November 20, 2008,
M.B. asks from Petaluma, CA on October 12, 2008
!St Time Moms Breast Feeding Troubles
Im doing some research on Breast feeding. Most of the moms I know all thought it would come easy and it didnt. If anyone would like to share thier story with me to help other new moms not feel alone, I would love to hear them and share them. Your name will not be included. Thanks for your help and kindness
So What Happened?™
I just want to say Thank you for all of your stories and your advice. I dont think its very often we, as mothers, get validated for our continuous sacrifices. Plus, it doesnt help when you hear how easy it is for others when you are struggling with breast feeding, sleeping issues, husband issues etc...
Thank you for being "real" moms.
L.G. answers from San Francisco on October 13, 2008
I had assumed it would be easy, but it wasn't. Despite herbal supplements, lactation consultant visits and pumping, my milk never fully came in. With my twins, I ended up primarily supplementing with formula but trying to breastfeed each of them prior to their bottle for about 30 minutes each feeding. This was relatively easy, albeit time-consuming, the first month but by the second, it became harder; I'd run out to the store and end up missing my opportunity to breastfeed them. So, after 2 months, I switched over to pumping only to get them milk. I was never able to give each of them more than one 3- 5 oz bottle per day of breast milk. I kept at it until, at the end of 4 months, I didn't have enough milk to do even that.
Net, it was really disappointing for me that I wasn't able to do more. I had never thought that I'd have problems providing milk and had assumed I'd just keep giving them some breast milk at least until 6 months.
What was also difficult is that women who never had a problem kept saying "the body is a supply / demand system" basically implying that I wasn't trying hard enough or doing something right. The body works as a supply / demand system for most women, unfortunately not all. To all the lactation consultants and folks who criticize women who are supplementing (I've heard the criticisms and I've read a lot of them online), I ask that you think twice. Your words are hurtful and insensitive. Just because it was easy for you, doesn't mean that it is easy for everyone.
Hope this helps!
E.F. answers from San Francisco on October 13, 2008
My son is 26 now, but before he was born I went to a class at our Kaiser (Oakland) on how to prepare for nursing. The nurse taught us how to toughen up our nipples and how to express the colostrum. It was very successful (compared to what the nurse in the office visits had taught me). As a result(?), I never had any trouble breast feeding. My milk came in when he was two days old, and he wasn't really interested in nursing until a few hours before it came in--when that happened I gave him some sugar water, he went to sleep, my milk came in, and I was dying until he woke up! The only trouble I ever had was when I would need to nurse more off one breast because it was starting to get sore.
I will say, though, that I nursed him every time he started to cry (every three or four hours) until it dawned on me (he was five months old) that he wasn't hungry every time (I was slow, I know!). This was a problem, because he starting sleeping through the night at five weeks old, and I had to get up at 2am to express milk... That's when I put him on an every four hour schedule, every five hours the next month, etc., until I weaned him at 11 months. I highly recommend a pre-birth nursing class if mothers-to-be can find one, as I think it made all the difference to me.
And the bomb! I was an experienced babysitter of babies, but I never imagined I'd be doing a load of laundry every day for the baby, and that wasn't even diapers! And I took a nap every time he did for about four months, I was so tired!
C.M. answers from San Francisco on October 12, 2008
i had questions and wasn't sure if i was doing it right, or often enough etc. i went to a breastfeeding class given at Good Samaritan Hospital in san jose and they also have weekly drop in classes that are free. you can weigh your baby before and after a feeding to see how much you are producing, ask questions you want, or just sit and get support from other moms trying to learn this unique and important role of being a mom. i really learned a lot and became more confident and i think that really helped me and my baby.
