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Hey Lovelies,

I know I alluded to my problems with breastfeeding in a previous micro about baby blues but it really deserved its own post. Trying to breastfeed really ruined a lot of the good that could have been enjoyed the first few weeks.

Typically, when you have a baby your milk come in 3-7 days later. Before that time baby is getting colostrum instead, which is a thick golden liquid that meets all their nutritional needs in the meantime. I don’t know what the hell was going on in my body but my milk didn’t come in until day 5 and for whatever reason the colostrum didn’t seem to be doing its job of nourishing the Bean Sprout. In the first two days after birth poor Baby Bean Sprout lost 12% of his body weight dropping from 7 lbs 2 oz to 6 lbs 6 oz. This is slightly higher than the 10% that they like to allow.

As a new mom that alone was distressing enough but that wasn’t the scariest part. He also became REALLY lethargic. Like couldn’t be roused, not even to eat. I didn’t know at this point that my milk hadn’t come in. We (myself, hubby and the health nurse) just knew that he wasn’t doing well and that was what led them to double check my production. Nope. No milk. So I was told to start giving him some formula as a stop gap between then and when my production would be big enough to sustain him alone.

I still really wanted to breastfeed, and they were really supportive of that, but it would take some work. Not the “Put baby on breast and away you go!” that I had been expecting. Instead I was given a regimen in order to keep the baby healthy and make my milk production come in and grow. This is what I had to do every 2-3 hours for the first 3 weeks of my baby’s life.

1. Put baby to the breast. No there is nothing there but let the poor bugger suck on nothing for 5 min a side.

2. Feed baby formula so that he doesn’t die.

3. Snuggle baby skin to skin for 15 min to tell my body “Hey, look! There’s a baby there! MAKE FOOD FOR IT!”

4. Go pump for 20 min to extract any and all of the milk your body has produced. OR, before there is any, to stimulate your breasts yet again to make food for that baby.

It was hell. You’re not really sleeping and you’re feeling very hormonal and now you have to deal with feeling like you’ve failed your baby every 2 hours during the day, and I did. Feel like a total failure that is. Breastfeeding, which everyone touts as super natural and easy and good for baby, was feeling completely foreign to me. It was like a new language that I didn’t understand and was now expected to speak fluently.

And really, having talked to other new moms and a lot of lactation consultants, the language analogy is not far from the truth. Not only did I not know how to speak this new language and perform this task I had never done before and my baby had ALSO never done it before. It was like the blind leading the blind. We ended up needing quite a bit of help to get my milk production in and strong (done by week 2) and to get his latch all sorted out to be the most efficient and least painful (done by week 3). But for those first 3 weeks, at least, I had to really suspend my idea of what should be easy and just accept that it wasn’t.

Accept that my body took a while to get going and recognize that there was a baby to feed, it was ok, he ate formula and grew fine.

Accept that my baby didn’t really know what the hell he was doing on the breast and allow him to basically practice and practice until one time he just got it. Eventually he did. It was like a light-bulb going off and then he could nurse.

Accept that it might take a little bit before it didn’t hurt like hell to breastfeed. Between slow milk and funky latches things were very sore up under my nursing bra. But with persistence and time things improved.

Not unlike my labour story, and really the entire infertile struggle, I really had to surrender to my expectations and just allow life to unfold as it would. That can be really fucking hard for a type A personality like me. But I am trying. I’m still learning to let go and go with what is handed to me.

I hear this is very important as a parent. You’d think I’d be better at it by now.

