Thursday, April 1, 2010

Baby Blues & Breastfeeding Problems - My First Week As A Mother

At one week postpartum now, I'm still feeling like a combination between the last two photos now. I have been avoiding most online stuff, including blogging, and keeping my phone off, because I'm very emotional and not wanting to "deal with" anything, including contact with other people. I'm very hesitant to even blog about this, but I feel like someone needs to, because everyone is telling me this is normal, but it's not something many people share, and is really catching me off guard. My midwife says it seems more like just the regular "baby blues" to her than postpartum depression yet, but in some ways I feel a lot more out of sorts with this than I did with major depressive disorder in the past.

I have spent so much of the past week crying. Some of it was in labor, not from the pain, but just because I was overwhelmed, felt very unsupported by my husband, and like everyone was just waiting on me to give up or thinking I was being unrealistic for not having went ahead and planned a c-section (I laid there and cried for about half an hour when we decided that's what we were going to have to do but, in a way, getting those feelings out ahead of time made me feel better about it). No, it's just random. I am so worried about doing things "right" and afraid I'm letting my baby down. It literally breaks my heart to hear him cry, and I feel so helpless when I don't know why he's crying and can't do anything to fix it or make him stop, so I usually just end up holding him and crying along with him.

In the hospital, my husband and midwife were adamant about getting him to me as early as possible to breastfeed, and he did great. He latched right on and started nursing and, although he had trouble on one side a few times, there were no issues, and the nurses all said he was doing great. He was also not fussy at all and hardly ever cried. The first day home he did pretty good, but he started crying that evening and was hard to comfort or calm down. My husband and I got into an argument, and I was having trouble relaxing to nurse. I really needed his help, and he was going to leave instead. My sister called in the middle of all this, and her and my mom came over so I wouldn't be alone. They brought stuff for sandwiches and were trying to be helpful, but just ended up telling me how impossible it was for them to breastfeed, how the baby sounded hungry, and I should just give him a bottle of formula. This went on most of the next day (Sunday), too, and just had me worried, upset, doubting myself, and having major troubles nursing.

Sunday night, I decided to block out all the negativity, relax, and take him into the bedroom to feed him, so we had peace and quiet instead of distractions and stress from people, television, etc. He settled down and ate much better there. On Monday morning, I had a visit at the pediatrician's office with a nurse practitioner who is supposed to specialize in breastfeeding issues. Not surprisingly, considering the troubles over the weekend, baby had lost too much weight (down to 8lb12oz from 10lb3). I asked for suggestions or advice on breastfeeding  to increase my milk supply, but he just gave me some formula samples and told me to supplement with a bottle after each feeding. I asked about a tube or sns to avoid nipple confusion, but he sort of blew off my concerns and said weight was his only concern and a bottle would be fine.

I felt so guilty giving him formula, but I didn't know what else to do, and he seemed so satisfied afterward, even though it made me even more worried about my milk. I didn't think to call anyone else, because I figured it would just confirm I couldn't breastfeed him, and I didn't want to hear that from anybody else. The good thing is he was back up to 9lb2oz at the weight check 2 days later, but the whole thing has my so upset and worried and doubting myself every time I feed him or he cries and doesn't stop after a minute or so.

I went to my midwife appointment on Tuesday, and just started crying when she asked how the baby was doing. I told her he was losing weight and I was worried about him, and not really getting any help from the pediatrician's office. She asked why I didn't call her, and told me she was there for any help I needed with the baby, not just the birth. She also said she'd thought about calling to check on me and wished she had, but hadn't wanted to wake me up. We (me, my midwife, her assistant, and a nurse), ended up just standing in the office for a while crying while they consoled me and told me I could breastfeed successfully and was not starving my baby (everyone knew how important a natural birth was to me and how much I wanted to avoid a c-section, and know this is one of the last things I had left that I really wanted for my baby and I). She made me feel a lot better about things, suggested some things to try and ways to slowly wean him off the supplements and back onto the breast exclusively, and set up an appointment with a lactation consultant for me next Tuesday.

Right now, I'm still worried, and trying to go without the formula, but gave him an ounce twice during late night & early morning feedings, just so I could get a little rest. I feel bad about that, because I thought I could get him back off it fast, but it's the only way for me to get any rest, and I don't know how to cope otherwise. I tried to pump some milk, to use that instead of formula, but the pump I have (one of the cheap Evenflo hand pumps) isn't working worth a damn - I can get more milk expressing by hand. I've had a headache since 2am, that even the Percocet is not helping, that I am assuming is from exhaustion. He still isn't having the regular bowel movements I keep hearing about (it's been one a day, none today yet, and  very thin, almost like pee, instead of  "seedy" or "yogurty"), so I'm worried about that as well. I'm hoping to make it until Tuesday, and maybe get some answers and help then.

I don't want people to get the wrong impression from this post. I am so in love with this little baby, and he is worth whatever it takes to get him healthy and raise him best, I am just so overwhelmed right now, and I don't know what to do. I love him so much, it's heartbreaking to thing that he's hurting or not doing well, and not knowing what to do or if there is even a problem, to "fix". A lot of times, it's just pure joy to hold him and watch him sleep or see the expressions he makes as he looks around at the world, but I have spent so much of the time too worried and exhausted to enjoy it all. I know now that a lot of other mothers go through the same type of thing, but I really underestimated it until I found myself in the middle of it. My mom went home early Wednesday morning, and my husband is back to work all day, and not very supportive of me to begin with, so I feel like it's me and baby against the world right now in so many ways.


  1. I am really sorry you are having to go through this! As I said on Twitter, I had some of the same problems. I cried a lot, I felt unsupported and I was so overwhelmed.

    My friend had planned a natural birth and ended up having a c-section and she experienced some of the same feelings. She felt like she had "failed" at natural child birth. :( You are doing great and you sound like a loving, caring mom! You can do this!! I promise!

