Sticking With It: Our Breastfeeding Story
by Desiree at So Fawned
Even before I was pregnant with Gretchen I knew that I would want to breastfeed my child. It seemed very much like an obvious choice to me, and though I'd heard of people having problems with breastfeeding, I crossed my fingers tight & hoped that I would have an easy time of it.
The night my daughter was born I fed her for the first time in a warm bath after being stitched up in my bedroom. I held her in my arms in the tub as my midwife helped me get her to latch. I felt so clumsy and awkward trying to nurse her, but I did manage to help her eat for a little while from one side. After the midwives left that night I kept trying to feed her and each time seemed a little clumsy and I worried that I'd never get the hang of it.
Those first few days were so hard.
Gretchen never seemed satisfied and ate every hour or more. I was sore. I was upset. I couldn't get a perfect latch and I was in so much pain that the anxiety of nursing shrunk my supply significantly. My lactation consultant estimated that I was producing about 50% of what Gretchen needed.
I was drying up.
I was devastated.
And I refused to give up.
Since my daughter was losing weight & showing no sign of gaining, but was still hydrated enough to have the appropriate amount of wet diapers each day, my midwife & doctors suggested supplementing with expressed breast milk or formula. I continued to see my lactation consultant, I rented a fancy electric pump, I started taking domperidone & drinking fenugreek tea to increase my supply. However, I still wasn't able to feed & pump enough to keep her satisfied. Reluctantly and heavy with guilt, I gave my daughter a bottle of formula.
When she finished that first bottle she was so happy.
I was so happy.
I could see the change immediately. She was full! Actually full. I felt so miserable about knowing that for the first few weeks of her life she was never completely satisfied and this was why she was fussy & feeding constantly. It was so thrilling to see her finish her meal and drift off to a happy, sleepy, blissful state.
Unfortunately, I still couldn't quite shake the guilty feeling behind giving her a supplement of formula. I beat myself up about it for weeks. I had been so adamant about breastfeeding my daughter that I felt like a failure for having to supplement, but looking back on it I feel as though I did the right thing. Some experts might say that it's a mistake to give a bottle so early in life, or that giving her formula would have spelled the end of our breastfeeding relationship, but it was right for us.
It is so important to do what is right for you & your baby. Despite what some may say.
Eventually my supply increased & at fifteen weeks postpartum I am proud to say that I am still producing enough milk to keep my little one happy. Breastfeeding finally turned into the beautiful experience that I'd been hoping for. I love having such a close bond with my daughter and I feel so comfortable feeding her -- we've come a long way since that first night in my bathtub.
I hope that my story inspires anyone out there who might be having a hard time with breastfeeding or who might be needing to supplement while they build their supply. We do our very best, as mamas, and really, that is all we can do.
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