XOXXO,
The Chicken

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12 thoughts on “Micro Post: Breastfeeding

  • February 8, 2016 at 10:18 am
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    Sounds like a rough road but congrats for sticking with it and successfully nursing! I hope it’s all going much easier for you now. 🙂

    Reply
    • February 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm
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      Lavonne,
      Thanks! It’s going much better now, yes. We have figured out the nursing and it’s almost at the point where I would consider it easy. lol. Only took 10 weeks.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

      Reply
  • February 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm
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    I always say, breastfeeding is hard even when it’s easy; meaning, even when you don’t have any major challenges like you did, it’s still fucking hard. It’s exhausting, it’s emotional, it’s NOT natural for mother or baby, it’s painful, it’s time consuming. When baby goes through a growth spurt, or just needs extra comfort, you feel you’re just a milk machine, nothing more. So, the fact that you kept going is awesome and amazing and deserves to be applauded.

    Reply
    • February 19, 2016 at 9:06 pm
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      Kitten,
      YES! Thank you. It is a crazy thing. But also wonderful ( if I didnt feel it was also wonderful I would have stopped when it was so shitty lol). I am glad that I stayed the course and it worked out in my favour but YES its so much harder and emotional than I would have imagined.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

      Reply
  • February 8, 2016 at 4:16 pm
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    I also suffer from infertility, and after 4 years of struggling, we finally got pregnant through IVF & ICSI in May.
    My baby was due on Feb but came 3 weeks early. She had stopped growing (IUGR) and had to be delivered by c-section. She was born at 5 lbs. My milk took a while to come in, and because she was so small the hospital put her on formula immediately. She is 17 days old and it is hell. I have to do similar to what you had to do. I don’t know how much longer I can keep going with everything. I can’t keep up with her demand so we do some breastmilk and some formula. I wonder if I will ever meet her demand. I’m so exhaused. Knowing I’m not alone is so comforting. Thanks for sharing your struggle and glad things improved for you!

    Reply
    • February 19, 2016 at 9:08 pm
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      Julie,
      I am sorry to hear that you are going through that! It is so hard and exhausting and emotionally draining. We were able to be exclusively on breast at 3 weeks but it was a hellish three weeks to get there. Now we are dealing with oversupply instead, but after a hard start to get it established I am grateful for that. I hope you are able to get it all figured out without too much of a drain on your sanity!
      XOXXO, The Chicken

      Reply
  • February 8, 2016 at 7:03 pm
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    Sorry you had such a hard time! I hope you get a break soon!

    Reply
    • February 19, 2016 at 9:09 pm
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      Turtle,
      Things are good now yup!
      XOXXO, The Chicken

      Reply
  • February 10, 2016 at 11:44 am
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    I didn’t start breastfeeding the Beats until they were almost 3 months old. This meant a month in NICU spent doing lots of skin to skin and placing my nipples in their mouths, followed by another month doing exactly what you described and then a whole other month feeding them for extended periods of time, weighing them both pre and post feedings followed by pumping for 20-30 mins. All combined with dealing with She-Beat’s submucosal tongue tie.

    I tell anyone about this and they looked (and still looked) utterly horrified. This isn’t how they envious breastfeeding and the fact we worked so hard to get it off the ground made so many question my motivations and sanity. It even ended friendships.

    So I get where you’re coming from. And, honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that both Beats craved being at the breast (there were many nights early where the only way to smooth them was to put them to the breast and let them attempt to suck ) and the fact that I was getting a lot of support from our NICU nurses and some amazing lactation consultants, I likely would have beaten myself up emotionally over this. Still, we don’t talk often about how difficult establishing breastfeeding can be. Which is a shame because with more support and an understanding that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, I think more women would feel less defeated with this process, regardless if they chose to continue breastfeeding or not.

    Reply
    • February 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm
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      Cristy,
      Does that mean you just pumped before three months? UGH. Breastfeeding is a lot harder than anyone talks about. Which is funny since everyone I talk to about it seems to have had their own issues. But yet everyone wants to pretend its all roses.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

      Reply
  • February 10, 2016 at 12:10 pm
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    Good words of advice. I think it’s important for people to read all kinds of stories when they’re starting to breastfeed.

    Reply
    • February 19, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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      Mel,
      Yeah Its good to know what can lay ahead for sure.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

      Reply

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