I wanted to breastfeed since I wanted to be a mama. I struggled with my first, and only breastfed a month despite working hard. The second time around, knowing this was our last kiddo, I was determined to fight harder and do everything in my power to make it work if it was possible.
With my first, it started with jaundice. As a new mom the doctor came in and said, "Your son is jaundiced: here's a bottle of formula because your milk isn't in at one day post-partum and he needs to flush his system."
Of course I was worried so I breastfed for about thirty minutes on each side and then gave him the bottle. At four days post-partum I met with an IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who gave me a nipple shield because my nipples were shredded and bloody. After about two weeks, my little man was still nursing non-stop followed by supplementing a bottle, and my production was clearly insufficient. Despite paying the IBCLC, I felt abandoned by her when I sought follow-up help, and ended up giving up when my babe was 4 weeks old. I was heartbroken.
My daughter was a different story, but still a struggle. We started off okay, but right away I noticed that she made a click when she ate. I asked three different LCs before I left the hospital 24 hours after having her--all of them said it was normal and fine.
My daughter ate nonstop - not 30 or 40 minutes per side. She ate 50 or 60 minutes per side. I was feeding for hours at a time, and following it with a pumping session to try to up my supply, with thirty minutes to have a break.
Five days after she was born I had an IBCLC come out to help us. My nipples were raw, I was engorged, I was feeding constantly, and had a toddler who missed his mama - it was awful. She did a weighted feeding and determined I ¨was one of the few with low supply.¨ She advised I continue triple feeding (feed from the breast, pump, then feed pumped milk through a bottle) for two weeks, and if there was no improvement I give up the pumping and just supplement after I breastfeed.
I did this for a month, but realized I was only supplementing about 4 total ounces each day. After doing some research, I decided to do a little mini nursing boot camp. With the help of my hubby and mom (who helped tremendously caring for my toddler son) I was able to really do nothing but skin-to-skin and nurse my gal. After four days of this, we had our first day of exclusive breastfeeding since day 1.
The triple feeding and then the boot camp was brutal. It was actually one of the hardest parts of those first few months. I already had the feeling of guilt that his little world was turned upside down with the new addition, and then with me tied to the pump or with a screaming newborn struggling to nurse constantly, it was brutal.
I wore my daughter a ton. She was either wrapped or in a carrier from about two weeks on, and I figured out quickly how to breastfeed in it. People often say, "I never could figure out how to breastfeed in the carrier," but for the sake of my relationship with my son, it was an absolute necessity. I tried to take walks with him so he could ride his bike, and I would sit out front and watch him play while I nursed. I also laid with him at nap time (and usually fed my daughter to sleep during that time). Making space for that allowed me to check in and chat with him about the day, and also get in some snuggles. I honestly may have cried more about missing my son during those first few weeks than everything else (which considering we had significant breastfeeding issues and my daughter was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and put into a brace, says a lot).
At three months I was still nursing for about forty minutes at a time every hour or 90 minutes. I decided to meet with an IBCLC to make sure we were doing everything as efficiently as possible. I wondered if our normal was ¨the norm.¨ As soon as she looked at her and read our history she said to me, ¨Well, you know she has a tongue and lip tie, right?¨ She proceeded to tell me she was surprised I had a full supply, and attributes it to my round the clock feeding/co-sleeping. I have never felt such relief and validation. We got that revised at 14 weeks, and I actually got re-engorged--she was finally eating efficiently!
The best advice I have is to trust your instincts and your baby. I don't know anyone who wishes they had cuddled less, co-slept for a short length of time, read their kids fewer bedtime stories... They grow up with or without us, so for me, I choose to be present as much as I possibly can during this season. In all its mess, sleeplessness, and beauty.
Feel free to comment below with how you bonded with your other children while you nursed your newest or any part of your feeding journey. 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. I can’t wait to meet you and help you document your story.