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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Journey From Pumping to Nursing....




H was born in mid November, that's why I haven't been blogging as of late.  Not just because I had a newborn but the circumstances that followed.  As I'm writing this out I am nursing him, oh the simplicities of life, right....wrong.  He is four months old and has just started nursing!  I have pumped for the last four months, but I am one dogged person...I was hell bent and determined to nurse my son.  H was born two weeks early, from the start he was a strong nurser.  I was quite surprised at how well he latched.  With in 24 hours I noticed he was not latching as well, it got progressively worse and worse.  But he was so content, it seemed, that I didn't chalk it up to much...that is until he started to get the "brick dust" in his diaper.  A sure sign of dehydration.  He also developed jaundice, which I have had with two of the other kiddos, so he was sleepy, and more and more difficult to wake him to eat.  He was two weeks old by this point.  I took him to the emergency room and he was quickly admitted.  I am not usually a crier but I tell you, seeing your sweet new boy get poked and prodded, and he's crying for you; hungry, exhausted...it'll break your heart.  Once they started getting him some fluids and his blood work was done, his numbers weren't pretty..he was jaundiced and extremely dehydrated.  I felt like a monster...guilt right, a mothers worst enemy.  I know I did  nothing wrong, and knew that as soon as I saw the "brick dust" brought him in...but I still felt like I had failed him somehow.  So he lay there, getting hydrated and it was decision time.  A two week  postpartum Mom is not always good at decisions...He needed to eat...they didn't want me to nurse because they wanted to monitor what he was taking in, I tried to pump but was getting next to nothing.  My milk had "come in" when he was still nursing strong but try as I might...not much, maybe a half ounce all together....next problem...how to give it to him.  I was desperate to make my son feel better...So we gave it to him in a bottle along with some formula...he was  whole new kiddo.  So we continued this for four days.  I went down to lactation, the consultant said he had a "perfect latch" but didn't have the right tongue motion.  He was gumming me like I was a bottle nipple. Once he was back to birth weight we where discharged and we headed home.  My girlfriend gave me a pump to use and I set about pumping every hour for 20 minutes and giving it to him in a bottle, adding formula when necessary...a week later we went to his pediatrician and I was given the green light to nurse exclusively again.  But low and behold it did not pan out well, I noticed the same trend as before.  Loss of weight, and sleepiness.  My doctor said that he most likely wouldn't nurse and I ought to plan on bottle feeding him.  I was utterly devastated.  I wanted nothing more to be his source of comfort and nutrition.  So I immediately set about educating myself on everything breast!  I found some great resources and encouragement from my dear friend AW.  There where a lot of naysayers as well.  There where times I questioned my own sanity! Here's how it went.  At first I tried the nurse, bottle, pump routine...but with four other kids to care for it got exhausting and I wasn't being a very good mommy.  So I resigned myself to exclusive pumping and bottle, thinking when he gets bigger and has better head control maybe I would be able to switch him over.  I researched and researched....Continued going to lactation.  The consultant was skeptical...she was puzzled too, he would latch but wasn't getting much out. I took herbs, which, by the way, where a big help (Fenugreek, fennel, alfalfa, and brewers yeast) when ever I felt my supply was dwindling. And I pumped and pumped and pumped.  I tried supplemental systems with little success, I could never get the tubes right and he would only get frustrated.  I found this bottle, the First Years Breastflow at Burlington, I bought it on a whim and when I got home did some research. Boy did I like what I heard.  A bottle that mimicked let down! Could it be!?! I used it for a few weeks and thought, okay lets do the real thing.... success..at first while I was full and engorged but as soon as my milk adjusted to the supply things seemed not so good, he began losing weight...AGAIN!
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cidMoPij2YM/T9DNcXuPQaI/AAAAAAAAAdg/uwKzIadQjuM/s1600/photo.JPGSo I panicked and went back to pumping...my girlfriend AW said some very encouraging words to me.  "Give it a chance, his weight is healthy, don't panic right away and just keep trying."  She said this to me after I called her in tears, thinking I would be pumping for the entire first year!  So I listened to her,,...I took a major step of faith.  I was reminded of when my others would have their growth spurts and would seem insatiable and I would just nurse and nurse and nurse until it passed.  It was time for a "nurse-cation."  So I took a weekend and with the help of my husband went off pumping to nursing cold turkey...no transition just a "we can and we will do it," attitude.  So I nursed every chance I got that weekend, I put him to breast every chance unless he refused.  I was exhausted, I was engorged for a bit, when I adjusted fought the panicked feeling of not "making enough." Success! He's been nursing steady now, I started to write this post two months ago...he's six months now.  I donated all my extra milk, about 400 ounces to Eats on Feets, an amazing group of women who donate their milk to babies who need it, not for profit, the milk is not altered in anyway.  I know its not for everyone and of course everyone has an opinion of it. (Note, I had blood work done before, so I know my milk is safe)
My goal with this post is to encourage mom's who are in the throws of a battle like mine.  You are not alone! You can do it, you will have moments when  you are discouraged and when you feel like you are crazy to do what you are doing.  But you are sacrificing for your sweet baby, you are doing the very best thing you can for them.  Good for you!  And for those of you that can't keep it up, that have to go to bottle, know that there are resources out there for you like Eats on Feets, so if you can't give your baby your milk you can still provide breastmilk for them.
I know there is a lot of information I am leaving out.  Please feel free to ask questions!  Below is a list of sites where I gleaned A LOT of information.  I also read: "Making More Milk." I got it at my library.  It doesn't just cover making milk, it is a great source of encouragement, and covers many situations.  I highly recommend anyone, having nursing troubles, read this book!

This site is a great encouragement:
http://www.exclusivelypumping.com/

Kelly Mom is awesome, so much info!
http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/pumping_decrease/

This is a well written blog about pumping:
http://www.naptimetales.com/2012/05/pump-pump-it-up.html

I used this site A LOT!
http://www.lowmilksupply.org/index.shtml

There are a ton of online communities out there that have great information as well.



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