July 30, 2014

My Breastfeeding "Failure"

Tomorrow kicks off World Breastfeeding Week.
I am passionate about being a mother. I want my kids to be safe and healthy. I believe that moms should do everything reasonable to breastfeed their babies. I believe that breastfeeding is the best thing for an infant, however I know from experience that it doesn't always work out.

I'm hoping that by sharing my story today I might lend encouragement and understanding.

My first son was 8lbs 12oz at birth.
At his one week check he'd lost weight, which is normal, and it was within the normal range.
At his two week check, when he should've been back up to birth weight, he had lost more weight (16%), he now weighed 7lbs 6oz. At this point you could tell by looking at him that something was wrong.
His Dr immediately had me begin pumping and bottle feeding to track how much he was eating so we would know how to proceed.

These photos were taken the day before his 2 week appt. I knew he was too skinny, but I had no idea just how severe his weight loss was so I waited through the holiday weekend to take him into the Dr.
I will forever treasure these pictures as a reminder of everything we went through, and of how this boy of mine is strong and amazing.

I was scared and heartbroken. Luckily we had amazing medical professionals who were caring and supportive throughout the ordeal. However, I also experienced people who were just the opposite. It goes with the territory I suppose.
I worked with his Dr and two lactation consultants, we began supplementing with formula and trying to boost my supply. He quickly regained the weight he had lost and caught back up to his normal growth curve. However, he never breastfed well, and I had to continue supplementing and eventually he quit breastfeeding altogether.
I pumped and bottle fed, and supplemented with formula for 9 months.
In the beginning I pumped 8-10 times a day, I would spend 30 minutes pumping, 20 minutes feeding him his bottle, wash all the pump supplies, and start all over again 30 minutes later all day long, and at night too.
It was physically and emotionally draining. My house was a wreck, my emotions were a wreck (oh and did I mention that my baby didn't sleep much, cried constantly, and fought eating and that my husband was working, going to school and student teaching among other responsibilities).
When my son was 8 weeks old I went to visit my parents and my mom told me "it's more important for him to have you than to have breastmilk", but I worked in a medical office where I was constantly exposed to influenza, RSV, etc and I knew he needed my immunity which I could give him through breastmilk, plus I couldn't afford to just feed him formula. Off brand formula made his reflux worse and he ate SOO MUCH. I did however cut back to pumping 5 times a day, it was much easier when I wasn't pumping at night and I also learned that I didn't have to clean all the parts after every pumping, I began storing them in the fridge and cleaning them once a day, that was a huge time-saver.
At nine months my son was walking and climbing on things. I was worried about him falling and getting hurt while I was pumping. It became more important for me to keep him safe than to feed him breastmilk, and luckily at the same time he grew out of the reflux and I was able to feed him the less expensive store brand formula so there was no increased cost.

My second son lost weight that first week, but by 1 1/2 weeks (I took him in for extra weight checks) he was almost up to birthweight. He is exclusively breastfed. I have had no issues with supply. He will not take a bottle.
Pumping with this child the way I did with my first would not be an option, just imagine the things my toddler would be doing.

Barriers to Breastfeeding with my first child:
 High Palette: Difficult for him, Painful for me.
 Bilirubin Lights: Emotionally Awful. He was jaundiced and spent six days on bili lights, this created a cycle: Jaundice tends to make babies very sleepy, my sleepy baby struggled to eat, not eating enough made it harder for his body to rid itself of the excess bilirubin, not eating enough hurt my supply, not producing enough milk made it difficult for him to eat.
 Personality: Looking back I know that my first child is NOT patient. As a baby he always hated eating, but breastfeeding was especially hard for him because he couldn't see everything that was going on and because breastfeeding is more difficult than bottle feeding.

The bottom line:
Don't take for granted the ability to breastfeed.
Formula is a wonderful blessing. I'm grateful to scientists who study breast-milk and infant development and continue to improve formula so that I have a healthy substitute to feed my baby(s).
Just because it doesn't work once, doesn't mean it will never work, and just because it worked once doesn't mean it will always work.
Babies are resilient.
The human body is amazing, we see infants as tiny, weak, dependent little things, and they are, but look at what they can overcome!

As a side note:
When I needed help and answers related to exclusively pumping I received wonderful help online through the La Leche League.
The two pumps they recommended were the Ameda Purely Yours Electric Breast Pump
 (I decided to go with the Purely Yours Ultra
 because it came with so many extras, I think it saved me money in the long run.) and the Medela Pump In Style
Most insurance companies will now cover the cost of a breast pump, typically the Ameda

Use Promotion Code bbfac1 TODAY!

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