This is part of an "In Their Own Words" series in honor of
Breastfeeding Awareness Month 2013. Here at Sweet Pea Births we celebrate
and honor all breastfeeding relationships, and want to share these stories with
you to empower and inspire you. No
matter how the journey starts, with help, support, and persistence, most
mothers can achieve the breastfeeding relationship they want with their
nurslings. If you would like to submit your story, please email me at
Sweet Pea Births understands that not all mothers can or want to
breastfeed. These stories are shared for
learning purposes, not to judge the choices we make when we feed our children.
Our pregnancy story included: high risk from the start, hyperemesis gravidarum before Kate Middleton made it “cool”, severe pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), breech presentation, significant scar tissue which made turning the baby impossible in the doctor’s opinion, and placenta accreta which led to a multi-liter hemorrhage during my c-section.
“What’s more important, feeding your baby or breastfeeding?” This was the question posed by my fourth lactation consultant (“LC”) prior to announcing that I was never going to breastfeed my baby and I should just give her formula. At the time, I had already followed the number one rule of “feed the baby” and she was already receiving formula so I’m not quite sure what I paid my $65 for.
Then came the tearful voicemail (and follow-up, less crazy email) to my fifth LC. Debbie called back and told me that giving my baby a bottle would not be the demise of our (non-existent) breastfeeding relationship as long as I did it in a manner that would not cause nipple preference. She walked me through that process, and then explained how to increase my milk supply in the following days prior to our appointment.
I took copious notes. I emailed for clarification. I gave a bottle. My poor little girl gobbled down formula for 24 straight hours and finally stopped crying! Apparently, the finger-feeding, syringe -feeding, spoon-feeding, cup-feeding and simulated nursing system-feeding (SNS) we had been doing at the suggestion of the first three LCs weren’t actually feeding the baby. Ooops.
And so began our journey to breastfeeding…
It started with pumping. ALL. THE. TIME. No, really. I “emptied” both breasts a minimum of eight times a day. Most women would get to that point by the 15 minute mark. Lucky me. I took between 23 and 25 minutes. My days consisted of bottle feeding my baby (first formula and then slowly some actual breastmilk,) then pumping, then cleaning my pump parts, then restroom break and then starting the cycle over again. I would take small naps in the evening when my husband got home from work around six. Before he went to bed about ten when he could help feed the baby and could wash the pump parts.
When my daughter started sleeping through the night at three weeks, I continued to get up. Twice. Every night. Around 1:30 am and again around 4:30 am. My milk supply was significantly greater between 1 am and 6 am so I took advantage and pumped. I took herbal remedies (anyone else familiar with the maple syrup smell of their urine thanks to fenugreek and blessed thistle?) I had lovely friends who baked me milk-making cookies since I couldn’t find the time (thank you sweet baby Jesus for such amazing friends!) I rented a hospital grade pump from Modern Mommy Boutique and set up my “nest” on the couch for pumping. Plus, I found new and amazing mommy friends who understood how important it was to me to breastfeed my baby and didn’t judge or make me feel self-conscious when I showed up at their houses or a meeting with my breast pump.
During this time my baby and I spent as much time as possible skin to skin. She lived in her diaper and I lived in a nursing bra and we bundled up together in my Moby™ wrap and cuddled. But still she wouldn’t latch.
I cried. A lot. My husband and my mom thought it may be post-partum depression but I knew that wasn’t the case. I needed to feed my baby the way I knew I could. I just couldn’t manage. I knew that four months was the magic time that babies either start breastfeeding or they don’t but I had only heard of two women in similar situations. One had a baby that started latching at six weeks, the other 12 weeks. As the weeks progressed my heart grew heavier and heavier. Weeks were turning into months and still we were no closer.