    I hope you keep working at breastfeeding. The first 6 weeks are sometimes rough! My oldest had trouble latching on (I have inverted nipples) and she lost weight and got so weak I had to put her in the bath to wake her up so I could feed her. I went to a nursing consultant who showed me how help my baby latch on. I am so glad I did not give up!

    People telling you to give up and give him a bottle is not supportive at all! You were menat to feed you baby breastmilk! I wish I lived near you so I could help and support you, but I just wanted you to know that you can do it! I am sure the exhaustion and depression makes it so much worse for you to breastfeed. I had a rough 6 weeks with all 3 of mine, but I was determined to give them my milk. After that 6 week mark, it was so much better! Kind of like when people told me the morning sickness was over at 12 weeks. And it was!

    I hope things improve for you! Big hugs to you!! My phone number is on my Facebook page, so please feel free to call me if you want a neutral person to chat with. Or chat with me on Facebook. Sometimes it helps just to talk it out!

    BIG HUGS!!!!
    Lori (AKA treehugster)

  2. Lori said it all best. But I just wanted to agree that breastfeeding can be challenging in the early weeks, but EVERYTHING gets much better around that 6 week mark -- sleep, fussiness, alertness, eating, stomach issues -- and he will start to respond to you more and even smile at you! I'm so glad that I stuck with nursing through those early weeks because by the 2 month mark, it was so much easier and we're still going strong at 14 months.

    It's very common to have problems with your supply coming in after a c-section, but it sounds like stress is a bigger factor for you. Just try to remember that babies cry -- that's just what they do. It doesn't mean he's starving right that minute. And some of his birth weight was probably from all the IV fluids that were pumped into you, which he peed out after birth, thus the seemingly high weight loss. I definitely think you need to find a new ped. His response was completely inappropriate. He should have referred you to a LC and definitely not blown off your concerns about nipple confusion -- it's real and it sucks (no pun intended).

    As for the pump, if you can spare $100, consider buying this one: It's exactly like the highly regarded Ameda pump and costs MUCH less than the Medela pumps. I have used this pump to express milk to have a "freezer stash" and also used it for 2 nights when my husband and I went away for our anniversary and left my son with my mom when he was 6 months old. You might want to consider renting a hospital-grade pump to work on increasing your supply, but the LC will be able to help you with that decision next week.

    Please let me know if there's any way I can help. I, too, wish that I lived close-by sot hat I could come over and help you, listen to you, whatever you need. Instead, I'm going to give you 2 links: for SAHM moms (non-religious based)

    Both of these groups have provided great support to me in different ways. Please reach out and connect with other moms. I know how hard this can be -- I kept myself very isolated the first 6 months of my son's life, and regret it. These women will not judge you if you are unshowered, exhausted, or zombie-like from lack of sleep. They have all been there, and they can give you the help and support you need right now. That's why the groups exist.

  3. Lori,

    Thanks. I think a lot of my disappointment was over the birth - even though I know it was necessary and we tried everything we could, I still feel sort of like my body let me down, and the breastfeeding thing is sort of compounding that.

    I am definitely going to keep trying to breastfeed, but things aren't really looking good right now. Whether from stress or whatever, my supply is really low. It's frustrating because his latch is good, and he will try to eat, so everything seems like he should be getting enough, but he lost a lot more weight, so I'm having to supplement with formula for now. :(

    I am trying to take better care of myself and get more support now, I was just so overwhelmed and exhausted last week that it was all I could do to just to function. Thanks for the help & support. :)


    Thanks for the help, and for your email last week - it meant a lot, even though I wasn't very responsive at the time.

    I talked to my pediatrician about the "advice" I got, and that particular provider (my doctor is pretty good, this was a nurse practitioner in her office, and I won't be seeing him again). I am also working on breastfeeding support through my midwife and doula, and am still trying to get in touch with a lactation consultant (kept calling one and can't seem to reach her by phone, so am trying one of the LCs from the hospital as well).

    I am renting a Medela Symphony pump right now, but thanks for the advice on the Lansinoh, because I probably will end up buying one eventually. Right now, I am just trying to get my supply up, because even with the hospital grade pump it was really low.

    Thanks for the links as well. I'm on the message board for a semi-local moms group, and plan on going to some of their meetings & things once I feel more like going out (am still sore now, and not wanting to take the baby out much until he's at least 6 weeks). I will also be going to the La Leche meetings asap - was going to while I was still pregnant & was actually in town for that purpose one day, but ended up meeting my husband for dinner, and would have been running late so I didn't. I think part of my problems now and even in the past are because I do isolate myself, so I agree I need to get out, and I think being around other moms will really help right now.

  4. I just saw your last comment after I posted a new comment on your most recent post so sorry if I said something there that you've already addressed here! Just wanted to add that at least at our LLL meeting, they understand that pregnancy and babies make life complicated and wouldn't mind if you dropped in late! Our meetings are very informal, laid-back, just a great get-together to talk, relax, bond, and get support. I understand about not wanting to bring the baby out until 6 weeks and also I'm sure it's hard with you still recovering from surgery!

    About the MOMS Club, they might be able to give you some support at home -- like bring you meals or something like that. I realize it might be awkward since you haven't met them yet, but you have to take care of yourself and your family first, and not worry about what other people think right now! If they do a "meals for moms" program, you can pay those ladies back later by bringing meals to them when they need them!

    I think you are doing great and are much stronger than you realize. I was such a wreck the first few weeks, especially after my mom left on day 10. I think you're amazing for trying so hard to nurse, and it's true that ANY milk helps protect him and nourishes him. So many people give up after much smaller hurdles, or don't even bother trying. You are an awesome mama and don't forget it!!


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