Round One: Breastfeeding One

 

Emily pretending to nurse Elmo! It is always his turn after the triplets are fed.

 

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed. After learning as much as I could about it, I thought it would be the best thing for the baby, it would save me a ton of money on formula and it would help to lose the baby weight.

When Emily was born I started right away trying to breastfeed and it was so hard. It was very awkward to try and position Emily properly to have her latch on and stay on. I had no idea what I was doing the first night in the hospital and it became very overwhelming to hear Emily cry so much. The nurse who was working came in and said “she is a big baby and is hungry, she needs to eat,” then asked me if I wanted formula to feed her. I was so worried that she wasn’t eating enough and she was hungry so I said yes to the formula. It was so helpful and she was actually eating something. I did try to nurse every time she was hungry, but it was just too hard.

The nurses would come by all the time and even tried to help me. They showed me how to latch Emily and even tried to do it for me. I found it did help a little bit and they were very nice about it, but when they weren’t there it was difficult. They told me to try and hand express some milk out and then I could cup feed her, which was allowing her to use her tongue to lick the milk out of the cup while slowly putting it up to her mouth. This did work, but it was a lot to hand express and I could only get out 10 -15 ml at a time.

The nurses were very adamant about making sure I continued breastfeeding and at one point one nurse even took the formula away! I could understand where they were coming from and I knew that in order to increase milk production and promote your milk let down you need to constantly nurse, but I needed the formula to make sure Emily ate!

It became very painful to breastfeed. So painful that I almost cried each time I tried to latch Emily, but I continued to try because I read that it would hurt at the beginning and then the pain goes away. I also tried lanolin cream to help with the pain and that took away the dryness, but the pain was still there. Before we left the hospital one of the nurses checked to see if Emily had a tongue tie. She thought she saw a small one, but in the end she couldn’t see anything. We went home and I still continued to try nursing, but it was just as hard as before and I couldn’t seem to make it work.

At this point I was ready to give up and I became so frustrated and upset that I couldn’t get it, I cried multiple times each day. Dan saw how upset and frustrated I was, so he set up an appointment with a lactation consultant for me. It was the best decision he could have made and after seeing her, life became so much easier!

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Emily sometimes uses my cover! 

It turned out Emily did have a tongue tie and it was preventing her from being able to latch properly. She explained to me that when a baby latches they use their tongue to suck, but with a tongue tie the baby cannot use their tongue, so they use their cheeks instead. The doctor came in and snipped the tongue tie with a little razor. I was so scared and couldn’t watch. It only took a few seconds to do and once it was done there was only a small drop of blood and Emily cried for about 10 seconds. After the doctor was done the lactation consultant had me nurse Emily to see if it was any easier. I sat there for about 10 minutes and nursed her and I couldn’t believe how easy and painless it was! Emily latched on perfectly and from that moment I knew what it was like to properly breastfeed. I learned that it shouldn’t hurt to nurse and when the baby is latched on properly, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort or pain. It almost feels like they aren’t even latched on.

Once I was able to breastfeed Emily, I did it all the time and despite my difficulties for the first week and having to supplement with formula initially, I was able to breastfeed for 11 1/2 months with the first 6 months exclusively breastfeeding. I even managed to pump enough to freeze for our vacation when Emily was just under 3 months and she stayed with my mom while we went away. I do wish I was able to continue breastfeeding even longer, but we found out Emily had a milk allergy and my consumption of dairy products would affect her. That was a challenge in itself and I am looking forward to writing a new post about the challenges of dealing with her milk allergy and some of the food I made.

If there is anything I could take away from the problems I had at the beginning, is the knowledge that it does take some time to become comfortable breastfeeding and you really do need to put in some work to get started. It really did upset me and the thought that I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed devastated me. I am so glad that I kept trying and took the time to see a lactation consultant. I just want to say to any mom, that if you truly want to breastfeed, but you have difficulties at the beginning, to not give up and know that with a little work, practice and help from someone such as a lactation consultant you will get the hang of it!

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She also pretends to nurse Mini Mouse!

Have you had similar experiences? Did you find it difficult at the beginning? How long were you able to breastfeed or chose to breastfeed for?

If you could share one piece of advice in regards to breastfeeding what would it be?

 

 

6 thoughts on “Round One: Breastfeeding One”

  1. Breastfeeding is a skill that truly needs learning, practice and help.

    My baby boy Tom is 4 months old, still exclusively breast fed. He was having very bad reflux due to my past consumption of dairy products (rings a bell, doesn’t it?), so I had to cut them off my diet. And therefore the plan is to ebf him till he is 6 months old at least, maybe longer if he shows interest in solid food later (but not later than 7 months as per usual recommendation), and after still breastfeed him obviously. I have just started to express breast milk to build our breast milk stash for when I am going back to work.

