As I write this blog entry, I am still struggling with breastfeeding. It never occurred to me during my pregnancy that I could have issues in this area. I figured my milk supply would come in, my baby would latch, and we would be one happy family.
Jillian was placed on my breast within minutes after I gave birth to her. She latched on great. In fact, throughout my stay at the hospital, the nurses raved about how strong her latch was.
This left me confident. Probably overly confident.
Once I got home and started to settle into a routine, my milk supply came in. I thought everything was going well, even though nursing hurt. I just figured that was normal.
Fast forward to Jillian's 2nd week Pediatrician appointment. I was extremely disappointed to find out that she had not gained back her original birth weight. The pediatrician suggested we supplement with formula and that we go see a lactation consultant. The words formula rattled in my brain, and I associated that word with failure. I wasn't providing enough for my daughter. I cried all the way home.
I made an appointment with a Lactation Consultant (LC) for the next day. The LC weighed Jillian, then had me feed her on the breast, then weighed her again to ascertain exactly how much milk she was getting out of me. Jillian was barely getting an ounce off of each breast. She had a decent latch, but she would get tired at the breast and start to snack. Due to this snacking my milk supply suffered. The LC advised me to start pumping after each feeding to help increase my milk supply. I was also advised to feed Jillian every 3 hours. In the meantime I would still supplement with formula or breast milk from the pump.
You can imagine what sort of crazy schedule this was.
1) Breastfeeding Jillian - 40 minutes
2) Bottle feed her breast milk or Formula - 10 minutes
3) Pumping right after - 2o minutes
Then throw in a diaper change, and 2 - 15 minute burp sessions, and cleaning the pump accessories. Then repeat all of this every 3 hours.
I was able to handle this around the clock schedule for about a week before I lost it. My milk supply did increase, but not that much. I started to get so angry and resentful; feeding my baby became a *chore*. I was mad at myself. Why was my body failing me? All of these feelings were eating me up.
Now mix all of this in with baby blues and you have one wrecked new mom.
Poor Tim. My husband was the sounding board for much of my anger and my tears. Finally we both agreed that I would exclusively pump. This would allow Tim to feed Jillian during one of the midnight feedings, and allow me to rest. This worked for a while, but the pumping every 3 hours didn't allow me any freedom.
I felt like a prisoner to my pump. I couldn't leave the house for more than an hour, not to mention, I had to time my pumping schedule with Jillian's feeding schedule so I could actually pump.
We then made another adjustment to the pumping schedule. I am no longer pumping at night. I pump right before I go to bed (between 8 pm and 10 pm), and then right after Jillian's 2nd morning feeding (between 6 am and 8 am). During the day I supplement with 2 bottles of formula. This allows me to space out my pump schedule so I can a) get some sleep, and b) get things done during the day.
Right now Jillian gets 28 ounces of food a day. 2/3 of this is breast milk and 1/3 is formula.
I read this quote on someone's blog the other day and it made me smile:
"Remember formula won't kill your baby, and breast milk won't make them fly."
My breast feeding saga still continues, but I wanted to share my story in hopes that it could help someone out there struggling with the same thing. Formula is not evil. Repeat. Formula is not evil. I think ultimately a happy mom = a happy baby. It's hard to let go of the guilt, but it slowly goes away. I promise.
If I had any advice to give I would say:
1) Make small goals. If breastfeeding is challenging, tell yourself each morning that you just need to get through today.
2) Talk to a lactation consultant right away. The nurses at the hospital are not lactation consultants. Even if your baby is latching okay, talk to one anyway.
3) Invest in a great pump. I use the Madela Advanced Pump and Style.
4) Let your partner assist in the late night feedings.
5) Do your best ---- if you can't breastfeed, it's okay. Remember that. Tell yourself you are still a great mom, because you are. Go treat yourself to a pedicure or a new pair of shoes, and remember that your baby loves you no matter what.