Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Breastfeeding Journey & first weeks home

 Its now been almost three weeks since I gave birth and I still can only walk a few steps before I get really winded and pained. My hemoglobin is still very low so I run out of breath easily. I am still bleeding a lot and that is not helping at all. They don't expect me to be healed by my 6 week postpartum checkup... but maybe that's normal. My husband has been wonderful in taking on the cooking and cleaning. Thankfully I had freezer meals ready for after birth. He always makes me laugh on his little rants on never being able to keep up with the dishes, how we never have any clean glasses, and how he has no idea how I do it, how I keep up with it all. So sweet.

Breastfeeding has not gone well.. but the lactation specialists at the hospital say my situation is not all too uncommon so knowing others have overcome it gives me hope.

An hour or so after birth when I was up in my postpartum room, I had a nurse come in to help me feed my new baby for the very first time. I was excited to learn to breastfeed. I never read a thing on it during pregnancy. I though breastfeeding was going to be the most natural thing I had ever done. I was so naive. The nurse tried to help me the best she could but Riley would not latch. She said the lactation specialists would be here in the morning. I was starting to stress, was she really saying I had to wait until tomorrow to feed my baby? She assured me he would be fine with no food for the first 24 hours of life.. and to only worry when its getting to that point.

The next afternoon we finally got a visit from a lactation specialist who works at the hospital. She also tried every method to get him to latch but still no luck. She said I have flat nipples. At this point I was an emotional wreck. Here I was a new mom and could not feed my baby. Its been almost 24 hours since birth and he still has not eaten. I was so upset that my body had failed me and his first meal in this world was formula. I did not want a bottle, we put it in a syringe and let him suck on my finger and gave him a little bit with every suck so he could still smell and taste my skin and not silicone. The nurses said they its a better way in hopes to not discourage breastfeeding. They finally put a pump in my room to help my milk come in and from there fed him the colostrum (and eventually milk) the same way.  If he wanted to suck, we gave him our pinkies because I refused to give him a binky until breastfeeding was established.

Since I was not prepared to have such trouble, or have any plans to go back to work, I had not even thought about needing to buy a pump. It was now time to take our sweet little bundle home and all I had was a hand pump given to me by the hospital. We frantically called everywhere where there was hope to get an affordable pump or possibly have my insurance pay for it. After two long weeks of pumping every few hours (I eventually was able to keep up with his demand and drop the formula) with a hand pump that was getting so much use that it was falling apart, we finally got a insurance paid pump from The Birth Center. While there to pick it up, I was able to sit in on on their weekly breastfeeding moms group and it was so comforting to hear other women's stories that had the same exact problems as me and had overcome them. I also learned about their lactation consultant and made an appointment with her.

When I finally met with the LC, she put me with a Contact Nipple Shield and I got to breastfeed Riley for the first time. It was such a joyous day. Sure, I needed the shield but we could finally bond more like nature intended a mother and baby bonded. You truly don't understand until you become a mother.

Those first few weeks were so tough on my mind and body. During it all, I was also dealing with postpartum depression. Just about everything would upset me. I cried every day.. really, every. single. day! I never thought I would ever feel better. I felt completely overwhelmed. It helped to have the shield and know their was a way to feed my baby without a pump but eventually the shield became a hassle. It really stressed me out when I could not get the shield on right and Riley would scream and scream because he was so hungry and the darn thing wouldn't stay on.

Every now and then I would try to get him to latch without the shield. It was very discouraging to see my nipples were still too flat. But over time I did notice the shield doing its job and they began protruding little by little. About a month of that, I once again tried to have him latch without the shield and HE LATCHED! It hurt and so I thought it may have been a bad latch. We tried again and again and he was latching every time. In a day I weaned him off the shield cold turkey.

We have been breastfeeding with absolutely no latch problems ever since. I don't even have to guide his head.. he knows exactly what do. I truly believe now that breastfeeding is a learned skill by both mother and baby. I was really naive in assuming it would come natural to me.

"you want me to drink from what?"

On my due date. He is one week old.

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