgusting. No, seriously. That shit is gross. And quite frankly, I’m not sure it’s all that worse than the straight up formula. They smell pretty much the same because after they had their bottles, those babies stunk! They reeked of formula. I love to cuddle and that’s partly why I love my job so much; I get paid to cuddle. But I honestly didn’t want to get all that close to these kids because they were stinky little dudes. Yes, I did cuddle and read to them – I’m not completely heartless- but I did so holding my breath.

I don’t know how formula feeding parents do it. I mean, first of all, it’s a hassle. Who has time to deal with cans and powder and water and shaking? Yech. But the smell! Oh, that smell. Just rinsing out those bottles was nearly vomit-inducing. Eww.

Never mind the inimitable qualities of breast milk; the countless health reasons why it’s so incredibly superior to formula. Forget about how much smarter, healthier and better well adjusted breastfed babies are. Immune systems? So what? IQ? Whatever. If there were ever a reason not to formula feed it would be this: the smell. Seriously. That stuff is rank.

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No, I didn’t just post a random picture of my breast in a shameless attempt to boost my readership. There’s a reason. You may notice the white colored drops of fluid that seem to be emanating from the nipple area. If you guessed that it’s breastmilk you would be correct. Scooby snacks for you! Only problem is that I’m not pregnant and I have not recently given birth. Color me freaked out. I first noticed when I was on my trip out of the country. I got out of the shower and was drying myself off and then re-dried by breast, and the re-re-dried my breast and yet there it still was: colostrum. I gave my breast a little squeeze just to be sure and wouldn’t you know it but more milk came oozing out. Now, I’ve seen plenty of people breastfeed and I’ve seen my fair share of breasts but what I had never seen before was a breast spontaneously behaving like Old Faithful and spitting out breast milk for no reason. I wrapped my towel around me, ran to into the room that I was sharing with my cousin and demanded that she have a look. Because, apparently, I have some slutty tendencies, she immediately countered with a suspicious “Are you pregnant?” After repeated declarations from me that I was not, in fact, in the family way, she joined me in my state of disgust and bewilderment. So what would any savvy American girl do when she finds herself stuck in a third world country and suddenly lactating? I googled of course. Let me just say that googling one’s symptoms is not the best way to overcome hyphochondria. Turns out what I have is galactorrhea. Yeah. As in, diarrhea of the breast. Yech. Now, what are possible causes of galactorrhea? Oh just, you know, brain tumors or pituitary disorders, or thyroid issues etc. Minor stuff like that. At that point I was wishing that I had, in fact, conceived the second coming of Christ because none of those other options were sounding at all appealing to me. And then I read it.
Medicines:
such as hormones, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines and others.
Aha!
The asshole, known as Mr. Shrink had recently prescribed me .5mg of risperdal daily. Now this is a very small does for the sole purpose of easing some of my anxiety issues. He warned about the possible side effects like increased appetite and fatigue and I was like, ‘oh hooray, just what I need, to become lazier and fatter’, but because, despite his asshole-y-ness, he normally knows what he’s talking about, I agreed to try out the new meds. Well, guess what one of the lesser common side effects of risperdal is? Ding, ding ding! Galactorrhea. Turns out it’s so rare that there are really very few case studies online about it. So when I went in for my med check and we went over how much better I was doing on this new drug, Mr. Shrink was all smug and self-confident over his decision and choice of drug I nodded and agreed and ever so sweetly exclaimed. “Except that I’m lactating.” The look Mr. Shrink’s face is one that I truly wish I had been able to photograph. It almost made my lactation worthwhile just to see the conflict race across his face. Bless the asshole’s heart, he remained wholey professional about it all, but the redness in his cheeks gave him away. Turns out my body is incredibly sensitive to this stuff because .5 mgs is next to nothing. According to him, there are people on four times as much of this stuff who aren’t lactating. Fan-freaking-tastic for them. What about me? Turns out there is diddly squat I can do about it unless I want to go off the drugs. He asked me how “severe” it was and if it leaked through my clothing and if it was painful. Yes and yes. “Let-down” Hurts damnit! And my right breast makes like five times what my left breast makes. My dearest shrink’s response to all this was what? “Congratulations, you’re a woman. Now you know they work.” Thanks but I was well aware of their function long before I became bessie the cow. I’m going to have to work with him on his sensitivity issues.
So yeah. I’m lactating. Every day. My breasts make milk. But no problem. It’s okay. At least I know they work.
Oh! And the best part? With the proper pressure from my thumb I can squirt milk across the room!
Seriously.
I am a full-on walking, talking, lactating, fembot, baby.
So, I’ve been brainstorming ways with which I can, excuse the pun, milk this oddball situation and I feel that I’ve come up with no solutions. Several male friends of mine were rather quick to remind me of Rose of Sharon in the Grapes of Wrath but I’m pretty sure I will be declining any and all offers to breastfeed adult men.
But then again, they may have a point. Screw nannying. Maybe I should just expand my horizons and set up shop as a wetnurse…

This video had me laughing my ass off. It reminds me of Buddha and his voracious appetite.