Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This month contributors talk about overcoming breastfeeding challenges. Check out others bloggers who are participating at the links below (more will be added throughout the day of 2/22) - and enjoy reading our breastfeeding story.
Life has been better around here. After one harrowing night of no sleeping and consistent crying he is sleeping at 4-5 hour intervals at night (well at least last night). Not being sleep deprived lately has allowed me to really enjoy this baby - he is awake around 1-2 hours during the day. He is interested in staring at toys and sitting propped upright, looking around. It is nice to see this once sleepy baby being attentive and playful. I can't wait for him to begin cooing and smiling at us - my sister got one coo out of him yesterday so I know it will happen soon.
I wanted to also talk a little about breastfeeding, because it has been quite a ride for us. Pre-term babies often have difficulty latching on and suckling as that is one of the things they work on in utero the last four weeks, Ollie missed out on that development. His first few days of life he didn't nurse with the exception of my sister nursing him for a short while. It was a vicious cycle of my nipple not being big enough to touch the roof of his mouth and him not suckling so that my nipple became big enough. Each time we tried to nurse he would just cry and flail around at the breast, it was heartbreaking. After the third day (it could have been second it was such a blur) he was down to 5 lb 11 oz and quite jaundice, we had to focus on getting this little guy some calories. Our midwife suggested pumping (we rented an electric pump from the hospital) and dropper feeding him each hour for a 24 hour period to get calories into him and "bulk" him up. It was a time of great mixed emotions. I cried and felt overwhelmed - on top of being extremely exhausted and recovering from birth I felt like I was not adequately providing for him, so the task just seemed next to impossible. Ron and I were both scared that he was just going to wither away. At the same time, I was confident that nursing would be successful - and that bottle feeding formula was going to be our last resort. I was lucky to have gotten this support and not made me feel bad that I was not supplementing formula. We called in the troops; my parents came over and a friend was around to help out. I pumped, we set an alarm for every two hours. Thank goodness for my mother who patiently coaxed little Ollie to take the droppers - some feedings took over an hour to get milliliters into him. I slept and pumped - it was exhausting, but I knew that it was the best thing for this little guy of mine.
After this marathon day I began to use a nipple shield. Despite the negative stigma that nipple shields have and that it is contested if they are in fact beneficial, I am thankful that we had this available to us. Without it he wouldn't have been able to latch on for a whole month. Nursing was a whole production - make sure the room wasn't too hot - take off most of his clothes - wake him up - run your fingers down his spine - put cold hands on him - tap his feet, etc, etc. All this baby wanted to do was sleep and sucking was last on his agenda.
Over the next few weeks we had a La Leche League Leader come over. It was so comforting to have someone come in and say that I was doing okay and that using a nipple shield was not a failure, that in fact she had seen many women with pre term babies use it for about a month and then nurse successfully. Our midwives also had many success stories where babies nursed beautifully after a few weeks. I was skeptical but hopeful - and on bad nights/days I was down right pessimistic. Alas come late January around what should have been 40 weeks Ollie began latching on. The first few days we used the football hold and he latched on a few times. After about a day or two he was not using the shield at all. Then came the nipple pain! I watched some videos about proper latching on because I realized he was not latching on correctly and his suck was still not great, very shallow so my nipples were a wreck, blisters, cracked and bleeding. Something that no one tells you - that basically your nipples have to get used to nursing (stretching etc) the first few days (for me this was a month later), and on top of his poor latch it was awful! I cried and dreaded nursing it hurt so bad, one morning I really thought of giving up, the whole nursing journey had been so difficult, I was at my wits end and envied every mother who could nurse their baby without pain. After some sleep and nurturing from Ron I got some lanolin (Lansinoh) and visited a nursing clinic in my area and realized that what Ollie and I were doing was working and I just needed my nipples to heal and get him to take in more of my areola by sandwiching the tip of my nipple. They are still on the mend - and now 7 weeks later - nursing is working. I won't say flawlessly because I think that is impossible even for the best of nursing babies, but I have an 1o pound baby now so something has got to be going right.
Other Carnival Participant Blogs:
Hobo Mama: Supplemental feeding techniques for a breastfed baby
The Milk Mama: How I got my bottle-guzzling, breast-phobic baby to love nursing Breastfeeding 1-2-3: The Importance of a Babymoon
Whozat: A Rough Start
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Asks Us
Maman A Droit: Clueless!
Melodie @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite!: I'll Be Brief: How To Overcome Breastfeeding Challenges
Living Peacefully with Children: When Nursing Takes Longer...