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Our Ups and Downs of Breastfeeding

From the moment I got pregnant, even before that, I always knew that I wanted to be able to breastfeed my children. I never really thought “What if I can’t nurse? What if my body doesn’t produce enough milk? What if my baby can’t latch properly?” These were all questions that I started thinking about as my due date neared and I prayed that I would be able to provide Isla with the nutrition that she needed. 


 When Isla was first born, she didn’t seem to have that desire to nurse right away. The nurses would try and try and try to get her to latch on but she just didn’t seem interested. They had me pump the first full day in the hospital to get some colostrum for her. I then put it into a syringe and fed it to her like a little birdie! She took it very well. The next day I continued to pump and my milk started to come in. I figured that this was the answer to getting her to nurse because of course, with my milk now in, why wouldn’t she want to nurse? Well, she still had no desire to do so.

Our second overnight, the nurses took her for a while so I could get some sleep. At 3 in the morning they burst into the room saying “She’s looking for her momma and she’s hungry!” Sure enough, she latched on right away and nursed on both sides for a good 15 minutes. I thought “Wow! We have got this figured out!” The next day I woke up feeling like a brand new women. Me and my baby had bonded together and would be able to nurse wherever and whenever. If only it were that easy! That day was spent struggling to get Isla to latch on. I felt so defeated and awful that my baby and I were having this much trouble. I felt like I had failed. My mom was with me all day and was my cheerleader. She helped me realize that we would figure it out when the time was right for us.

During the day we tried a few different ways to help Isla with her nursing and to get some much needed nutrition into her. The first thing we tried was formula feeding. I tried nursing Isla while they clipped a small tube to me that had formula coming out of it. There is a name for this but for the life of me I can’t think of it right now. The hope was to get Isla tasting the formula and wanting to latch on. We tried this throughout the afternoon and she seemed to get a bit. Then we tried to attach the formula tube to my finger and put that in her mouth to see if she would latch on. She had a great latch and I really felt her sucking so I couldn’t figure out why she was having troubles with me. Feeling defeated again, the nurse took a closer look at how Isla was latching on to my finger. She mentioned trying a nipple shield. For those that don’t know, a nipple shield is a plastic piece with a long nipple on it and it suctions around your breast. The nurse thought that maybe we could benefit from using it because of the length of the nipple and it could hit the roof of Isla’s mouth a bit better and help her to get use to the feeling of latching on and sucking. Well, it worked like a charm! From the moment we started using it, Isla became a pro at nursing. When we switched sides, I would switch the shield too. 24 hours later, my milk was flowing in full force and Isla was continuing to nurse well so we were able to go home. I was so thankful that they kept us in the hospital and that the nurses were so patient and helpful during this process. I am happy that I didn’t let my frustration get the best of me and that I was surrounded by people that encouraged and helped us.

Fast forward a couple of months and things still seemed to be going well. We were nursing, I was able to pump bottles, she would take bottles and pacifiers…we were on a roll!

At the end of November, our whole household got very sick with the cold including Isla. It was so sad to see and it lasted for 2 weeks. During this time, I noticed that little by little, Isla didn’t seem interested in nursing. I always timed our nursing sessions and they went from 40 minutes to 10 minutes. She would nurse on one side for 5 minutes and get incredibly frustrated. I would switch to the other side and the same thing would happen. During this time, I also noticed my supply dwindling. My normal pumping sessions went from producing 4 ounces in a matter of minutes to watching barely an ounce come out in 15 minutes. I thought to myself “What on earth is going on?” During this time, Isla continued to lose interest in nursing and my husband and I started to notice she was losing the fullness in her cheeks. We called the doctors office right away to make an appointment. While waiting to see the doctor, I continued to nurse her every half hour or so in hopes that she would get what she needed.

December 9th rolled around and we went to see the doctor. We hadn’t seen her since 6 weeks previous to this appointment but we figured that Isla was at least 10 pounds or more in weight. When she was weighed at this appointment she was 7lbs 15oz. I thought WHAT!!!??? I looked at the scale half a dozen times. I thought that there was no way she had lost weight. The doctor came in to speak with us and checked out Isla and we voiced our concerns. The doctor agreed that she looked a little thin and could tell that she was at the end of a virus and we got the go ahead to start supplementing formula. I asked what I could do to help myself and my supply. She recommended that I take Domperidone which is normally used for acid reflux and nausea but said that it can really help with lactation. She called in the prescription and we left the office with some formula and a determination to do whatever we had to so Isla would feel full and taken care of.

We got home and right away I made up 5 bottles of formula and we fed it to her throughout the day. I also nursed her on and off until my prescription was ready.

Fast forward another 2 days and Isla was taking formula like a champ, my milk was starting to flow again and Isla had gained 4 ounces. Now we are half way through January and Isla has gained another 3 pounds. My milk has come back better then it was in the beginning although I am still having to take the prescription which is fine by me as long as I am still able to nurse Isla. She still gets 2 bottles of formula a day and the rest in breast milk.

We have another doctors appointment this Friday with a pediatrician who has been monitoring Isla’s progress closely and I think she will be very happy. I hope and pray that after this appointment the doctor will tell us that she is back on track. This process at times has been tiring, frustrating and defeating but in the end Isla is happy and continuing to grow and I am so happy that we are still able to share the experience of nursing together as a mother and daughter.

Thank you for reading my story. Please know that you are not alone in your struggles. I would love to here about your stories and triumphs. We are all in this together.

Melissa

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