    Best advice: book a session with a lactation consultant. Even if Tom and I didn’t have any particular issue, I found breastfeeding is far from easy and takes time to be mastered. We both were comfortable and efficient with breastfeeding after around 10 weeks, with 2 sessions with a lactation consultant booked by my husband 😉

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  2. Breastfeeding is so difficult at first but as you said, keep on practicing and seeking help if it is really important to you!

    When I became pregnant with my daughter I knew I wanted to breastfeed but didn’t know too much about it. I did read some things but I really had NO idea how hard it would be. Once she was born, we struggled. We never gave formula, the nurses never offered and we never considered it. Our daughter screamed more than any other baby while we were there and thinking back, she was probably hungry. We never seemed concerned because every doctor appointment she gained weight.

    I have no idea what the problem was… The nurses helped so much latching her on in the hospital, I saw a lactation consultant, and also seeked help from a nurse at a breastfeeding clinic. But, it took me almost 4 months to get breastfeeding down! When I saw a lactation consultant at 4 weeks she told me that the baby should have it mastered by 6-8 weeks or I could run into problems, such as mastitis. When I hit 8 weeks I was completely stressed. Why wasn’t I mastering this yet? Anyway, I never gave up! And now, after 10.5 months of breastfeeding – 6 months exclusively – I don’t want to give up! Just this week she has started drinking some formula while I go back to work and at about 1 year (so soon!!) I will stop completely 😦

    So to new moms: just don’t give up. It is so hard but if you continue, it will get easier. Supplementing with formula isn’t really the answer because the more you try to breastfeed, the better your milk supply!

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  3. I knew I always wanted to breast feed my children but I was also very anxious about it. My own mother had struggled with it and ended up formula feeding both myself and my brother because we just cried all the time. My mother feared her milk was just not cutting it and therefore made the decision to stop bf altogether. I grew more and more anxious about bf as my due date approached and fretted if I would produce enough milk for my new baby. After my son was born the nurses at the hospital were great. They assured me that the more we nursed the more milk my milk would come in. I did however have to resort to using a nipple shield in order for him latch at first. There were times when it was really hard. We would both be the couch, him crying because he was hungry and me crying out if frustration. He became very fussy on my one side and I had to start pumping just to keep my supply up on that side. In the beginning as he’s throwing a fit and I’m blowing my nose due to crying I would think to myself, ” why is this so hard for me? Shouldn’t it be all sunshine and roses as we nurse beautifully, him happy and me content knowing all is well?” Instead here I sit with a nipple shield crutch on one side and a breast pump twanging and clicking on the other side. Time has passed, I’ve become more patient with myself and nursing has been getting better and better. Practice makes perfect. My son is 4 months old and continues to bf solely. We plan on nursing until I have to go back to work when he reaches 11 months. If your a new mommy and feel like you’re about to give up because it’s just too hard, remember to have patience with yourself. You’re just learning this skill and that the more you do it the better it will become.

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  4. I’m 75 now and nursed all my seven babies..one of them disabled so forgive me for not writing this as clear as some of you more tech advanced mothers may be! I’ve found A lot of new mothers think you put just the NIPPLE in baby’s mouth…but you have to get his little mouth over the whole area so that his tongue and mouth work the brown part where the milk ducts are (sorry still can’t remember what it’s called!! Haha. Is it the aureole or something?)…Anyway, as they press their little gums on the underlying milk ducts it sort of squirts into their mouth and there’s no problem I’ve found. if you just put the nipple in and they are desperately pressing down as explained above, then of course nothing’s happening and you just get a sore nipple. Hope this helps someone . that’s how I did it anyway and had no problems

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  5. Hi, what a lovely story and great information.
    I wanted to breastfeed my son but is sure not as easy as said, your made too feel like every woman can breat feed, I breast fed as soon as he arrived, he latched on perfect 🙂 but I never knew what to expect, he was on for about an hour, which at the time I thought was normal, then after 20mins he was hungry again so I breastfed him, and he was on for an hour/ hour 30mins, then off for 20mins. This continued for the first day and night, it was so painful that I ended up in tears, begging for him to be given a bottle of milk 😦 he would wee for tge first day and night. Thats why we were kept in, but none of the nurses checked hes feeding :(. In the end I thought out that I wasn’t producing and milk and thats why he was constantly trying to feed.
    I loved the feeling and closeness with my son whiles breastfeeding but I was gutted that I wasnt able to do it.
    I hope next time my breast can work lol!

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