breastfeeding| the first six weeks


"Breastfeeding can be challenging, don't beat yourself up about it." 
Thats what my birth nurse with Thatcher told me and I thought, Why would I beat myself up about it, isn't it natural?" I was wrong. So wrong.

Breastfeeding has always been a topic widely known, but never truly talked about among family and friends it seems, until you're actually there. I figured you either had a choice or didn't. People could choose to or not to, and some often said they couldn't, so I thought it was just impossible for them. I never truly sat and thought about the reason why. Before I start, this is not to preach. You have no idea how hard it can be until you start. Breast is best unless you spend more time with your pump than your baby. Breast is best unless you can't give your baby enough. Breast is best unless you start dreading the time you spend with your baby. Feeding your baby is best, loving your baby is best.
(Thatcher at a month old)
Thatcher wouldn't latch. I saw the lactation specialists but the focus was to get him to latch without the nipple shield and in the process it scared him off of the nipple shield as well. I started exclusively pumping. I really didn't mind it at first. I was producing loads of milk, enough for two babies and I was happy with that, because it meant I could stockpile and stop pumping sooner. Another visit to the lactation specialist and she told me to dial it back or I would be on the pump all day. So I did. Then we went home for the holidays. Two weeks after birth. Looking back, this could have been handled in a much different way. I hate being a burden, so anytime someone wanted me to be away from the pump I didn't put up a fight. Missing a pump won't be the end of the world, I thought. My supply started dipping. We would go home for shoots and family stuff, I would accidentally leave parts when we went out. My supply dipped further. When I got settled back home I was trying everything, pumping every fifteen minutes and getting minuscule amounts. I was constantly stressed, crying, and in so much pain. Which just made my supply worse. Just under three months, I decided to switch to formula. The hormones from letting my milk dry up made things even worse. I felt like I was failing my baby. But I healed and my baby still loved me and was properly fed, and I could finally enjoy all of motherhood. I made a lot of mistakes the first time that I learned from. Ones I'd hoped I wouldn't have to use the second time around, but alas...
(Wren at a month old)
The second time around produced the same start with latching problems. We set up an appointment with a lactation specialist again and it was so much more helpful this time because I was determined. I had been nursing with a nipple shield again and pumping after to build up my supply. To avoid nipple confusion and not scare her off the shield, our specialist told us to buy bottles and pacifiers that match the nipple of the shield. We had bought some Comotomo bottles because they were supposedly great along breastfeeding, but she refused to latch to one, so we bought some Mam bottles and pacifiers because she preferred the short and wide nipples. I'm really hoping we can move back to the Comotomos once she starts latching fine, but anything is better than the Dr. Brown bottles and all of their pieces. 
After we went to our last appointment with the specialist a week or so after the birth, I knew I was producing enough to feed her and I was still using the shield with plans of weaning her from it gradually. I really wasn't going to push it this time so I didn't try to force it, especially when building up my supply. After a couple of weeks cluster feeding started. I felt tied to the couch while she nursed for hours on end and cried otherwise. It wasn't the end of the world while Geoffrey was home with us, but I didn't know what to do once he went back to work. Like everything else, we adapted when he did. There were good days and really bad ones. She continued to cluster-feed and have stomach problems and refuse sleep during the day. Some days I felt like such a failure as a mother to both kids. 
Things slowly got easier. Our doctor told us to use Culturelle supplements in a bottle for Wren's stomach, and I cut back on Dairy and caffeine. (My two favorite things, nbd.) I can usually get her to lay down on her own and sleep for up to 45 minutes a couple of times a day. She still nurses really often and cries 567986876x more than Thatcher did. There were many tough days that ended with me telling Geoffrey I wanted to switch to pumping again. Then finally a light at the end of the tunnel came into view. She started latching without the shield. Not every time and not for a whole feed, but it was major progress and hope. Shield-free nursing seems to be in my future and I'm so looking forward to it.

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