2011 02/03

Breastfeeding: a flawed design

I could have also titled this post “Why I hate breastfeeding”, but it’s not necessarily that I hate breastfeeding.  I actually think breastfeeding is wonderful.  It’s natural.  It’s great for mom and baby.  I just don’t understand it.

Here’s the problem…When Talon was born he did a beautiful job of latching on and showed promising signs of nursing, despite me having a C-section.  I was so encouraged!  Then, in the following day or two, he began loosing weight, something most newborns go through.  The problem was that Talon slipped past that magical weight loss percentage the doctors dictate as acceptable (7-10%).  He had lost 10.2%.

Of course doctors like to freak out when things don’t go by the books or charts.  So, they started talking about supplementing to ensure that he wouldn’t loose more weight.

This is where breastfeeding has become flawed to me.  Here is my child, latching on and trying to nurse, but, because my milk still had not come in, he was going hungry.  That tiny bit of colostrum I was producing was not enough.  The nurses and lactation specialists (who visited me multiple times a day) assured me that my milk would come in eventually but that it would take anywhere from 5-10 days for it to happen.  WHAT?  What in the heck is my kid supposed to eat for 5-10 days while my body decides to catch up?

So the frustration began.  Sitting in the hospital room, I began my new regimen: Nurse Talon using a nursing supplementing system that fed donor milk through a tube while he nursed.  Then, when he finished, I would spend the next 15 to 20 minutes pumping, in the hopes that it would speed along my milk coming in.  Sound simple, right?  Not so!  The nursing supplementing system was so frustrating! I had to have help every single time getting that tube to line up and stay in Talon’s mouth, having to remove Talon from the breast multiple times to get it to all work, leaving me very sore!

Eventually, after having to do the feedings by myself one night in the hospital, I resorted to finger feeding him with the supplementing system and donor milk.  Now my regimen was settle Talon down with some supplemental feeding, nurse him once he was settled, supplement again if he was still hungry, and then pump for 15 – 20 minutes.  Repeat an hour later when he was hungry again.  Yes, I was doing this whole procedure almost hourly because it would take that long between when he started nursing to when I was finished pumping.

Then we got home.  I continued on with our feeding regimen because my milk still had not come in.  Now we were supplementing with the little bit of milk I was producing and formula.  The amount of milk I was producing was not even close enough to satisfy Talon.  Almost two weeks after his birth and my milk production still isn’t enough.  I have to pump twice to get enough for just one feeding.

So I sit here, defeated with what should be so easy.  It’s a natural thing, breastfeeding.  So, why isn’t something that is so natural just a little easier? Why am I coming up against road block after road block on something that should just work?  It’s all very frustrating! I just want my body to cooperate.  I want my body to know that my baby is hungry and needs more milk.  I want my body to make that milk and make it a little faster so my baby can be happy and satisfied.

I want to feel like my body is not flawed.

I understand why moms, especially new moms, give up quickly on breastfeeding.

7 Comments

  • I’m not sure my milk ever came in with Jessica. I remember I “let down” with her when she was a few months old for the very first time and I got scared. Needless to say the ped. wanted us to be supplementing with formula much sooner than we did – and we finally did at 9 months old. I still get mad at myself for all this – the plight of the mother – always second guessing and then measuring my decision against the medical field, the authors and the friends who have no idea what my body can and can’t do on it’s own.

    Utters Unite! 😉

  • Oh Stacey, I completely understand. The exact same thing happened with Jacob (now 3 months) – the only difference was he didn’t latch well in the beginning, but did later when we were home. It was so hard & frustrating for me, I wanted to nurse so badly. I continued nursing until around 11 weeks – but it was to the point he would nurse for an hour plus, then still eat 4 ounces of formula – so, it truly was exhausting me & him. Just be encouraged – do it as long as you can, and then, know you have done the best you could – hold your head high, and, move to formula. Your baby will be healthy & wonderful because he has a fantastic mother :) God Bless!
    (And, yes, the S-N-S STINKS!!!)

  • Well you know I had a special situation, and I had to pump exclusively. At first Olin was so tiny and drank so little that I outproduced him and built a freezer supply. But the time did come when he was more of a normal newborn size and was out-drinking what I could produce. When I started to run low of my freezer supply, I started using Fenugreek – it really did help increase my supply and bought me some more time. We never really did nurse but a handful of times. By the time he was ready to give it a whirl, he was used to a bottle and I was used to the pump and we were both exhausted from trying to force it. I couldn’t bear to make him have to work harder for food when he had already gone through so much. So I just continued the pump until I was close to a breakdown – which was right around him being 6 months old. It was hard to stop, but I think back to when I did stop and I know that there was no way I could have kept it up without becoming completely insane. You are doing the best you can and that is what is best for Talon. Keep up the great work mom!

  • Thanks ladies for your kind words and encouragement. They mean so much to me!

  • I am so impressed that you are recovering from a c-section and putting all this energy into breastfeeding. Talon is a lucky little man to have you as a mama whether you use formula or breastfeed or both!

  • Thank you Alissa!

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