C.A. answers from San Francisco on October 13, 2008
I too thought breastfeeding wouldn't be a problem. My cousin had 3 boys and never had a problem. I remember telling her that because of her I will probably be successful at breastfeeding because I had read that some where. I thought if I had any problems, it would be a latching problem, despite the fact that I have two friends who had a supply problem. I had my daughter 11 days early, via emergency c-section. At my 38 week check up I found out I had preeclampsia and my blood pressure was dropping fast and had to rush me in for my own health. After 4 or 6 hours (I can't remember, it's all a blur) in recovery I finally got to meet my daughter. I breastfeed every two hours + and was so happy to find out she had no problem latching on. My plan to breastfeed for a year was off to a huge sucess. As the first day passed in the hospital I found out she was dropping weight. After the 4 days in the hospital my once 7 lb 1oz daughter was down to 5 lbs. I pumped and got nothing to come out and the doctors said supplement! The Leche League had a reputation (to me) of being bullies that I didn't go to them, and stopped breastfeeding after 11 days (still, to this day I wish I would have called them). I cried daily because of the guilt. Strangers asked me if I was breastfeeding I would feel the need to explain that I never produced milk as they gave me looks of disbelief (and not in the way that they felt bad for me, in the way that I was not telling the truth). I would tell the cashier at Safeway that I never produced milk and that's why I was buying formula. When my daughter was 9 months old and was hospitalized due to a bronchitis, I blamed myself and the inability to breastfeed. I took at the least 11 months for me to get over some of the guilt, although I'm still not completely over it (15 months later). Whenever someone I know has a baby and are successful breastfeeding, the guilt comes back.
I am so thankful that my best friend was there to support me, using her experience of a lack of supply to let me know she understood, as well as a supportive husband. That's my story and I hope it helps!
K.V. answers from San Francisco on October 13, 2008
My husband & I have 2 boys: 8 yrs & 3.5 yrs. Our first son was born 5 weeks early & spent 6 days in the NICU. Nursing him was THE most anxiety-provoking thing I have ever gone thru. Combo of my nerves, all the noise from the monitors in the NICU & him having troubles latching. I remember sitting in the NICU w/thin curtains for privacy, all the noise of other babies & the NICU in general & there was my husband & the nurse both trying to shove my boob into our son's mouth properly. I finally just shouted at them to both get out! During my 1st pregnancy I was on the fence about the nursing while my husband was pretty adamant about it. When our son was 6 wks, I stopped nursing him & that was a whopper of a fight between hubby & myself. Life was smooth sailing after that! I was so much more relaxed & our son picked up on that. Second time around, I told my husband before birth, that if I wanted I'd nurse, if not, I wouldn't. He very calmly responded 'OK, it's your choice.' I guess he completely forgot about what happened the 1st time around! Our second son was a champion nurser from the get-go & I nursed him 6 months. Since I was not a good public nurser, he got bottles in public from birth & since hubby was home for 6 weeks after birth, he got up w/the baby for the night feeding to give him a bottle. Our son switched easily & w/o problem between bottle & boob. At 6 months, he was getting more active & distracted & would pull off but forget to let go of my nipple! OUCH! So at about this time, he kinda self-weaned & my milk supply was slowly down anyway so it a was a natural occurance. I do wish, tho, that I'd nursed him longer to get that cuddle time as once he started rolling & was mobile, he wasn't one much for snuggling on your lap. I found myself oopsy pregnant when he was 18 months & was really looking forward to nursing the 3rd baby longer but lost the baby at the end of the 2nd month. It was hard but I think I was more upset at the thought of not being able to nurse & also over the realization that we were done. Even tho we're done having kids & I am OK w/that, I still get misty-eyed when I see moms nursing & realize that I won't get the chance to do it again.
J.L. answers from San Francisco on October 13, 2008
You & your friends are not alone! My mom tried with all three of her kids but didn't have any help and she gave up and bottlefed us. I had a midwife coming to my house almost daily plus several mom friends who had nursed their kids plus a bunch of nurses at the hospital who all gave my tips, pointers, lessons, support. I had too much milk early on and problems with that; other friends had not enough milk and problems with that. Everyone told me it would get easier, and it did--eventually! Breastfeeding is an natural act but a learned skill; we moms have to learn a lot, and the babies have to learn too, and it can be really hard while both of you are learning, and frustrating for both of you. But it's so good for yourself and your baby, and it's a wonderful way to express your love and bond very deeply with your child, so it's so great that you haven't gotten discouraged. La Leche league counselors can be very helpful, & they have meetings you can go to where you can meet and talk with other nursing moms. There are also lactation counselors; if you had your baby at the hospital there are probably some there. Yeah, and all the other stuff--having and raising a baby is hard work!! My mom told me over and over, 'it will get easier,' and it has. Good luck to you and your child.
