Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Triumphant Tuesday: From Bottle to Breast

There’s no such thing as nipple confusion. Bottle feeding is best because you know exactly how much your baby is consuming. It’s wise to introduce a bottle as soon as possible to ensure your baby won’t reject them.  Premature babies, in particular, need bottles because they can’t suckle - These are some of the typical myths promulgated by our bottle-centric culture. This week’s triumphant mom fell casualty to these myths, yet clawed herself out of the bottle trap. This is her story:

“My pregnancy was normal until about 29 weeks. I had plans to have peaceful water birth at a local birthing center. Within 3 weeks, however, I developed high blood pressure which turned into severe pre-eclampsia and was hospitalized until I delivered. Being hospitalized for that long was quite scary and lonely. The days felt like they dragged on forever. When the protein in my urine reached a certain level, the doctor made the decision to operate.

Born 8 Weeks Early

I had my daughter, Lucy, at 32 weeks. She was 4lb6oz and 16.75 inches long. I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. At first, I had no idea what the implications of an early delivery would mean for being able to nurse. A lactation consultant came by a few hours before I delivered and asked me if I intended to pump for my baby. I did, and pumped for the first time in recovery, after my c-section. I recorded every mL that I got when I pumped - it took ten whole days for my milk to come in! I was pumping every two hours around the clock! It was exhausting.

Pumping with a Purpose

At first, pumping had some positive aspects. It made me feel like I was really *doing something* for Lucy, while she was in the hospital. It gave me a purpose. I rented a hospital grade pump, which I'm sure helped tremendously. I carried my pump parts back and forth to the hospital, and pumped while I was there. I got a hands free pumping bra brought to me when I was still in the hospital. That is the best invention ever!

Encouraged to Bottle Feed

For the first two weeks, Lucy had to take my milk through a tube in her nose. When the doctor said she was mature enough to start taking her feeds orally, I was encouraged to bottle feed. In the NICU, they like to know exactly how much is being ingested - and they even weigh the dirty diapers to measure output! Breastfeeding wasn't encouraged because they wouldn't know down to the mL how much she ate. They were hyper-focused on quantifying everything that entered her body and left it. I was able to have Lucy nuzzle and lick my nipple as she was getting fed through her nose, but I was never encouraged to try a feeding with breastfeeding.

Bottles were key to getting out of hospital faster. Lucy had to take all bottle feeds for 48 hours to go home. We wanted her home, so I resigned my breastfeeding aspirations for the time she was in there. My hope was that once we got out of the hospital we could learn to nurse. Nothing in my original birth plan had worked out, and I desperately wanted to breastfeed my baby.

'Human Milk Fortifier'

The hospital staff were using something to up the calorie content of my milk, called ‘human milk fortifier’. As Lucy moved closer to discharge though, they switched to a 22cal formula to replace the fortifier. I got pretty upset and called the head nurse to see what was going on. They told me I would need to fortify her milk to ensure proper weight gain once we left the hospital, and that the human milk fortifier wasn't available for purchase. (A lie, I found it on diapers.com). I stopped using the formula once we got home and she gained just fine.

The Burden of Pumping

It was when Lucy arrived home from hospital that pumping slowly morphed into a burden. I would pray that Lucy would stay asleep so I could pump! I heard the whooshing noise of the pump all the time, and it was driving me crazy! I was attempting to nurse every couple days or so, and it wasn't going well. I continued pumping for 3 more months before finally seeing a lactation consultant. I didn't feel like I could keep it going for much longer with my sanity intact. 

The Gradual Switch

At first, we took a gradual approach to switching from bottle to breast. I started using a shield and only nursing once a day - in the morning when I was the most full. I cried many tears because at times I thought we would never breastfeed successfully. My husband was not breastfed, and while he was 100% supportive, I could tell he didn't really understand why it was so important to me.

Sometimes the idea of exclusively breastfeeding was scary too - I had recorded every mL she ingested since she came home from the hospital, to make sure she was taking in enough ounces throughout the day. Not knowing exactly how much she was eating was a scary thought!

The Cold-Turkey Switch

One Friday, in early February, we had a ferocious snowstorm. I figured that we would be housebound for a few days, and that it was the perfect time to try to switch all together. We haven't looked back since that weekend. For the first few months afterward, we also went to a weekly breastfeeding support group run by the LC that we had seen, which also helped tremendously.

Lucy loves nursing, and I love nursing her! She is about to be 11 months and still nurses every couple hours during the day. I am so thankful that I didn't give up. I plan to nurse her until she decides she’s done!

People who don’t try breastfeeding are ignorant, or lazy, or both! I'm happy that there is formula so their poor babies don't starve, but it's sad that people choose against the most natural thing in the world.”

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Patti said...

Shame on the NICU and the lactation consultant for not offering to do weighed feedings at breast. They still could have quantified her input to their heart's content. Kuddos to Mom for sticking with it. And although it is not a popular opinion, I happen to agree with her statement about people not at least trying to BF. Personally, I think bottle feeding is way more work!

desciseaux said...

LOVE the picture of Lucy nursing. Good for you for sticking to it. Good for you for not giving up.

Candice said...

I personally sympathize with your story as we had a rocky start to breastfeeding, but your last statement about mums being lazy or ignorant is unfair. You are making a judgement on those mums and you don't know their stories. :(

Sarah Arritt said...

