First Month – Breast feeding is not easy!

Ack!  So the first month kinda absorbed all my energy and attention, so my blog kinda fell to the waste side.  Going forward, I will try to get back on a weekly schedule though!

So the first month was wonderful.  I have loved getting to know my son, spending time with my family, and watching him grow (well grow eventually).

Mommy and Nathaniel – 1 day old

However, this month was also hard as I struggled with breast feeding.

My son was born on Feb 7th. He was about 3 weeks early (was due between the 23rd – 28th depending on the O Date, Last period, and ultrasounds). When he was born, he was a piranha! Oh my goodness. I was so excited. Didn’t think he was going to have any issues with breastfeeding. However, just because he was hungry and ready to eat, didn’t mean it was going to be easy.  It hurt. A lot. My son was getting frustrated too. He came out starving. He wanted more than what I was giving him. He would get upset when he would latch and get nothing. So he’d unlatch and cry and I’d try to get him to latch. I started to get frustrated too. I thought, well once my milk comes in things will be easier. I didn’t time things. I’d try to breast feed for a few minutes or so but then he’d de-latch and I’d stop.
He was born 6lbs 7.8oz. We went home on Friday the 8th. I exclusively breast fed (EBF) all weekend. My son was a sleepy baby and I was told in the hospital that babies are like dogs. Let a sleeping baby lie. So when he slept through feedings or fell asleep immediately on the boob, I didn’t think much of it and let him sleep. He wasn’t very fussy but I did notice that he was not pooping and there were orange spots in his diaper with his pee (and the pee area was yellowish). When we went to the Pediatrician on Tuesday the 12th, my son had lost a lot of weight. About 15%. He was down to 5lbs 7 ounces.  Other than that, the doc said he was perfect.
3 days old
The pediatrician said that I should try keeping my son on one side for 20 minutes then switch for 10 minutes on the other side just to stimulate the other nipple. Then when it’s time to feed again start with the 10 minute side. I asked about pumping but he said he didn’t feel I needed to. So I didn’t. The pediatrician told me that if my son hadn’t gained weight or lost more weight by Thursday the 14th, I would need to either hospitalize him for IV fluids or supplement with Formula.
I wanted to EBF, but hospitalizing my son seemed very unnecessary, so I agreed. I went home, bought a timer, and started timing my feedings. I fed every 2 to 3 hours in the day and 4 at night. His urine seemed less orange and he started having poops. I was excited. I was getting it.
But when I went in on Thursday, he had lost another ounce. I agreed to start with the formula (they gave me Enfamil Gentalease) and told me to supplement every other feeding. Offer breast first, let him eat, and then offer him the bottle afterwards. This sounded pretty reasonable, so I agreed.
2 weeks old!

