Thursday, April 8, 2010

Breastfeeding Updates

Not much has really changed since my last post, but I do know a little more about what's going on, and am trying to deal with them as best I can. I still have this real feeling that my body keeps letting me down, and I am not sure how to handle that. I am feeling a little better overall, still fairly emotional but not crying over every little thing and nothing at all so much anymore. I am coming to terms with my birth experience more, and will probably write Robbie's birth story some time in the next week or two, which should help me even more. After asking some more questions of my midwife and the doctor who did the surgery, I do feel that it was necessary and we made the right choice, but I am still mourning my "vision" of a natural, gentle birth, and the loss of being able to see and feel my son come into this world, and to be with him during his first minutes of life outside the womb.

Breastfeeding is not going well. I am still determined to try, I am going to keep breastfeeding as much as I can. Right now, though, it's looking like my supply is really low, and so far herbal & dietary supplements have not been enough to bring it to where it needs to be. I saw my midwife Tuesday for a lactation consult, and baby's latch and everything is good, but we had some concerns about my supply. I told her it seemed like the baby was losing weight again, and she got me in at the pediatrician's office, which confirmed it, so I will be supplementing him for now. I am renting a hospital-grade breast pump, but still not pumping near enough to make up for the difference. We are hoping that the pumping will help bring up my supply, and I am still trying to get in touch with one of the lactation consultants my midwife recommended, to see what else we can do. I am determined to make this succeed, but I am wondering if determination is enough (because it obviously wasn't in birth).

One thing I'm having major trouble with right now is the whole guilt thing, and second-guessing myself. I keep trying to do what's best for my son, and I feel like I keep screwing it up. I feel really badly because I know he was going hungry for several days and losing weight, and it was my fault because he was not getting enough milk to meet his needs (even though I didn't know about the supply thing & he was nursing regularly, I should have known because of the low number of diapers). Now, I feel bad for having to give him formula, because I worry about how safe it may be since there have been so many recalls, and because I worry that by supplementing I am just decreasing my milk supply even further or making him prefer it over breastmilk. It all seemed so easy in the hospital, when he latched right on and seemed satisfied in the first few days, so I had no reason to think I would run into problems.


  1. Try not to worry about harming your baby with the formula. Worry isn't going to protect him and will only cause you more stress which DOES impact your supply. The best thing you can do is take a deep breath and nurse, then supplement in small amounts until he seems satisfied (with expressed milk first, then formula if necessary). Count his diapers and do a feeding consult with a LC where he gets weighed before, during, and after a feeding. Don't worry about those early days -- babies are SUPPOSED to lose weight, and he was likely pumped on IV fluids which he shed in those early days.

    It's normal to second-guess and have feelings of disappointment about your birth when it doesn't go the way you'd dreamed and hoped. Let yourself work through those feelings. I took the better part of a year to process all my feelings about my son's birth, and although it doesn't weigh on me like it used to, I still get angry sometimes that I didn't do the things I should have known to do, to avoid the interventions I didn't want. And I didn't even have a c-section, or an epidural (which I really, really wanted to avoid). It just wasn't what I wanted -- I had Ambien, Nubain, and Pitocin and barely remember my son's birth because I was so exhausted and "out of it".

    As a result of my long, exhausting labor, and not initiating breastfeeding very well, and using nipple shields, I had supply issues in the early weeks. Nicholas gained but very slowly at first. I rented a hospital-grade pump and it did help. Those first 6 weeks were awful (we had latch issues on top of everything), but then it just got so much easier and we're still going strong at 14 months. I'm so glad I stuck with it, and I hope you will too. Please let me know if I can help in any way, via facebook or e-mail or twitter.

  2. I thought babies losing weight in the first week or so was normal? any way well done you - and don't give up - it takes a while for both of you to learn a new skill. :-)

  3. Thanks. for the encouragement.

    I'm still having to supplement, but still bf'ing as well, and he's gained back to within an ounce of his birth weight, so that's looking better. My milk also seems to be coming in more, so I'm replacing as much formula as I can with pumped milk (in addition to letting him nurse first), in hopes to get back to breastmilk only soon.

    It is normal for babies to lose some weight at first, but the doctors get worried if it's more than 10% of their weight, especially if weight gain afterward is slow, or it keeps dropping. In our case, he went from 10lb3 down to 8lb12, gained about 6 oz back, then lost weight again and was acting different (more crying & less playful and alert when awake) plus not having many wet and hardly any dirty diapers. Now, he's acting like he feels better and is getting enough to eat.


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