Monday, October 5

Let's Talk About...Breasts

Breastfeeding, that is.

So, when you're pregnant other moms often ask you, "Are you going to breastfeed?" and you respond "but of course!" Then their eyebrows raise and they say "Good for you! Good luck! If you can just get through the first few weeks, its gets better." And you roll your eyes and think to yourself, "Duh! That's why I'm reading all the books, blogs, internet articles I can get my hands on--AND taking a breastfeeding class!"

Then fast forward and the baby is born (waaaah) and then when the celebration is over you look at the clock and in T minus 59 minutes its showtime--baby it's first meal--and the pressure is on!

Olivia knew exactly what to do--just open wide and turn her head until she felt something. But, even after all of that information and instruction, I was a softy on guiding her into the latch and to this day I am convinced that is what got me off on the wrong foot. By the way getting off on the wrong foot on breastfeeding REALLY hurts. I had no shortage of help. Two different lactation specialists and the nursery nurse still weren't helpful in the hospital.

It wasn't until Saturday 5 days after Olivia was born that I got the BEST hands-on instruction from a lactation consultant that came to the house. She is a no nonsense lady name Dee Dee and she taught me something called the "Slam Dunk" that made the clouds of heaven part for me. Wow! You literally push the baby into you with your hand forcefully just behind the baby's neck and head.

I wasn't using the right amount of force to get the baby on the breast, and on top of that you have to be a bit of a "quick draw McGraw" to get the baby in position while her mouth is open.

I just wish I had proper latch technique before all of the nipple damage was done. In order to continue breastfeeding I had to use a nipple shield for a few days. Then after a few bad latches here and there, I became a coward and started using the shield on both nipples for all feedings. Attention moms-to-be: That was not wise! So, after my first mommy's group (4 weeks into breastfeeding) I mustered up the courage to remove the shield and do a normal latch and yay! that lasted for 2 blissful, convenience-filled days until Olivia clamped down on me and I was back to the shield again. And folks that's where I am again today.

At 7 weeks old, Olivia has pretty much gotten used the firm nature of a bottle nipple and the nipple shield and looks for that when she's breasfeeding. Without it, we have a very very angry baby. It is amazing what a difference a few weeks make. She was fine latching between bottle and breast at 4-5 weeks, but at 6-7 weeks she has basically told me and my natural boob to get lost. Thanks baby.

So, I'm pumping a lot and using the nipple shield AGAIN! I hate the shield. You have to know where it is at all times, quickly put it on before your baby has a hunger meltdown, clean it, and store it and the cycle continues over and over again every 2 hours. Just to hold out hope every now and then I try a natural latch but it's increasingly difficult because now Olivia doesn't want to open her mouth wide at all. This is all really my fault. I've come to grips with it. I also didn't monitor close enough exactly how the Au Pair gave Olivia her bottle: making her root, putting the nipple at the roof of her mouth, making her choke down on the bottle nipple. Good job mom.

Despite these inconvenient setbacks, my milk production has continued to flourish. I'm up to 3 ounces per sitting which is right on par with what Olivia wants and gets her to a happy state of punch drunk. They say nipple shields can interfere with milk production and milk transfer, but I've been lucky so far to dodge this bullet.

So, I am still plowing through this breastfeeding thing with stubborn determination. I must say it is saving us lots of money on formula and is super convenient at for late night feedings. Also, there is still the option to exclusively pump and feed baby with bottles--as a few moms I met have done. So, I still have that out.

Onward and upward! I am staying encouraged!

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