Monday, July 20, 2015

Breastfeeding Woes

By far, the hardest part of this early-parenting thing has been trying to transition off of the bottle. I had grand plans of never letting Ivy have a pacifier, and not bottle feeding until I had to go back to work and she had to go to daycare. Of course, because of her situation, that totally did not happen. So starting in the NICU, I tried breastfeeding here and there, but never tried very hard because our top priority was gaining weight. Then we got home, and still had that priority, and then I started down a spiral of thoughts like "now there's only x weeks left of my maternity leave, so is there even a point to breastfeeding?" and "she's got nipple confusion" and "I'm tired so I'm going to go take a nap while Cory feeds her." I also had an assumption that no matter how tricky people said breastfeeding was to master at first, that I was a natural and would have no real problems. (It's a pet peeve I have for myself: I was a smart kid, and learning/school came easily to me, so I created this bravado around anything I hadn't tried yet. And then gave up in a huff and tears as soon as it didn't come easily.)

But this bottle-feed-then-pump-then-clean-bottle-and-pump-parts schedule takes an hour (which is a lot when she needs to be fed every three hours at night and I'm trying to sleep) and I would really like to be able to travel without a bottle as well as give her milk as soon as she wants it rather than having to reheat refrigerated milk. And of course there's the bonding thing, and all of the other great benefits that breastfeeding has. I'm proud that she's been able to reap the benefits of having been fed only expressed breast milk (even when she was brand new and I was having my D&C for the retained placenta; she had donated milk) but I'd really like to achieve the breastfeeding goal despite all of her setbacks.

To that end, I visited a lactation consultant at the OB's office today. I explained that Ivy has latching issues, that she would sorta latch and then spit the nipple out or come off of it several times before she got a good latch; and then she would spent maybe ten minutes (if we were lucky) on one side, reject the second side, and fall asleep - and be ready for a bottle very soon after. We timed the appointment really well, as she was just starting to get fussy out of hunger, and of course she latched on quickly and easily and made me worried that the LC wouldn't have any advice for me.

The LC went over a lot of things that I knew already, but it was really nice to hear it again and to sometimes have explanations about why/how things work. The most helpful thing she did, though, was to immediately adjust my posture. I'd been putting Ivy on my lap and hunching over her, trying to push my nipple into her mouth when she opened up. The LC had me lean back and put lots of pillows under my arms and under Ivy, bringing her way up further on my torso than I'd ever tried, and it seemed to work really well. She even latched on to the right side, which seems to be more difficult for her, after having already spent time on the left.

Then we weighed her, and she's gained 7 ounces since last Thursday. She's now 8 pounds 4 ounces - out of the 7 pounder club forever!

I left feeling pretty energized about the whole thing, and was happy when she only took 40ml of a supplemental bottle (her full feeding is around 90ml) when I got home - only to lose steam just a few hours later when I was dead tired and asked Cory to bottle feed her so I could take a nap. Gah. I can tell my downward spiral of thoughts need more uplifting than just one successful breastfeeding - that'll be the thing I have to work on the most.


  1. I know what you mean about expecting to succeed quickly- I am just the same as you! It took me and my bubs a wee while to succeed (and we still struggle sometimes). She was born 8 weeks early and small for that, and I am well endowed enough that I was afraid I would smother her! It just took some time for us both to learn. And now to survive an epic cluster feed, I've given her a bottle of expressed breast milk twice today- and will again if I need to, to give myself a rest! So don't beat yourself up if you can't do things the way you wanted to. Keep trying and hang in there. It is a difficult skill for you both to learn. And don't feel bad or guilty or whatever. You are doing your best, and as your little one is thriving you must be doing something right!!

  2. Can you try having a day in bed together? Few articles of clothing, snuggles, let her nurse on and off all day. Bring Cory into the picture. Don't leave the bed at all unless to pee, etc. I spent the first 48 hours in bed with A attached to me. Not sure if this advice helps.

  3. Go back to the lactation consultant as often as it takes to get it right. I waited way too long to get help with my first (it turned out great in the end). Also, something else I wish I'd known--you don't have to clean the pump after every session. Since breast milk is fine at room temperature for 6 hours, if you're refrigerating or freezing after you pump then clean the thing every 5-6 hours or so. Or make Cory do it. I hated cleaning that damn thing so anything that helps you pump is good! Go easy on yourself--breast feeding is hard!