|Salud! (around three months old—her dad dressed her!)|
|Formula drunk 🙂|
|around seven months|
breastfeeding. She hates being covered up and we don’t use a cover
anymore, but that was one of my first times breastfeeding her in public.
I was so excited that I asked a friend to take a picture.
|Photo by La Bela Photography|
I’ve been following Julie’s blog and absolutely fell in love with her ‘Breastfeeding Diaries’ series. What a great idea for new mama’s to get breastfeeding support! I approached Julie with my story of pumping exclusively because I feel it’s an important one to share. When I was looking for support from other exclusively pumping mama’s, it was hard to find. My breastfeeding story wasn’t ideal, but I think it’s a reality for many mama’s.
I approached breastfeeding with childlike enthusiasm. It was always an obvious choice for me to breastfeed and honestly couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t breastfeed. It was the healthy, natural approach and I couldn’t imagine feeding my baby formula. I took a few classes, read some books and talked to friends about their experiences. I really thought it would just come naturally and pretty much thought I had it in the bag.
Well I was quite shocked when the baby came and my milk did not. The first few hours were great. Our doula helped Autumn latch right away and what a relief that was. Well that was probably the first and the last time things went right. I was nursing her round the clock but she began to lose weight. We had the doula’s and the lactation consultants visit us several times while in the hospital. We tried everything to get her to latch properly! You name it, I tried it. Due to my being very swollen, my milk not coming in, extreme pain when she latched and a very high pallet in Autumn’s mouth, we weren’t getting a good latch. I continued to nurse her every hour and a half. This made for an extremely tired mama and a very sleepy baby. I always heard stories about milk coming in and how it was painful and being a huge gush. Well I never had that. I’m not really even sure when my milk came in.
At her one week post birth appointment, we discovered she was still losing weight. I was adamant about not giving her formula, but at this point I was not going to let my baby go hungry and she was not getting what she needed from me. She guzzled down a few bottles in no time! We immediately went to the lactation consultants. There we discovered she was only getting about an ounce from me on both sides after nursing for a while. We were told to continue on the same route of breastfeeding, bottle feeding then pumping. This was an exhausting process which took almost an hour. I’d have a half hour break then would have to do it all over again.
We did the routine of nursing, bottle and pumping for about a month and a half. Autumn was getting to the point where she was just getting frustrated while nursing because she wasn’t getting enough and would end up crying and fussing until she had a bottle. After much internal debating, fretting and guilt, I decided to stop breastfeeding her directly. I continued to pump though. She was getting the majority of her feedings from breastmilk and the remaining portion from soy formula (we discovered she has a milk allergy after what we thought was colic). The decision to stop nursing was incredibly difficult. I felt like I had failed as a mother, I was angry at my body and the whole breastfeeding process. I also felt guilty for giving Autumn formula and for feeling relieved that I no longer was breastfeeding. Once I stopped, I was afraid I would lose that bonding time with her but to this day we snuggle just as much as we did before!
In the midst of all our latching issues, I was also having supply issues. I went to the lactation consultant (we got to know these ladies very well!) and my OB who prescribed me some medication that helped while I was on it. I also tried everything under the sun to get my supply up…lactation cookies, Mother’s Milk herbs, teas, fenugreek, the list goes on and on. The only thing that really seemed to help was the anti-nausea prescription but I did not want that to be a permanent solution. Pumping exclusively did not help my supply issues either. As Autumn grew, my supply dwindled and we were giving her more and more formula.
I pumped exclusively until Autumn was almost six months old. I was pumping 5-6 times a day for about 20 minutes and would yield about 1-2.5 ounces at each session. I figured it was better than nothing so I continued to pump. As time went on and my already low supply continued to drop, I became increasingly frustrated at the process. It was a huge time commitment and began to wear me down. Had I been getting more milk, I would have continued to pump. However, towards the end I was barely getting maybe 1.5 ounces in a day. Again, I went through the agonizing guilt and internal turmoil, but ultimately decided it was time to retire my breastpump.
Our breastfeeding journey was a difficult one. I far underestimated just how difficult it would be. Although it was hard, I am happy and proud that Autumn was able to have breastmilk for as long as she did. I felt such a huge relief once I was done pumping and felt very guilty about that. But I was also happier when I was done. You know what they say, happy mama, happy house!
While my journey was not ideal, I learned a lot from it. As much as you plan, anticipate and hope for, some things (especially when it comes to kids!) are out of your control. I know I tried my very best to breastfeed Autumn and pumped as long as I feasibly could, but sometimes nature has other plans for you. We have a healthy and very happy little girl and that is the only thing that matters! So to other mama’s out there who have had a similar experience or just difficulties breastfeeding, get outside help from lactation consultants, have a good support system around and most importantly don’t be too hard on yourself.
A big thanks to Julie for letting me share my story and for creating such a wonderful venue to share with other mama’s!