Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rant: Being a sick breastfeeding mum - what and what not to do

I know it's been a long hiatus since my last post. I'll attribute that to my exam, which is next month. And it's a difficult exam, so I've been studying fanatically every day.

But the past week has also been a very miserable one because I was (still am) sick. Like, really sick. Even the maid asked how come I'm so sick, is it because it's been a long time since I got sick? Well yeah, and probably also because this bug is really resilient. It started when E1 spent too long in the pool and he came out, on the very same day, with a cough and cold. Then he spread it to E2 because it's difficult to quarantine a toddler in a tiny apartment. So they both developed fevers, runny nose and cough, but both got better within a few days. So by the time the bug jumped from E2 to myself, it had super incredible life-miserabling powers. And here were (are) my symptoms:

- stuffy nose
- bright, colourful mucus in a variety of shades: brown, yellow, bright yellow, green
- fever for 1.5 days
- hacking cough - I would throw up after every meal from such violent coughing
- later developed sinusitis, characterised by a facial pain and an upper jaw ache
- couldn't taste a single freaking thing

What the hell was going on here?? What kind of life-slaying misery-inducing germ is this?? Well whatever it is, I certainly didn't go about it the right way I think. Aside from not going to the doctor, I didn't even self-medicate. Big mistake.

The only medicine I was willing to take was lozenges, to control the cough. Which honestly didn't help. At all. I did also take paracetamol for the fever when it arrived.

Of course at this point you must be thinking, what about that runny nose and all that colourful mucus? I was reluctant to take decongestants because firstly, I thought it was just a normal cold and it would eventually run its course in a couple of days. Secondly, some of the decongestants have shown to reduce milk supply, particularly the sedating ones (I'll discuss that later).

So I plodded along for a whole miserable week expelling copious amounts of mucus from my nose and throat. And I didn't get better - I got worse! I had pain in my face! That made me lose my ability to focus on what I was studying.

That was the last straw and I relented. I took Iliadin nose drops and desloratidine.

And I slept so well.

This morning, I woke up with less mucus than I had the previous days, and it wasn't as thick and runny as it would've been. It was more dry. I also didn't cough as much. Well gee, should've done that sooner right? So here's what I learnt from this whole hell-week:

Yes, make sure that whatever medication you're taking is compatible with breastfeeding. The easiest way is to talk to your doctor. Even though I was adamant I didn't want to take any decongestants, sweet GY went to the pharmacy and got me Piriton upon recommendation by the pharmacist. This is chlorphenamine - in the same class as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine - which is a sedating antihistamine. Meaning it makes you drowsy. And I know it makes me drowsy because I've taken it before. So I know I want to stay away from this class of drugs because I sleep with E2 and it's dangerous for me to be unresponsive to his crying.

The other issue with sedating antihistamines is that there is some research to show it may reduce milk supply in lactating mothers. However, upon further digging, the research only shows this in mothers who have yet to establish milk supply ie if you've been breastfeeding for 7 months, a little bit of these drugs will likely be more beneficial than harmful. And guess what? My milk supply did drop anyway, because E2 nursed less when he had his stuffy nose, and because I was dehydrated. Lesson learnt - next time, I will take this medicine after a breastfeeding session and sleep the illness off in the day.

I could also have just taken non-sedating antihistamines. But in my experience, these weren't so effective for me so I was reluctant to take them. In any case, I should have taken something instead of killing myself like that.

Oh well. Lesson learnt. Do take medication if  you're sick, and talk to your doctor about which ones are most suitable for you. If you're like me and slightly distrustful of some of the things they say, then do your homework first before going to see the doctor. Just don't do nothing.

With that, I leave you with a lovely picture of my mucus this morning - in a tantalising shade of yellow.

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