Desmond's Mom

Just sayin…

Breast feeding isn’t always easy

October7

While I was pregnant I researched breast feeding. I knew it was the only option for our family. I kept being reassured that if you have an unmedicated birth and put baby skin to skin right away that it will just happen. That it shouldn’t hurt unless something is wrong. I felt confident.

I got slapped in the face by reality very quickly. My baby wasn’t able to nurse for two and a half of the longest weeks of my life. I had such an empowering birth and was reduced to an emotional mess with nursing. I remember looking at my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “This is the first thing that I’ve ever failed at that I’ve really put my mind to.” and he almost cried too because he knows how driven I am and how much this meant to me.

My midwifes website says that she won’t leave until baby gets a good latch, but it never happened. He was born the night before Easter and she told me to go see a lactation consultant right away but they would be closed for the holiday. I found out later that was incorrect but at the time thought the statement made sense. So he went over 24 hours with jaundice and hardly any food. It was the scariest time of my life.

I spent the entire time putting him to the breast but he just couldn’t do it. I pumped and syringe fed him the best I could, but it wasn’t that effective and I could only get a few drops of colustrum at a time. We raced to the lactation consultants office first thing Monday morning. The car ride was almost unbearable on my stitches from a second degree internal tear and I silently cried the whole ride there and back. I started to regret my home birth. Not for the birth itself but for being 45 minutes away from lactation support after the fact. I know now after hearing other people’s stories that home or hospital, it wouldn’t have made a difference, other than that first day. Some babies just have a hard time. I didn’t understand though, he was full term and we had done everything right.

The lactation consultant met with me and we started finger feeding him through a tube on our finger in his mouth. The idea was to teach him how to suck. The new problem we faced was that I was only producing colostrum, which was too thick to go down the tube. She had me add sugar water to thin it out. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe I was feeding syrup to my newborn! I should have reached out for a milk donor for a couple ounces to get us started but was in such a haze that I didn’t think of that. It was only for a short time though. My amazing husband let me get some rest and my milk came in on day four.

I had no support system then like I do now. I was at the LC office every other day. Every hour and a half I woke up, tried to nurse the baby for 10 minutes, then I passed him to my husband or mother to finger feed him while I pumped. I took solace that I had a good supply and it would be ready when he was.

One day the LC told me he had to start using a bottle because he was burning too many calories finger feeding. Again, I was devastated. I knew this is how nipple confusion and preference for faster milk flow begins. I refused. I rented a baby scale and went home that day to lay out everything baby would need in a semi circle on the floor, strapped the breast friend pillow on, and told Desmond I wasn’t moving until we got this. 4 hours later he was crying for food and I gave in and finger fed him. My nipples were cracked and bleeding (they are flat and drawing them out to feed a baby wasn’t easy on them). The next time the LC gave me a nipple shield to try and insisted that I use a bottle. I gave in since the bottle nipple looked like the shield and maybe it would help with the transition. We were persistent about trying to nurse first with the shield, then used paced bottle feeding after it didn’t happen.

One day I realized he was sucking. Milk was filing his mouth but he was spitting it out! I couldn’t for the life of me understand why this was happening. He also had horrible reflux so I worried it was spit up but after watching closely I realized that he just wasn’t swallowing right. On an unrelated note (or so I thought at the time) I heard that chiropractic could help with reflux, so I made an appointment. After I left the chiropractors office I went and saw the lactation consultants again. I tried without the shield and little man drank 3 oz! I was elated!  Apparently his neck was out of alignment from having an arm by his face in the womb which caused his swallow to be off pattern. Once we got him adjusted, things got better.

His reflux and tummy problems continued. I learned that I had created oversupply by pumping too long each time. The LC said to pump for 15 mins each time, and after a while 15 mins would yield 10oz when baby only drank 2-3.  I didn’t think about it, I just did what I was told.  I built an insane freezer stock, but it wasn’t doing any favors for his tummy by getting too much formilk. I slowly weened off the pump. A miserable process that gave me mastitis twice and several plugged ducts. This helped his tummy but something still wasn’t right. I tried an elimination diet and learned that dairywas problematic. Suddenly no more spitting up, hardly at all. And the gas wasn’t nearly as painful for him.

