Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Breastfeeding...

... is hard. Really hard


And I don't mean the whole not sleeping because you're up 5 times a night to feed the baby (though that part sucks too). I mean the whole concept is hard. 


We came very close to giving up, completely.


I knew my whole pregnancy that I wanted to breastfeed. I had read all the research and agreed with the whole "breast is best" concept. It just made sense. I read a whole bunch of books on breastfeeding including those books that tell you all the things that are hard about it and strategies for making it work.


But I never knew it could be this hard and frustrating. The books are great, don't get me wrong, but the problem is that your baby hasn't read them! 


Right off the bat, I'm going to get all TMI on you (what did you expect, check the title of this post... you knew it was going to get awkward). I have a flat nipple. Which basically means it doesn't stick out as much as the other one, which makes it hard for Fynn to latch. Drew and I have jokingly named my boobs the "good boob" and the "bad boob" (original names right?).


It started in the hospital. I tried to feed, and the good boob worked. She latched well, ate well and all was good. Then we tried the bad boob... and things got harder. We had a lactation consultant come in and help out. She helped us get a good latch and I was all "sweet we have it figured out"... until we tried again and it didn't work. Even though we tried all the techniques and positions that she taught us... it just wasn't working. 


The day we left the hospital we had ANOTHER lactation consultant come in to help. She was older than dirt and helped, oh, not at all. But we left anyway, because we didn't know what else to do. Besides, we just needed practice... right?


Wrong. We got home, and things got more frustrating. My milk came in and Fynn was screaming and there was nothing I could do once she had finished the good boob. I tried a nipple shield, tried pumping to draw my nipple out, nothing worked. We even went so far as to pump the bad boob and use a syringe to feed her a little at a time. It was so frustrating and made me feel awful. Here I was, not giving my baby enough food because I couldn't figure out how to latch her onto a flat nipple. Come Tuesday morning, Fynn was one week old and we went in for a weight check... and she had lost more weight.


When she was born Fynn was 6 lbs, 2 oz. When we left the hospital she was 5 lbs 12 oz. That Tuesday at the pediatrician, she was 5 lbs 9 oz. The doctor said we needed to have another weight check done Wednesday to keep an eye on her and that we might have to consider supplementing because she was losing too much weight... I walked out to the car afterwards and sobbed. Clearly this wasn't working. I decided to go to a breastfeeding support group that was meeting Tuesday afternoon. I decided if they couldn't help me there, then we were done. I would pump and bottle feed Fynn because she needed more food then I was giving her. It broke my heart to make that decision, but I also knew that getting her more food was more important than anything else.


The support meeting was a little awkward. 11 women, 12 babies, boobs everywhere. We all talked about how breastfeeding was going for us and shared advise. I cried when it was my turn because I tried to explain how frustrated I was with my own body and trying to feed my baby. The lactation consultant who works with the group came over to watch me try on the bad boob. She then asked about the nipple shield we had tried.


Turns out, it was the wrong one! She recommended another type and set up an appointment with another lactation consultant at the hospital where Fynn was born. I left group, went to Babies R Us for the new shield and headed home still feeling dejected and frustrated. 


When we got home I washed a bottle, poured in some milk I had pumped earlier and handed the bottle to Drew. As he was just about to feed her I panicked and told him to wait a minute, I wanted to try the new shield first. If it didn't work then we would go with the bottle.


It worked. She latched right away and started gulping away like she was starving (which she probably was). The grin on my face was manic, I almost cried I was so happy, but I didn't want to think things were "fixed". It was too soon. This one good feeding could have just been a fluke. That night we had three good feedings, and two more the following morning. When we went to the lactation consultant Wednesday afternoon, she said the latch with the shield looked great. And we weighed Fynn. She was up to 5 lbs 12 oz. Now, granted, these weights were on different scales. I don't delude myself that she gained 3 ounces in one day, but the point is that her weight was going back up... I can deal with that.


Since using the shield we've had a lot of good feedings. Yeah, it's a pain in the butt to try to get the shield on when she's pecking my shoulder and sucking on my arm... but it's working! She's eating sooooo much more than she was before and I can see the difference in how much more alert she is between feedings. I can also see her filling out some more now. Her arms, legs and belly look nice and pudgy and I keep calling her my fat baby.


I have no illusions that things are "fixed". I know we will come across many more obstacles in this feeding journey, but I am so happy that we got through this firsts roadblock and that Fynn is doing better. I had so much guilt and angst about feeding her and trying to figure out the "right" thing to do. 


This mom-guilt stuff sucks! 

8 comments:

  1. Hi-I saw your post and I am sympathetic to the momma learning how to breastfeed. It is so hard! I read your entire post. Books were some comfort but you are right the kid hasn't read them. My baby also lost weight which made me feel like a big failure. :( I used a shield also and it was helpful in the beginning. How are things going now? It's so hard but try your best not to feel the guilt. P.S. I am your newest follower.

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  2. From one flat nippled mom to another: let me tell you that it gets better. I used a shield for a few weeks myself, but once Kinley became a pro at nursing, we didn't need it anymore. She was able to figure out a latch once she was used to nursing. And I nursed for 15 months. So while it is exhausting and frustrating, don't give up.

    I nursed and pumped to build a supply and it was so worth it. You're doing an amazing job. Your dedication to it is awesome.

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  3. im not a mom but ive heard so much about mom-guilt. I am certain you are doing wonderul, and your abby agrees!


    come say a quick hi at nichollvincent.blogspot.com :)

    have a wonderful day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had SUCH a hard time with breastfeeding. That, on top of Postpartum Anxiety, I decided to formula feed my daughter only after a week. You are her mommy & you know what is best for her. If you ever want to talk, it sounds like we went through a lot of the same things.

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  5. I'm happy that you were able to breastfeed! I had my daughter in June and we have to bottle feed her cuz I don't produce enough milk :( But at least she's getting fed right??

    I get that mommy guilt all the time but it's more towards getting her to sleep in her crib - she's not a fan yet.

    And your little is so sweet and LUCKY that you had her before your due date, mine was a week late and we had to induce hahahaha she's stubborn like her parents ;)

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  6. I'm so glad things are getting better for you!! I remember how difficult it was for me.... its so much harder than people think. :)

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  7. Good job figuring it out thus far momma. It is the hardest thing I have ever done thus far, but also the most rewarding. If you want to read more about my struggles with breastfeeding (since it always made me feel better to read stories like this when I was having a rough nursing day) swing by my blog. I have a post on my breastfeeding journey and a top ten things I wish someone had told me when I first started breastfeeding post.

    You are doing a great job and your daughter is adorable.

    www.adventureswithcaptaindestructo.com

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  8. Breastfeeding is REALLY difficult! This experience sounds so much like mine with my first. We got through it (with lots of mommy guilt and lots of formula) and I nursed him 15 months. I nursed my second for 14 months and am nearly 7 months in to nursing my third - all within less than 4 years. Keep it up, mama!

    ReplyDelete

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