I’ve really enjoyed reading others stories of breastfeeding – successful and unsuccessful – so I wanted to do the same here for others.
I haven’t had a chance to blog about it yet, but since Brady was premature he was in the Progressive Care Nursery for about 30 hours after he was born. Since I had a cesarean I was laid up in bed for the first 12 hours and couldn’t get to him to attempt breastfeeding, so they started him on formula. That was the last thing I wanted, but it was important for him to have something to eat since he had low blood sugar at that point. Even if I could have started breastfeeding immediately, my colostrum probably still wouldn’t have been enough.
On day two in the hospital the lactation consultant made her first visit. Had it not been for her I really am unsure if I would have made it. I did not believe in myself at all and was certain I would never produce anything. If she hadn’t promised me that I would, I probably would have given up on my milk supply that
day. She brought me the Medela Symphony pump and I started pumping every few hours for 15 minutes each time. For the first, hell, 24 hours? I didn’t make a single drop. Finally during one session I pumped 1cc of colostrum, a minuscule amount but I was ecstatic since I was sure nothing would ever come out. Seeing something distributed from my body that was nutritious for my baby was quite empowering. We saved every ounce of that colostrum and fed it to Brady via a syringe prior to his formula bottle.
Once Brady was able to leave the PCN for feedings I attempted breastfeeding. Whenever I would put him to my breast and try to get him to latch on he would scream. We tried different positions and techniques but nothing worked. We even tried putting him to the breast and inserting a tiny tube in the side of his mouth to pass formula through in an attempt to trick the little guy (similar to the SNS system.) He had already gotten used to a long, rubber, bottle nipple and the softness of mine was frustrating to him. Classic case of nipple confusion. So the LC suggested a nipple shield; a flimsy piece of plastic that fits over your own nipple to emulate a bottle nipple. That totally worked for us.
For the rest of our hospital stay I would breastfeed for a few minutes, and then give him formula to ensure he had a full belly until my milk came in. By the time we got home I was producing milk and was finally able to say good riddance to the formula. Throughout the last six weeks I have tried numerous times to convince him to eat without the shield. Once in a while if the stars align and he’s feeling froggy he will latch on my breast without it, but most of the time he won’t and I’m fine with that. If that tiny piece of plastic is the difference in breastfeeding and not then I’ll take it.
I still can’t figure out why, but for the first week or so he refused to nurse at night. I think it probably had something to do with me attempting to feed him while I was tired and I just wasn’t doing it right. It took quite a while for the two of us to get in sync and each time I sat down to feed him it was a frustrating strand of position changes until one worked. Luckily I was able to pump a little here and there and give him a bottle during the night. At some point he just stopped needing that.
For me, breastfeeding has been a long process of perseverance. It started off rocky and is still rocky some days. My son loves to nurse and wants to do it constantly. I don’t sleep for longer than 2 or 3 hours at a time. Ever. I can’t get assistance because even if he is fed a breast milk bottle, he still wants to nurse. It’s difficult to make plans or leave the house. If it weren’t for my insane determination I probably would have quit, and totally understand the people that do. I find some help in knowing that when he turns six months he will begin to eat other foods and the breastfeeding will slow way down. Let the countdown begin…