Breastfeeding it’s harder than it looks

For some reason I had it in my head that breastfeeding would be easy. It’s the way our body is wired after all, right? But after losing count of how many people have poked my breasts and my baby I can tell you it’s not easy.

Almost from the first attempt there has been something that has been a struggle with feeding John (now just 3 weeks old). John was not placed on my breast or skin-to-skin immediately after birth (his delivery story is for another blog post) but when I did get to hold him and try and latch he seemed uninterested. I understood we had just been through 22 hours of labour we were both tired.

While he was at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) it was my job every night to pump to keep the stimulation and hopefully increase the milk supply. I like sleep but there it was the middle of the night with no crying baby and I was up pumping because I had to do it for my new baby.

While at CHEO I had so much help trying to breastfeed but in the end the only way he was able to nurse was with a nipple shield after some formula was put in his mouth. As well the nurses gave him formula overnight as I was not producing enough milk to satisfy the little guy. At this point I was frustrated and ready to throw my arms in the air and give into formula because he seemed to like it and he had had such a rough start.

Once home, things did get a little easier, I was in my own chair, in my living room and I could relax. I even felt there was a small victory as he could latch without the shield and no formula needed. I was now determined that breastfeeding was the way to go.

I was feeling good about things and he was sleeping almost 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. That good feeling did not last long as I soon found out that he was not gaining weight. His weight at the doctor’s office, with the same scale has been 3.6kg, 3.5kg and 3.4kg. The doctor has now put me on a prescription to help increase my milk and I saw a lactation nurse today, which did help. She however suggested that I wake him every three hours to ensure that he gets enough food. It will be tough because he is such a good sleeper and I like my sleep too. I go back to the doctors in two days to weigh him again and we will see what is next after that.

I have received so much advice from different doctors and nurses I have now decided to go with the most recent advice. It’s hard because ‘they’ say every baby is different, not to time feeds and so much other advice, I wish there was one set of rules because I could follow that.

It’s tough because I recently had one family member say ‘I bet you feel like all you are doing is feeding him.’ That is bang on and I was glad to hear that because yes it does seem like all I am doing is feeding him. It seems like the whole process of feeding: getting a good latch, burping, switching sides, changing, etc. takes almost an hour. Then I feel so tired and anxious afterwards, did he get enough? In less than two hours it’s time to feed again and let me tell you, you can’t get a lot done in two hours especially when you are tired.

Where another family member keeps suggesting I just go to formula because that way the baby is not getting what I am eating. It’s hard to know what to say to some of the loving advice. Of course I would love formula it does ‘seem’ so much easier! I was even jealous the other day when another mother was able to pull out a bottle and say my baby just drank seven ounces, wish I could do that!

My nipples are tender but I’ve been told that is normal, I feel like I am not doing or giving him enough food. But I am trying to suck it up, no pun intended. I am now determined to do all I can to be successful in breastfeeding John.

I am thankful that my husband has been so loving, encouraging and supportive. When he gets home from work I feel like I hand him over the baby just to have 15 minutes without him screaming at me. Even as I write this he has taken John out for a walk so we can try and keep to this new three hour schedule.

We have been so blessed and felt so many prayers in the last few weeks; I am thankful, I pray that John gains weight and stays healthy.

They say it gets easier, for all of us, I hope it does.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Colleen
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 07:26:57

    Breastfeeding is easy, for a small handful of women. For the rest of us, it is like learning any new skill. You didn’t know how to ride a bike the first time you got on one, did you? To me it is the same thing. Both you and John are learning a new thing, and while it is natural, it is like learning anything, it takes time, effort and determination. Eventually you will learn all the ins and outs. You had a tough start, but you have lots of people supporting and praying for you.
    You guys will figure it out.


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