Monday, November 26, 2012

Breast feeding Woes...

I know people say nursing isn't easy...something that should be so natural isn't.  However, I wasn't prepared for HOW difficult all this would be.

First - when you aren't able to hold/nurse your baby right really needs to EMPHASIZE the importance of pumping.  I didn't get to really hold my baby until she was about 12 hours old...and when I did, she was attached to many different machines.  There was no skin-to-skin.  This definitely hindered our nursing relationship.  Since she was on IV fluids, I wasn't able to really feed her until she was 3 days old.  I would pump, but I would barely get anything so I didn't really see the importance.  My baby never really did get the colostrum that she should have gotten.

Secondly - Once I got to nurse, no one really showed me how or what I should look for.  I was SO EXCITED to hold my baby alone - with no one watching I just put her on my boob and let her go to town.  Little did I know she was eating enough to sustain her weight...but not enough for anything else.  When we were discharged from the hospital, she had only had 2 wet diapers and no poopy diapers in the last 48 hours.  When we got home our doula met us there, and she was very concerned that the hospital let us leave with out her peeing.  She watched me nurse and said that there really wasn't much milk transfer taking place.  She told me it looks like I had a supply issue.  Man - what a buzz kill!  So then I was so scared and preoccupied of not getting enough food for my child!  The next day, I was able to get into see the Lactation Consultant.  She corrected my latch and sent me on my way with the instructions to see her again in 5 days.  Her Pees and Poos increased, but I didn't feel like I was able to feed her enough when she was hungry! I couldn't wait the 5 days. On the Sunday night, I had such a bad night with her, I broke down.  On Tuesday I had an in-home visit where she put me on Domperidone to help boost my milk supply and told me that she would correct H's small tongue-tie the next day in the office.  So on Wed morning, I had a much better feed given I had 2 doses of the drugs and we had H's tongue clipped. I thought that with those two things in place, we would be good to go! 

Not so much...When we went to the Dr's for her 2 week weight check, she had only gone up 3 oz and was STILL not at her birth weight.  I went back again to see the L.C and she was worried about her less than ideal weight gain.  She watched a feed and said that things look good.  She sent me for tests on my thyroid as apparently thyroid mal-function could hinder milk supply. This was news to me! Given I have a thyroid issue and that since her birth I wasn't diligent in taking my medication daily I wonder if that is the reason.  I wont know the results till the end of this week/beginning of next. 

She also gave me a lactation supplement - basically a feeding tube that I drop one end into a bottle and the other goes into her mouth through the side of her mouth while she is latched.  This is to supplement her feedings at night when she is the most fussy and wont suck properly.  Although I like seeing what she is eating and knowing she is getting food...having to use this thing is so demoralizing.  I would almost rather have hubby give her a bottle. But since I have supply issues and she has sucking issues, the L.C says NO to bottles!  She really doesn't want to mess things up more!  It is bad enough she uses me as  a pacifier more than not as she was given one in the hospital. 

Now my big dilemma is let down.  If my boobs are full, milk is transferred easily.  However, after the foremilk is gone, it takes a really long time to get a let-down of hind-milk.  It does happen, so I do know the difference, but it isn't consistent.  In the process, she either becomes angry or she changes her sucking pattern where she doesn't really do anything.  It is so frustrating and causing me a great deal of stress.  I just want to feed my baby!! I can't believe how difficult this entire process is.  Bottle feeding would be so much easier - but I am determined to nurse!  I just don't know how much more I can take.  The anxiety of not knowing if I am feeding her enough or feeling I don't have enough milk to give her when she is hungry is consuming me.  So much so that I feel my husband is better able to read her cues then I am.  He knows to change her diaper or take her out of a situation where she can be over-stimulated - where I hear her cry and immediately think she is hungry.  If I don't have any milk left, I start to become anxious as I worry I can't feed her.  It really is a never ending battle. 

Any thoughts on how to relax enough to allow my let-downs to happen? I know relaxing is key and not stressing ... but how do you ensure that you are relaxed?  How does one not stress?  


  1. My little piece of advice, start putting the baby to boob every 2-3 hours again like when she was brand new, regardless of whether she's showing signs of being hungry. The small frequent feeds keep your milk supply up and also keep baby from getting too frantically hungry.

    Good luck!

  2. You are right in the thick of the hardest, most stressful time with nursing, even if you hadn't had health problems with baby at the beginning! Adding that to the equation, I'm so proud of you for trying at all. You're doing AWESOME. Here are some thoughts from me:

    1) make sure you are physically warm and relaxed when you nurse. if you can't relax, sit in the bathroom with the shower running as hot as it goes. the steam will relax you and help with your let down.

    2) do manual compressions of your breast during the feeding. if baby gets fussy, take her off, massage, and put her back on. or burp her while massaging yourself to give the milk a chance to let down.

    3) remember that every ounce she gets from you is a precious gift. breastfeeding relationships come in MANY forms - from exclusive breastfeeding to exclusive pumping to a little bit of both with some supplementing, to just one breast milk bottle a day. do what you can.

    4) focus on frequent and thorough removal of the milk from the breast. approximately 8 times a day, so every three hours. if the baby is done nursing and you still feel full, pump. this will help your supply tremendously.

    5) don't quit on your worst day!

  3. Thanks for the tips...
    I already feed every 2 to 3 hours...pumping gets me nothing! But I am still doing it after most feeds and I usually put warm compresses on the ta-tas before I nurse! Also...i always do compressions... So...sounds like I am doing things I am supposed to doing...I just need her to eat more and for more milk to come! LOL

  4. When I need to increase my supply I try to pump immediately after a feeding. You don't get much milk but the purpose of that pumpin is continued stimulation rather than producing milk. You're basically tricking your body into believing there is higher demand so it will produce more. Also, I suggest hooking up one boob to the pump while nursing from the other. 1) this will increase your flow and let-down on the boob your baby is nursing from; and 2) it will help increase your supply. It is awkward and you need a harness/pumping bra, and it is not the most sweet and loving nursing experience, but it works!

    1. Oh I just saw you said you are pumping after feedings... Anyway I still suggest pumpin while feeding. It's totally weird and awkward but like I said I saw results from it pretty much within a day or two and I didn't do it every time, just a couple of times a day :)

  5. Wow. I am so nervous about breast feeding. It's amazing how much you are learning though! Keep at it! You are so strong!

  6. Ive nursed two babies for a total of 35months. I had lots of problems each time from latch, supply, thrush, to mastitis. The other comments are right on. You are definitely in the hardest part. It gets easier. Hang in there. Sorry I dont have more advice but know you are not alone.