Hollie's Breastfeeding Experience

Posted by  | Saturday, December 1, 2007  at 10:09 PM  
Hey readers! I have missed you! I must apologize for my delayed post this week. I'm in Georgia visiting my side of the family and have just now found the time to post concerning breastfeeding.



I have always wanted to breastfeed. I knew breastfeeding was going to be challenging, but I was determined to hunker down and get the victory! Since Laney was sitting-up-looking-pretty in her breech position, I had to have a c-section. My milk started to come in on the fourth day, but really not full-force until the fifth and sixth day. I believe this delay was due to the fact that my body did not go through the natural progression of labor and the natural hormonal change, signifying to my body that it needed to prepare itself to provide food for my baby. This caused so many problems with breastfeeding Laney, problems that I did not anticipate. Laney was STARVING in the hospital. She was born at 7 lbs, 8 oz and lost over a pound in the hospital, which was not good to say the least. This brought on stress and stress can affect your milk supply.

Since Laney was still coughing up a lot of the fluid in her lungs, (due to the fact that the fluid was not squeezed out of her through natural childbirth, like it was meant to) we were a bit hesitant to sleep at night with her in our room. The sound of that fluid gurgling in her throat was enough to make my heart stop. Thus, we sent Laney to the nursery at night to be watched by the staff. I remember waking Hugh up from our deep-state of sleep, as I heard her coming down the hall SCREAMING her head off. Hugh would ask in desperation (in hopes of getting more zzzz's), "How do you know it's her?" Oh, I knew. I just knew it was her. I remember the nurses commenting on the fact that my baby "sure had a temper". (That wasn't a very smart thing to say to a new, very hormonal mother, who just had her abdominal cut wide open, who had not gotten any sleep whatsoever, and who was on codeine sporting a catheter. Ha!) She was so hungry and had a very strong suck, which was great, but I was bleeding by the end of day one and the consultants were astonished! I tried to ask for all the advice I could get, but I noticed that everyone had conflicting breastfeeding advice, which was a bit confusing. There was no doubt about it, Laney was losing weight, I had no milk (just colostrum), and the staff was pressuring us to do something about this weight loss. I knew that if I was to give her formula, we would be starting a terrible habit and creating a drastic toll on my future milk supply (that was non-existent, mind you), but I had no choice. We syringe fed Laney formula in the hospital as a supplement (.5 ounce) until my milk came in. I was already feeling defeated at this point, but I was sure that things would iron out after a few days.

Well, they didn't. We were going to the pediatrician every other day for a weight check (in the middle of flu season). We had a lactation consultant come out to help get the ball rolling. By the time it was all over with, they had me buried in mass of pillows, and as soon as I was all comfy, sitting amongst my 18 pillows strategically placed for breastfeeding success, the phone would ring, Laney would decide to coat my shoulder in spit-up or I would need the breastfeeding/poopie log that was out of arm's reach. More often than not, I felt like the little kid on "A Christmas Story" whose arms were so stuffed by having too many coats on, that they were hanging in limbo straight out to each side. Needless to say, pillow-land didn't last long. lol.

On a more serious note, Laney would constantly pull off, scream uncontrollably, and arch her back every time we'd nurse. She didn't have thrush. I had a good supply of milk and the let down was there. The let down wasn't too strong. I just figured she had terrible gas pains. Right about then, the tears would begin to flow. Just when everything was as it should have been on day two, things were still going awry. What was wrong? We stayed in this state of confusion and tears for almost three months. I had a hard first three months of Motherhood. Hearing and finding me crying in Laney's nursery, with my baby asleep in my lap and my head in my hands was a common occurrence for my husband. Hearing, "This is so, so hard. Why? What am I doing wrong?" were daily occurrences. I knew I wasn't depressed, since my baby blues wore off after 10 days, but I cried so much for three months that I just didn't think I could cry anymore. I thought that this was what Motherhood was going to be like. I thought that every feeding for the first year would be just like this and yet I still was fighting tooth and nail to make it work. Deep in my heart, I still wanted to breastfeed. However, one minute I was all about it, an hour later I was telling my husband that I can't take it anymore and that I'm going to quit. Well, I just couldn't quit. I couldn't. I knew that I had milk to give and I was going to find a way to nourish my daughter with it. By this point, I had more negative experiences with my daugther than positive ones (or so it felt), for all you do is breastfeed and sleep. I needed relief, and I needed some positive moments with my baby girl. Something had to give though, and my sanity was not going to be it. So I surrendered to the pump. What a liberating day! I felt like a million bucks. Who would have thought that a little machine could bring so much happiness. Ha! I was able to go from breast to bottle for a little while, but very quickly Laney realized how much easier it was to drink from a bottle than to nurse.

