Sunday, March 14, 2010

Advice, please?

This is a really, really boring post in which I ask your advice on breastfeeding. I promise there is nothing funny in here today. But if you read on and can think of some suggestions, you're a saint. Thank you, blog peoples.

Baby Eden has recovered nicely from her jaundice. She started being more alert last night, looking around quietly and watching everything. Seriously, she's really pretty. Eventually I'll get more pictures up.

Anyway, because we had to make extra sure she was eating enough in order for the jaundice to pass quickly, that meant giving her breast milk from a bottle after she finished nursing from me. I really wanted to avoid this because the same thing happened with Grant and it messed up his nursing. I spent eight months pumping and then feeding him from a bottle for every meal. It was HARD.

I'm committed to breastfeeding, but . . . I'm nervous. Eden isn't nursing well. She hasn't nursed well since she was born a whole whopping week ago. I put her to the breast before every bottle meal for as long as she'll stay. Sometimes it's a long time (although I'm not convinced she's getting much), sometimes not if she's really hungry or tired. Then she gets frustrated and freaks out and pulls away. 

A little internet investigation says she's probably got "nipple confusion" and she's wanting a bottle because it's so much easier to eat from. I'm meeting with a lactation specialist tomorrow to see what she can do to help me with Eden's latch. She can also help me figure out how much she's eating and all of that good stuff. Still, even after taking Grant to the lactation clinic three different times, I couldn't get him to nurse. That's how the pumping-for-eight-months happened. I sooooo don't want that to happen again.

I guess I'm wondering if anyone has overcome this problem when nursing. Have any of you had a baby switch from the bottle to the breast exclusively? Did it take long? Was it hellish during the transition?

As much as I want her to have breast milk as long as possible, I can't do the pump and then feed this time. Tethering myself to a breast pump for fifteen minutes several times a day isn't an option with a busy and semi-destructive toddler to supervise. It's either breastfeeding or straight bottle and formula and I really, really, really don't want to do that.
Suggestions? Insights?



DeNae said...

I had so much difficulty with breast feeding, I was really only successful with my last two. And it took 3 or 4 unbelievably frustrating weeks with my last to get him to feed properly. I'm actually telling you this to encourage you; they don't starve to death while you're working this out, I promise.

One suggestion that was given to me was to try the pacifier just before attempting to have the baby latch on. They learn that the "easy" nipple doesn't really provide the grub.

We also did something called "tube" feeding, but it's the sort of thing I'd rather talk to you about on the phone; it's not hard but describing it is awkward online. Do you still have my number? If not, I've got yours. Let me know, or give me a call.

Most of all, Melanie, try not to get too freaked about all of this. Between hormones and sleep-deprivation, this can be a major anxiety inducer, and that doesn't help, either. If the "worst case scenario" is you pump twice a day when it's convenient for you, supplement with formula, and go all bottle, I can tell you from experience that that is just fine. The baby thrives, you relax into a routine that works for you, and life goes on.

Call me if you need a listening ear!

LisAway said...

I admire you GREATLY for pumping for 8 months. I threw my pump away when Aaron was a baby because I decided I would NEVER do it again. I hated it so much (and only ever used it when I was so engorged in the first few days that the baby couldn't latch on). It definitely does sound like nipple confusion but I have no advice. Just encouragement! DeNae gave good advice. I hope you can resolve this without too much stress, Mel. This is such a hard time in general, I know and anything extra just makes it that much worse. I'll be thinking of you!

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, I wish I had advice but my babies got nipple confusion and never would breastfeed. I know how frustrating (and heartbreaking, honestly) that this is. My heart's with you, Melanie. Hang in there.

Susan said...

