Today I want to start a discussion about breastfeeding. I want to break through the barriers that make this topic "hush, hush". I believe many women are misinformed about this God given use for our bodies. I am completely aware that many who read this will disagree with my stance on breastfeeding and feel I am completely bold and out of line for actually sharing these opinions. But this is my blog and I get to choose my topics to discuss. Please if you are not interested, do not waste your time reading any of my posts regarding this topic. I am writing this entry for mothers who are interesting in breastfeeding.
First, I am not an expert on breastfeeding or a lactation consultant. I do not hold a medical degree to back up my information. I am just a mother. I am proud to say I breastfed my son until he was 13 months old. This is not a huge accomplishment, I had originally planned to nurse for 24 months. So I do feel quite defeated. Austin did receive 2cc's of formula while we were in the hospital. We had many many challenges with breastfeeding that would make most women just give up.
My breastfeeding journey with Austin
I knew before I became pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. I was shocked to discover how many women and men who offered their reasons on why I would be unable to nurse. I was told many times that since my breasts were on the smaller end of the spectrum, they would not provide enough milk to nourish my baby. (Like this has anything to do with how many milk ducts I have). I was determined and any negative comment regarding breastfeeding gave me strength to prove that I could indeed nurse for a full year - at least. So I spent my days reading on the topic - kellymom.com is an amazing resource!
I delivered Austin via emergency c-section, he immediately was transferred to the NICU for IV antibiotics and monitoring for an infection. I was devastated - from my reading, to establish a good latch and nursing habit, the newborn should nurse within the first hours of delivery. It would be several hours before I first was able to attempt to nurse Austin. I was terrified this would make breastfeeding impossible.
Austin had an ankyloglossia, which is commonly called a tongue tie. This is where the frenulum (the membrane connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth) is connected to the tip of the tongue limiting the mobility of the tongue. This condition is hereditary and can (in our case) make it impossible for the infant to hold a latch to the nipple of a breast or bottle. So for the first three days of Austin's life he tried to nurse unsuccessfully. I pumped colostrum and used a syringe to feed him. As soon as his frenulum was cut, he was a nursing pro - so it seemed.
Per my reading and recommendations I would attempt to nurse Austin 15 minutes on one side, burp, and 15 minutes on the opposite side. This process just didn't work for us. So after a long week or two of traumatic nursing sessions (painful, cracked, bleeding nipples), we switched to a one side per feeding routine.
It seemed by one month old we had worked through all of our nursing issues and it was finally becoming a natural process. Although Austin never did nurse for the recommended time span. He was a guzzler, and nursing sessions were quick - often less than 10 minutes. But he was gaining weight and happy = success!
At Austin's 4 month check up his pediatrician noticed his weight had stalled. He was no longer gaining as he should. So just when I thought all was well with breastfeeding, I was quickly brought back to reality that my son was not adequately nourished. I quickly began reading on ways to increase my milk supply. I drank ridiculous amounts of water, ate oatmeal multiple times a day, and began taking fenugreek. The only "trick" I did not try was drinking a beer (I know it would have helped, I just could not stomach the taste). But I did have some lactation cookies which contained brewers yeast (found in beer). Within 2 weeks, Austin was gaining weight and we were back on track.
Suddenly during month 11 of nursing Austin began biting me - a nursing mother's worst nightmare. I was unaware but I had become pregnant. With the changes going on with my body, my milk supply took a major hit. We continued nursing a couple times a day until he was about 13 months old. At his time, I believe the pregnancy had caused my milk to begin changing back to colostrum, therefore changing in taste. Austin became disinterested and our nursing journey ended.