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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breastfeeding Blunders

Meet Samantha. Like most moms, breastfeeding was high on her list of priorities. But as we know, nothing in pregnancy and parenthood goes as planned. Her picture perfect vision of feeding her child, turned into one hell of an I Guess I'm Due moment. Enjoy Samantha's all too relatable story in her own words below.
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There has always been one thing I knew I wanted to do when I became a mom…. breastfeed. Everyone knows the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby, but I will admit I also had some of my own selfish motives. First, the price of formula scared the crap out me. Second, the amount of calories burned via breastfeeding was alluring. I can’t think of any activity that will burn 500-600 calories a day. Finally, it was the smell. I babysat a lot in college, and the smell of spit up formula was enough to make my stomach turn. So, problem solved- I would be one of those breastfeeding moms! In my mind, it would be that easy. Have you ever seen Blue Lagoon? Brooke Shield’s character gives birth and magically the baby latches to her breast only moments after being born. That is what I envisioned… but this was not my reality. 
Due to some health complications, which I won’t bore you with, my c-section had to be scheduled two weeks early. Even though my son was quite large (98th percentile), my body was housing him very well. When I was checked before the c-section, I was not dilated or effaced at all. My doctor said that if allowed, I probably would have carried until 41 weeks.  Grayson was very comfortable where he was, but June 10th was Eviction Day. At 9lbs and 21.5 inches, he was perfection.

About an hour after delivery, we started our breastfeeding journey. I noticed right away that it was nothing like I envisioned or had read about. Thankfully, the nursing staff at our hospital was AMAZING. I can’t say enough about them. Our first nurse noticed that I was having issues. I remember her asking “how hands on do you want me to be?” I’ve never been accused of being shy. So, to no surprise, my response was “Get all up in here if you need to.” And she did. 
After a while of massaging my boobs, repositioning Grayson, and squeezing my nipples; she came to multiple conclusions… 
1) My milk hadn’t come in (apparently common in C-sections and induced deliveries)
2) Grayson had a bad latch  
3) I had small nipples. Wait- did she say “small nipples”? 

I have never heard a complaint about my nipple size before. In fact, I think they are a perfect size. However, in the breastfeeding world, I guess bigger is better.  Together, with his bad latch and my “tiny” nipples, we were a match made in breastfeeding hell.
Still undeterred, our breastfeeding adventure continued. I would feed him for 15 minutes on each side using a nipple shield. This is a plastic guard that goes over your nipple, to make your nipple bigger and easy for the baby to latch onto. Even though my milk was not in, I still had to “feed” in order to stimulate the breast and get the milk to come in. 

On day two, my husband noticed that he hadn’t had a dirty diaper in a few hours. We alerted the nurse and they weighed him. He had lost an entire pound. The nurse then brought up the dreaded F word- Formula. Until my milk came in, we would need to supplement with formula. A new routine began; I would breast feed for thirty minutes, then West would feed him formula. Thirty minutes after I stopped breastfeeding, I would pump and try to get the milk to come in. Talk. About. Exhausting. 

When we got home, this routine continued. My goal was to get my milk to come in. I was either pumping or nursing every hour, on the hour. The hospital gave me a manual pump to use until my electric pumped arrived. I took Fenugreek, drank the Mother’s Milk tea, sat in hot showers massaging my breasts and pumped, and pumped, and pumped. This went on for almost ten days. I remember the first time I actually got milk in those bottles. To help me save time and sanity, my sister was pumping one side while I pumped the other. After 20 minutes of manual pumping, we had a record breaking half an ounce- Liquid Gold. 

I remember feeling so defeated. I cried and prayed. My husband told me that if it was too much, then maybe I should stop. So I cried and prayed some more. I spoke with a friend who breastfed her two children, and she said something that just clicked with me—“breastfeeding is the most natural thing that doesn’t always occur naturally.”  Then as if on cue- God answered my prayers. I woke up with what felt like breast implants. Hallelujah! Might as well have been Christmas morning. We kept on with our routine to help establish a “good supply” of milk. Even though my milk was in, Grayson still had a bad latch and we were still supplementing. After a few days we went to a Lactation Specialist for advice. They weighed him before I nursed him, watched me nurse him, helped me make adjustments, and weighed him after he finished nursing. By weighing him before and after I nursed him, we were able to find out that he was he was consuming 3 ounces of breast milk. We could officially stop supplementing. Finally! The bad news was the nipple shield had to stay, but I still considered this a VICTORY!!!   
I was now a breast-feeding mom and I couldn’t have been happier. Breast-feeding allowed me to bond with Grayson in a special way. He needed me in a way that no one else could fulfill. Most of my breastfeeding memories are beautiful ones, but as most moms can tell you, some are just embarrassing.  I had my 'I Guess I’m Due' moment at a friend’s bridal shower. I was breast-feeding out in the open while she opened her presents. Then, her fiancĂ© and a few of his friends showed up, so I went to another room. I wasn’t shy about feeding my son, but I also wasn’t comfortable forcing men to act like they didn’t notice my boobs shoved into my son’s face. While I was still breast-feeding, the bride wanted a group photo. She came and got me, so I just threw a blanket over myself. There I was- smiling for the camera while Grayson ate lunch. 

Grayson finished eating and I started to say my goodbyes, “I have made it” I thought to myself, so proud of my multitasking skills. As I packed up, one of the bridesmaids came up to me holding something she was clearly afraid to be touching. “I think this is yours,” she said as she held out my nipple shield. Nothing like a little public humiliation to bring you back down to size. 
Embarrassment or not, the three of us; Grayson, my nipple shield and me would be breast friends for the next 7 months. I stopped breast-feeding just shy of the year goal I had originally set. However, given our start, I am proud I stuck with it and kept going for a long as I did. This is one time where being a stubborn bitch really paid off! 

P.S- Remember those selfish motives I had? I lost all 36 pounds I gained during pregnancy in eleven days. Take that Cross Fit! 

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