Last week I discussed nursing and many of the difficulties there in. But what happens when things never get better? Today my friend Amanda shares her struggle, disappointment, and the eventual freedom she found in the bottle.
Simply stated, the journey of deciding how to feed my child culminated in discouragement and frustration. Some could say that breast-feeding and I are like magnets facing the opposite way – as much as we’d like to work together, we seem to be polar opposites.
For me it started in the hospital after my baby was born. We did skin-to-skin and she nursed perfectly. They took her to the nursery to do all of her checkups, and when she came back it was like something switched off and breast-feeding suddenly became a problem. Part of the issue was that she had a difficult time latching on and she struggled with sucking. She would push out with her tongue and push herself right off, beginning to scream at the top of her lungs.
After hours of trying, nurses would come in and attempt to help. Each nurse seemed to have their own thoughts on how I should hold her, whether I should switch sides halfway through or not, and their contradicting suggestions continued on and on. I know that they were just trying to help, but it was difficult to weed out what was “right” and what was “wrong.”
Up until this point, I knew nothing about breastfeeding. And I appreciated all the
opinions, but combined with a very tired mom & very hungry baby this equaled chaos. They would literally try to force my screaming baby on me with no success and she would cry and I would then begin to cry along.
After hours of this, I went to the lactation class in the hospital. My heart was exhausted and I began to break down. It’s dramatically discouraging to be a mother when you feel like you can’t feed your own child.
Before having her, I really wanted and hoped to breastfeed. I wanted to provide for my baby and didn’t want to shoulder the cost of formula each month. I was open to bottle feeding, but I really had this desire inside of me to breastfeed. The lactation specialist did her best to help us in the process of training us to breastfeed. She spent about an hour with me and it resulted in using a helpful shield tool to aid my child in latching on. I really didn’t mind this tool as long as it meant I could feed her. But, after trying the tool for several hours, I was again discouraged…I still was not producing much milk.
Eventually we ended up using a syringe full of formula to supplement the milk, as
she’d suck on the shield. To train her to suck, we’d push the formula into her mouth
through a little tube to stimulate a rewarding response to her sucking. This taught
her that sucking would get something out and so began my glimmer of hope into the
After two days of trying the shield, and fighting through many hours of feeding, we brought her home and tried this method for a few days without any issues. My poor husband had to get up with me during the night because quite frankly it was a two-person job at this point. Soon we noticed that she was continually hungry, and were instructed by yet another physician that she was not eating enough formula. I noticed that I began to make milk so we stopped supplementing and began to try and feed without any supplementation.
A few days went by without any issues, but on one particular day, she began to
respond differently. She was overly fussy and wanting to eat all the time. After 10 minutes of nursing she would cry and then fall asleep. Her sleep was quickly interrupted by her hunger. I asked a friend and she encouraged me to pump and see how much I was producing. After pumping for 20 minutes, I had only made ¼ of an ounce and I stopped making anything after 8 minutes! This explained it. She would exhaust herself trying to get food. The average newborn should eat 1-2 ounces per feeding depending on frequency. I was only producing .25 of 1 ounce! She was starving!
I was so devastated by this and felt like I had failed as a mother. I truly felt useless. After seeking some advise and praying through this struggle, I decided it would be best to switch over to formula full time.
Many mothers I know have experienced this type of struggle and many have felt just
as I did. I know there are many mothers who have tried to supplement their milk by
taking pills to stimulate production or using different techniques. Although I chose not
to, I feel that I made the right decision. In the end I felt much more encouraged and like I could actually supply my child with what she needed.
At our first two week check up our pediatrician said that she was very healthy
and in fact had gained more weight than average! Despite what some may say, I feel like although my child is not breast-feeding, her development and rapid growth are progressing right along. I am encouraged that I have had the opportunity to see one of the many struggles a mother must experience in their journey as a parent, and look forward to
experiencing many more amazing adventures.
(You can follow Amanda’s continued story over at http://ourpeainapodd.blogspot.com/)