My first hated breastfeeding. I pumped and fought him for two and a half months and finally quit. I never could get anything out with a pump. Have you tried nipple shields? That helped some with him. It tricks them. Nipple shields might help her transition better but it's not a permanent fix. My last baby wasn't a great nurser, but the lactation consultant helped me to see that she was getting milk. She was tiny though. I wonder if you're making enough milk (I don't want to make you feel bad) because I don't think I was. I only ask that because your pregnancy sounds a lot like mine--anemia, and low amniotic fluid. In my opinion, it's your body saying, "Hold up! I'm too worn out to do all of this!" It's like you've pushed yourself as far as you can go and maybe your body just can't keep up. I don't think I ever did make enough milk for Addy but we stuck it out for eight and a half months. You could also try one of those supplement tube things. She'll nurse while getting supplemented but it means more pumping. I hear ya on the pumping thing. There's no way I could do that for eight months.
You know what too, she'll be okay if she's a formula fed baby. I promise. It about killed me when I realized that no matter what I did, my oldest just wasn't going to be a nurser, but he's fine. And we still have a really good bond.
Good luck. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Kimberly said...

I pumped for six months with Emma, and three with Claira. The next baby might get formula straight from the womb the way this is going.

Wish I had some brilliant insight for you, Melanie. I have heard that persistence works but yeah, the intervening time is pretty hellish all right. Sorry you've got this stress - welcoming a new baby is chaotic enough without feeding issues to boot!

Kazzy said...

I would say to not give the bottle too much. The baby needs to be hungry enough to give "you" a real try. You will know if she is not eating enough, but let her get to the point where she knows she is only gonna get it from you.

Relax. Nothing dried me up like stress.

You'll do great.

Annette Lyon said...

I had just the opposite problem--babies who refused a bottle no matter what. So no great advice.

My youngest had some trouble nursing at first, and what helped the most was total skin-to-skin contact while lying down on my back (so yes, topless), with a blanket on top of us to keep warm. Somehow having her whole body touching mine did the trick.

Granted, not the easiest thing to do when you have a toddler . . .

Good luck, Melanie. I wish I had something solid to offer.

MommyJ said...

I agree with Denae... she won't starve, because your motherly intuition will come up with a different plan before that happens. With my oldest, I cried for three weeks of breastfeeding, and then, he suddenly just got it. He figured it out, he latched the way he should, and I took a giant sigh of relief. I always tell people three weeks... give it three weeks before you give up. I know the tube feeding method that Denae makes reference to. I used it when nursing my twins because at first, I just didn't have enough milk for both of them. Maybe you could spend a few days pumping after you nurse, just to give you some extra stimulation and up your milk supply. And drink raspberry tea or take raspberry supplements. I've never tried this, but a good friend of mine who is hugely in to all things natural says while it doesn't make you produce more milk, it will make the milk you do produce higher quality... thicker, fattier, that sort of thing.

Good luck! And don't give up.Your baby will be fine however you decide to feed her, but if you really do want to breastfeed, I don't think it's too late to make it happen.

Carolyn V. said...

Oh Melanie. I hope it works out this time. The specialist should have lots of good advice. We had one come in when I couldn’t get my son to nurse. Good luck!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

I could never do the pump either. And I hate it when kids have a nipple identity crisis. My advice isn't worth 2 cents though because I never faced this problem, but I will cheer you along to keep trying as long as possible because breast feeding is da bombdiggity.

I hope you get Pam's (from The Office) lactation specialist. hahahahah

GOOD LUCK, girlfriend!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

You will NOT believe what your verifier says right now:



doo doo doo doo

Amber said...

With my first I had to bottle and breastfeed (I was in school). I'm sure she had some nipple confusion but I was in so much pain that I couldn't tell. Something that helped with me was getting a nipple shield. I figured it was as close to breastfeeding as I could get and it worked really well for me. (I was to the point of giving up.) I'm not sure if that is good advice or not, but it was something that helped me.

And ditto to everything DeNae said.

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

Melanie- I liked waht DeNae had to say- I nursed for 6 and half years straight with 2 month breaks in between kids- with one of my kids- I was BLEEDING- and I saw the lacation consultant and- I am so happy that I stuck with it. Love breastfeeding.. if that's what you want- keep trying. If not- oh well, no one will judge you! <3

Wonder Woman said...

My last had some nipple confusion with the pacifier. I would give him the pacifier, then trick and finagle him to taking my nipple. I'd hold him like I was going to breastfeed him, give him the pacifier for a second, then squeeze myself in there. You might try that with just the bottle nipple -- not the actual bottle. Maybe getting nothing from that nipple then something from you would help.

