Friday, January 22, 2010

My Breastfeeding Story (outlined)

Why I have difficulty with breastfeeding?

1. I did not read enough about this topic during my pregnancy.
2. I should have had contacted the local La Leche League.
3. I should have listened to other people to attend more classes about it. I attended just 1 short class and it was very basic.
4. I had Gestational Diabetes and my baby had borderline low blood sugar at birth. He was given 4 oz of formula to bring up his sugar.
5. I assumed that my baby will have nipple confusion because of number 4. Most literature said "no" to formula supplementation due to nipple confusion. I was discouraged early on that I will be able to breastfeed.
6. I sent my baby to nursery at night during our hospital stay so I could recover from my surgery. Most literature recommends to room-in so I could nurse the baby more often to stimulate milk production. But I was in pain, highly medicated and exhausted that I gave in to my husband's plea to send him to the nursery.
7. After colostrum which my baby was able to take, I did not have a drop of milk for about 7 days. So, I formula feed. I cannot stand a hungry baby.
8. After that, I had a very low milk supply. I was pumping and pumping since hospital stay. Initially, there was none. It slowly crept up but I continue to supplement because of the baby's voracious appetite and my supply was way low for it.
9. Because of that I lost all confidence that my body could supply my baby's need. I continue to pump, though.
10. Now, my baby lost his patience in suckling into my breast and prefers the easier silicon nipple.
11. It was a busy week for maternal ward when I gave birth and lactation specialists did not really give too much attention to me. (That's how I felt)
13. I gave up so easily on SNS feeding because of too much work.

I was about to give up but I persevere to increase my milk production. This could possibly be my only baby and I would like to do my best, at least for couple of mos, to give him breast milk. What did I do?

1. Follow the lactation specialist's recommendation of pumping at ;east every 2 hours or after feeding for 15 to 20 minutes using hospital-grade pump.
2. Also from my lactation specialist - eat more oatmeal, dates, brown rice, and green leafy vegetables.
3. Take supplementation of fenugreek capsules.
4. I took prescription medication, Reglan, to stimulate my brain production of prolactin. This made me so sleepy. So, I just took it for 1 cycle.
5. Slowly familiarizing my baby to my breast again.

Where am I now?

My baby is about 99 to 100 percent breast milk fed. He continues to get most of it through the bottle. I continue to pump every 2 to 3 hours. I don't pump at night anymore. I just have him latched to my breast in the middle of the night. I continue to be paranoid that my baby is not getting enough milk when directly latched and I tend to offer formula when he's fussy after breastfeeding. Pumping is getting more difficult because he demands more attention now and I am tired of washing the small parts along with baby bottle parts (I am using Dr. Brown's) every couple of hours. My hands are dry, cracked and sore from frequent hand and baby stuff washing.

I take it one day at a time. As long as there is milk in my breasts, I will offer it to my baby. My initial goal before I gave birth was to breastfeed for 1 year. Now, I'll be happy if I could do it for 3 mos.


Ed said...

Congratulations. I think from our experience of reading the literature and attending breast feeding classes is that they gloss over those first weeks too much. It was probably three weeks for us before our daughter could get full on the breast alone. We supplemented her with formula up until that point. We continued pumping all throughout and freezing the breast milk for when my wife went back to work and for later when lactation began to decrease. We were able to stretch out the breast milk for a full year even though after nine months, our daughter could no longer get enough to get full from the breast.

After that experience, I totally understand why people give up before they really get going. Breast feeding is hard in the first month. My contribution was washing all those parts several times a day so I had the chapped hands and not my wife. It was all worth it and I would do it all over again if we ever have another one. I think a breast fed child is definitely a healthy child.

kala said...

I had almost the same experience, except that I didn't persevere like you did. I was pumping and doing everything to get my milk going, but it was a no-show. In the hospital, I gave my baby breastmilk and complemented it with the bottle. But like you, I couldn't bear to see her hungry (she was only 2.3kgs when she was born). Now, she is 90% bottlefed and 10% breastfed. Am I guilty? Not really, but I do wonder what would have happened if I had continued breastfeeding. I guess Lila wouldn't have her double chin.

I admire you for your strength and perseverance in breastfeeding, Malor, you are a good Mommy. Don't let the tiredness and sleepless nights convince you that you aren't.

malor said...

@Ed, Your wife is a lucky woman. If my husband will wash for me, I could probably do it longer. Anyway, you are right re: glossing information regarding BF. It is so far the most difficult in my motherhood experience. Aside from the anxiety that baby is not getting enough milk, there is the guilt that if you stop trying your baby will not be well equipped for life. I am in awe of people who were able to do it for a long time. Thanks for the info.

@Kala, Thanks Kala. I have so much anxiety and guilt because of not being really successful with breastfeeding. It is the most difficult so far -- mostly emotinally. Some people are also judgmental (including my own mother who did not breastfeed 3 out of 4 of her biological children). I thought, initially, that it will be easy. I had this vision that my breasts will be overflowing with milk that my freezer will be full of it. I even bought a box of plastic containers to store my barely existent breastmilk. Well, reality really stinks. What keeps me going in pumping is the thought that Benji could possibly be (considering my fertility history) my only baby. Anyway, I am glad that I am not alone and Lila seems thriving very well. She looks like your hubby. I digressed. Anyway, my sister, who is a NICU nurse, told me that there are just women (including her)who have low milk supply no matter how hard they try. My sister did everything to increase her milk supply but failed. She told me that the time she gave up on it, she started to enjoy her baby more. I don't feel bad now because someone like you can understand my situation.

haze said...

Hi Malor, breastfeeding will always be the best for babies (of course, that will always depends on Mother's breast milk supply).

I was thankful that I have too much milk and so I was able to satisfy their needs. I breastfed my son until 13 months,and my daughter until 18 months (which is too much) she didn't want any complimentary milk. Though, after 6 months the quality of milk is not as beneficial as on first 6 months.

The disadvantages of breastfeeding is the weaning process. Plus, it could be hard to leave them for more than a couple of hours as they won't accept other milk.

It's not easy if we don't have enough supply. I admire your patience and perseverance you we're able to overcome all this. 2 thumbs up ;) !