Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breast is Best

I have been going back and forth about whether or not I should post this. I'm sure that I will be judged by many people and many people will have their opinions about me. My purpose for this blog is trifold: (1) to have a place where I can write down my thoughts, feelings, ideas and findings; (2) to hopefully share something that may help someone else; (3) to be a part of an online community where I can get ideas and input from others. I feel that by not sharing what I'm about to share I would be cheating myself and perhaps others.

Before having Makenzie I really believed that every woman could breastfeed if they were determined enough. I'll admit that when I would hear of a mom who was bottle feeding I would think, "I wonder why she didn't want to stick with breastfeeding" or "She didn't try hard enough." I honestly think that I developed this mindset based on all of the books I read. There is this way of thinking among many breastfeeding "gurus" that breast isn't just best it is the only way. While I used to agree I will tell you that I have been humbled and have completely changed my mindset.

Makenzie and I got off to a bad start. I didn't even get to hold her until she was 2 hours old and ready to sleep. When I did finally hold her, the nurse helped me get her latched on but she was so tired that she didn't seem as interested as she should have. Fast forward to our first and only night in the hospital. I hadn't slept for almost 48 hours, I was exhausted! I was trying to feed her but I knew that it just wasn't working. I called the nurse in around 1 a.m. and told her that Makenzie had been crying pretty much non-stop for the past 3 hours. She wanted to continue suck on my breast but would cry after a minute or two of sucking. The nurse was young and annoying. She didn't even look at Makenzie's latch and said, "Yeah, that's totally normal." After awhile I started crying. I knew that she was hungry and wasn't getting what she needed. The lactation consultant finally came in around 10 the next morning and saw that my nipples had literally been torn up by an improper latch. She helped me get her latched on and showed me the signs that she was getting substance. That was great but really an hour of help 24 hours too late was not very helpful.

It all snowballed from there. We had her three day old appointment and she had lost 10% of her birth weight and was expected to lose more. The doctor was very concerned. She gave us a ton of formula and some bottles. She set up a lactation appointment for us two days later but told us that the most important thing was that Makenzie get food. In hindsight this is where I really messed up. I had no idea there were such things as finger feeding, and using a syringe to feed. I was worried about my baby and gave her the bottle to supplement my breastfeeding. She only had a total of 6 bottles in two days but she fell in love with the bottle.

By the time we got to the lactation consultant we were a mess. We had so many issues. We went to the lactation consultant twice and I did everything that she told me to do, both conventional and unconventional things. Makenzie would get so frustrated breastfeeding that she would be crying so hard she would turn purple and hold her breath. At this point I was on a breastfeed, bottle feed, pump schedule. By the time I was done with the feeding cycle it was time to feed again. I tried doing a few "babymoons" where I just sat on the couch holding the baby all day, doing skin to skin and offering the breast all day. That was 8 hours of chaos.

The lactation consultant said that often times a baby will just catch on around 4 - 6 weeks. I clung to that and continued to pump after every feeding and offer the breast every day. Makenzie has a great latch and will feed for awhile but she doesn't get satisfied off of the breast. Now with her having some tummy problems, the laying down position while breastfeeding causes her to throw up a ton of what she just ate. With the bottle I can proop her up to feed her and keep her propped up for the 30 minutes it takes for her tummy to begin to digest her food.

So what's my point? I've tried everything. I have cried many tears over it and get choked up every time Dirk and I discuss what other steps we can take. Some might say that giving a bottle is taking the easy way out but trust me it is not. Makenzie continues to get 3 -4 breastmilk bottles each day which means that on top of taking care of her and getting through the day, I have to find time to sit down for 15 minutes every 2 -3 hours to pump so that she can have as much milk as I can provide for her. Washing bottles is a pain in butt, the cost of formula is sky high and I think it gives her a tummy ache. Every bone in my body wants to breastfeed her and I continue to try each day, praying that she will just miraculously take to it.

It's so difficult because almost every woman I talk to asks, "Are you breastfeeding?" There are typically two responses: the judgmental "oh" or the sympathetic and loving words of another mom who it either didn't work for or who understands my situation. It's heartbreaking because of course I want the very best for my baby girl and I feel like I've given it my all and continue to give it my all and yet I feel like I've failed. What we are doing now is not the easy way out, it's time consuming and laborious yet I feel like there are people who view me as less of a mom because my daughter gets her nutrition, whether formula or breastmilk, from a bottle. Dirk and my mom continue to encourage me but it's so difficult, especially when I see so many other moms that it is working for.