To my dismay, the struggles did not end there. Laney still was a very difficult baby to feed, even through the bottle. I didn't feel too much rejection though, since it was not my breast that she was rejecting. I could handle this. She was still arching her back, only drinking half of the bottle(aka: snacking), and crying a lot through feedings. She would burp like grown man and pass gas like....like a grown man. LOL. Definitely nobody but Hugh and I could feed Laney and public feedings just didn't happen, even using the bottle. She made the biggest scene. Something was still very wrong. Finally, after a bit of research on the internet, I realized that Laney had a milk-protein allergy. The protein is called "casein" and she was getting torn up on the inside from all the dairy I was eating. Only 1% of babies are allergic to lactose, so I figured it wasn't the lactose. How come the consultants didn't even mention this? I thought dairy would make them have actual gas, but I didn't know that it would affect Laney's actual nursing. Please know that dairy will ruin your breastfeeding experience if your baby has any sensitivity to dairy. I had to go off all dairy for a few months until her system matured a bit.

In a few days, Laney will turn one year old. Praise the good, gracious Lord! I'm so thankful to Him for giving me perseverance and for allowing me to breastfeed Laney, even through a horrendous three months of breastfeeding and pumping for nine months. I've learned so much in this first year, for it definitely "broke me in" to Motherhood. Hee-hee! Since we are again on the brink of flu-season, I will pump once a day after she turns one year old(once I can get my supply down) until March to get her through the flu-season. Pumping once a day will be a BREEZE! I tote my "breast friend" everywhere I go. We are pretty close, but I will say that I won't be sad when we go our separate ways.


What would I change?
  • I'd request a pump while in the hospital, and I'd pump like a maniac to get that milk supply in faster. We did in fact request the pump, but the nurse looked at my husband like he had two heads. We didn't know the push the matter, but hind sight is 20/20. Next time I'll be sure to push as hard as I can get that a hold of that pump at the hospital. My friend who had a c-section was in the hospital at the same time I was and she pumped like crazy so the nurses could feed her baby at night while they slept. Their baby was in NI CU and had to be fed through a nasal tube. She had a good supply of milk after a few days and before she left the hospital.


  • I'd start on the herbs "fenugreek" and "alfalfa" much sooner to help bring in my milk supply. These are herbs in capsules that are safe and very effective for boosting your milk supply. I started these when Laney was around one month old and slowly weaned myself off about after she turned three months.


  • I would bathe my breastfeeding experience in prayer while pregnant. I am already praying for my next breastfeeding experience and I'm not even close to being pregnant again. Please consider this very important factor in preparing yourself and your baby for breastfeeding.


  • Relax more: I feared that Laney would wither away in those first few months. Every weight check was nerve-racking for me. She was a lot smaller than a lot of babies for the majority of her first year, but she has caught up and is now sporting big, chubby thighs! God is in control, not me. I would live out Phil 4 by trying to not "be anxious about anything" and by trusting the Lord more. I'd give the Lord my burdens instead of carrying them around and realize that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Boy, I wish I would have lived that lesson out in those first few months.


  • Open up more: Call a friend and pour your heart out to them. Ask for prayer more. Open up and pour out your tears about your struggles. It's not healthy to keep those feelings bottled in. I had my handful of very close friends that I called and cried my head off to for an hour, or left voice mails into the wee hours of the night hoping they'd pray for me come morning, but I would do it even more had I to do it all over again. I wouldn't just keep it to my "handful" of friends. Other women need to know that you're not "Super Mom" and that you do have struggles. Young mothers and mothers-to-be need to see these struggles in your life and how you overcome them. All too often women camouflage pretty much everything that shows imperfection and that has caused so much insecurity among women.


  • Formula as a supplement: If you intend/hope to breastfeed 100% of the time, try your best to steer clear of any supplement, esp in the first few months. You need all the stimulation you can get to tell your body to make more milk, so as to keep up with the needs of your growing baby. Knowing that I'd get my hands on a sweet, hospital-grade pump next time around (hee-hee), my hope would be that my milk would come in sooner, and I wouldn't even have to go through the agony again of having to decide to supplement or not.