Nursing

He has developed a preference for the breast and he won’t have anything to do with a bottle anymore. I haven’t turned the pump on in ages. I have been donating our freezer stash to supplementing mommas to help keep their babies off formula. My son is happy, healthy, and strong. I’m thankful every day to be able to work with him beside me so that I can feed on demand. We still have latch issues because he has a lip tie that we haven’t had corrected yet. Although we had a rough start with so many problems combined (lip tie, flat nipples, reflux, swallow reflex being off, we were clueless and had no help for a day and a half), we were determined and I’m SO proud of officially hitting 6 months and going strong. In the long run, those first few weeks were short and worth every second.

New moms.  I am not writing this story to discourage you.  I’m writing it so that you know you may have to fight for this if it’s what you want.  You need to find a good support system and start learning early.  I implore you, please do not give up. I know that if I could do it, with all our struggles, that anyone can. Less than 1% of the population is physically unable to breast feed. Babies are so little and everything is so new, be patient with them. They need you, and your milk has so much more to offer their growing bodies than formula. If you struggle, ask for help. The total cost was $35 for as many visits to the lactation consultants as we wanted to go to (not much more than the cost of a can of formula).  Free options include the Breast Friends Facebook group, your local Le Leche League chapter, WIC has breast feeding help whether you qualify for their program or not, or by asking other nursing moms.  The Breastfeeding Book by Dr. Sears is fantastic if you have the time to read (like, while you’re pregnant lol).  Sometimes it’s easy and just happens, but when it isn’t, remember that your baby is worth it.  Breastfeeding may not be for every mom, but it is for every baby.  Breastfeeding is like a natural vaccine to protect against illness, allergies, obesity, SIDS, and certain cancers in the mother.  It really is a win win once you get established and comfortable with it.  If you absolutely can’t make it work, exclusive pumping is an option.  If you struggle with supply or you’re an adoptive parent, check out Human Milk for Human Babies for donor milk.

posted under Natural Birth
5 Comments to

“Breast feeding isn’t always easy”

  1. On October 8th, 2013 at 4:40 am Tea Sumner Says:

    We’ve always been lucky: All our kids (5) have latched pretty well from the beginning. I’ve had issues with them suckling too hard or falling asleep and pulling away suddenly, so I’ve had my fair share of painful blisters and the like.

    Everyone has issues, every child is different, and you can’t ever believe for one second that you aren’t good enough for having problems. It’s normal, you haven’t done it before.

    By the time I had #4, the LC’s generally smiled and asked if I had any questions because “you obviously know what you’re doing” or “you probably have more experience than some of us!” That’s the great part; when you get to be that confident in what you’re doing, something that’s so natural and instinctive that we’ve tried to hide. Be proud that you stuck in there and accomplished what you wanted!

    Take pride in the pain, in the struggle, because you earned that. You now have the ability to relate with other women in your past position. You have the ability to give them hope, and I hope you’ll do just that.

  2. On October 15th, 2013 at 6:05 pm Kelsey Strong Says:

    I love this Laci! You are amazing and Desmond is so lucky to have a mommy like you! You have often been my rock and strongest supporter when it comes to gentle parenting and breastfeeding! I consider your friendship a huge blessing and God send. You are an angle for both myself and Aurora! Love you tons! <3

  3. On October 18th, 2013 at 3:04 pm Tara Says:

    I love the photo, Cliff is a friend of mine and I followed his fb post over here to check out your blog. May I ask where you have this blog hosted on and did you design this template yourself? It’s very cool! love it!

  4. On October 18th, 2013 at 4:32 pm Jenny Watson Says:

    I am proud to call you my beautiful loving, dedicated daughter Laci. You are my pride and joy. An amazing mother to my precious grandson. Love you with all my heart.

  5. On October 18th, 2013 at 4:43 pm DesmondsMom Says:

    I use 1and1 as a host. I did not design this template. However, I do design websites for a living: http://www.gearedmedia.com. Someday I plan to redo it with something more custom and treat myself as good as I do my clients. For now, I only blog on my phone from the rocking chair while my son naps. Glad you like the theme :)

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