When I was pregnant, I was very naive. I thought I was going to instantly be awesome at breastfeeding. My original plan was to breastfeed until 18 months. When my beautiful 8lb 12oz Benjamin was born, only having a long labor without any complications, I let the nurses direct me with feeding him. He was found to have newborn jaundice and was confined to the nursery for most of the time. The nurses would very rarely bring him in for feedings and I didn't realize I should have been pumping. We started supplementing for the jaundice(stupidest reason ever). By the time we came home I was struggling with his latch and I quickly got a pump. I was feeding him with a contact nipple guard and by two months was pumping exclusively. Ben, now at almost 4 months, is getting about 50-70 percent of his feedings from breastmilk and the rest from formula(which I hate). I am a stay-at-home mom and no matter how much I pump, my supply does not increase. I am very frustrated with this and, since I am used to my routine, wondering if I should even bother with trying to get him to directly feed. My mother passed away when I was only 3 months pregnant, not a day goes by that I think everything would have been easier with her here. I hear of so many stories where moms around 3 or 4 months get tired of pumping or making bottles and just make their babies breastfeed. I don't know how they do it because Ben gets so upset. should I even bother?

kimhenhil said...

Yes, you should bother! If you think you might want to, if you think you should, that's something in you telling you to give it your all. Ultimately, its up to you, but I can tell you feel it in your heart. Have you tried Mothers milk tea, more Milk plus, lactation blend by tiranica, fenugreek, goats rue, blessed thistle? Steel cut oats, flaxseed, brewers yeast? google galactogenic herbs and foods, and look up lactation cookies recipes, they're yummy! It is a wonderful feeling, to not have all those bottles, all those steps, all that fuss, all that stress. But mama, you have done great so far, please don't feel I'm discounting all you've done! Pumping is hard work, and admirable. It only takes a little more to get the formula out of the picture forever, and I have a feeling you're up for it you've come here, after all!

Amber Lechuga said...

Your blog was inspiring and very interesting until your last comment....People who don’t try breastfeeding are ignorant, or lazy, or both! ??? WOW, pretty rude.

sorelle burnett said...

My son was born 3 weeks and 5 days ago. I was intent on bf, and thought it would just come so easy. Not the case. I was so out of it after his birth that I just let him sleep..and the second day the nurses started coming in and jamming him on my swollen breasts to get him to latch. They all told me something different so info was all messed up to. Finally they called a lactation con and she actually gave us similac and pumped my colustum out to feed him through finger and tube. Then at home we were so worried he was loosing weight that we used similac with a bottle top. Then I got really disgusted by the smell of it. Pkus I wanted to bf. So, I started pumping as soon as my milk came in and putting a tube along my breast. Bless his heart he'll latch on anything. Finally my sister came over and put him on her boob because she's a bf pro. He strickly bf for a week then we got a summer cold and I pumped and he got bottle. For nights my husband does bm bottle s and during the day I nursed. But pumping, worrying about weight ect, and bottels can b a slippery slope. Now my son screams st the breast and I have to keep calm and keep going. Finally after a hard day hes back on the breast and I pump if I have to and dump it or im tempted to keep it and bottle feed him. There is totally such thing as nipple confusion and I figure if I don't get on yhis now I'll feel sad I missed this special time forever. Plus pumping all day and night when your infant is drinking from a bottle seems like two to five steps I could cut out. I also want to mention im not judging anyone who does supplement. For us and our situation there is no medical reason not to breastfeed. So stick with it. I sm everyday. Even if its hard it seems like hard work will pay off! Breast of luck to all moms! Hardest job in the world!, rewarding but haarrdd! And knowing breastfeeding isn't a breeze for everyone helps not to feel so alone. Thanks for posting. Love the pic!

Majlinda Shatku said...

This is mind boggling considering the same situation happened to me this passed weekend and its just great to see how far you've come! My son is 2 months and I'm so fed up with pumping then bottlefeeding. After a drug free labor the baby was taken from me due to the pain of them stitching me up (they didnt want to risk me holding him). Im not sure if this is why he fidnt latch bit we tried for ten days and he just would not latch so i began exclusively pumping and bottlefeeding. But this passed friday I was determined to get him to latch, which to my surprise he's been exclusively breastfeeding for 4 days and the only problem we're enduring is my sore nipples. I'm hoping he continues and ypur stpry is inspiring thank you for it!

Majlinda Shatku said...

After a week I'm still exclusively breastfeeding; however I am so sore and I'm terrified of feeding him due to the pain. Was it this painful for you as well?

shasha said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story. Our stories are so similar. We were in the NICU for 3 weeks. She was early too, born at 4 1/2 lbs. Doctors wanted to stick with formula but I pumped everything and gave it to her, They ended up fortifying my milk as well. I was not encouraged to breastfeed because the doctors and nurses needed to know what she was getting. When we got home, I did not fortify and she has gained as we well. I still pump all my breast milk and bottle feed her, recording everything. She's now 3 months and 8 1.2 lbs so do are just transitioning to breast but it gets hard. She gets so frustrated, and I get nervous that she's not getting enough so we finish with a bottle. How did you manage the cold turkey for the weekend? I'sd love to hear more about that part of your story. Thanks!!

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