July 21, 2011
Breastfeeding and the chubby baby
So, I figured this deserved a post of its own…as many of you new moms have realized, breastfeeding is HARD and SO full of emotion, and we definitely didn’t escape the challenges.
Even though A did great with his feeding in the hospital, I couldn’t escape the fact that I had really wanted one of those natural deliveries where the baby is immediately placed on your chest and nurses within the hour. In fact, at one point S and I were watching tv and he found a breastfeeding program on the hospital channel…thinking that he was doing a good thing, he left it on, until he looked over and saw me sobbing. I think that my worries about breastfeeding ended up being my outlet for all of the hormones and emotions, so every minor issue felt like a really big deal to me.
The first time that we were able to try breastfeeding was on the day before we were sent home, and needless to say, it didn’t go so well (thanks in large part to a crazy lactation lady). Then with everything that we needed to do to get discharged on Sunday, we didn’t breastfeed again until that night at home…and all of a sudden, he just latched right on! I still wanted to make sure we knew how much he was getting, so we just did five minutes on each side and then gave him a bottle (of frozen breastmilk). But by Monday afternoon, I thought that we were home free. I stopped pumping and only gave A a bottle when he still seemed hungry and to top him off in the evening.
All was going well (including his weight gain!) until a visit by another lactation consultant on Thursday. She basically told me that it didn’t matter that he had gained weight, that he wasn’t sucking properly and that my milk supply was probably going down because he wasn’t working my breasts enough. And let’s just say, she didn’t have the best bedside manner to begin with. I took her feedback really hard – partly because I had had enough pumping to last me a lifetime, and she was saying that I had to keep doing it, and partly because I felt like my baby was “broken” and didn’t know what to do about it. She kept saying that he was acting like a preemie (which really pissed me off because it seemed like she was saying it was our fault for inducing him early) and didn’t even give me any tips for changing his sucking pattern beyond “keep pumping to increase your milk supply.”
At our second weight check that Friday, I told my pediatrician what she had said and he reassured me that with the amount of weight he had gained (chart below for posterity), that the few ounces we were giving him by bottle were not where he was getting his calories, that he was getting everything he needed from me. Since she had been right in one respect – that my supply had gone down slightly – I decided to keep pumping a few times a day (after he ate, just to get what he wasn’t), and we continued giving him “top-offs” once or twice a day.
About a week and a half after getting home, I started noticing that he was sucking better – not the “flutter suck” (suck, suck, suck, stop…), but more consistent. I’m not sure what changed, besides the fact that he was bigger and had had more practice sucking. The following week, I met with another lactation consultant and she reassured me that we were doing everything right, but just gave us a few tips for making things better/easier. After he had gained over a pound a week for two weeks in a row, I was finally able to relax and trust that it was “working”.
I have to admit, breastfeeding was something that I REALLY wanted to do, and I was worried that my body would disappoint me once again. So it was really nice that we didn’t have a milk supply issue to deal with on top of everything else…I finally felt like my body was doing SOMETHING right.
So, despite all of the stress and the slow start that we had, things have actually gone really well and A has continued to gain weight like a champ! From his lowest point of 5.5 lbs, he is now over 11.5! And he’s so long that we officially had to move him into 3 month clothing (on his 7 week birthday)! Here’s a more recent picture of my chubby boy:
One piece of advice for new moms or moms-to-be…if you are pumping at all, make sure that the breast shields/flanges are big enough (i.e. not rubbing). I am small chested and just figured that I could use the smallest attachments…until it got to a point where I couldn’t stand under the running water in the shower. Two days after going up a size there was NO more pain! (If you’re in need of any more tips or tricks, let me know…I’ve learned a lot!)