One of the great things about being pregnant was that I didn’t have to take HRT (hormone replacement therapy) as my placenta magically produced oestrogen which was otherwise lacking in my body as my ovaries stopped making it when I was in my mid thirties – hence my premature ovarian failure.
While I was pregnant I asked my IVF doctor and my obstetrician when I would need to begin HRT after I had my baby. Both said I should wait around six months and then go back on it.
Well given the state of my poor old head, we’ve had to bring that date forward somewhat.
I restarted it about five days ago after my psychiatrist contacted my endocrinologist to confirm it with her. And I’m already feeling better. It’s amazing what a difference HRT makes – without it a girl can feel so anxious, withdrawn and down.
Upping my oestrogen means any remaining breast milk is drying up but breastfeeding my wee babe was already out of the question since I began on the antidepressant Pristiq last week.
So my mood is gradually lifting and I’m slowly feeling a little better. It can only improve I hope.
This morning I fed my daughter her last meal of breast milk which I expressed yesterday.
This is because today I began a new antidepressant called Pristiq which is too potent to continue breastfeeding on.
I feel really sad as I hoped to breastfeed her for as long as possible. But the paediatrician assures me that formula is fine and apparently the only slightly negative thing that has been proven is that cognitive development can be a tiny bit slower with formula-fed babes.
I have to keep expressing for a few days to avoid getting mastitis and because it will have traces of the drug in it, it cannot be used at all.
But as one of the nurses says: “Look in the cot and see what you’ve got” – which is a lovely little baby.
Pristiq will hopefully suit me better than the drug I tried last week, which was Zoloft – a breastfeeding-friendly medication. Zoloft made me feel sleepy, gave me headaches, a tight jaw and blurry vision, which wasn’t great. After four days my doctor took me off it saying it wasn’t suited to me.
Fingers crossed that giving up breastfeeding will be worth it and that this medication will work.
Some breastfeeding women have litres of milk literally frothing at their nipples with which to feed their babies but their babies aren’t very good at latching on and sucking. Others have nipples red raw and bleeding from nursing their little ones. I have apparently perfect nipples for breastfeeding and have thus far nursed my daughter with no pain, grazing or bleeding.
But my milk supply is seriously limited and it’s most likely down to the fact I have gone through early menopause. Bummer. So to begin with each feed consisted of me breastfeeding my daughter for about an hour and then topping up with about 70 ml formula. The whole process of feeding, topping up and settling her back to sleep would take about 3-4 hours by which time it was time to feed the poor tyke again – arrghhh.
Suffice to say we were both exhausted and crying for most of the day.
Since coming into the hospital, things have improved as I am now expressing all my breastmilk and then feeding it to her in a bottle. This has radically cut down the length of feeding time so the poor babe can get back to sleep much faster to regain her energy for her next feed. It has also cut down the amount of formula I am topping her up to because we now know how much we are feeding her. She therefore has more then halved the number of explosive pooey nappies she was having because we were overfeeding her – poor wee thing.
But my breastmilk may still not be best for my baby. This is because it does not contain the usual levels of hormones that other mum’s breastmilk has, as my oestrogen level in particular is so depleted no that I no longer have the placenta supplying my body with it (or my ovaries which went to sleep years ago). My paediatrician suggested that if this is making me feel like crap it may well be making my baby feel like crap too.
So I’m currently weaning her off my milk which I’m finding a sad process as it was the one thing I seemed to be able to do well even though I couldn’t seem to supply her with enough milk.
So while we may be able to trick our post menopausal bodies into nourishing and carrying a baby, the boobs are not so easily coerced.
At least I am getting a little more rest and my daughter is feeling a little more comfortable now we are on a new feeding regime in hospital. It is certainly one of the things that has contributed to my postnatal depression.