Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Feeding Baby Part 1

When I wrote this post I had no idea how much attention it was going to get.  People I haven't talked to in years reached out to me to express their interest in my experience.  I had already thought about doing a follow-up post with other people's stories, but that just confirmed it all.  It has actually turned into a 2 post entry because there were more stories that I wanted to include.

I am extremely blessed, as I know many of you are, to have close friends and family who experience feeding their newborns completely different than I have.  I find this to be a blessing because it helps us new moms comprehend the fact that everyone is different and we don’t have the same story or experience.  Feeding a baby, whether you nurse or use formula, can be difficult and let me just say that I have learned so much already by reading these ladies stories!

So strap on your nursing bra or shake that formula because you are in for a milky ride!

Hi!  My name is Rachael.  I have 3 daughters:  Alora, 11, Adeline, 8 and Alyza, 2.  I am pregnant with my 4th daughter, Allove, who is due in November.

With Alora and Adeline I breastfed the first 4 months and my milk dried up. I look back and think several things played a role:
1. I was under a ton of stress.  With Alora, we lived in Texas.  Nick, my husband, worked nights.  This was my first C-Section and recovery was terrible due to being so large, never exercising, poor diet, you name it.
2. With both of them, I had no support team for breastfeeding, so when it got tough I quit trying.
3. I didn't know the simple things like, it’s hard.  You are told by everyone, ‘it is natural. everybody can do it,’ and if you have trouble something is abnormal with you. That is so not true, it’s hard!  Sometimes they don’t latch right, sometimes it hurts, sometimes it takes awhile to get it, etc.
4. No one told me that your milk supply dips when you are on your monthly period.  I am thinking that is probably what happened with both of my older girls.  I thought, “Oh I am drying up.” When really it would have picked back up after my period.

Who knows what all factors came into play with them, I was young and naive.

However, with Alyza I had support all around, I was determined to make a true go of it. I do think you can lean on the crazy side of being a breastfeeding nazi though. I know people that will endure torture and go through all kinds of crazy issues so that they aren’t considered a failure if they do not breastfeed. I do think breastfeeding is by far the best milk for babies, but formula is also a great choice. It has come a long way and can be very healthy and safe for babies too. Not everyone can breastfeed for whatever reason, just like no matter how bad you want it, not everyone will have a vaginal birth. I went into feeding Alyza with determination but also with a stress free attitude that if it didn’t work oh well, that just meant it would be a little easier on me;)  I was not going to get all bent out of shape and I was only planning on nursing 6 months anyway.  Well, it went GREAT!  I was never able to pump, who knows why, but I was able to produce enough for her until she was 13 months old. I actually grieved stopping, which I did not plan to happen.

I think you set what you can do.  For example, if you can go from bottles to breast and keep your supply up and baby does great, go for it! If you can’t and you want to breastfeed them, don’t use bottles. You have to find what your body can do and what your baby will do.  Every situation is so different!! I am excited to breastfeed Allove! I am more confident that it will work because I have a good experience behind me and great support. I am in this one for the long haul, but again anything could happen so I will be willing to accept something different if I have to.  There are so many resources out there and crazy things to try to keep and gain supply, my advice would be try it all but stay relaxed and enjoy your baby!!

I’m Shelley, Kimberly’s sister, and this is my precious little buddy, Easton.

I believe a little bit of background is necessary for you to understand my story.  I graduated with a degree in Social Work and worked in that field up until 2011 when my government paid position was not renewed. This forced me to look elsewhere for employment.  I applied for several other social work positions, but was unsuccessful with finding a job in that field.  I was given the opportunity to begin working with an insurance agency and after discussing with my family, friends and many hours of prayer, I decided to become an insurance agent.

While I was pregnant with Easton, I traveled to and from Atlanta on a regular basis to attend training classes. I had to take several tests in order to be a licensed insurance agent as well.  I believe I went into labor due to the stress I was facing with this career choice I had made.  Then once he got here, the stress only got worse when I tried to balance a newborn, new career and other home and church activities I was involved in.

Nursing Easton from the beginning was HARD!  I felt awkward in the hospital and a couple of weeks in I was ready to give up.  Luckily, I had great support and my friend, Rachael (above), made me an appointment with a lactation consultant.  The apt was on a Thursday and I decided that if this did not help and we were not doing better by that Sunday then I was only going to pump and I was not going to continue to stress myself out about it!  Easton was doing SOOOOOO much better by Sunday!  If it had not been for Rachael I would have quit right off the bat!  She even came and spent the night with me one night and got up with me every time it was time for Easton to eat!  When she couldn’t be there she had one of her friends call me and talk me through it.  Such a good friend!

