So…breastfeeding. What did I know before having a baby? I knew that “breast is best” and it’s the natural thing that most mothers choose to do. I hadn’t met anyone who chose not to breastfeed and was even surprised when the hospital staff asked me multiple times, “Are you breastfeeding?” Who DOESN’T? I thought. I know there are some things that prevent breastfeeding, like when my sister had a double mastectomy and couldn’t breastfeed. She actually got tons of donations of breast milk from other generous moms to feed her baby with through the first 6 months.
However, for those without any medical issues, I figured we all just did it. I was told “It’s natural” and “you’ll find your groove.” I was also told to find a lactation consultant. I was also surprised there was an entire organization, La Leche, devoted to breastfeeding. What IS their real purpose? They actually employ people? What do they do? I heard the hospital had a breastfeeding support group. I thought, is it really THAT hard that you need a support group?
Um, well, yeah. It is that hard. It doesn’t feel super natural, it hurts and I sort of hate it. I feel guilty about hating it. I have kind of a bad attitude. I can’t stop thinking about when I start working again & how I will possibly be able to truly focus when my brain is constantly thinking about the next feeding or pumping. And how leaving the house is an anxiety-ridden task because I don’t feel “in control” of when and how I can feed him if he wants it or needs it.
My supply is limited so for one day, I actually gave him two formula bottles. The negative vibes were palpable (from myself). People said, “Do what you feel is right for you.”) Well, formula certainly didn’t “feel” right that day. So I made a second appointment with the LC & re-determined to focus exclusively on breast milk for now.
I think about how they say to breastfeed up to a year if you can. I think about even 6 months — and it sounds like an eternity. So I can’t think about those long time periods. Right now, I’m thinking about how to make it to 6 weeks, when my maternity leave is up. But the smaller goal is just today. Like just today, make enough milk and feed him as much as you can and that’s all you have to do. Right NOW, I don’t have a job to worry about. Right now, my job is just to be there & provide his food and change his diapers and spend time with him.
Friday night I made enough to pump a bottle so Rick could give him one of his night time feedings. It was the most glorious thing. I slept from 9:30-2:30 without interruption and felt like I could run an ultra marathon when I got up for that 3am feeding. I saw some quote recently that said babies are like terrorists because of their sleep deprivation tactics. Hear hear!
So, I spend my time while pumping searching the Internet for like-minded people & encouragement. I just typed in “I hate breastfeeding” & actually found this little forum helpful. It is full of women saying that first 2-3 months are the worst and that it usually does get better. Though it feels like we’ve had Jacob forever, it’s only been nearly 3 weeks. This isn’t enough to throw in the towel, especially while I’m still on maternity leave.
I also know that some women have a MUCH harder time. I don’t have mastitis, and though it does HURT, I’m not bleeding or cracking. We have to use the nipple shield every time, which makes baby have to work harder and not quite as effective, but it’s still working most of the time.
Here’s the thing — I can be dramatic and a big baby. I am also less than 3 weeks post-partum and I’ve been told my emotions and hormones are likely a tad out of whack. Since I’m usually pretty emotional anyway, it’s hard to tell the difference. However, I’m going to rest on the fact that this is probably true — and believe all these other women, that breastfeeding does get easier. I’m also going to choose to not feel guilty if now and then, Jacob does have formula. It’s not an all or nothing game — and sometimes, it’s okay if that’s what has to be done.
UPDATE: I started this post on Saturday, updating on Sunday night
Just went to my third appointment with the LC. Turns out, Jacob isn’t gaining enough weight and apparently, he is not taking in enough milk when he eats. Additionally, the LC thinks I’m simply not making enough milk. Even after 5 days of taking Fenugreek, pumping more than normal and trying to be very diligent about feeding.
I just rented the hospital grade Medela breast pump (NOT cheap!) and am going to try pumping with that for the next two weeks to see how I do. My Ameda breast pump, which I got through my insurance, works VERY slowly and one side isn’t working at all. Pumping sessions have been taking like 45 minutes to get less than 2 oz — and that’s every 3-4 hours.
The LC says we have to start supplementing EVERY single feeding with a 2oz bottle — whether that is breast milk or formula. That’s going to be 10 times a day if we hit our goal. I don’t think I will be able to make enough of breast milk so unfortunately, we will be supplementing with formula. How much, I’m not sure. This week will be one to test the waters with the new breast pump, feeding schedule and formula.
I certainly HATE hearing that he hasn’t been getting enough 🙁 Poor little guy. He’s still .5 oz below birth weight and will be 3 weeks on Tuesday so that’s not good. I feel confident that this new supplementation will get him where he needs to be but it’s hard knowing I have not been able to provide it myself. When I think about all the amazingess that is breast milk, I hate that he will getting anything else.
At the same time, I feel relief that I’ve been given “permission” to supplement with formula. Not that I needed permission, but now that I’ve basically been told I have to do it, I don’t feel as bad. If only he wasn’t so young. I was hoping we could make it until at least 2 months…but perhaps with this new pump, I will be able to pump a lot more milk than I was before.
Anyway, going to the breastfeeding support group tomorrow night and hoping it will help. The support group I’m in on Facebook has been very helpful as well, just reading through all the issues other people have. So many different issues but lots of great advice.
I end this post still feeling overwhelmed and frustrated but glad to have a new plan for the week.