Friday, August 20, 2010

Breastfeeding: Friend or Foe

It's time to talk about boobs.

Definitely not a subject I would ever think to write anything about, but I definitely have a lot to write about now. I could write a novella about my boobs. It would be my Boobagraphy.

The story begins on a sunny day in July- the 12th to be exact. As would be expected from myself and the medical staff, my boobs would now be supplying our wee babe with everything she'd need to thrive. So, I said to the twins, "Girls, we've got a big job and you've got a lot of work to do!" They were not completely in agreement and so they took their sweet time. They also did not think too fondly of all the criticism and fondling by random people that wanted to "help."

Well, ladies, we all know how it starts. I knew it was going to be hard. Everyone told me it was going to be tough and that I had to just stick with it and it would definitely get easier. At this point, I can agree and I'm very proud of myself for staying with it. It feels amazing to be able to provide so much for our little bean and really see the effects of it as she grows and fills out. But, it was not an easy road to get here.

Since Amélie arrived earlier than her due date, she wasn't up for the sucking she'd have to do to get herself some grub. She'd latch on, but really just spend her time playing around and not really sucking. When the lactation consultant at our hospital made her first visit to our room, she immediately suggested that I pump. The idea was that by pumping, my body would get the whole system working sooner and more efficiently in order to feed the babe. So, I pumped and pumped and pumped my little heart(boobs) out to produce almost nothing those first few days. Mere drops appeared and I felt extremely frustrated and emotionally drained. How come it wasn't working?! It took about a good 4 days for anything more than a teaspoons worth to actually come out. It was quite a victory for me when I actually got a half ounce of real milk out.

During the time we were in the hospital, a lactation consultant visited us to check-up on my progress and to make sure that Amélie was latching on correctly and actually sucking every day. It was really nice and all to have the help, but man, it was a lot of stress on me to produce and a lot of times I felt like I wasn't doing my job. With the suggestions of the nurses and LCs, this is what our routine looked like during our first week:

1st: Try and feed Amélie. Force my boob in her mouth and hope for the best. Try one boob and then the next. She tended to prefer one boob over the other. We'd sometimes have success with that one. 
2nd: Pump. During that first week I truly detested that dumb pump. It was a little painful and until day 4, it didn't really feel or look like it was working. 
Repeat! Over and over again every two hours all day!

{the scary pump I've been using at home and used part of the time we were at the hospital}

Well, eventually we had success with both-the pump and Amélie. Yet, when we returned to the lactation center a week after her birth, I once again felt like a failure. Using their method of weighing her before and after a feeding, the nurse practitioner said Amélie needed more. That meant supplementing her with formula in order to get her weight up. Ugh! She also suggested I try this and that product to increase milk production and also rent a hospital-grade pump. Ugh, again! I was sucking at this whole breastfeeding thing and I just broke down and started crying in their front office. Even though I felt like they were telling me I wasn't doing my job(I know they weren't on purpose) and I really just wanted to cry and punch them in their faces; I took their advice and swallowed those pills, drank that tea, and used the big scary pump. The results: they worked. I'm a milk making machine and my baby's got some rolls on her legs!

Now, Amélie's feeding like a champ. I do wish I had some kind of gauge on the boobs to measure how much she is getting during each feeding. I'm just curious. I also still pump maybe once or twice a day after she eats because I'm working on creating a stockpile of milk in the freezer for when I go back to work.

I'm really happy I made it through the first weeks and that Amélie's gaining weight. When we went back for her two week check-up she had gone over her birth weight after losing a little more than she was supposed to and I have a feeling she's going to be right where she should be when we go to her two month appointment in a few weeks. Aside from supplementing with stinky formula(it really does stink) for two days, Amélie's been gaining her little rolls only from drinking the boob milk I worked so hard to get. So take that well-meaning lactation center ladies!

p.s. I'm in the market for a pump of my very own! woo. Can you sense the excitement or sarcasm? I'm looking at either a Medela or Ameda since that's what I had more success with. But, the Ameda has always been the hospital-grade one, so I don't know if I can compare it with the one you can buy at the store. Anyways...does anyone have any suggestions/comments/advice/whatnot on any pumps?


Stephanie said...

Yep, breastfeeding started out as a bitch. I had the same experience of crying when I wasn't doing enough, before my milk truly came in.

I bought the Ameda one from Kaiser. I love it, it works great, and I like that they don't charge sales tax. Plus, all the replacement parts are easily accessible at any Kaiser Health Education office. I don't think you need the fanciest one with the car charger. Mine allows for batteries, and when I was traveling for work, it worked just fine. I like the little cooler bag with freezable ice packs too.

Anyway, I'm so glad it ended up working out for you. It really is gratifying to know you can feed your baby! And yes, formula is not the greatest smelling thing in the world.

estefanick said...

Congratulations Nancy!! The beginning is hard, and it sounds like it was really hard!! I'm thrilled for you that you stuck with it because I truly cherished the time and the experience that I had with Lindsey and I DEFINITELY agree that formula SMELLS!!!

I can't speak personally about those 2 pumps, but my friends that have gone back to work all have the Medela and they LOVED it!

Maggie said...

Congratulations on sticking with it! I hope they told you not to expect much more than teaspoons (of colostrum) those first few days until your milk truly came in. Nobody has much to start with! I use my sister's hand-me-down Medela Pump-in-Style. It's at least 9 years old and runs like a champ. I've never had an issue with it. Again, I'm glad you stuck with it and it's working for you. I'm on my final two weeks of breastfeeding (at least that is my plan) and it's a little sad! It really is a very special experience.

Amber said...

Great job sticking with it Nancy! You are a trooper and your efforts have no doubt already paid off!!

I have a Medela pump that's nearly 10 years old and works great for me, but I can understand the concern you have with switching from a hospital grade machine to a standard version. Best of luck in the decision making process!

mrs shortcake said...

Good job! Baby Shortcake and I have had one H*ll of a time getting this whole breastfeeding thing down, but we finally made it - and I'm so glad I have a hospital grade rental pump! WE'r returning it though, today, and are looking at purchasing the Medela pump n Style, as the rental of an Ameda one is so costly. It feels so good to help them grow, huh? I love seeing little rolls appearing on my daugher's thighs! :)