I was only able to stay home with Easton for 4 weeks because I had to get back to studying for my insurance tests.  I tried to pump at least twice a day, but eventually I got too busy and was only able to pump once a day.  We had to start supplementing formula at 4 months and by the time he was 6 months I had dried up and he was only eating formula.

I have no clue how to explain the stress of being a new mom and trying to breastfeed!  I was a crazy person!!!!!  Sometimes I regret doing all of that other stuff during the first few months of Easton's life because I feel like I was not focused enough on him and on being a new mom!  Plus, I think the stress made my milk supply decrease!  So sad!  My advice for new moms is NEVER FEEL LIKE A FAILURE!!! Definitely give breastfeeding a try, if it’s something you want to do.  Remember that it will be hard especially if you experience any ‘baby blues.'  Try to find a breastfeeding coach (this can be a friend who has the experience and wisdom) that can help you through those hard times.  But like I said, if it comes down to it and you aren’t able to breastfeed or even pump, you are not a failure!

My name is Jillian and my little man is Braylon.

Nursing Braylon was difficult in the beginning because it did not seem like he was getting anything. We were so tempted to just go with formula because we weren't sure how much he was getting. We had 3 different people (some lactation consultants - some not) show us in the hospital how to do it. Every one of them had a DIFFERENT method! Finally, on the LAST DAY, like 2 hours before we went home, the Lactation Consultant who had TAUGHT our breastfeeding class, showed us and it seemed to work. She told us that Boppies, sometimes, got in the way, so we went with a stack of pillows.

About 3 or 4 weeks after Braylon was born, I started having a pain in my wrists.  I'm pretty sure that the pain occurred because of the way I was pumping at first. I was just pumping one breast at a time, but I was doing it with a double pump. I did not know that you can pump one at a time without having to hold the funnel manually.  Yes, I did have a pumping bra, but, again, I did not know that I could pump one side at a time without holding it in my hands.  Boy, if I had known... :) It killed my wrists because I pumped and/or fed so often.  My nursing goal was at first 12 months; then, when the pain started, it turned to 6 months.

At my 6 weeks post-partum visit, I told my gyno about it, and she had never really had any experience with it.  De Quervain's Tendonitis is the official name, but people call it ‘mommy thumb.'  Sometime in January I went to my primary doctor, (Braylon would have been around 4 months), and he said ibuprofen and rest. Rest! What?! But Braylon has to EAT!! Like....A LOT!! The lactation folks that I spoke to while I was on maternity leave said to change my nursing position, so I tried the Boppy that the other lady had discouraged me from using and it worked a little better than the pillows, but it still hurt SO BAD.

While I was still at home during my 6 week maternity leave I pumped often, but not consistently.  Once I went back to work I would try to pump twice a day, but some days I would skip because of the pain.  By the way, I'd be happy to tell you about being walked in on while pumping during my planning period and having to deal with janitors and principals unlocking my door…but we can save that for another time :).

I didn't go to the orthopedic specialist until March or April, which was right around the time I stopped nursing.  Braylon was 7 months old.  I got braces for each wrist. Insurance paid for them, thankfully, because they were like a hundred and some dollars a piece!  I went to a post-natal yoga class, and the instructor thought the braces I was wearing from the orthopedic doctor would not help me.  Who am I supposed to listen to??

Like I said, my nursing goal was at first 12 months, but when the pain started, it turned to 6 months.  So I had surpassed my goal, but it was still a little hard.

I was hard on myself at first, but I knew that I had been in pain for months all because I wanted to give Braylon the best start possible! (I'm holding back some tears now, just thinking about it!!!!!!) It made me feel so much better when he did well with formula. He had already had bottles of breastmilk at his Grammie's, so he was used to bottles. Matt and I talked about it, and he was so supportive and told me I didn't have to keep suffering. We also thought it best for me to stop nursing Braylon so that when we tried for another kid, I could nurse that one, too. So basically one of the major reasons we did NOT try to get pregnant this summer was because we had to make sure my hands could have time to heal. We knew that 7 months of breastmilk for Braylon was awesome and so we feel really good about it now.

My advice to you new moms, don't give up on breastfeeding no matter how hard or inconvenient or uncomfortable it may be. The bonding experience and alone time you get with baby is SO precious. I can't imagine NOT doing it now. People may say, "Oh, I couldn't do it," or "My baby just couldn't," but God made us this way. Before formula, this was all we had! Experts say to do it early and often in the beginning. Persistence, the right people around you for support (like my wonderful husband, Matt), and love for your baby will get you through it for however long you want to do it. Some is better than none at all  :) Find everything out about your pump that you can, too! :)

I hope you have enjoyed these stories and check out part 2 when I share stories about colic babies and wound vacs.


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