When I decided to start blogging, I told myself that I would step out of my comfort zone and write about things that were important to me. I love reading blogs as they have brought so much insight to my life. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week I wanted to share my experience with breastfeeding!
Even before I ever got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. When I was pregnant a lot of people asked me if I was going to breastfeed and the answer was always an “of course!!” I researched SO much about breastfeeding and the endless benefits that come from it. I purchased my breast pump MONTHS in advance. Seriously, I was so excited to get this in the mail! On top of purchasing the pump, I bought so many breastfeeding essentials. From nursing pads, nursing bras, clothes for nursing, replaceable parts, an additional hand held pump, literally you’d think breastfeeding would be my full time job!! I was 100% determined that L wouldn’t even come close to formula. My goal was to exclusively breastfeed for L’s entire 1st year (of course with adding solid food as well as she was able). There was no doubt in my mind that breastfeeding was the way to go and that it would provide L with the absolute best nutrients needed for her development.
On October 31, L was born! I made it very well known to my labor/delivery nurses that I was going to breastfeed. Once she was born, she immediately latched (well, what I thought was a proper latch?) Obviously, I had never breastfed before so I did not know what a proper latch was. The nurses all said she was latching decently. During our stay in the hospital, I nursed L exclusively and thought it was going great! I repeatedly asked the nurses and lactation consultants how I knew that she was getting enough (considering I couldn’t see how much she was getting). They kept telling me that she is and to let her nurse as long as she needed and time it. Her weight at the end of our hospital stay had lowered some……(normal though).
We went home and L had her normal first doctor appointment when she was 4 days old (2 days after being discharged from the hospital). The doctor told us that she had lost 11% of her body weight. This was terrifying. The doctor said that had she lost 12% of her body weight she would need to be admitted into the hospital. I did not understand how she had lost all of this weight. I was nursing for literally hours! She never seemed hungry, she seemed as though she was latched properly. We stayed at the doctor’s office and basically pumped L with formula as the doctor checked on her. We had to go back to the doctor the following day to see where her weight was. Her weight was progressing so we were doing great! We continued to breastfeed and supplemented with formula. I was certain that all of my milk supply had not come in yet so this would only be for a few days.
I made an appointment with lactation consultants for the next day. They told us that L was actually not latching pretty much at all therefore that was beginning to hinder my milk supply. I started pumping day and night to help with the milk supply (while also breastfeeding and supplementing formula). We bought L a special bottle that basically helps teach babies to breastfeed (also called Medela Haberman Feeder). This bottle was incredible!!! L quickly learned to properly latch with this bottle. After a few more lactation consultations, they saw that L did properly latch and was breastfeeding well…however, that took several weeks to get to, thus making my milk supply pretty low.
I was not going to give up. I knew breastfeeding was the best thing for her so I just needed to increase milk supply. I read, and read, and read about how to increase milk supply. I took about 12 fenugreek vitamins a day, I drank mother’s milk tea around the clock, ate food with chia seeds and flax seeds, I pumped immediately after breastfeeding and throughout the night, seriously I tried it all.
Whatever it was that I was doing was working…..some! I was able to get to about 50% of what L needed (so if she was eating 4 oz at that time, I only had to supplement 2 at that time). Then my maternity leave was coming to an end. I packed up my pump, extra bottles, freezable bags, cooler, and ice pack. I was determined that nothing was stopping me from breastfeeding. As long as she was getting breast milk and barely supplementing, I was happy! I guess during my maternity leave I forgot that the majority of my time at work was spent driving youth to appointments, all day court, home visits, school visits, waiting on foster placements…when in the world would I have time to pump!? Unfortunately, I just didn’t. Anyone that breastfeeds knows that it is a supply and demand thing, and I was just not able to find the time in the hectic work day to pump 3 times like I would during my maternity leave. While I only remained at work for 8 weeks following my maternity leave (I changed jobs), that time is when I completely did not have any milk supply left.
I was able to breastfeed for four and a half months, never exclusively. I struggled a lot with this because I was unable to provide my daughter with what I knew was best. During pregnancy I never once thought “what if breastfeeding did not work or what if I can’t breastfeed for a full year” No, that just wasn’t an option. However, I quickly realized that I should have prepared for that. I always thought, “oh, people who don’t breastfeed just don’t want to, or don’t want to put the work into it”
Boy, did I learn. I learned a lot through this. First that FED IS BEST. When L was about a month old, I read about this campaign “Fed is Best“. The story in this is similar to what I experienced L’s first few days, except their ending was devastating. I unfortunately did not get to exclusively breastfeed for an entire year as I had planned, but I am incredibly thankful for the time I did get to. It truly was something amazing and I am so happy I was able to experience it, even if it was for a short time and with supplementation. My hope is for anyone who is like me and ends up struggling with breastfeeding to know that it really is ok! As long as baby is eating well and healthy then everything will be ok!
Thank you for taking the time to read about my breastfeeding journey!