lets talk about breastfeeding.




I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed Shepherd.  Before I had him, I obviously didn't know a lot about it, and I tend to be a little obsessive and a planner.  So I read everything I could about breastfeeding, I attended a La Leche League meeting, I went to a class put on by the Health Department.  In every prayer, I asked God to please let breastfeeding work out for us.  I wanted to be as prepared as possible, because I have heard so much about women it didn't work for, and I didn't want that to be me.  I knew I couldn't just assume it would fall into place.  Maybe it would have, but I need to know ahead of time what to expect!  I also knew breastfeeding would not be easy, and I mentally prepared myself for that.  I told Joey that in the after weeks of having Shepherd, if it was hard, not to let me quit.  I had it in my birth plan, that I wanted to hold Shepherd as soon as possible, so that I could begin breastfeeding.  I also had it in my birth plan that none of the nurses were to give Shepherd a bottle or a pacifier.
It of course was not easy, but I expected that!
In the hospital, babies are expected to lose a little weight, but Shepherd lost too much.  He was born at 6 lbs 10 oz, and got down to 5 lbs 13 oz.  His doctor called him a "happy starver."  He was acting just as happy as could be, but wasn't eating and I didn't realize it because he wasn't acting hungry.  I felt terrible!
I did get to nurse Shepherd as soon as I was finished with the C-section, and during the hospital stay I nursed him every few hours.  But, as I had never done it before, I didn't realize he wasn't latching on and wasn't feeding.  The lactation consultant had me use a nipple guard to make it easier for him and that still wasn't working.  I was devastated when his doctor said we needed to start making sure he got an ounce every 3 hours.  I was pumping, but not getting enough milk because it hadn't come in yet, so this meant I had to supplement with formula.  I of course wanted Shepherd to get the nourishment he needed, but I was so upset that it wasn't coming from me.  We mixed the formula in with as much breast milk as I could pump out and were feeding that to him.  At each feeding I would try to nurse him, but he just wouldn't nurse, so we would have to do a bottle.  I was so upset! I cried and cried!  I didn't understand...I knew it wouldn't be easy, and I didn't expect it to be, but I was doing everything I could to fix the problem and I didn't even know what the problem was.
I thought maybe my milk hadn't come in yet, but when I told the doctor how much I was pumping, she said that it definitely had come in.  The good news at this point, was that I was pumping enough that we no longer had to use formula, and could give him breast milk in the bottles.  This was about 5 days after we had him.  
Now, this is what no one told me.  If I had known this ahead of time, I would have been prepared and understood why Shepherd wasn't nursing:
My milk was in, but it was still transitioning from colostrum to breast milk.  That made it thicker.  I think Shepherd just couldn't get it out!  
On Shepherd's 1 Week birthday, it all changed.  Joey and I were both getting up for every feeding, because I needed his emotional support and help every time I tried getting Shepherd to latch on.  It was about 4:30am and we were sitting in the nursery, trying to get him to latch on, but anticipating giving him a bottle.  I held him up to nurse him, and he latched on and starting sucking!  Neither of us even said anything because we didn't want to jinx it!  Finally, after he kept nursing and it didn't appear to be a fluke, we were so excited!  It was finally happening!  
After he was full, I pumped out a little more.  Joey compared the milk I had just pumped, with my milk in the fridge from the day before.  You could see a huge difference.  It was obvious that the milk from earlier was much thicker.
So, if I had known that it may take a little longer than expected for my milk to fully come in, I wouldn't have been so upset thinking why is it not working.  Now Shepherd is a perfect little nurser.  We still use the nipple guard, but I'm working on weaning him from it.  

Breastfeeding Shepherd has been the most rewarding experience of my life.  I love knowing that I am providing him with the most perfect nutrition, that has so many benefits for him and me.  I love that I am literally the only person on Earth who can give that to him.  I love the bonding it provides us.  I love that every few hours I get him all to myself!  The fact that it hasn't always been easy, but I pushed through and made it work makes it that much more rewarding.

If any other mommas out there have questions about breastfeeding or just need support, feel free to email me!  
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10 comments:

  1. I was just talking to a friend of mine who has a baby a year older than ours (so a little over a year old, haha) and I was telling her how I never anticipated how difficult breastfeeding would be! so glad I stuck it out too because I'm with you - definitely such an amazing experience/thing to give to our little loves! :)

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  2. Im right there with you, breastfeeding is no easy task. or privlage i should say. its wonderful and hard all at the same time. I had a interesting experience as well. mine was the oposite, my baby girl was like a savage, she has the hardest latch, the most painful thing ever. The dr. said she was latching correctly, so i was confused to why i bled, cracked, was in tears everytime when it should be a special bonding time, i could barely stand it. i started using a shield as well, still do, and it makes it SO much easier. here is my question, why not use the shield the whole year(ish) i breastfeed, whats the harm? have you found anything on this?

