Breastfeeding- The Good The Bad and The Ugly

In the last three weeks I’ve been that mom I said I’d never be, the one who cried over struggling to feed her baby. Prior to having Babyboy I was adamant that a fed baby is a happy baby and that I wouldn’t stress over breastfeeding. I planned all along that I would try it, and I would give it my all but if it wasn’t working out no big deal…..

November 5 at 8:42 am my beautiful baby boy was laid on my chest for an hour, he was 2 weeks 1 day early. He didn’t try to root he just went right back to sleep. After our hour of chest time was up. they did his measurements and checked his vitals and all that Jazz, when they handed him back to me he was wide awake and the nurse told me to try to get him to latch. I did, he latched right away, sucked twice and went to sleep. She flicked his feet to wake him up and we started again. This went on for about half an hour when she finally said “we will move you to your room and try again.” It continued on like this for the remainder of the day every time he was awake we would try and the nurses were trying to hand express colostrum manually so that he could get a taste for it and start being a more enthusiastic sucker. By that night they classified him as a lazy feeder, but said it’s normal and talked to me about trying to pump, naturally I said yes. The pumping started 12 hours after I had him: half an hour of trying to get him to suck, half an hour of pumping, then I would fall asleep just to be woken up two hours later to do it all over again. On the second day they checked his sugars, they were low, because he wasn’t getting anything from me. Therefore the supplementing of formula began. So now I had to try breast feeding for half an hour, then feed the baby with a bottle which took about 15-20 minutes (longer the first few times) and then pump for half an hour. The majority of the advice I heard when I was pregnant was to sleep when babies sleep, no wonder moms are so tired, I was only two days in and I couldn’t wait to get home so I could maybe get some sleep. By the end of the second day I was getting colostrum when pumping but one nipple was so cracked it was no longer the liquid gold but brown because it was tinted with blood. The baby was still falling asleep on the boob after a couple sucks but normally late at night I’d get one decent breast feeding session. I stayed positive I kept saying at the end of the day a fed baby is a happy baby and he’s still getting formula, plus a little bit of the colostrum I’m pumping and my breast were feeling larger and fuller so my milk was on its way in.

After two and a half days they let me go home but told me I needed to keep pumping and supplementing and trying to breast feed. So that’s what I did! By day 4 my milk was in. So the supplementing was half breast milk half formula but by this point my nipples were so sore and cracked it hurt to feed him.

For the next week I was using the landeloin cream on my nipples, I was using coconut oil when pumping to prevent the chafing, I put cold compresses on my nipples and massaged my breast and put warm compresses on them before breastfeeding. I was doing everything I read, and was told and just kept telling myself that I got this! But it didn’t change the fact that every time he latched I was in tears because of the pain.

He had his first weigh in, at day 8 he was 2oz’s over his birth weight. So he met his goal plus some, I was doing a good job, I was feeding my baby and only supplementing minimal amounts. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to bond with my baby in such a profound way, and no one else could give him this. I had created this tiny human and with my body I was able to sustain him and help him grow and thrive even out of utero, it’s just an amazing feeling. I loved looking into his sweet face while he feeds. There is no other feeling in the world

Sunday, I couldn’t console him. He was constantly rooting, so I gave him some formula after 45 minutes on the boob and he was still rooting. Close to the end of the day I couldn’t pump or breast feed anymore I was so sore! I prepared a couple extra bottles. On Monday it was the same thing again, if he wasn’t on my boob he was howling crying, it was heart wrenching. He so far is normally pretty quiet and hadn’t cried a lot up to this point. So After half a day again of him bawling I had to give him some more formula.

Tuesday: we had our appointment to be weighed, 7 lbs 1 ounce. He had gained more then I thought he had I was ecstatic! Then the Public Health Nurse asked me how the breast feeding was going I told her great except for the last two days I had to give him more formula then the odd ounce here and there because I couldn’t console him and he just seemed till hungry. She told me that they hit a growth spurt at 3 weeks so it could be that but really he hasn’t put on the amount of wait he should of. I was shocked, he had gained 6.1 ounces I thought we were doing good! But apparently in the 13 days since his last appointment he should of gained approximately 13 ounces…. he was a slow gainer which could be normal but most likely ment what I already knew deep down but kept trying to deny, I wasn’t producing enough milk. I felt like this was the case before this appointment, I had already started taking fenugreek to help boost it, I was eating lots of oatmeal, drinking lots of water trying a bunch of the different things that I read. I had been denying it at the same time though; I had never verbalized it out loud, I kept trying and trying if he looked hungry I put him on the boob, it didn’t matter if this was for the majority of the day, but by the end of the day as I said before I was sore and breastfeeding was painful. I got in my car after finishing our appointment and I cried. I cried that I could not supply my baby with one of his basic needs I should be able to give him. I felt broken, his latch is fine, my technique is fine, but the supply for whatever reason is just not there. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to tell yourself that a fed baby is best, if you really want to breast fed and you’re not able to do so successfully it’s heart shattering. There’s absolutely no other way to explain it. I know it’s not my fault, but it hurts… and I feel like I failed him.

The summary:

The Good: Breastfeeding creates an amazing bond with your child that no one else can have. You’ll get really good at multitasking.

The bad: it’s going to painful, hard work and could be a long road but if you can be successful it’s worth it

The ugly: if breastfeeding is important to you, there’s going to be points where you feel like a failure, where you cry and where you are exhausted and at your wits end.

I’m only three weeks in, I can’t imagine the mother’s who give it try for 6-10 weeks with these and other struggles, but I’m going to find out, because our breastfeeding journey isn’t over yet it’s just hit a hump! I just got to keep reminding myself a “fed baby is a happy baby” and at the end of the day that’s all that matters not the method of how he’s fed.

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