Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mommy Tip Tuesday

For my Mommy Tip today, I wanted to talk about my nursing struggles/successes.

When I had Nicole, I had no idea how to nurse because I had never done it before. We struggled together (Nicole and I) while we were in the hospital, trying to get her to latch on and eat. The nurses kept pushing me to make her eat, telling me that she needed food. So, I called in the lactation specialist and got a little help and she did finally latch.

Now, let me tell you something about newborns. They do not need a lot a food the first few days of their life. Mommy's milk usually doesn't even come in until a few days after you leave the hospital, so all you are producing is colostrum. When baby does eat, it is only one teaspoon, maybe two, because their stomachs are super small. So, do not let your nurses make you feel bad about not being able to nurse right away, it takes a while to get the hang of latching your baby.

Once Nicole was home from the hospital and we got the hang of it, she nursed like a champ. She loved nursing. So much so that she wouldn't even take a bottle. When we finally transitioned her to the bottle at 12 months, it was really difficult because she wanted to go on nursing forever. Plus, Nicole was allergic to cows milk, so we were transitioning her to soy milk and it was not easy. We ended up spiking her milk with ovaltine in order to transition her to bottles. It was not fun, but she had teeth and I was definitely done nursing.

With Daniel, I had a really really hard time nursing at first. He wouldn't latch or he would latch and then immediately fall off. So, we would prepare bottles of pumped milk and start him on the bottle and switch him over to the breast. This worked most of the time, but it was very frustrating for me that my baby couldn't eat directly from me. There were many many tears.

Daniel's tongue was too tight at birth and this made it very difficult for him to latch and get food. I had mentioned to Matt that I thought there was a problem with his tongue, but we waited until his two week appointment to bring it up with the doctor. We got his tongue clipped and he started nursing a LOT better.

With Daniel, we knew that I was going to be returning to work, so we did bottles and nursing both, from the very beginning. I didn't want to go through the nightmare that was weaning Nicole to a bottle with Daniel. This worked out really well. He liked bottles, he liked nursing and he grew fatter all the time.

I had pumped and frozen a lot of milk when I was out on maternity leave because I wanted to make sure that Daniel would never be without food when I went back to work. I really love nursing, I love that bonding time with my baby. Also, after being the food source and life source for my baby the whole time in the womb, it is nice to still feel that connection with my baby that I am still supporting their life and helping them grow.

So, when I went back to work, I chose to continue nursing. Matt feeds Daniel bottle of breast milk during the day and I pump while I'm at work. Then, at night, I nurse him exclusively. Well, after not to long being back at work, my milk supply started to go down during the day. Not being around the baby all day long just didn't inspire my body to make lots of milk. So, we started delving into our frozen milk supply for Daniel's bottles during the day.

Slowly, the milk supply in our freezer dwindled more and more and I had to accept that we would have to start mixing formula into Dan's milk to prepare him for the time that my milk would just stop coming. This was a difficult decision for me because I love nursing so much and I kinda felt like a failure when I realized he would need formula to keep him fat and happy. But, the health of my baby is more important than my sensitive Mama feelings and we started doing half formula, half milk bottles. (Daniel drinks a 4oz bottle every 3 hours.)

He has been on half and half bottles for about 2 weeks now and I have definitely seen a change in him. When I get home at the end of the day, he does not want to nurse. He will reject the breast and still cry for food because he wants a bottle. Bottle give food a lot faster than the breast and he can wiggle and see the world while eating. The only way he will let me nurse is if we are laying in my bed together, he will not eat in the football or cradle holds. Additionally, he has decided that he only wants milk from one side. He does not like my left side and will only drink from it when he wakes up in the middle of the night and is so sleepy that he doesn't know any better. This is very frustrating because the non-preferred side is starting to produce less and the other side is producing more to compensate. I'm sure you see the problem with this...

As much as it hurts my heart to say so, I think my little baby boy is transitioning out of nursing. He has chosen the bottle. It makes me sad. I wanted to nurse him to six months, but he is only four months and already rejecting nursing. But, I suppose, there comes a time when I have to accept that my baby wants to grow up, even though I wish he would stay a baby forever.

So, I assume that we will start weaning sometime this month and hopefully, it will not be as painful as it was with Nicole (like literally painful!). I know that many other women have a lot more problems with nursing than I have ever had. Many women don't produce enough milk for their babies from the very beginning. Other women develop breast infections or their babies never learn to latch. There are so many frustrations that come along with nursing. So, I am grateful for the time I have had with my precious boy thus far.

If you are having trouble nursing or are fearing nursing to come, I hope my experience gives you a little idea of what is to come or at least gives you some comfort that you are not alone. Nursing is difficult, but it is so very worth it!


Marie said...

I didn't produce enough milk and I got break infections, but I still LOVED nursing. It's something that no one else in the world gets to experience with your baby except you.

Laura said...

Ditto. I think that I produced skim milk because my babies wanted to eat every 2 hours. I had breast infections and super sore nipples at first, but it was all worth it. I loved nursing my babies.

Jill & Jake said...

I hate nursing. I hate the pain it causes, I hate the time it takes, and I hate having to isolate myself to nurse. I only do it because it's cheap and I feel guilty because everyone tells me I should love it. I don't produce enough milk, even with medication, to sustain life. If I only had nursing, all my babies would have died.

Angela said...

I'm so sorry it's ending before you are ready. I had a horrid time nursing my first 3 but the last went perfectly, until my supply took a MAJOR hit at 9 months and I was so sad. I got really lucky though because she kept nursing for another 8 months with what was left and took the rest by bottle. We've just now weaned. Each time has been so different.