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    1. Glad it is working for you now! That would be so hard to have it hurt everytime. I don't see any harm in using the shield the whole time. For me, the reason I don't want to use it is because it is so messy! Is your girl like that? Shepherd will fall asleep and milk will stay in the shield then leak all over me! It is also just a hassle for me to get myself situated with the shield. I want to be able to breastfeed in public if I need to, and I don't think I would feel comfortable or it would be easy having to make sure that nipple shield is in place! I breastfed him in a dressing room at Macy's one day and had to keep on him the whole time so the guard wouldn't fall off. I was afraid it would fall on the floor then I wouldn't want to put it back on because of germs! So for me I think if I have to use the guard the whole time, it will be ok, but for convenience I would rather not!

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  3. I too have had a roller coaster of a ride with BF. my baby was tongue tied when he was born so he had trouble latching at the hospital. I was given a shield to use in order to help him latch on until we could get to a specialist to have his tongue tie taken care of. I had to pump a lot and it led to me having an over supply issue and the second week home with baby I got mastitis and horrible painful nipples!! It was the worst! I don't know how many times I wanted to just give up. But I wanted to give this to my baby so badly I just kept setting short goals for myself and each time I made it to that goal I would set a new one. I started out saying if I can make it a month, then 3, then 4... Things didn't get easy or enjoyable for me until 8-10 weeks. My little angel is 7 months old and I STILL use the nipple shield. It has been only a small inconvenience to have to clean it before each feeding and BF in public is a little more of a challenge. But it was a tool that has allowed me to continue for so long that I figured, why not? As long as your baby is growing and gaining weight like he should, you have nothing to worry about! My newest challenge is feeding the ever distracted baby boy. He is constantly pulling off to see the dog or my husband who sneezed downstairs, it never ends! Its ok to want to give up every now and then, its hard work after all. But it does get easier and it's so worth it!

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    1. I'm glad it worked for you! That would be hard with mastitis! That makes me feel better that you are able to BF in public even with the nipple guard. Hopefully I'll feel comfortable enough with it eventually!

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  4. I'm so glad it worked out for you, Jess. We had a happy starver too with #1....until his first day home from the hospital when he was just starving and very UNhappy about it! Unfortunately for me, I was finally diagnosed when he was 7 weeks old with a birth defect that will never allow me to exclusively nurse my babies. So I weaned my #1 right then and there (I was on 4 antibiotics for double-staph mastitis and was miserable, plus #1 didn't like my milk on all those drugs and had MAJOR spit-up that wasn't AS bad (though still bad) on formula since it is thicker).

    I'm currently weaning my 11 week old #2 (plan to be weaned by the time he's 13 weeks....I'm taking it SUPER slow to try and avoid mastitis) because frankly, 11 weeks of nursing & bottle feeding at EVERY feeding is just exhausting, and he's already gotten more (and better, non-drugged-up) milk than his big brother. He loves it, and I love it, but it is just too much.

    I envy women who can exclusively breastfeed because it is so much easier (over the long haul) than bottle-prep, formula expense, etc.... once it finally settles in, that is. It is obviously much more difficult up front, as you described. It is a beautiful provision for your baby and a beautiful time to bond and snuggle with him for as long as you continue.

    AND PS: good job weaning from the shield. Not only is it messier and a challenge for public nursing, but it can actually deplete your supply or minimize your supply since the baby's mouth isn't directly creating the stimulation to the skin on your nipple to trigger as much production. It is obviously a great option for those who need it when they do, but my MD IBCLC (the one who diagnosed my Insufficient Glandular Tissue issues) despises them for the reason that they just don't let your body truly have the proper ratio of supply & demand for milk production with that barrier between the demander and the supplier/producer. I was on it with #1 from Week 2-5 and weaned him off, and it was much better once he was off... so much easier!

    You're doin' great, Mama! Keep enjoying your beautiful family!

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    1. Your boys are too cute Dawn! I'm sorry about your Insufficient Glandular Tissue! Ugh and mastitis on top of that! It would be a lot to breastfeed and bottle feed every time, especially with the shield. How did you wean yours from the nipple shield? I've heard that about it affecting supply and it worries me!! I try when he nurses to first offer him the bare nipple and he has latched on a few times, but then its like he gets annoyed and starts fussing. I feel bad making him work for it when hes fussing because hes hungry! I guess I could be more consistent trying to offer it without the shield. What worked for you??

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    2. My LC recommended offering with shield, then pulling him off after a bit and removing it and latching him back on. Sam didn't like that plan, though, and so we just tried it bare one day, and I was determined to do it...he just tried a few times and then latched on. Granted, we had done the LC way a few times in her office over a few days when she helped me, so maybe he had it figured out from those times?

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  5. Where did you get your rocker at? Is it white? Trish

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    1. It is from Babies R Us! I think it is called Klaussner Virginia glider and the color is "oatmeal"

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