November 13, 2014

My Breastfeeding Journey

For me, breast feeding is always a somewhat painful journey.  It never goes quite like it's supposed to go.  I share in the twins birth story a little bit about my journey with them, but basically I never really got my milk in and never produced more than an ounce a day.  I chalked that up to their prematurity and that I could not put them to the breast.  Also that it was just a traumatic birth and really stressful.  I was not really educated and thought it would be much easier than it was.


This time around I was much more educated.  I knew all the steps I was going to take afterwards to make sure we had that bond and give breastfeeding the best start.  I was going to have a natural birth to help.  The birth I had with Judah was so different.  I really assumed my breast feeding journey would be different.

So I had skin to skin right after my c-section with Judah.  And he was in recovery with him and we got him latched.  It wasn't a perfect latch because newborns have such a small mouth... and let's just say, I'm not small, but none the less he was latched. He slept a lot the first two days, but he would latch some.  He was losing weight, but that is what happens, I wasn't too worried.  Then on the 3rd night he was just screaming all night long.  He would fight the latch and when he would latch he would come off quickly and scream.  My nipple hurt so bad due to a shallow latch.  We found out that morning that he had lost more than 11.5% of his body weight and we needed to start supplementing asap, and we also found out we would not be able to leave the hospital until he started gaining again.

So here I am... in the exact same place production wise as I was with the twins.  There is just something heartbreaking about knowing the reason my baby was screaming all night long was because he was hungry and I couldn't feed him.  I am his mother, that is what I should be able to do.  It is such a awful feeling to be unable to do that.  Now I was looking at supplementing.  I knew I did not want to use formula at this point because I was hoping to work through this and still breastfeed, so I put out some feelers with some friends and the Lactation Consultants and we were able to get some donor milk. I am also pumping but only getting 3-5 ml at a time, which is almost literally nothing.

In the beginning we tried so many different ways of supplementing so he wouldn't get nipple confusion.  We did finger feeding.  We supplemented at the breast with feeding tubes. We tried it all.  I would still nurse him but we had to make sure we was getting most of his nourishment in other ways because he was not transferring any milk from me.

I did all of this, but it was so awful.  I think this was so much worse that not getting my VBAC.  There were lot and lots of tears, but I was determined.  So we got his weight up and we went home.  I was in and out of the lactation consultants office for a couple days getting things figured out.  There did some hormone screening to find out why I do not produce.  What came back was that my prolactin levels and low and do not behave like they are supposed to.  Also because of the gestational diabetes there is a big chance I am insulin resistant which can also lead to supply issues.

Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than supply issues.  I hear so often that it is just a supply and demand problem.  All I need to do is just put my baby to the breast and do skin to skin and nurse nurse nurse.  Yeah... I would love if it was that simple for me.  I can do that and many days have, but it still doesn't mean I am able to feed my baby.  My supply has grown, which is promising, but so has his appetite.  I am staying right at about a 1/3 of what he needs.  Although I have started some new herbs and a medication that are looking promising.  I will let you all know about that journey and the life with low supply later.  Let me tell you... I have never taken so many pills in my life, probably close to 30 a day.

So now little Judah is 5 weeks (shut up! There is no way it is going that fast!) and we have a good nursing relationship.  He nurses many times a day for a small amount of milk, but mostly comfort, and I love it.  What is nice is prolactin levels are highest in the late night/early morning hours, so during those late night feeding I don't have to mess with anything, I can just nurse him because I actually have enough milk.  That is the best.  During the day and evening he gets bottles of donor milk.  I have been blessed with a wonderful donor who has given us freezer fulls of milk, so we are still getting all the breast milk goodness.


So that is my and Judah's journey so far.  He happily takes bottle from daddy or grandma or anyone, but he also really enjoys nursing and looks for me and roots as soon as I get him.  As much as I would like to be able to feed him by myself, I am happy with where we are.  I feel like I make enough milk to make it worth it, but I love the nursing relationship we have.  Low supply sucks for many reasons, but we are making it work for us, and Judah is happy and healthy.  So life is good.


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6 comments:

  1. So proud of you Mary! And awesome about donor milk!! You are doing such great things!

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    1. Thank Karla! I was glad to know about donor milk this go around.

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  2. So glad you were able to get donor milk and that you were able to find a way to make it work for your as best as possible! Your love for your little guy is evident! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Donor milk has been a great thing for us. Thank you for stopping by!

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  3. You are so amazing, and I'm so sorry you have had to deal with supply issues. That must be heart breaking at times, or all the time. I can't imagine how frustrating it'd be to hear the repeated, typical advice of "supply and demand" when you've been doing that and everything in your power already to produce. You are an inspiration to me though because you don't give up, and I really admire that <3

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I can be hard to hear that, I just tell myself that I know the advice is coming from a good place. Thank you for stopping by!

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