M.K. answers from Chico on October 13, 2008
I had Edema and was very swollen after the birth of my first son; and when my milk came in, I was engorged. I had a hard time getting him to latch on, and when my swelling finally went down two weeks into his life, my nipples were cracked and bleeding. The lactation nurses at the hospital were rough in their approach, and it wasn't until my boy was about a month old that the nurse at the pediatrician's office (who was working on her lactation consultant certification) helped me out that I felt confident enough to do it. She was so patient, and so affirming: she didn't criticize me in the least. I still had a really tough time, but with the help of my lactation consultant (plus cabbage leaves an lanolin) I got through tough times. I am proud to have nursed my son for his whole first year. I got used to it, but I never loved it. Never! One thing I never understood (and frankly still don't) is women who explain how "magical" the bond is and all that: I certainly am bonded with my son, and I am proud to have done my best for him, but I think my friends who bottle fed love their kids and have bonded just as well. Feel free to shape my story as you will, and good luck!
M.C. answers from San Francisco on October 13, 2008
I found breast feeding came very naturally, and still it was difficult. I was asked to put baby in many different positions, as this would better stimulate the mammary glands, etc. And this was hard for me even though I had a mid-wife coming by regularly at my home to advise me on this and check on the baby, weigh him, etc. My son did take some supplement baby formula, as I was not a milk machine, and I pumped what I could in-between. Despite the 'rough start' I finally found the position I liked the best and stuck to it, pumped at noon-time (as I couldn't see my baby then after going back to work), and ended up breast feeding for 16 months (my goal was 1 year). I think you need to understand you're not the only one having a hard time with it, but it should get easier with time, believe me it did with me. Keep yourself rested, hydrated and as healthy as possible - hard with a new baby, but if you can take a nap sometime when baby does at least you'll have this extra rest. You will feel better and have a better outlook on things. One lady also advised a support group, though it's not so easy to get out with a baby, this might be helpful, or find out if they have people who come to your home (possibly your insurance will cover this?) My best advice to you is to just hang in there, and you'll see with time it should become enjoyable for you. And, with time you'll learn to understand your baby and everything will fall into place. I agree, it's not easy to have that first baby, everything changes and a mother can feel so 'inadequate'. It's such a big learning curve. Still, your baby needs you so much and just your presence and the time to cuddle breast feeding are so reassuring. So congratulations on this!
P.W. answers from San Francisco on October 14, 2008
The main thing I learned was to get more nipple in the baby's mouth.
W.E. answers from Sacramento on October 16, 2008
i got the most help from the lady at WIC in the county where i live. my nipples were toast from my son and his giant gums!! he was a clamper, and i ended up having to put purified lanolin on my nipple area and using a "nipple shield" to protect me when he nursed. the shield was a piece of silicon like plastic that fit over my nipple area with holes that the milk could go through. i had even toughened up my nipples before i had him, but OMG the gums on that kid. i had more milk than a dairy cow, my husband called me the milk maid, i had a freezer full of pumped milk. i had to put kotex cut in half in my bra to keep from leaking all over the place. it was painful, but oh so worth it. it was the only time he held still!! i ended up nursing him til he was four and a half!! i wont even get started on what people, including my husband, had to say about that. i dont think anything about having a child is what we think it will be. the ideal vs the real!!
J.S. answers from San Francisco on October 12, 2008
I actually didn't have the problems that a lot of moms had. It came very naturally to me. However, the one thing that I wish I had been told was that I would need to supplement with something until my milk came in. My son ended up in the ER the night that he was discharged from the hospital because he was completely dehydrated.
A.P. answers from San Francisco on October 14, 2008
I also had a difficult time breastfeeding. It was horrible! I hardly produced any milk as it was, so I had to pump while I wasn't breastfeeding. When I did it was very painful. My nipples were bloody and the skin was coming off of them, meanwhile the lac. nurse said to keep doing it and think of it as strawberry milk. It became frustrating because my baby couldn't get enough milk which made it hard to feed them. It's tough, but just try to do it as long as u can. Don't be afraid to supplement w/ formula. It won't hurt and it really helps out a lot. If u do, I suggest nestle good start. good luck
J.E. answers from San Francisco on October 13, 2008
My son spent a week in the NICU, so I started out pumping milk and trying to bf when I visited the hospital. He was supplemented with formula from the beginning, because I wasn't pumping nearly enough milk. Once he came home from the hospital, I kept trying to pump and nurse, but still had to supplement. Finally, when my son was one month old, I gave up on pumping and both of us were much more relaxed and bf was MUCH easier. I hated the pump!!! Anyway, I nursed and supplemented and he weaned himself at 9 months. With my daughter, I vowed I would never pump, and I didn't. She nursed like a champ and we both did just fine.
