On Breast Feeding

Let me start off by saying I have spectacular nipples. They are a great shape and a nice size, and I’ve always known they would be perfect for breast feeding. I suppose that means that I’ve always wanted to beast feed, which is true. It just made sense to me. Why give your baby man made crap when they could be eating what nature intended?

(Yes, I am all about “breast is best”, because it is. I also know for a fact that anyone can breast feed. Some people just have a harder time getting established. However, I want anyone reading this to know that I do not look down on those who exclusively formula feed or who choose to supplement. Different things work for different families and you need to do what works for you.)

The thought never crossed my mind, not once, that I would have any issues getting feeding established with my son. I mean, I had been leaking colostrum for months, so my supply was going to be good, and I had these perfect nipples. What could go wrong? After needing a c-section to get him out, I’m so glad that I was right.

Once I got our first post partum nurse to show us both now to get a really good latch, we were golden. I also had to realize that Finn was incredibly impatient, and expressing a little bit on to my nipple before offering to him let him know that yes, there was food to be had. Otherwise, he would pull off and get disgruntled after attempting to eat for all of five seconds. This little trick became invaluable in the first week with him.

He lost just under 9% of his body weight after birth and was a little slow about gaining it back. This was probably because my true milk didn’t come in full force until he was six days old. It had started to change over, but I didn’t get the rock hard, oh-my-god-am-I-engorged boobs until then. One of my nurses suggested that I try pumping to get my milk in faster (no luck), and possibly feeding him some formula to make sure he was getting enough. I refused.

That may sound horrible to some people. Why would I refuse to do something that could benefit my child? What if he wasn’t getting enough? Well, let me tell you, the amount of pee he was generating was proof positive that he was getting enough to eat. He peed all the time, especially when his diaper was off. His jaundice (yup, he had a good bout of preemie jaundice) wasn’t getting any worse, and I was determined to do things the way I wanted. My birth went way off course, so this was going to go as planned, dammit!

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As you can see from the above photo, he latched well and ate like a champ. Sure, he looked like a banana for a while, but as soon as my true mill came in, there were no more issues. He had one period where he gained almost a pound in five days!

My problem came, and and still comes, with pumping. For some reason, it didn’t matter now or when pumped, I could barely get anything at all. Manual, electric… It didn’t seem to make a difference, and I was starting to get extremely stressed about it. If I didn’t manage to pump enough to save, Finn would need to have formula in addition to breast milk when Shawn and if needed to leave him. I know, that’s not the end of the world but it’s definitely not something I wanted to do.

I thought I was doing something wrong. Surely, it wasn’t meant to be this difficult. It didn’t matter what I tried, however: after a hot shower, first thing in the morning, nothing worked. Luckily, one of the post partum feeding experts that works with my mum told her that some women just can’t pump efficiently. It has to do with their let down reflex. My milk will not let down unless Finn is actually eating. Looking at a picture of him doesn’t work. Listening to him fuss doesn’t work. He needs to be physically at my breast.

I’ve come up with a plan to deal with this. Usually, when he’s eating off one side, the other side will leak. Instead of letting it go to waste in a breast pad, I’ve starting letting it drip into a storage container. I’ve gotten up to an ounce from dripping alone! Then, as soon as I can after he’s finished, I manually express whatever I can. It has to be right after he’s eaten, or I don’t get a thing. Sometimes I end up with three or so ounces after a day, sometimes just one, but it’s taken a lot of the pressure off that I was feeling while trying to use a breast pump. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t give up entirely.

I know some people hate breast feeding, or at the very least don’t enjoy it at all. For me, it’s something that makes me feel accomplished. I call Finn Tiny Bacon because he likes to eat so much, and being such a direct part of his diet feels really good. It’s going to be nothing but breast milk until six months for our little guy, and if things go as planned, we’re going to keep it up until he’s at least a year. He’s doing do well with it, I don’t see any reason to change what we’ve got going on.

Hey, he’s 14.6 pounds at ten weeks. Breast is definitely best in this instance :-)>

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