Thursday, June 28, 2012
My breastfeeding journey has officially come to an end. This post chronicles that journey so I can look back on it later.
The first latch: I was in my bed, still high from the excitement of the birth. My midwife basically tickled Sisi's cheek to open her mouth, and shoved her on like a hoover vacuum. Looking back, I wish they had just let Sisi rest in my arms for a while and try to latch on her own. Perhaps then her latch would have been more natural and effective, but oh well.
The first 5 days: Horribly painful! My midwife and doula both watched me feed her, and from where they stood, everything looked fine. But after a few days I was starting to crack and bleed. I had to brace myself for every feed, and dreaded all 12-14 feeds per day (!!!).
Day 5: I was depressed, hurting, and concerned that Sisi wasn't eating enough, so I went to a wonderful lactation consultant at Milkalicious. She put one finger in Sisi's mouth, let her suck for a second, and exclaimed, "You poor thing!" to me. She knew instantly that her latch was off. Sisi was basically grinding me against the roof of her mouth. That's not how it's supposed to work :/ She also wasn't drinking effectively- the consultant said it was like drinking out of a bent straw.
She gave me a nipple shield to train Sisi to latch right. The shield took away almost all of the pain, and allowed my poor gals to heal. After 6 weeks with the nipple shield, her latch was perfect. Nipple shields can be awkward and annoying at times, but they saved breastfeeding for me.
Seeing the lactation consultant was the best decision ever. I told Joe that next time, I will have a consultant come to our home within 1-2 days of giving birth, no matter what. Even if things seem peachy keen.
Months 1-3 : Constant milk-fest. Sisi drank anywhere from 10-14 times a day, but was sleeping clear through the night, so I dealt with it. Sisi's horrible napping (or lack thereof) replaced breastfeeding as my #1 gripe of new motherhood. Breastfeeding was becoming somewhat easy and natural.
Months 3-5 1/2: Sisi was 95th percentile for weight, but was still wanting to drink 10 times a day. This didn't seem right. It hit me that I had been using bf to quiet her down when she was fussy, and that she probably wasn't as hungry as I thought. Her cry would send me spiraling down that hole of anxiety and depression, so I did anything to appease her. Babies cry for lots of reasons, not just hunger, and I had to learn to pause, breathe, and analyze what was making her cry. I began stretching her feeds out a little bit to make breastfeeding more manageable for me. She learned to wait and soothe herself. I learned to read her cries better.
Months 51/2- 12: I began following the Dream Baby Guide schedule, which brought us down to 3 or 4 feeds a day, and 1 at night if she really wanted it. She started napping wonderfully, and sleeping well most nights. This is when motherhood became normal and fun for me.
I also started topping her off with a few ounces of formula before bed because my supply was dipping due to feeding her such filling, nutrient dense solids. At 9 months my breasts stopped letting down for the pump. I'd pump 3 times a day and get 1/2 and ounce. Big bummer! I upped the formula more to make up for the drastic dip in supply.
Months 12-16: We switched from formula to raw goat's milk. Goat milk is more similar in constitution to breast milk, therefore easier to digest. It does have that weird goaty smell and aftertaste, but Sisi didn't seem to notice or mind at all. Around this time, she began preferring the bottles, and would sometimes beg for the bottle instead of the breast. I tried to hang on to bf as long as possible, and made sure she nursed at least once or twice a day, although I doubt she was getting very much milk from me.