Saturday, August 13, 2011

Breastfeeding Squiggle: Part Two

So now that I've told you my illusions, now I suppose it's only fair that I report how reality shattered them. 

After an induction and epidural I finally had my beautiful little girl. I don't really remember much about that time. She was handed to me and I know that I nursed her but I was so overwhelmed by my perfect, new baby that I honestly have no idea how it went. What I do know is that I didn't notice anything wrong. Booby Trap: Forcing her to come before she was ready. There is also debate on the effects of labor medication on establishing a breastfeeding relationship. Link here.

They took her away to do whatever it is they do to new babies while they moved me to my room. Jake and I had just gotten settled in when they rolled her in. Since his entire family was there, they passed her around. I tried to be patient thinking that soon they'd be gone and it would just be the three of us. Unfortunately that wasn't to be. Before I had even gotten to hold her, the nurse came in. She said that Squiggle was jaundiced and would have to be taken to the nursery for phototherapy. In addition, I was told that I couldn't nurse her, she required formula. Booby Traps: Separation of mother and baby. Introduction of formula.

This was something I hadn't even thought to research, so we had no knowledge and relied on the experts.

They brought her to us every three hours for a 30 minute feeding. It was very hard for me to accept that I had to force-feed my baby formula. And I do mean force-feed. My nurse seemed very nice, if a bit forceful. She showed us which nipples to use and told us to get as much formula in her as possible. Since most bilirubin is excreted through bowel movements, the sooner she pooped it out, the sooner we could have our baby. (Later we found out that each feeding she was eating 2 - 3 times the amount of food she should have gotten.)

I was understandable depressed about not even being allowed to try to breastfeed. When the head nurse came in to check on us I mentioned it to her. She got a strange look on her face and said that I absolutely could breastfeed, I just had to give her formula too. She went to show us the breastfeeding compatible nipples, but they were gone. It turned out that those were the ones that our nurse didn't like, and had moved. Booby Trap: sabotage in the hospital by an anti-breastfeeding nurse.

From then on when they'd bring her I'd try to nurse her, but she'd fall asleep as soon as I got her in my arms. We'd try to keep her up but it didn't work. Then as time ran out we'd feed her the bottle. All too soon she would be taken away.

Finally I asked for a pump to hopefully keep my supply up. We went home a day later than planned with a bunch of formula and some pump accessories.

I was still determined to breastfeed. My husband supported me and I had friends in my Mommy Group that supported my desire, even when they didn't think formula feeding would be a negative. That first week home was a struggle. I was trying to breastfeed my baby, who was clearly not satisfied at my breast. I felt like a complete failure. Our baby was miserable. My husband felt helpless. Things were not good.

In stepped my friend Jen, from Mommy Group. She found a lactation consultant and actually reserved an appointment for me. All I had to do was call to confirm the time. There was a bit of a debate due to the price. We knew it would be worth it if it worked, but if it didn't we'd be out that money for nothing. But the fact that the appointment had been set got us to go.

The lactation consultant, Avery, was very nice. She explained that our baby was being overfed at every meal. In her words, Squiggle was getting "Thanksgiving full" at every meal. Consequently she was unsatisfied with anything less.

She showed us how to do paced feedings, basically using a slow flow nipple and sitting Squiggle upright. This made her work harder to get her food. I was banned from holding a bottle. She also had us rent a pump to stimulate my milk supply. I had to pump for 15 minutes after every feeding. She explained that the point was not to get milk, but to fool my body into upping its production. We were then sent home with a follow-up appointment set for the next week.

That week we banned visitors from our home. I never donned a shirt. We were a team. I'd nurse her, then while I pumped, my husband would top her off with the bottle, trying to draw the feeding out as long as possible to give her time to realize that she was full.

No photo because no one was around to take one.

It ended up working. My supply eventually was built up and we continued to nurse successfully until my milk dried up with this pregnancy. But there were continuing problems. I ended up being so grateful that she was nursing that I didn't correct her latch when it hurt. This led to much unnecessary pain.

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