  • Laugh: I'd laugh more. WAY more. I laugh a lot now, but when the rubber met the road and I was getting "squeezed" by stressors out of my control, there wasn't much laughter(once my codeine wore off.) You HAVE to find relief. I encourage you to find humor in the every day occurrences in life.


I realize that there are so many factors that play into breastfeeding our babies. I could never have pumped had I had other children to raise as well. I believe you have to take in every factor in every Mother's experience to feed her baby. Formula is an answer to prayer to so many people. It was an answer to my prayers in the hospital when my newborn was losing weight fast, even though I was encouraged not to accept it. I will tweek the situation next time, but it definitely was an answer to prayer. I agree with the other authors on here that we must respect everyone's choice to how they want to provide for their baby. Breastfeeding isn't for everyone, but I highly encourage it. The time spent pumping, cleaning, toting, (and entertaining your crawling child who is tugging on your pump tubes) was twice the work and a big thorn in the flesh, but I'm so happy that I made the sacrifice. I was incredibly sad those first few months for I wanted that special, calm, gentle bond that Mother and Baby share while breastfeeding. I can say that I DID have those special breastfeeding moments, but they were far outweighed by the stressful experiences. Being able to pump allowed me to still feel connected and bonded to my baby girl. I also chose to rock Laney to sleep and now you know why. I simply needed that sweet time with her. I cherish those moments. I encourage you to fight the fight if you have an iron will to breastfeed. You can do this. The outcome may not turn out the way you envision it, but I encourage you to do what you can within your realm of influence. You have no idea how delighted I am to know that Laney will have breast milk past her first year. I consider it a true blessing. This 12 month mark seemed like an eternity away and now it's here. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness to keep me going when I didn't think I could!

5 comments:

Shannon said...

Hollie, can I just say...

1. The 2nd time around was easier. Like you, I had a C-section and milk didn't come in for 4 or 5 days. But the 2nd time, I put Lilly to the breast more often, and for longer, and pumped a lot when we got home, and it came in by the 3rd day, and has been plentiful.

2. Spending a weekend with you last May was a huge inspiration to me to strive for a better nursing / pumping experience this time around.

3. About the Fenugreek - can you explain when and how often one should take it? Or provide a link for more information?

Thank you, Lovely Mama. As always, great post.
Shannon

Hollie said...

Hey Shannon,

Thanks sweet friend.

About Fenugreek, after talking with several Lactation Consultants and after some internet research, I found out that you must take much more than what the bottle says to take in order to increase the milk supply. What's listed on the bottle is for a daily supplement, regardless of affecting milk supply. With that said, I took:
3 capsules/3 times a day of both Fenugreek and Alfalfa
You want to keep augmenting the dosage until you smell "maple syrup" in your urine. I know, sounds kinda funny, but that's how you know you have enough.

Great site and information: www.kellymom.com Here are a few highlights:
-Dosages of less than 6 capsules/day (approx 3500 mg/day) produce no effect in many women.
-Mothers generally notice an increase in production 24-72 hours after starting the herb, but it can take two weeks for others to see a change.

Great questions!

Anonymous said...

Would you recommend starting on Fenugreek and Alfalfa right before the baby is born?

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

I have a friend who is pregnant with her 2nd baby. She is having a hard time with her first son who is ~17 months old because her milk supply is decreasing and he doesn't like milk. She has a very detailed post on her blog http://luke2-14.blogspot.com/ from Monday, 5/26/08, titled "Milk Snob". If you have time, can you read her post and see if you have any suggestions?

I only gave Carli breast milk for her first 7 months which I pumpled and it was heavily supplemented with formula since my milk supply was so low. I'm hoping things will go better this time around. I don't really have any advice for her since Carli transitioned to milk quite easily and loves yogurt.

Thanks!
Mariah

Queen Mother said...

I could empathize with much of the post. I was pregnant with my third when my second was just 10 months old. Breast-feeding has not gone well at first with any of my three. My third was the roughest. I had scabs and bleeding for the first nine-weeks. The lactation consultant said his latch looked fine but I knew everything did not feel fine. Just at the point I was ready to give up, he got the hang of it and now at four months old he nurses in 10 minutes every three hours...it is a breeze but during those nine weeks I went solely to pumping for awhile (while my soon to be three year old and soon to be two year old were running around and at times begging for attention). Pumping with two other littles running around is exhausting, extremely time-consuming but also worth-it if it buys your newborn some time to figure things out and you to keep breast feeding. You will be confined to the couch alot but it is doable! Just try breast-feeding as often as you can bare it, pray alot, and hang in there!

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