Hello! I’m Whitney from Polka-Dotty Place and I’m excited to share my breastfeeding journey with you. My daughter, Olive, is about to turn two so I figured it was time to document our story.
My daughter was full term and I was induced due to high blood pressure issues at 39 weeks. We did skin to skin right away and bonded instantly. She latched on well in the hospital, but I felt a little clueless since she was my first baby. The hospital provided nurses and lactation consultants for support so I was eager to talk to them. My husband and I also attended a breastfeeding class while we were at the hospital to educate ourselves.
I found the consultants very frustrating to work with. Each one of them gave me different instructions and it was really hard to feel like I was making any progress. I’d start doing okay with one for a few hours only to be told I was doing it completely wrong when the next round of consultants came in. Each woman would come in with her own method that was THE one right way to do things and it was different than the last. The consultants seemed ill prepared and were impatient with me. Not the best combination for a new mom. So I eventually quit asking for their help and just relied on my nurses. The nurses were much nicer and they offered more encouragement to me. They’d give tips that they had learned with their kids, reminded me that it’s hard to get started and encouraged my efforts.
I kept nursing Olive whenever she showed interest, but she seemed very sleepy. She’d been through a lot with just being born and all so I did not think much of it. The nurses were a little concerned with her blood sugar early on, but no one seemed too worried. They took her to the nursery to do some routine checkups a little later on and came back with the announcement that she was really struggling to maintain her blood sugar and needed to eat more right away. The situation had escalated and it was no longer a wait and see kind of thing.
We started doing SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) where you have the baby nurse and there is a tiny tube taped to your breast for you to pump formula through to your baby. The baby thinks they are nursing and getting the milk from you. It worked well. Olive’s blood sugar was holding and I felt good about things momentarily. She was still latching on and the process seemed to be going well for the moment.
Olive ended up continuing to have blood sugar issues for the next few days and we all stayed an extra day at the hospital. Her blood sugar was getting lower and lower so we ended up giving her bottles of formula and I’d attempt to nurse her when she was back with me. The nurses would take her to the nursery and check her blood sugar levels hourly. Her poor little heels were getting pricked all day long. My milk had yet to come in, but we were working through it knowing she was getting colostrum. We were eventually released and they sent me home with the expectation that I’d continue breast feeding and supplementing with formula. I was fine with this plan even though I was a bit terrified to take my new baby home. Don’t all new moms feel this way?
We got home and things were going pretty well. My husband was super helpful and supportive. He’d research supplies and anything else I needed. We continued our supplementing routine and we also got a breast pump thanks to our insurance. I started pumping regularly in addition to breast feeding. It took a few tries to get pumping parts/supplies figured out, but we did it. I was noticing that I’d pump for 15-30 minutes sessions and only get about one ounce at the most total on both sides. I’d pump throughout the whole day and only have around 3 ounces to show for it. My milk eventually did come in a few days after being home, but it was still a small amount of 3-5 ounces. I chugged water, started taking supplements, ate foods that were recommended to increase milk production and did everything I read on-line to do to help with supply issues.
I made an appointment with a highly recommended lactation consultant about a week after coming home from the hospital. We talked about my supply issues and she agreed that my supply was much too low. She bumped up my supplements, cut back my allergy meds and we talked about best nursing positions, best pillows, techniques and other tips. I headed home energized with our new game plan. I did all the new things she suggested for a few weeks and had very little change in my supply. I was still pumping all throughout the day only to get 3-5 ounces. So we were still supplementing and had switched to a soy based formula due to tummy troubles with Olive. I pumped what I could and would bottle feed Olive every drop of breast milk I produced. She did really well with both breast milk and formula.
I decided a second round of appointments with my doctor, Olive’s pediatrician, and the lactation consultant was in order to say that my milk levels were still the same despite their interventions. It had been 5 or 6 weeks and I wasn’t producing any more milk than I had been before. They felt like I was doing everything I could and that my body just wasn’t producing a ton of milk. So they left it up to me whether or not to continue to pump or to just stop. I talked it over with my husband and we opted to stop since I was still producing such a small amount of milk. We were moving across the country the following week and starting a new life in a new city and it was the best choice for us. It was a busy time, we were switching doctors and I felt like it was okay to stop. Olive did great on her full formula diet and I didn’t have any guilt about stopping pumping. I knew that I had tried my hardest and for whatever reason my body just didn’t produce much milk.
I was just fine with our outcome, but then I started to get really nasty comments from people. An acquaintance told me that I was lazy and so was my baby for not trying harder with breastfeeding, people would comment to me how much better breastfeeding was than formula when they found out Olive was on formula and others were just condescending about the whole thing implying they were somehow better moms for breastfeeding their kids. I tried not to let it bother me, but I really hated it that moms were spending their energy bringing me down. It was discouraging to get comments like that so I found myself avoiding conversations about what was in Olive’s bottles.
Overall, my breastfeeding experience did not go exactly how I’d envisioned it, but I am perfectly content knowing that my daughter got every drop of milk I produced. I want to encourage moms to remember that every baby is different, every situations is different and not to judge when people do things differently than you. I’m an advocate for feeding babies in any way shape or form that is necessary ☺ I will always be proud of my efforts and know that my daughter has grown into a perfectly happy, healthy, thriving toddler because of them.
Thanks for reading our story!
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Great job for trying so hard and then figuring out what works for you and your daughter. Every mom and baby are different, and it's crazy that people are so mean about formula feeding. You never know what's in someone's bottle..maybe it's breastmilk but mom doesn't feel comfortable nursing in public. I've done that a few times. People just need to not worry about others' decisions. Thanks for the post!
Emily Marie says
Thanks for sharing your story! I had a very similar situation I never was able to get more then 2 oz and my daughter wasn't gaining weight. As moms we have to choose what is best for our baby and family and no one should be judged for that …but I too felt like I always had to justify why she was on formula when you can't help if your body doesn't produce milk. I'm due any day with #2 and I'm going to give it my best shot again but if it doesn't work I'm not going to beat myself up about it this time!
I can't believe people criticized you after you clearly tried everything you could. I, too, had major supply issues…it's nice to know I wasn't the only one.
I can totally relate to this and you are amazing!