Thursday, November 5, 2015

My breast feeding journey

Julie from The Girl in the Red Shoes does a series of posts about different moms and their breast feeding journey. I love reading them and wanted to write mine down before I forget parts of it (let's be honest, I'm sure with my terrible memory I've already forgotten some!). 

When I was pregnant and we were taking the prenatal classes, they covered breast feeding, but nothing prepares you quite like having your baby here and actually doing it! I knew that I wanted to try breast feeding if all went well with Amelia and myself. Everything in the class made it seem like breast feeding was going to be this super easy and natural thing, but it didn't work out like that for us.


After Amelia was born, I didn't try to get her to latch until we were in our postpartum room. I think I was in a bit of shock after she was born and wasn't quite ready to try. I had no idea how to hold her, but a few nurses came in and out and helped when they could. There is nothing like a nurse massaging your breasts to help collect the colostrum while your mom in the room ;) Luckily, I had lots of colostrum as Amelia wasn't latching very well. When we were in the hospital, we met with the lactation consultant a few times, but still weren't having much luck. It also didn't help that I wasn't connecting with the lactation consultant and felt like she wasn't in the right profession. She was able to tell me that my nipples were flat, which makes it harder to breastfed. The LC had me pump a couple minutes before I tried to breastfed to pull my nipples out. If the nursing session wasn't successful, I would syringe feed the colostrum to Amelia. Before we left the hospital, we had to introduce formula as my milk wasn't in yet and Amelia needed to eat. I felt guilty about it, but I wanted to go home so badly and had hoped it wasn't going to be a long term thing.  


Once we were home, I continued to pump/attempt to breastfed/syringe feed Amelia. A big thank you goes out to Mr.D as we were up every 3 hours during the night to do the whole feeding process, and I couldn't have done it without him! I can't remember exactly when my milk came in, but oh man did it ever come in! The next struggle came with having very engorged breasts that it made it difficult for Amelia to nurse. A day after being home, the nurse came by to check up on Amelia and myself. I mentioned struggling with breastfeeding and she referred us to a community clinic that had a lactation consultant. This LC was so amazing! She was kind, caring and actually talked to me like a mom who was struggling. She recommended using a nipple shield (we tried with and without it while we were there and Amelia was able to get so much milk!) because of my flat nipples. Leaving that appointment, I felt so much better about breastfeeding and going in the right direction.

In the following days, we also went to the lactation clinic that is attached to the maternity clinic where I went to. The LC there was also great and noticed that Amelia had a tongue tie. Mr.D and I decided to have her snip it right then (they do it in the clinic and it only takes a couple of minutes). That also seemed to help a lot! We left there feeling good once again and scheduled a follow up appointment for the next week. The next appointment (we saw a different LC) was not good. The LC made me feel like a terrible mother as she thought Amelia was suckling and being lazy at the breast and not getting anything. I wanted to scream at her and be like "I have no f*cking clue what I am doing or how it is to be done!!". I left there in tears and she wanted us to come back the next week to check her weight as she thought it wasn't going up as it should. 

Over the next week, things were starting to improve, but I was so nervous that Amelia wasn't getting enough and that I was failing her. Luckily, she gained triple the amount of weight they wanted her to the next week! I had intended to wean her off the nipple shield, but it was working and why mess with it? I can't remember exactly when we stopped using it, but I think it was around 4-5 months. One day Amelia just wouldn't eat with it on, so I was able to get her to latch without it and we just kept going from there. I felt shame about having to use it at first, but it meant that I was able to breastfed.

I was very lucky and had a huge supply of milk. Amelia refused to take a bottle (we only gave her a bottle for the first couples of days while at home until my milk came in) for 3-4 months, and I would be so engorged each morning that I would have to pump. I ended up signing up to be a breast milk donor for the Calgary Mother's Milk Bank and ended up donating almost 12Ls. That blows my mind! 


When Amelia was around 8 months old, my period returned and my milk supply took a huge nosedive. I felt like I didn't have enough to make it through the day and give Amelia a bottle at night, so we made the decision to introduce formula. I felt guilty at first about it, but realized that I was able to provide Amelia with breast milk solely for 8 months and that is pretty amazing. Right now, Amelia is almost 9.5 months old and I breast feed 2-3 times per day and still pump in the morning if need be. She gets 1-2 bottles of formula and then a bottle of breast milk before bed (I still have a stock pile frozen that I didn't donate). 

If I had to tell a pregnant/new mom to be one thing about breast feeding, it would have to be don't stress if it's hard. Everyone's journey is so much different and it doesn't come easy for everyone. Stick with it, ask for help and it will get better! Enjoy those never ending nursing sessions in the beginning as tough as they can be. Oh and buy nipple cream and breast pads! They will be your best friend :)

 

14 comments :

  1. You did and are doing an amazing job! You should be very proud! I was like you, I didn't think breastfeeding was very natural at all! ha ha! We don't have any LC around where I live so I had to depend on family and friends for advice. When the well-nurse would come weigh Sam, I would ask a feeding question and she would open up and search through a manual to try and give me an answer! Somethings are just not in a manual! ha ha! You should give yourself a big pat on the back for all the hard work and time you have put into giving your sweet girl the best nutrition possible! Great post! xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish women didn't shame one another so much for the different routes taken for feeding their baby. As long as baby is happy, healthy and growing, nothing else should matter!
    I really wish people had told me how much of a struggle it can be to breastfeed. Between the pain and sleepless nights, it's hard to not give up sometimes. With my oldest there were a handful of nights at the very beginning when I wanted to throw in the towel and just do formula because I was struggling so much. With my second, it came a bit easier but we still had our moments. You did an awesome job pushing through your challenges with nursing and it shows! Amelia seems to be happy & healthy! (Again, all that matters!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. That sucks that you had some not very great LC's 'helping' you. I had so much trouble with breastfeeding and went to a weekly breastfeeding group. Of course Liam would latch well when we were there, but at home was a different story. I would be in tears every day by the time Layne got home and was trying to find alternatives, such as pumping exclusively and the LC shamed me for it. I stopped going after that and made the decision to pump exclusively. It was so much work but I wasn't in tears at the end of the day.

