Breastfeeding is best and it’s definitely natural but it’s not entirely instinctive and it’s not always easy! I didn’t count on that… I’d like to share my story in hopes of encouraging others with problems and to help those who intend to breastfeed avoid the problem I had! Just so you know, the story has a happy ending !
Alex was born weighing 3kg250 and we seemed to get off to quite a good start with breastfeeding thanks to the tips given at the BCT classes. I had plenty of supply and he seemed to be suckling, even though he had some problems latching on and staying awake. When he was about 3 days old, still in hospital, we discovered he had a bit of jaundice (which was treated with the bililamp) and that he had slowly been eating less (suppose because he was very tired), having lost over 10% of his birth weight (on day 4 he weighed 2kg860). I had to supplement him once with formula in hospital, but things seemed to get back to normal and my milk supply was still good after that. By the time we left on day 5 he was weighing 2kg960. Meanwhile, we came home. Once we were home, he had very irregular feeds, never really asking for any and since I had always heard to let sleeping babies lie, we did. When the ONE nurse came around a couple of days later to see how things were doing and weigh him, we realised he had lost quite a lot of weight (from 3.255kg to 2.070kg). We took him to the paediatrician immediately and found out my production was really low because he was such a lazy eater (would fall asleep soon as he hit the boob or not wake up for feeding) and he had to be supplemented with formula. What we did (at the paed’s recommendation) was feed every 3 hours, at least 70ml. He would start off at the breast, weighing him before and after and then have formula (or my expressed milk once I have enough) to complete the 70ml. I then expressed for about 20 min. I also took Galactogil to stimulate my production because I really didn’t want to stop breastfeeding. The following Monday we went to the paed again and his weight had been steadily rising to 3kg170, not yet birth weight but almost there. At the paed’s recommendation, I stopped expressing during the night to try and get some rest and started to express around 1hr30 after breastfeeding him (I managed to express 60ml like this, which was great considering that the 1st time I only managed 10ml). We still topped up with formula, at his demand, and stopped the before and after weighing (although I felt tempted to keep that up and occasionally did). Overall he was very healthy, and that’s the most important thing, but I really wanted to go back to bf exclusively if possible. It seemed to me he had issues with latching on and would then give up very early. He’d fall asleep at the breast and I’d have to continuously stimulate him. He would also fold in his upper lip after latching on and when he was very sleepy, only latching on with a nipple shield.
After some ups and downs, I managed to eliminate formula and give 1 or 2 expressed bottles a day. Meanwhile Alex went through a growth spurt and was on a feeding frenzy eating almost non-stop (breast exclusively). He’s began latching on really good and I was able to completely eliminate the nipple shields. He’s now up from 2kg70 (his lowest weight) to his current 4kg400!! I’m really happy and have been demand breastfeeding. I definitely think all the effort was worthwhile! I’m still occasionally expressing because I seem to have more than he can handle and I’m going to start freezing for a rainy day 😉
I have to say I would have had a much harder time if not for the invaluable help and support from my husband, bct breastfeeding counsellour Tina, 3 close (although far) friends who also breastfed – Claudia, João and Sara, the ladies on the breastfeeding board on Baby Centre, and a book called The nursing mother’s companion
Unfortunately, I don’t feel I got much help at St. Michel’s (save 2 excellent midwives that patiently helped me with Alex’s sleepiness) because the advice given was often conflicting or not fuly thought through. I don’t feel the paediatrician (she currently practices at St. Michel, but we will try to find another closer to our new home) gave much thought to the breastfeeding issue either, although her advice did bring Alex’s weight back to normal.
All I can say to anyone going through this or anyone wanting to breastfeed is to perservere because it’s definitely worth it and to trust your instincts, even when everyone else seems to be saying your feeding too often, he’s manipulating you, just needs attention, etc. The only way to get your milk supply up is to feed often because it is a supply and demand issue. Oh, and don’t let sleeping babies lie if that means they are not eating!