Day Eleven | Alyssa's Journey | Working with a Nipple Shield
My breastfeeding journey started eight years ago with my son. I was 18 years young and had no idea what I was doing.
The lactation consultant that came to see me basically just grabbed my breast and latched him on there for me. She was rude and so unkind. I knew I wanted to breastfeed him so I didn't pay any kind and continued on. Our poor latching skills caused me pain and my nipples were so raw for two weeks. I cried through the pain and was so determined to just keep going, and I did, for an entire year.
I look back at my young self and feel guilt and shame because I was the one going to the bathroom at public places to feed my hungry little man. I was scared someone would say something to me about feeding my child.
This time I wanted to have more self confidence and be more empowered to feed my daughter and not care about what anyone else says. My water bag ruptured at 36 weeks and 3 days. Leilah arrived 35 hours later. 6 pounds 5 ounces of pure heaven. She was my miracle, my rainbow baby. Every baby born before 37 weeks is required to go straight to the NICU as a precaution.
They predicted she would be able to go home with us by the time I was discharged from the hospital. She was doing so well and then just crashed. We were told to come get her so she could room in with us overnight. As we got to the NICU I heard her crying. You know the mothers instinct even when there were so many other babies in the NICU; I heard my baby girl.
I turned the corner and saw all the doctors and nurses surrounding her, poking, wrapping, talking fast, and hooking her up to be x-rayed. I started to panic and a doctor pulled me aside to let me know she had fluid in her lungs with an infection that was most likely pneumonia. This would start a short but long 9 days for us.
She was put on a feeding tube and I was put on a pumping schedule. She used donor milk until mine finally came in a few days later. I was getting 12 ounces every three hours for her. They were able to move her to a bottle a day after and would give the rest through the tube if she wasn't able to finish what was given to her. I had many lactation consults and unsuccessful latches.
They finally decided to give me a nipple shield due to her being used to bottles and not being able to latch. I continued to bottle feed her once she arrived home because I was still pumping out a good amount of milk and wanted to build a stash. I was also sad because she wasn't able to latch on and I felt the shield just wasn't the same.
I finally decided to stop exclusively pumping for her because I was extremely exhausted warming up milk, feeding her, putting her back to sleep, and then pumping for 20 minutes afterward. Each session I would try to have her latch for about 5 minutes because it was a struggle. She would scream and wouldn't open her mouth wide enough.
That's when I noticed her tongue never went to the roof of her mouth when she cried. I examined her tongue and found that she had a tongue tie. It was at the very front tip of her tongue. I was upset because nobody ever caught it. The lactation specialists, four different ones, that I saw never even thought to check to see if that's why she was not able to latch. We had the tongue tie reversed and it was the best decision for all of us.
I began to try latching without a shield every feeding after her tongue had healed. Every time was unsuccessful. I started to cry and tell my husband I wanted to just give up because having a shield was just "too much to deal with" every feeding. It's hard when you are out in public and have to pull out the shield and make sure it doesn't fall to the ground, get filthy and then have to find a place to wash it all while your baby is screaming because she's hungry.
I had so many break down episodes; feelings of failure as a mom (as if I had the control of my child's latching in the first place). I had a love hate relationship with the shield. It allowed me to bond with my daughter, but caused me so much grief because she couldn't latch.
In the midst of these issues, she was also diagnosed with silent reflux, a dairy and soy allergen. The on call pediatrician pressured me to switch to formula before trying medication. She said it would probably be easier than having to change my whole diet. I refused and told her I did not want her to have formula because I was work hard to be able to breast feed and I had a plan!
We began the medication along with me cutting out ALL DAIRY AND SOY. This has been the single hardest thing ever! What I wouldn't do for some-well really everything that contains dairy. I've joined lots of support groups through Facebook and it's good to know I am not the only one out there. Finding a quick easy snack or meal has not been easy! It is a pain going out to eat, so planning ahead and getting things I can eat at the grocery store is best for now. Chipotle has actually been a life saver when I want to go out to eat. We are hoping to reintroduce dairy to my diet when she is 6 months old.
The pediatrician will also be weaning her off the Zantac later this month. I am happy to say today we have successfully weaned off the shield and latching beautifully! I cried with such happiness because it was a huge victory for the both of us. It has honestly made me more confident going out in public places too. I feel more empowered and blessed to be able to provide my daughter breast milk. It is a huge accomplishment and one I will continue until the time comes to an end.
What difficulties have you had to work through to breastfeed your little one? Let us know in the comments. If you are interested in sharing your story, contact me and we can plan all the details. You can write your blog or I am happy to as well after a short interview.