Breastfeeding after Breast Cancer

Jillian - posted on 07/09/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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I am a breast cancer survivor and had to have a mastectomy on one breast. I firmly believe that 'breast is best' and have successfully nursed my daughter peyton with one breast. I recently had twins...Loralei and Benjamin on June 19 and I am having a hard time with breastfeeding. In the past with my twins I would nurse them both at the same time, but having only one breast now it is just difficult. On top of that Peyton is still nursing and is not ready to wean. I am producing enough milk to satisfy all three of them, but it seems I constantly have a chlid attached to my breast because I have to have them each on a different feeding schedule and my poor nipple is so sore.I am at a loss for what to do. Do I force wean Peyton to save my sanity or do I just grin and bear it?

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Anne - posted on 07/10/2009

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Jillian - I can only imagine how exhausted you must be nursing newborn twins and also a toddler - and on one breast! I think it's amazing how your body has compensated enough to produce enough milk for all three babies! My background is specifically in lactation and I'm also a LLL leader. Are your twins gaining well? Have they surpassed their birth weights by now (I hope so!). The soreness you are experiencing could be from several different things - I would say that it would be unusual to experience soreness just from nursing frequently. Most babies nurse 8-12 times in 24 hours and will have growth spurts or frequency days around 10-14 days and possibly again at 21 days with another around the six week mark - even with the days of increased nursing - a mom whose baby is latching well will experience no soreness. Do you feel that your newborns are latching well?

Another consideration for the soreness could be a lazy toddler! Both of my toddlers were often lazy with their latch and this eventually led to some soreness. Many times it was the worst when they fell asleep at the breast and started pulling on the nipple with the weight of their sleepy head.

Other factors beyond the latch could be yeast (thrush). Do you have any burning or itching on your nipples or an aching deep in your breasts? Did you receive any antibiotics during labor or after delivery?

The support of a local LLL leader and group is invaluable! Sometimes just knowing you have a cheerleader and group of moms encouraging you can really make all the difference.

Good luck and congratulations - you deserve a gold medal! I speak to so many moms who give up breastfeeding for so many selfish reasons and silly excuses - your story will be one I'll be sharing! Talk about dedication and love for your children!

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Anne - posted on 07/12/2009

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Jillian -

It is quite possible that you are experiencing soreness due to a yeast infection on your nipples or inside the milk ducts. If you had antibiotics after birth then you are right in the window of when it would show up! I would check the babies' mouths to see if there are any signs of yeast inside - look for white patches inside their cheeks. You can also check your toddler's mouth. Also if any of them are having bad diaper rashes at the moment it would also point towards yeast.

However - it is completely normal for only one part of the dyad (breastfeeding group) to have symptoms but ALL need to be treated because it's very easy to pass back and forth.

Do you have access to an IBCLC or do you have a very supportive doctor either for you or the babies?

There are several different protocols for treating yeast - the easiest although messiest would be gentian violet. I'm including links to Dr. Jack Newman's handouts on yeast treatment (candidaisis).

http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=com_...

you are welcome to call me with any questions - 850-699-2018

Jillian - posted on 07/11/2009

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Anne, Peyton is one and yes she is sometimes a lazy toddler when it comes to latching, but she has been like that for a while now and I have never experienced soreness like I am now. I was on antibiotics after giving birth to the twins. Could this be the cause of the soreness??

Jillian - posted on 07/11/2009

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Thank you all for your encouragement and suggestions. I didn't mention in my original post that I have 12 children total so the fact that nursing takes up a big part of my day takes away from me having time for my other children. Peyton will drink from a cup, but she refuses to drink from a bottle. Everytime she sees me nursing one of the twins she becomes jealous and will literally try to push them away from my breast so that she can take their place.

Jennifer - posted on 07/10/2009

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Hi Jillian, I'm sorry that I don't have any advice for you accept to contact a La Leche League leader in your area. But I just wanted to say I think it's awesome that you're nursing 3 babies first of all! Then with all on 1 breast!!!! A lot of mom's wouldn't have time or patients with twins. It just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it. Congratulations on beating cancer!! Here's a link to find a La Leche League leader in your area.

http://www.llli.org/WebUS.html

Good luck!

Jenn

Melissa - posted on 07/10/2009

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Congratulations, and wow! You're right, breast is best, and you're doing a great job. When you say your daughter isn't ready to wean, how old is she? It might be time to wean her so that you have enough strength and energy to take care of yourself and all three kids. I have 9 month old twins, and that is a job itself! You have one more child to take care of, so you have quite a bit more on your plate. Only you can make this decision, but clearly your oldest has gotten the benefits of breastmilk. You've definitely provided her with the best start possible, so weaning at this point is not a bad thing to do, especially if doing so will allow you to "save your sanity" and be mommy to all three kids.

Good luck!

Christine - posted on 07/09/2009

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Wow, you are amazing. Maybe for your sanity you can try cutting your oldest back to two or three feeds a day and give her a sippy cup with milk or juice througout the day to make up for the other feeds.

Anna - posted on 07/09/2009

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I am not sure about the weaning of the older child. I just wanted to pop into this thread to tell you that I think you are absolutely amazing for breastfeeding 3 children at the same time! That is truly a miracle. Is it possible to pump some to give yourself a break here and there? Best of luck to you, again you are amazing!

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