Thursday, March 18, 2010

Breastfeeding = FAIL

Leading up to Jack's birth I was still undecided as to the feeding method we would use. I had done a lot of reading about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, but I just wasn't 100% convinced that the benefits of breast milk outweighed the time and energy commitments associated with breastfeeding.

I had serious questions as to how much I would enjoy nursing and I didn't want to put even more stress on myself. Taking care of a newborn is demanding enough! Also, I really questioned the fact that other people would not be involved in feeding the baby as I would be the sole food source. And on top of all that, I have quite a bit of experience with babies, but no one close to me has ever nursed their baby.

I was very unsure of this whole thing. Regardless, early on in my pregnancy I decided that I would at least try breastfeeding and give it a fair shot. I felt that I couldn't commit one way or the other without experiencing it first.

When we finally got time to nurse it was nearly 2 hours post-birth. For some reason I was very nervous about putting him to the breast. Suddenly the time had come and it was like I had no clue what to do. I think I actually asked the nurse if it was okay to nurse him : ) And of course it was, so she helped me get him situated and he latched right on. It was a strange experience, but it actually did feel natural.

Those first few days were challenging. Jack wanted (and needed) to nurse every hour or two, but every time we got him latched on he would fall right to sleep so breastfeeding became a three person job - Jack, Mark, and I were all needed to complete a successful feeding as strange as that sounds! Mark paid a lot of attention to the Lactation Consultants at the hospital and became remarkably adept at keeping Jack stimulated so that he would remain latched on and actively sucking. Often it would take 45 minutes to an hour to get him fed! Even though I was VERY sore, I was actually enjoying the process. It was a very gratifying experience.

We were in the hospital about 2 1/2 days post-birth. I kept asking the nurses and LCs when my milk would come in, whether the c-section would pose any problems to that process, and whether Jack was getting enough food. They assured me that as long as I was getting enough stimulation (and trust me, I definitely was!) then my milk would be in any time. I was also assured that my body was definitely doing its job and producing plenty of food for the baby.

So we went home. And I continued nursing. Jack was eating con.stan.tly. and it was hard for all of us to keep up with! I was tired and healing from surgery my nipples were sore and my milk still wasn't in.

4 days post-birth, no milk. 5 days post-birth, no milk. A week, no milk. We started to get worried and suspect that he wasn't getting enough food because he didn't have any dirty diapers and very few wet ones. 8 days post-birth we took Jack for his 1 week appointment with his pediatrician. We then found out that he had lost nearly a pound since his birth! Clearly he was not getting enough food.

I discussed with his ped the fact that my milk had yet to come in. She confirmed that it probably should have been in at that point. She suggested that I try an herbal supplement, Fenugreek. She also said that we needed to offer him the breast and let him feed, then supplement him with an ounce or two of formula. To that I also decided that I would try to pump periodically to stimulate milk production.

So we started the process of nursing and supplementing and pumping and it was tough, but 2 days later we took Jack back to the ped for a weight check to make sure that he was gaining weight and sure enough he had gained 4 ounces in 2 days. That was great news! Finally we were able to see that he was getting the food that he needed. By that point I could feel that I had a little bit more milk than I had previously and I could also see a little bit. So we were told to keep up with the nursing and supplementing and return in a week for another weight check.

Towards the end of the 2nd week postpartum my milk still hadn't fully come in and it was really hard to keep up with the nursing and supplementing. While nursing he would latch on and try to nurse, then unlatch a cry because he wasn't getting what he needed, then re-latch. It made for very long and difficult nursing sessions! We think he was experiencing nipple confusion because when we would then try to bottle feed him formula he would have trouble figuring out what he needed to do. So then we were trying to supplement his feedings with formula using a syringe. It was just crazy considering how many times a day a newborn needs to eat!

So we had a big discussion about what was best for Jack and for us. Ultimately we decided that it was best to switch him over exclusively to formula. I'm bummed about it because I did enjoy nursing and I know that breast milk does have advantages to formula and I think that Jack was good at nursing, it was just me and my body that couldn't produce what he needed. Not to mention we had put so much energy into making the process work. This makes me sad.

However, he's doing great on formula and it's so much easier for everyone involved. It really reassures us that we know exactly the amount of food that he's getting. We took him back to the ped yesterday - where he peed all over the place including on Mommy! For the record I've been peed on a number of times due to diaper malfunctions, and now this doctor's office shenanigans, Mark has not - and he has gained another 6 ounces! The doctor is pleased and he's nearly back to his birth weight.


  1. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Your body has been through a lot in these past few weeks. And, Jack probably did get some of the good stuff that they say happens in the first few days.

    It's taken me three kids to even begin to feel like I'm getting it right. And, even at that...I just called the LC a few minutes ago because I'm still having a lot of pain.

    In the end...they grow and thrive one way or another. What matters most is you being happy (happy mommy = happy family) and baby being happy and it sounds to me like you are doing a GREAT job!

  2. Also, did you try Huggies diapers on him? They go up higher in the front and I swore by them for little boys. We never had leaks or malfunctions after switching to Huggies with Logan. They may be thinner and stiffer but just seem to work well with baby boys and their parts.

    Now...for girls...I swear by Pampers. They are thicker and lower and work well with baby girl parts.

    Just my two cents...for what it is worth ;)

  3. Daddy now makes sure things are pointing down before wrapping him up :)


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