    Also, no one should ever feel guilty for having to use formula. It's not poison!! Without it, what would the people that can't breastfeed do?! You gotta do what's best for your situation. You did (and are still doing) a great job! I love that you could contribute to the milk bank and help out some other mamas in need.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I should really write mine down too, before I start again with this next baby!! Breastfeeding is no easy feat! We breastfed right up until Chrsitmas last year and Noah self weaned, instead of introducing formula, we went straight to homo milk and haven't looked back! Noah didn't do well with formula, he just didn't like it and our pediatrician was okay with the plan as well. You are doing a great job! Crazy how milk you were able to donate!! Jealous!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm sorry that it was so difficult at first, but congrats on sticking with it! How great that you were able to donate so much. From the time I went back to work at 3 months I was (almost) exclusively pumping, and I was always just barely ahead of demand.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think I talked about mine a bit and it actually took me a long time to be grateful that we had it easy and no issues. If I being honest I am not a fan of it at all, no single reason just a lot of little things and I feel guilty saying that! I know it is best for baby and if I can again I will do it for 9-10 months like with A and hope for no issues this time around too!
    You did an awesome job! I think there is a lot of pressure for it to be perfect and never use formula etc which is all crap, like anything you do what is best for you and baby. And do not feel guilty now at all, and it is awesome you had a supply stocked - totally jealous there!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Way to go Leigh. I think every mom I have talked to that breasts feed has said that it is so challenging but so worth it. I am glad you were able to get her to latch as I think that exclusively pumping sounds even more difficult. I think you should pat yourself on the back for solely sustaining her with breast milk for a whole 8 months! Those cheeks she has are because of you! I'm glad you have such a supportive husband as I imagine it's exhausting and frustrating to figure out!

    Also - I know lots of women that use nipple shields so I think you are in good company in having used them for awhile!

    ReplyDelete
  8. You're so right Leigh, every mom's story is so different! It blows my mind how something so natural and seemingly straightforward can be so challenging. And there are the moms that don't get maternity leave or are forced back to work super early, especially under 6 months - wow, what a challenge that must be! I commend you for all the pumping you did to keep your supply going (and feed babies in need). Pumping is one thing I was so glad to get to avoid for the most part. Thank you for sharing your story!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It sounds like you did a great job and did everything right! I have heard from multiple friends that they struggled with breast feeding and had latching problems! It is not as natural and "easy" as we all grow up assuming it will be or as it is made to look!! I'm glad it all worked out for you guys in the end but I'm sorry you had to deal with some rude LC :(

    ReplyDelete
  10. omg is breastfeeding ever hard! <3

    ReplyDelete
  11. I loved reading your story! I keep thinking I should write mine. I used a nipple shield for the first few months because it was just too painful without it! Thank god for nipple shields lol. So sorry you had such a crappy experience with some of the LCs you met with. Were you able to provide anonymous feed back on them? I can't help but feel sorry for all the women that may have given up because they weren't as strong as you. Why be in a profession like that if you aren't going to be helpful?! Sheesh. Anyway, you are doing awesome and should be nothing but proud of your journey :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. You should be very proud of your story! I am always so curious reading other mamas stories. I need to write mine down now! Good job Mama!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a great story Leigh, Thank you so much from sharing. This has inspired me to write my own! Mothers feeding their baby's (in whatever way they chose) is something I am pretty passionate about. I'm going to try to gather my thoughts in a concise fashion haha. I'm sorry you felt shame for using a nipple shield at first. That is very unfair to you. I also think it is very unfortunate that you had to deal with certain LC's who weren't good. As a nurse who works in postpartum I'm often one of the first points of contact with the whole teaching to breastfeed thing and it just makes me have a pit in my stomach when I hear that there are people out there who make others feel like bad mothers because the feeding isn't going how they think it should be. News Flash - It isn't up to ME or to THEM how it should be to YOU. It's up to YOU. I also know how it is to be that nurse massaging and hand expressing to help out a mother when the baby isn't latching at first - I hope you know that the majority of us think nothing negative of this - I know for myself it means that I am helping you to feed your baby and establish your milk and having a baby is a hard enough experience on its own, let alone trying to figure out how to position a baby and watch for a correct latch! For me this role is meant to be supportive and educational - never condescending or negative. You have weathered the struggles you faced so amazingly! I hope you are proud of that and don't feel any shame at all for introducing formula. You are a GREAT mother to Amelia and every choice you make for her is the right choice for her. No other professional can tell you any different.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You should be very proud. I know how hard it was to begin with for you. In the hospital I had 1 amazing and one brutal LC. Thankfully the good one once we left and Ryder took a positive turn when my milk came in. I hate how ppl turn up their nose to formula. I think we are lucky we have that option!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...