Breastfeeding, Formula, Pumping, bring it on! I was dead set on breastfeeding my son, afterall, that’s the natural way to go, it’s free, it’s easy, that’s just what you do. When our little guy was born so tiny I opted to give him formula in the hospital until my milk came in since he couldn’t afford to be dropping any weight. We attempted to breastfeed every time that we gave him a bottle but neither of us really knew what we were doing. He was able to latch on a couple of times but would instantly fall asleep. We met with the lactation consultant on our last day to find out what I was doing “wrong” and she informed me that my technique was perfect he was just your ‘typical late pre-term baby’. This means that he is healthy and perfect like a full term baby but he eats like a premie. She assured us that the closer we got to his actual due date the better things would be, that he’d be stronger, and to just be patient. So for 2 weeks I didn’t stress about the breastfeeding, we’d try at almost every meal and he’d get frustrated, wouldn’t latch, and we’d give him a bottle. I had rented a breastpump from the hospital and I’d pump during waking hours to keep my supply going.
After his 2 week check up where we found out he was gaining a good amount of weight we decided it was time to attempt the breastfeeding idea exclusively so we met with another lactation consultant. We got him latched on with the help of a nipple shield, something many preemies need and something that many bottle fed babies need to help with nipple confusion. It was great, the first time he’d latched since leaving the hospital! Next issue up was my milk supply which pretty much sucked so we came up with a plan to build the milk supply. First, was pumping round the clock 24 hours a day which meant when Shaun was doing his night feeding, instead of sleeping, I had to be up to pump. Then I was given an herbal supplement with Fenugreek to help increase my body’s production of milk. And I was given a prescription medication, Reglan, to also help the production. So we had a plan, it was going to be a LOT of work, but I was determined to do it.
Bring on the triple feeding!!! At each feeding, every 3 hours, we would attempt to breastfeed for a half an hour, then give him a bottle of formula, and THEN I would pump. All in all, it took about an hour to an hour and a half for the whole sha-bang and quickly our days became much more exhausting. It seemed like as soon as you were done feeding him, it was time to go sanitize everything and start all over again. Add that to no more sleep at night since I had to be pumping and it became very overwhelming very quickly, but again I was determined so I continued to suffer.
Fast forward a little bit. My supply had increased…. Barely… prior to any intervention I was pumping at best 2 oz. total per 25 minute session. Afterward, I was pumping at best 3-4 oz. per session whereas most women I talked with would get 8-10 oz. in 10 minutes. The lactation consultant said that the hospital should’ve provided me with a pump while we were there and since I went those 3 days without any “simulation” it dramatically messed up my supply. I guess now I know for next time? I slowly started to see that even though my supply had increased, it was no where near where I needed it to be and with this amount of intense work I didn’t think it was really worth it.
Then we move to 2 weeks later where I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, where I find out that Reglan, my little milk supply increaser medication has a side effect of causing depression!! Something I was never told! So needless to say, no more Reglan and thus I believe we are done with the breastfeeding idea. It became a source of stress when it was supposed to un-complicate things. But I can’t help but feel a sense of failure about it, I’m a mom, I’m supposed to be able to feed my baby…. Breastfeeding would make everything so simple, but instead we get to deal with expensive formula, bottle sanitizing, packing the diaper bag up with ice packs, having to track down warm water to heat a bottle when we’re out, ughhh but I’ve come to terms with it and I’m ok with it. My busted boobs have let me down but I guess there’s always room to try on the next one.