I completed my Maternal-Child Clinical at a Baby Friendly hospital. Breastfeeding was the norm and formula was locked up and needed a physicians order to be used. My instructor was a lactation consultant and we were given a great book to use with the breastfeeding mom. Later, after graduation I was invited to take a Breast Feeding Educator course and loved every minute of it. I knew that I would be breastfeeding any of the babies I’d have, and I felt I would be prepared for whatever that threw at me.
When I found out I was pregnant I was excited! I began buying little things here and there; a nursing cover, breast pads, and a pump. I registered for storage bags, steamer bags, and other breastfeeding accessories. I got out my Breastfeeding Basics book to review. Reviewed a few chapters of my other favorite breastfeeding books and dreamed of the beautiful feeding relationship I would have with my son.
Birth day arrived and I had the natural, midwife assisted birth I desired. Baby A was placed on my chest to have immediate latch, per my birth plan. As the nurse bent down to assist me in the latching process, her eyes got wide and she snatched up the baby, and left the room with him. Baby was taken to the NICU, and it would be 2 days before baby would be able to have anything by mouth. I pumped every 2 hours to try and stimulate my milk supply and would rejoice in the small amounts of “Liquid Gold” that would be collected. I syringe feed him the colostrum that 2nd night but was upset when the nurse cracked open a bottle, attached a nipple and insisted baby drink it. I wanted him syringe or cup feed, or allowed to use an SNS. This was “not an option” and I was told that there was no harm in this. As the days went by Baby A struggled to feed from the breast, but I pressed on and did what felt right for us, and was supported by evidenced based practice. We struggled day in and day out to keep him satiated. I would pump after each feed to try and build a stockpile, but I couldn’t keep much. If I didn’t supplement, he would be crying and rooting soon after, and sleep was a write off! I soon noticed that he was rejecting the breast, and each feed got worse. A long bout of double mastitis would ensue and “sour” my milk, increasing his disdain for the breast. I continued to try every trick in the book, every piece of knowledge I had gleaned from books, and practice seemed to be of little help, and things did not get better. At the risk of starving my son, I bought my first can of formula, and cried in the aisle of Walmart. We have Evenflo glass bottles, and Evenflo Anatomic nipples, that I can assure you are the best, most breast-like nipple I have ever seen. Baby A LOVED how normal they felt. He “latched” quickly, with perfect “fishy lips” formation. Our goal is to continue to use breast milk every other feed, this happens some days, but other days my body does not produce enough.
It has been a hard pill to swallow, but I have learned a lot through it all that will no doubt be shared with my clients in the future. I will try to breast feed subsequent children but understand it may not work… managed expectations.