She still loves him <3
So the first supplemented feeding, I got about an ounce into him and he immediately had major diarrhea. I didn’t think much of it at first… but when I supplemented the second time, the same thing happened at almost an ounce. I called the Pediatrician who told me to come in and he’d give me samples of Enfamil Nutramigen. I went in and he told me since my son had diarrhea that I should now supplement every feeding and come back in the morning. I asked again about pumping and he said it couldn’t hurt.
On Friday the 15th, I came in and he had gained an ounce. He was 5lbs 8 oz. The pediatrician told me to come back in on Tuesday the 19th and we’d weigh him again.
Obviously at this point, I had lost a lot of faith in myself and breastfeeding. I was dehydrating and starving my child. I was so upset. I did as the doctor told me but when Monday came, I called the hospital and got a lactation appointment. I met with a nice specialist who told me that right now we needed to work on getting my son back up to weight. We spent a lot of time together. We identified a few issues.
  1. My son is slightly tongue tied so he doesn’t have the best latch.
  2. My milk supply had taken a dive and I need to work on increasing my milk supply by offering the breast and pumping after feedings to drain the breast.
  3. My son was a sleepy baby and with the weight loss, he needed to get the calories back to be able to breastfeed effectively and efficiently.
She told me not to be scared of the F-word (formula). She told me to offer the breast, pump afterwards, and feed him the pumped milk or supplement with formula if need be. She said he may grow out of his tongue tie, however if I continued to have issues, I should get it snipped.
I was so worried at this point that he wasn’t getting enough that I started pumping 8 times a day and feeding him the milk. I bought Yogi Nursing Tea to help build my supply with galactagotes (sp?) and started eating lots of oatmeal!  (See my recipe for Gluten-Free No bakes which serve as excellent lactation cookies)!
On Tuesday the 19th, I went to the Pediatrician and my son had gained weight! He was up to 5lbs 12 ounces. I was overjoyed. My Pediatrician said that if I was still having problems with bfing at one month (March 12th) he’d give me a referral to get the tongue tie evaluated.
The next few weeks from Feb 18th to March 7th, I pumped and really only offered the breast once a day. He just would fall asleep as soon as I put him on the breast. I wanted to make sure he was eating so I relied on pumping. Things were going great. Before I knew it, he was only taking 3-7 ounces of formula a day and I was pumping 14.5 ounces a day! He had a growth spurt which is why he switched to more formula (closer to 7oz a day) when I had almost caught up with him with my supply. I was getting the most around 2 to 3am and 6 to 7 am. He was having regular poops and pees. Everything was going nicely.
First smiles or gas?  2 weeks
During this time, February 26-28th, I got a nasty norovirus. Diarrhea, chills, fever, puking, killer migrane. It was horrible. During this time, my pumping slacked and he had more formula, however, when I recovered, I got right back to pumping regularly and feeding him. As of the 7th, I was pumping 15 ounces a day and he was eating about 22 ounces a day.
I set up another lactation appointment and met with a different specialist on the 7th. She evaluated him and agreed with the tongue tie and that I should get it taken care of. However, she said his latch was much better than was it sounded like it was. She said he nursed great. And it seemed like he was doing a great job. She told me to always make sure I pulled his bottom lip down, made sure he had those fish lips. She suggested that it was time to get back to breast. Told me that I could increase my supply by pumping after feedings but also told me that I could get away from the bottle and formula WHICH IS WHAT I WANTED. She told me that he gets most of what he is going to get the first five minutes on the breast so don’t feel like I need to keep him on for long periods of time or that I need to pump for 20 minutes +.
3 weeks and he looks bored!
I walked away feeling determined and encouraged. He was latching. I was going to be able to feed him. I am getting his little tongue tie snipped after I get my referral.
But when I got home, he’d suck and suck and I could hear him swallow but he would fall asleep after a bit. When I moved him, he’d wake immediately and start rooting (tongue out, hands in the mouth, furiously nomming on his hands). So I pumped, but barely got anything. Now obviously, my fear was that my milk had already dried up and that I had screwed everything up again. Logic told me that my milk couldn’t dry up that quickly. I would go from getting 2 to 4 ounces per pumping session and suddenly only getting about .5 to an ounce. He was draining me or almost draining me… however he was still hungry. So, I gave him some Formula. Now the specialist said if I was going to supplement for a bit still, I had to make sure I was pumping. So I fed him from the breast, then pumped the excess, gave him that, then offered him formula. He had about an ounce of the formula (He usually gobbles down 2 to 4 ounces).
That same day the traveling nurse came by.  She weighed him in at 7lbs which was 1lb more than he was 15 days ago!  I was excited.  I had an appointment on Tuesday the 12th of March for Nathaniel’s one month appointment.  I was nervous that if I EBFed all weekend that he might lose more weight.  I decided to supplement at night (and pump), and breast feed the rest of the day.
1 month!
Through all these nerves this first month with breastfeeding, I am happy to report that on March 12th (today), when I went to the pediatrician, Nathaniel weight in at 7lbs and 8 ounces.  He had also grown an inch (21 inches long!).  This may have seemed like a depressing post, but I wanted to chronicle the first four weeks of hard work that I put in to get me to today.  I will continue to work to EBF and hope to wean Nathaniel completely off of the formula by 6 weeks!  YOU CAN DO IT!  Don’t get discouraged!
Jamie Webster

About Jamie Webster

Just your average blogger. Married 2 years with two wonderful children who are 6 years apart. Little about me: I’m turning 31 this year (yikes), have had 9 foot surgeries in 8 years and have spent a little over 4 years of my life in and out of a wheel chair (or scooter). And today, I am training for a half marathon. I attribute two major changes in my life to my healing: the power of goal setting and going gluten free.