For those of you who may be reading this and are expecting your first baby and are planning to breastfeed, I cannot stress to you enough. Do whatever you can to get a ton of help in the hospital and regardless of what happens don't give your baby a bottle. There are several other options and ways to get your baby nutrition without using a bottle. Ask for other options and if they don't give you other options review it on your own. The hard work early on will save you tons of heartache and frustration in the future.

I guess the good news is that we're not giving sodas...right?

No, she is NOT drinking the soda, don't go callin' CPS on us


  1. Alicia... I think you are doing a great job.. Pumping and feeding your baby gives her the nutrients that she needs. I know its time consuming and hard but to have your baby get your breast milk out of a bottle or from the breast is not as convenient but is still just as good. Don't worry about what other people think or feel. You have to what you feel is best for your child. I think its great that you are at least pumping.. But when people ask are you breastfeeding you can say yes... Because you are, even though its not your breast you are still feeding her breast milk.. No worries, and keep trucking a long. It is not easy to breastfeed believe me i know... I hope that my comment encourages you... GO MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hi. I know you don't know me. My husband and I attend Harvest. Your father dedicated our daughter, Natty. And I've attended some of your mom's workshops. All that to assure you I'm not some crazy person. I stumbled across your blog through a friend, and followed it when you'd post recipes - totally love it!

    All that said, I just wanted to encourage you in some way. Your first born is always hard because you want EVERYTHING so perfect. My nursing experience with my daughter was a rough road as well. She did not latch correctly right after she was born, so she horribly bruised me. I'd also crack and bleed. I would literally cry each time I'd have to latch her on. The pain was just excruciating. I would cry when my husband would wake me up to let me know it was time to nurse again because of anticipating the pain when she'd latch onto my bruised and cracked nipples. Both my husband and I work, so after about 8 weeks I had to return to work, and had to pump. Obvious our daughter got her bottles while I was gone. It's hard and I just want to encourage you in that you have done nothing wrong nor failed in anyway. You do what is best for the little angle the Lord's entrusted to you. From the little experience I do have ( I have a 2 1/2 year old and almost 9 month old now), people will always have opinions. Sometimes well-meaning when they share them, sometimes not so much. It's so hard, but try not to take it personally. You are not accountable to them by any means for your actions. And you don't have to explain the reason behind your choices. As a parent, you do what the Lord has lead in your heart is right and best for your children. Major kudos to you for sticking with pumping, I agree with you, it is SO much work. BUT definitely worth it. Hopefully my comment did not weird you out, just sounded like you could use some encouragement. :)

  3. Breastfeeding did not work with Aubrey. I only made it to 3 weeks. I then very successfully breastfed Nick for a year with no formula. So just because it did not work out this time does not mean you can't breastfeed your next if that is want you choose to do. It is a very emotional experience. I'm sure your LC has mentioned nipple shields. I have a set that I never even got out of the package that you can have. It's like a plastic piece you stick on your nipple and she latches on to that. So it is still stimulating the milk production for you, but she will like the silicone feeling because it will feel like a bottle to her. Let me know and I can drop it off for you if you would like to give it a try.

  4. My almost-2 week old son and I are going through a BFing nightmare right now. I had some issues in the hospital that caused me to faint the times I tried to BF so we were off to a rocky start. Things got better, but he still wasn't gaining enough wait so I tried supplementing with expressed milk. Things got better, and now they are worse again. My son is very fussy and way lazier on the breast than he was just a few days ago. I'm a complete mess, just stressed out around the clock and I feel like I can't enjoy my son because I am spending so much time worrying about whether or not he is eating enough. My next step is to try to pump exclusively but I have had hardly anything come out when I pump, which is discouraging. If that doesn't work, we are going to have to switch to formula and that kills me. I'm sorry you are going through something similar and I know how difficult it is.

  5. Thanks for posting this....I really appreciate your honesty. My baby is due in just 10 days, and I had always assumed breastfeeding would just be an easy and natural occurance. Good luck to you and thank you for the advice!

  6. Thank you all for your comments. This is exactly why I post things like this. You all are the best. I appreciate all of your encouragement, advice and support. You ladies are the best!

  7. Hello, I'm currently enrolled in a lactation educator course (with the intention of continuing on to become a lactation consultant), and I found your blog while searching to get a feel for mothers' experiences with breastfeeding and lactation consultants in the San Bernardino/Riverside area. I just want to let you know that you're doing a wonderful job. By pumping, you're giving your daughter the nourishment and antibodies she needs. You are a breastfeeding mother and are doing everything you can to make it work.

    Have you tried nursing her in the Australian hold? It may help with those tummy problems. Here is a link for more information (the Australian hold is at the very bottom of the page):

    Sending encouragement and support your way...

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