J.A. answers from Sacramento on October 16, 2008
I'm a bit late on responding to this, but wanted to share my experience. I had all intentions of breastfeeding. My first pregnancy was with twins and was told many times I could breast feed. I went to a breastfeeding class...although it was geared towards singletons. They now have one for mulitples. My twins were born at 33 weeks and were in the special care nursery for 14 and 17 days. Long story short, my milk never came in. I pumped, and I pumped and I pumped some more (even waking up during the night every 3 hours to pump while my kids were still in at the hospital)and never got much more then maybe 1/2 an ounce. I drank mothers milk tea and my dr. prescribed some medicine that was suppose to help. I never had the feeling that my milk came in in the way many of my friends had described. I kept explaining this to others and they kept saying it would come in. After my son came home I had a lactation consultant come to my home and work with me. All was fine, but I just didn't feel that I had any milk. After a few days of this, I decided to stop and focus on my babies rather then breasfeeding. I was spening so much of my time and energy in trying to get the breastfeeding thing to work, I wasn't enjoying my babies. It was too much trying to pump and supplement and take care of two babies. The worst part of this whole experience was when complete strangers would ask me in public if I was breastfeeding and me feeling like I had to explain the whole situation.
I then had another child almost 3 years later. I figured being a singleton and a normal pregnancy that I should not have any problems. I had chalked up my milk not coming in to having my twins prematurely and them being in the hospital for a few weeks. I also told myself if it works, great, if not, that is fine too. So all started off well. My nurse knew I was nervous about it because of my last experience and really worked with me. I had a lactation consultant meet with me twice while I was still in the hospital. They said all looked good and they had told me when we were ready to go home that my daughter hadn't lost any weight since birth...alright I thought. I still didn't have the feeling my milk had come in, but again, they kept telling me it would. So we came home and I continued to only breastfeed. After 2 days she went without a dirty diaper for 24 hours...which I had been told to call if that happened. Being a Sunday, the dr. told me I needed to start supplementing and pumping to incresase my milk supply. My daughter went in the next morning and had lost 12oz since birth. I was devestated. So I continued the breasfeeding, supplementing and pumping for about 5 weeks. Then I got a breast infection and it pretty much put me over the edge. At that point my husband and I decided it was time to stop...It had become too much...I had 3 kids 3 and under and they needed my attention. I was spending so much time pumping...and never getting more than 1 ounce...it just wasn't worth it. Again, I never had the feeling my milk had come in. And again, the hardest part for me was the public pressure. The next time I took my daughter to her dr. and she asked me about breastfeeding I just broke down and started to cry...even though from the beginning I had told myself if it works great, if not that is fine as well. The dr. was great about it and very supportive.
Sorry this is a bit long winded, but I hope from my story people can understand that breastfeeding doesn't work for everyone, no matter how hard you try and not to be judgemental about it. There is so much pressure to make it work. I would like new mom's to know, that if it doesn't work, your child will be fine. My kids are all very healthy and rarely sick.
G.K. answers from San Francisco on November 20, 2008
Way late in responding, but Nursing Mothers Council is a wonderful resource for breastfeeding. Their phone number is (650) 327-MILK. Anyway, you are definitely not alone! Even someone like me who has been around infants, kids, babies, etc pretty much all my life and was actually fairly prepared for the life change a baby brings.... It's quite a shock when it's your baby, and I would find myself holding my son while looking at the front door wondering when his parents were going to come pick him up!! I can laugh about it now hahaha
My son & I also had MANY problems for the first few months because he was tongue-tied. After we got his tongue clipped (@ 4 mo and 4mo too late!), it was smooth sailing, and he still nurses at night at 2 years old. We never had the nipple confusion problem, and when I was ok'd to go back to breastfeeding by my doctor and lactation consultant when he was 2 1/2 mo, he went right to the breast and like I said, has never looked back!!
I would say EDUCATION and RESEARCH are keys to anything we do in life, and having a baby is no different. The one thing that frustrates me most, however, is how dishonest most new moms can be. "Oh, yeah, my baby sleeps through the night, and he's only 4 weeks old!" "I feel great!" "I'm getting plenty of sleep!" These are only a few examples, and they can be VERY discouraging to a new mom, especially if this is her first. I think it's a great service we can give to moms-to-be, and postpartum moms as well, when we offer help and encouragement as well as education. That being said, though, we can only educate so much before the mom-to-be has to actually listen and be realistic about how things are going to be. Hope this helps! Let me know if there's anything I can do to help!