Mamas Who Rock It: Trish’s Breastfeeding Story
As a registered nurse, in college I learned the benefits of breastfeeding. I knew from that time on that when I had a child I would want to breastfeed them. During nursing school we had to take a breastfeeding class as part of our clinical experience; fast-forward nine years later and I am pregnant and taking a breastfeeding class again! I tried to do whatever I could to prepare myself and feel ready to take on this task that I knew would not be easy. Part of that preparation was making sure that the pediatrician office I chose had a lactation consultant to support me; this decision would turn out to be critical in my success.
On January 30th at 5:05am my son was born beautiful and perfect; they cleaned him up and gave him to me and I started beginning to try to nurse. I had initial difficulty due to my nipple shape and needed a nipple shield. I had thought this might be the case ahead of time so this was not a surprise to me and a nurse was right there with me helping me. My baby was latching on and drinking…. I was relieved. I was in the hospital for 3 days and during this time a lactation consultant worked with me several times; I had a lot of questions. She encouraged me and told me my milk was in and that my baby was doing great and showed me how to watch to make sure he was swallowing milk. During this time they mentioned pumping in addition to feeding because of using the shield but ultimately they never had me pump and told me to discuss it with my lactation consultant at my pediatrician’s office. So the day comes we can go home; so excited. We get home and I continue to do what I was doing and the whole day goes by and my son does not poop for 24 hours. I call the doctor and they bring us in the next day. I meet with a doctor who rectally stimulates my son and then tells me to get suppositories and give him one at home and make sure he has pooped by that evening. We do this and he goes; we are so relieved and feeling back on track.
Then we go in for our one week old appointment at the pediatrician office; they weigh my son and have me meet with the lactation consultant. We are told that we are in a “dyer” situation and my son has lost too much weight. She watches me nurse him and tells me that she can tell my milk has not come in and that he is not getting any; she explains that he has a slight tongue tie and his latch is not able to stimulate my milk supply. She then tells me that I need to go home and start formula. I explain that I would like to try to get my milk in and ask if I can go home and pump or if there is something I can do. She tells me that I can try and advises me on how to go home and pump at least ten times a day. She is very concerned and sends me home with formula in case. She tells me that she will text/call me in a couple hours and she will want to know how much I pumped and how much he eats. This is all such a shock to me, because in the hospital I was told my milk had come in and that I was doing great! So I head home and my mom comes over to help me and my super supportive husband is there too. I begin to power pump and my baby takes his first bottle, no problem. I began to pump 14-16 times a day to get my milk supply in. I was pumping like crazy; I got a hands free bra and with the help of my mom and husband I pumped and pumped and pumped. My milk came in, thank goodness.
I began having appointments often to weigh in my son and make sure he was gaining enough weight and I was making enough milk. My lactation consultant later explained to me that she never thought that I would make milk and she wanted to explain why. She showed me pictures of breasts that looked like mine and said that usually boobs spaced like my own do not make milk. In addition, my breasts did not grow during my pregnancy and I had been leaking throughout my pregnancy. With these factors, she really didn’t think that my body would make milk. She said the one thing she did not consider was my determination. I did not realize or get the impression from her that she had felt this way; she was always so supportive and encouraging. But it explained her sending me home with the formula on that first day. I kept pumping and pumping and pumping and it was hard and it took dedication and will. But ultimately here I am at 4 months and my son is still getting breast milk only and I am making 55 ounces a day and have a huge stock pile in my freezer!!! I think it is important to share stories like this because breastfeeding can look many different ways and we are all trying to do the same thing; give our babies the best option… our breast milk. I do this differently; I pump and my baby takes a bottle. He is growing so strong and beautiful and I am so happy that I had the support and encouragement from people. Having a lactation consultant who was willing to call me and text me daily and support me and encourage me made a huge difference in my success story.
I had some set backs and hearing your baby lost too much weight is devastating. You feel like a failure and you wonder how did I not know that this was happening. But then when you are able to turn things around and you know your baby is getting everything they need; it is the best feeling ever.
Written and photos provided by Trish Sterling.
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