Today marks the end of World Breastfeeding month and Black Breastfeeding week. I couldn’t let things end without sharing my breastfeeding story. Before I even gave birth, I learned from so many women that breastfeeding is challenging. I was even told that it’s more difficult than giving birth for some women. Knowing that, I reminded myself that fed is best, and whether or not I was able to breastfeed, would not be reflective of my abilities or lack thereof as a mom.
During my hospital stay, I was hoping to get more assistance than I did regarding breastfeeding. On the second day, a lactation specialist came in and asked me how it was going. I told her that it wasn’t because I wasn’t sure if my son was latching. The entire time we were there, he was mainly sleep, but I was getting worried because he really didn’t eat much at all. She told me a few things that I could do, but never really showed me how to do it. On the last day, a different lactation consultant came in as we were checking out. I explained my concerns to her, and she gladly helped me for almost two hours. Although it was a rushed learning experience, it was very helpful and I appreciated it. We practiced over and over with different holds, trying to see what was most comfortable for Eli, and me while trying to get him to stay latched onto my breast. It was nice to see that my colostrum was beginning to come in and learning the benefits of that for baby. She also told me what I needed to start the process of pumping. One thing she noticed about Eli that made it frustrating for him when trying to nurse, is that she believed he had a tongue-tie. It was recommended that we get things checked with his pediatrician.
The next day my middle sister came to visit and put me in breastfeeding boot camp! I began to hand express, activating my breasts to begin releasing milk. More colostrum came in, which I was able to feed Eli and milk began to come in very slowly as I pumped. Concerned that Eli was not getting enough to eat, I supplemented with formula until more milk finally came in. The time spent learning from my sister was ideal and really set me up for an overall great feeding experience with Eli.
One thing I often noticed while nursing Eli was that it was painful. I mentioned this to Eli’s pediatrician, who did confirm that he had a tongue-tie, which could be why feeding hurt and was sometimes difficult. Eli’s doctor recommended we see a lactation specialist. We were set up with Ms. Sharon, who was and is a godsend. Ms. Sharon confirmed that Eli had a tongue and lip tie, which made nursing challenging for the both of us. I will go into detail in a later post about Eli’s lip and tongue-tie experience, but long story short, he had a procedure to fix both ties. We met with Ms. Sharon about 4 or 5 times over the first two months, and it was the most helpful experience. With Eli’s procedure behind us, and the guidance of Ms. Sharon, Eli began doing much better with breastfeeding. Every now and then, we encounter problems latching, but I’ve seen a significant improvement over the last month. As we were working through our feeding issues, I was primarily pumping and feeding him my breast milk by bottle. Now that things have improved, I’m working to incorporate more nursing into our schedule. I am blessed in that I produce a good amount of milk, so I no longer have to supplement with formula and have built a nice size freezer stash. I’ve been able to pump between 26 and 33 ounces of milk daily. I’m not sure how this compares to others, but Ms. Sharon said it sounds like I have enough milk for a few babies. I pump no more than 6 times a day…hats off to the ladies who do more, I’m not about that life lol.
Through breasts pain, tongue and lip ties, lactation appointments, feeding frustration and trips to the pediatric dentist, I think we finally have a great feeding system in place.
For my moms out there, how is/was your breastfeeding journey? Let me know in the comments below!