There are over 50 true benefits to breastfeeding a baby into toddlerhood – both for mom and for baby. The first 3 months being the most important, but also typically the most difficult. Learning to latch, and getting through the pain and the sleepless nights (not that you would get more sleep with another method) is hard, confusing work.
Ashley always assumed that she would at least try to breastfeed any child she had because she knew a lot of these benefits. Her original goal was to make it to six months, but deep down she knew that if she made it to four months (when she had to return to work) she would be happy.
At first, everything seemed great. Her daughters latch was good and it seemed she was getting enough milk. But as the days passed her latch got worse and nursing not only became more painful but her daughter didn’t seem to be getting enough milk either.
At about six weeks, her daughter was diagnosed with both a tongue and lip tie. After they got them revised, her daughter went on a nursing strike. The bigger problem was that she wouldn’t take a bottle either. Because she would not feed from the breast or the bottle they ended up feeding her through a syringe. They did get back on track with breastfeeding after a few days.
“We knew she had to learn how to take a bottle since I was going back to work, so we kept trying, but she was not at all interested. Finally around 3.5 months, she started taking a bottle consistently. But then after she took a bottle consistently, she was progressively less interested and effective on the breast.”
At four months they ended up doing a few weighed feedings to see how much she was really getting in each nursing session. At this point they realized that she was not even getting one full ounce of milk with each nursing session so they began to supplement after every feeding.
Ashley tried every piece of advice she received to better the latch, increase milk supply and pump more. She tried “vitamin supplements, expensive ‘lactation blends,’ teas, lactation cookies and shakes, massage, changing flange sizes on pumps, changing out the membranes on the pump, drinking more water, eating oatmeal, almonds, apricots - you name it.”
Unfortunately even with all of this, she could ultimately only pump 5-6 ounces per day. The rest of the day they chose to use donor milk and overnight she gets formula plus one nursing session in the middle of the night.
In her quest to get through this journey of feeding her little, she worked with an IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant), joined several groups that offer support and talks to her husband.
“I cherish the time I do have when she will breastfeed, but I'm just grateful that she's happy, healthy and growing through a combo of my milk, donor milk and formula! Regardless of how she is fed, when a baby is 100% dependent on you, I believe the bond happens naturally. She's old enough now that we can interact a lot more with games and smiles - that brings us closer together as well.” Since her daughter will only nurse at night now, breastfeeding is quiet time for them to share. “It calms her, we're rocking and the house is silent. It's like our special time together.”
“Remember that every baby moves at his/her own pace. Once you stop comparing your baby (and yourself!) to others, you'll feel a lot less stress :) And beware of Googling too much - it's a blessing and a curse!”
Feel free to comment below on how your feeding journey is or is not what you expected it would be. If you would like to share your story through images and a blog (which you can write or I can) please contact Miracle Kisses here so we can get things started. I would love to help you document your journey.