Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

Try. Try again. And again and again and again. Persevere and don't give up!

That is how I would describe my breastfeeding relationship with Judah. After he was born I brought him to my breasts many times that first hour but he just wasn't interested. He was awake and alert but my big boy didn't seem to care about nursing just yet. I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that this wasn't going to click as quick as I would have hoped having just finished breastfeeding Zoƫ 6-months ago.Each child is unique and different - they will also breastfeed differently!

Three hours after he was born the nurse, who is also certified in breastfeeding, asked me how I felt about his nursing and if he was doing alright. I told her I couldn't get him to want to latch on. So with her help we finally got him snuggled at the breast for awhile. I felt a little better, especially as his latch was PERFECT. I felt absolutely no pain or tenderness whatsoever.

He has continued to latch on really well... when he decides to latch on. He does this thing where he'll latch on, break off, latch on, break off. It drives me bonkers, especially in the middle of the night when I'm fighting to stay awake and I'm engorged (that is such a weird word). After doing this little game for about 5-10 minutes he'll finally get serious and get down to business. Sometimes he eventually gets frustrated and sometimes he just has these big eyes and funny expressions.

He doesn't break off because of a fast letdown nor because he's waiting for letdown. He just does it no matter what is going on. I've tried multiple positions to see if it was the position bothering him. Nope. I've got people telling me it is probably just his personality or he's still trying to figure it out. Establishing a great breastfeeding routine with your baby can take up to 4 weeks. You're not broken, he's not broken. It takes time to get to know one another! Do not give up before 4-weeks!

Okay so at first he was doing pretty good other than breaking off a lot in the beginning of our nursing sessions but then came the hospital stay, the IVs, the medication, etc. and all hell broke loose. I cried and cried those first days at the hospital and coming home afterward. But I also determined that my baby wasn't going to have formula or a bottle. When the nurse brought in nipples to his room (for the pumped breastmilk) I told her I wouldn't need them... and I was right.

At the hospital he was still doing his latch-on-break-off routine but with a lot of tears and screaming. His IV was in the way (they strap their arms to stiff boards so they won't pull on the IV) and he was in pain. Then they gave him a medication that touted side effects like nausea, dizziness, etc. so on top of that he felt like crap. He was crying, I was crying. Somehow we made it work. I would express milk into his mouth and pump so I wouldn't lose my supply. I got as much into him as I could and that he would tolerate.

Our last moments at the hospital I told the nurse to take his IV out (they had stopped the fluids and had left the IV and board on his arm). I told her I wanted to nurse him without it before I felt comfortable going home because I felt it was helping to hinder our nursing relationship. The doctor agreed with me. They were all so wonderful at the hospital and really listened to me when I had a concern!

Judah nursed a good, long time with that IV board off his arm. But we still struggled with breastfeeding when we got home. He was sore and stiff (something a pediatrician denied - he told me, "All of the ordeal at the hospital is forgotten!" as though babies don't feel pain, stiffness, tenderness, soreness, etc. which is B.S.!). He was still on the medication that didn't make him feel well. The daytime feedings were going okay at home but once the evening hit Judah was back to being frustrated and having a hard time calming down to latch on.

Here's a bit of advice if your baby takes a binky - if your baby is too worked up to nurse just stop. Check their diaper, swaddle them, give them a binky and rock them until they calm down. Then bring them back to the breast. It worked like a charm for us! Some parents don't want their breastfed newborn to have a pacifier so instead you can offer a clean pinky finger (nail-side down) so they can suckle and calm down.

TODAY - at 2 weeks and 2 days old Judah is getting better and better each time we nurse. Thus far he hasn't wanted to nurse lying down (we're both lying down in bed) but last night he finally did it! That was a blessing to me because it was hard to sit up in bed and stay awake for 40-minutes at-a-time to feed him. If you can nurse lying down then you can both drift back to sleep without worry or fear of baby being dropped because you fell asleep holding them.

He's also latching on much quicker and not doing his weird latch-on-break-off thing as much. He is also refusing the pacifier more and really only likes it at night (which can help reduce the risk of SIDs, if you were not aware of that). I don't really care about the binky thing. It doesn't offer baby anything other than to help them fulfill their desire to suckle. It doesn't nourish him or fill his tummy so it doesn't really "confuse him". So whether he takes it or not is no big deal to me. I think he got into the binky more because of the hospital (they dip it in sugar-water for procedures to help calm baby) and I obviously do not do that at home. So as time goes on he seems to refuse it more and I don't offer it to him all the time unless he's really upset.

Breastfeeding - it can be so natural to some mommies and their babies and for others it can take time. Judah reminds me a lot of Elaina and I gave up breastfeeding her because she would arch her back away from my breast, scream when I tried to nurse her and pretty much fought the entire process. I know that if I had stuck with it and remained calm and nurturing she may have been a breastfed baby. I gave up when she was about 2-weeks old. I did pump for 2-weeks after that so she did get breastmilk for a month. Then, because of a misunderstanding, I stopped pumping as well. I thought you couldn't pump long-term and decided to just stop and go to formula. That is why it's SO IMPORTANT to have support! Whether you get it from your spouse, your girlfriends, your mom or aunt, La Leche League or other support group or just someone online - get the facts and stick with it. When in doubt ask around!

I know that for the many tears I've cried in frustration and fear while trying to nurse Judah it has been worth the struggle. Breastmilk is the perfect food for your little one and my desire for him to have that rather than formula is so incredibly strong. He hasn't starved or suffered - he's mostly gotten milk by me expressing it rather than him suckling... until now! Now he's getting it and he's doing so well today I am ecstatic.

Okay I have to add a picture to make this long post sweeter!

 2 weeks 2 days old


The Mommy said...

You are a wealth of inspiration!!
Judah is beautiful.

BrandiH said...

I'm so glad you stuck with it! After having to give Lillian a bottle at 2 weeks we had a very rough patch of BFing and I almost gave up, but thankfully I stuck with it and she was BFed until over a year old.

Now if I could just get rid of the darn binkie she wants ALL THE TIME!

Susan Sene said...

Way to stick with it Momma! Judah sounds a lot like Kaylee. She pops off and on for no apparent reason - drives me bonkers as well! Haha And as much as I didn't want her to have a bink, she had to have one. She just has to suck ALL the time and sometimes she refuses my breast because she's done eating, full - but still wants to suck. And if she is too upset, I do have to give her the bink for a bit for her to calm down enough to nurse. Two peas in a pod sounds like huh? Wish we could get them together. I bet they'd become fast friends! :)

I struggled BIG time the first 3 weeks. I took her to a pediatric dentist, chiropractor, everything I could think of and everybody said she was a perfect 10 (but I was in SO much pain). I had to use a nipple shield and pump and bottle feed a few times to get through it - which I told myself I'd NEVER do because I didn't want her having anything artificial. But then I learned it doesn't mean it'll ruin them and it's what I HAD to do so that I could continue nursing, which I desperately wanted to do. Breastfeeding can be VERY hard but you're right, it's what's best and it's SO important to have support. I think I would have quit if it hadn't been for the support I had through Le Leche league, my family, and many close friends.

*~Chelsea~* said...

GOOD for you for sticking with it! I pray I have your determination when I have Olivia! :) Judah is just getting cuter and cuter, if that's even possible! Every time I think it can't happen, it does. He's soooo precious. I'm grateful it's working out better for you and I will be going to you for advice every second, haha!