I just kept thinking over and over this was entirely my fault. If only I had insisted on a natural birth with no interventions. Or if only I hadn’t listened to the first three well-meaning but not very good LC’s who tried to get me to force my baby to breastfeed. And I prayed. I just knew in my heart that God hadn’t intended for my healthy baby and me to bottle-feed. Bottles are a wonderful tool for mamas and babies that need them but we weren’t in that category, we had just gone a little sideways but we would make it back.
Every day, I gently tried to latch her and every day she would cry. Finally at eight weeks I decided I could do this no longer. I was not going to try attempt to breastfeed. Emotionally I just couldn’t do it anymore. I would continue with our skin to skin time and I would continue to pump for as long as I could manage but I simply could not handle being emotionally drained every day when she cried at my breast. My husband came home from work that night and I explained my decision. He supported it and said he would continue to do what he could to make pumping easier.
At eight weeks and one day, my baby was doing some napping in my arms shortly before her daddy got home from work. She woke up and attempted to latch all on her own! I pulled off my shirt, yanked my bra out of the way and she started breastfeeding! My husband walked in and as I sat there crying, I asked him to take a picture. I was so very worried this would be the only time I would manage to feed her at the breast. And it was. For a few days. But then she latched again and slowly we started breastfeeding almost every morning but only on the left breast.
Eventually she latched on the right breast and I felt as if she was stabbing me with a red-hot poker. I thought at first it would get better when she got used to latching on that side but it didn’t. I contacted our LC. She had explained she had seen a slight tongue tie when we met with her and that could be causing the issues.
She sent me a list of signs to look for in tongue tie, told me to look them over and then we would chat to see if we needed to get help for tongue tie. I looked at the list and immediately contacted a local pediatrician who was knowledgeable about tongue and lip ties and is our local go-to guy for these issues. It explained so much.
To shorten a long story just a little, it turns out my baby had a slight tongue tie, a severe lip tie and a cathedral palate. The pediatrician left it up to us but recommended the procedure for the tongue tie followed by the procedure for the lip tie. After discussing it with my husband, a few trusted friends and a couple LCs, we decided to proceed with the tongue tie procedure and then determine if we needed to go forward with the lip tie.
The tongue tie procedure went well and had an immediate impact on my comfort level. After a few days getting used to her “new” tongue, my baby was able to effectively eat and didn’t need to get a bottled milk supplement. We started the transition to (almost) exclusively breastfeeding.
We found that while she was effectively sucking, she wasn’t getting a good latch due to the lip tie, so she was still getting frustrated while eating and was taking in an awful lot of air which upset her belly. We went forward with the lip tie procedure. Again, it was a success and we noticed an immediate difference – she would stay latched through an entire feeding and she spit up significantly less. And? My baby actually does have an upper lip! I had never seen it before as it was always curled under.
The transition to breastfeeding continued.
At 16 weeks and one day, we had our very first exclusively breastfeeding day! As the time neared midnight, I started crying. My husband got concerned and asked what was wrong and all I could do was thank him for all his love and support through all my crazy bouts of crying and eventually I managed to explain that I hadn’t been forced to give my baby a single bottle that day.
Since that time, she’s had quite a few bottles. I went back to school and work when she was four weeks old. Other than a required pump and dump due to a breast ultrasound and a stomach bug that led to dehydration, I haven’t given her a bottle since she was sixteen weeks old. She happily breastfeeds every time we are together.
Since then, I’ve talked to many women who have struggled to breastfeed. A common thing among all of us is our fear of solids. I knew my baby was ready to start solids. She was telling as well as she could without words but I fought it. I was petrified that she may end up rejecting the breast again. But have no fears mamas! She finally started solids and while she has tons of fun eating (and playing with her food) after she’s cleaned up, she’s always ready to breastfeed.
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The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
We are now enrolling for our Fall 2013 Series
The Bradley Method® for people new to TBM:
September 6, 2013 through November 22, 2013
Classes meet at 6:30 pm
Bradley™ “Next” – full series plus focus on sibling preparation
September 7, 2013 through November 23, 2013
Classes meet at 2:00 pm
For more information or to register, please call us at 602-684-6567 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org