Monday, October 07, 2013

Breastfeeding Update

Breastfeeding for us started off rough. You can find my previous post here.

I want to thank everyone for their support from that post. I wrote that at probably my most hormonal and I knew I was a hot mess at the time. I wanted to capture everything we were going through at that time, hormones and all, so I'm glad I have that post to go back to.

Right now breastfeeding is going fantastic. We have improved our latch and Bud is a champion eater. He can knock out a feeding in about 6 minutes flat. Here are a few things that we did to help our current success:

My nipples were so beat up that I stopped breastfeeding and started pumping and exclusively bottle feeding. He was only 8 days old at the time so my supply was still all over the place. To establish a good supply I pumped at every feeding. It really helped having my mom and John around to help me during this time. Pumping isn't fun, especially when your beat up, it's the middle of the night, you just had a baby 8 days ago, I could go on. I think this helped to make the supply I have - which is really an oversupply. Poor kiddo can sometimes pop off coughing my let down can be so great.

We had thrush. I received antibiotics while in the hospital. While I don't usually have a problem with taking antibiotics, I received some pretty heavy duty ones. This is one of the reasons why my nipples were in the state they were in. The lactation consultant that I spoke to suggested both Bud and I start probiotics and I did a vinegar wash on my nipples after each feeding. We kept this up for 2 weeks and are now free and clear.

I sought help. Our pediatrician, my midwives, the lactation consultants, and friends and family were all so supportive during this time. Breastfeeding is HARD. It requires support. This one I cannot stress enough. If you're having a hard time, get help, and keep getting help. If one route isn't working, try another. We're lucky that all our sources were fantastic, but I know many that didn't get the same help. Keep trying.

I lowered my expectations. I walked into one of the lactation appointments and said, "I just want to not be trapped under a baby all day and I want to be able to feed him when we're out." Bud was around 2 weeks old at this time and the LC said to me, "Honey. You're setting your expectations way to high for this point in time." You have NO IDEA how much I needed to hear that. That was the one thing the books and the classes never said to me. The first two weeks SUCK. You're sore. You are trapped under a baby for what seems like 24 hours a day. You're basically topless the whole time. You want nothing more than a tiny bit of normalcy and you can't get it. THAT is what needs to be in the books and said in the classes. Instead I got a lot of, "look at all these holds! You'll be a master at each!" "It won't hurt with the right latch!" For someone like me that set my expectations crazy high when that is NOT the reality. Can you eventually get there? Maybe, but certainly not 8 days in. I want to hug that LC every day for giving me that bit of advice.

Bud still gets the occasional bottle because I do need a break every now and then. Plus it lets John feed Bud and get to bond with him. The LCs did go over bottle feeding with us. Whether that has helped with him being able to go back onto the boob with no problem I don't know. He went from nothing but bottles for just over a week, to almost all breastfeeding like it was no big deal. He gets maybe 2 bottles a week now. When we do feed him with a bottle - especially in those early days we draw it out to be as long as a breastfeeding session would be. We'll pull back on the bottle, we don't just let him suck it down. So far, that's worked for us.

I also do weight checks with him to set my mind at ease. He was feeding so fast I wanted to make sure he was getting enough. Many Lactation Centers will let you go in without an appointment for a weight check. I just go in, weigh him, feed him, and then weigh him again. It just showed me he's a little power eater. I don't mind because at the longest he'll feed about 10 minutes. Not everyone is that lucky, but it does help make the 4 am feedings a little easier or when we're out and about.

I've always heard of all the ups and downs of breastfeeding, but experiencing them, especially when you're a hormonal mess, is hard. Making the decision to feed him expressed milk was hard. Anytime we were out I wanted to shout, "It's breast milk in there!" Just trying to search for information about exclusively pumping was a challenge. KellyMom is such a fantastic site for breastfeeding in general and this link and this one had great info on EPing.

Finally if you're in San Antonio I cannot speak highly enough about the LCs at the Methodist Women's Center. They were referred to me by my pediatrician. It's a free service. They were such a great help in person and would also call to follow up. Another great plus, especially if like me you're plus size in the chest department they have the full line of Bravado nursing bras in stock. I've also found them to be less expensive than I've seen online because they often have them on sale. Trying to find a larger sized nursing bra, that I could actually try on in person, was pretty much impossible. For some reason San Antonio doesn't feel the need to have a specialty bra store. Plus the LCs were able to recommend a bra that would work best for early on and one that would work better later. Definitely check them out if only for that reason!

6 comments:

  1. I am so happy to hear that things are going well and I loved the advice you gave. Breastfeeding is HARD, support is critical, and the first few weeks suck. But man oh man, you are going to be so happy you pushed through. It really does get glorious after those first few weeks of sucky-ness. :)

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    1. Thanks Kristal! It is so great, and I'm so glad we've found our happy place with it.

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  2. So glad to hear that you've been able to find so much support - and write this excellent research paper on it! ;-) When I had Grace I know that I was too much of a militant cheerleader (You can do it!) with others who were struggling - and I wish I could apologize to anyone who felt defeated rather than supported.

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    1. It's so hard to find the right words when you are trying to be supportive. "It gets easier" and "push through" are easy things to say and are so true, but when you're struggling aren't always helpful. I know you and I'm sure you were being helpful! It's helped SO MUCH to hear how others struggled though. It's so much more of knowing you're not alone and that it's not this natural thing that just comes so easy. That LC making things very frank was just what I needed though. I wish I had gotten it early on.

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  3. I am so happy you have found your happy place with breastfeeding! Yay! And thanks specifically for the advice near the end - I will keep that place in mind if I have any issues - and it's great to see where full figured nursing bras can be found. That's never an easy task for me!

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    1. Thanks Dawn! Definitely check them out if you need to find a bra. I wish I had known about them earlier just for that reason.

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