Something I usually have to do to get them latched properly is stick my finger in while they're sucking and make sure they're lips are turned out and up. Maybe you can only do formula in the bottle, since babies don't typically like formula as much. Make yourself more appealing in every way.

BTW, do you watch the Office? Did you see last week's epi where Jim and Pam had their baby? And a male lactation consultant?! Classic!

I hope it all goes well and Eden catches on. It's not fun feeling like a milk cow anyway, let along when you're actually hooked up to a pump.

Sarah M Eden said...

I was going to suggest a lactation specialist--but then I got to the part of your post where you said you're going to see one. So... check.

My first was a preemie and was born without the ability to suck. (We got a lot of mileage out of that and the inevitable punch lines that go along with it.) He was fed with a tube for a long time and then could finally be moved to a bottle with a really, really big hole in the nipple because he still couldn't self-feed hardly at all. That sucked (duh-dum).

I wish I had more advice, but I don't. Hang in there, Melanie!! That little girl is lucky to have you!

cslactrn said...

Congratulations on the new baby!

If the pumping just isn't going to work for you, how many times a day do you think you could pump and still function? 2? 3? 4?

I ask because my sister had multiple problems with her (now 4yo) son that resulted in his not wanting to latch. She pumped for his first 6 weeks and saw the LC many times, but he just wouldn't latch. She called me crying, asking how to wean because she couldn't handle the pumping anymore. The question above is what I asked her. I encouraged her to at least "keep the pipes flowing" and to do what she needed to keep sane. I reminded her that it is possible to get breastfeeding going eventually as long as you have milk (even a little) but it is MUCH harder to go back if the milk is gone totally. I encouraged her to offer the breast at least once a day, but with NO pressure either to her or him. Just to offer. If he took it fine, if he didn't fine. No forcing.

So she ended up pumping 1 or 2 times a day and feeding him formula and offering the breast once a day. She did that for 2 months and one day he just "got it" and latched like a pro and wanted to continue. She put the pump away and just nursed him nonstop practically for 2-3 days and I guess by that time she had a full supply because he became more regular like a 3mo would normally be.

He ended up nursing well into his 3rd year!

So I would personally encourage something of the same for you. Get as much help from the LC as you can(hopefully the person you are seeing is an IBCLC and not just a lactation specialist) and then do the best you can do. If all else fails, try at least to keep the "pipes flowing" (by pumping at least once a day and more often if you can manage it) and offer the breast at least once a day with no pressure. No promises that it will work like my sister, but you never know. Weaning is so final. This way there is at least a chance...

In any case, you're a wonderful mom to work at this so hard. Just don't forget to take pictures and ENJOY your baby!

Amber Lynae said...

My little princess had trouble latching on at first so I started to give her a few (pumped) bottles to make sure she was getting enough. Then she did the same thing not wanting to work for the milk. I decided to use a nipple shield and that really helped. It was frustrating to have to have with me all the time. I let her get away with that for a few months before I transitioned her off of it to just regular breastfeeding. And then we made it just fine and breastfed for 18 months. So all in all it was a success.

If you feel like you might not be getting enough milk. You may want to pump after she has eaten. They say that even if you don't get anything. It tells your body that it needs to produce more milk. So eventually you will produce more with out having to pump.

I am sure you have done the whole search and stuff. But this website really helped me a lot to stay sane while I was going through my breastfeeding woes.

Alison Wonderland said...

Most of the gals before me have a lot better advice than I do but I do want to throw out there that I tried to nurse my first and ended up quitting because I thought I'd like to keep my nipples. I cried and felt guilty and was sure that I was a horrible mother. The second, third and fourth times around I had no problem nursing so I did that.
But you know what?
They're all fine, even the first one.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

I'm really not sure why she has to have breast milk in a bottle; that's not the only way to tell how much she's getting. She can be weighed; diapers can be weighed. As a peds nurse we never would have had a new mom and a newborn who are trying to nurse take bottles unless there were real weight-gaining issues.
Having said that, you have to listen to your docs and what makes you comfortable. Hopefully the lactation consultant can help. 2 of my babies had very bad jaundice; my firstborn I moved around the house all day long to keep him in the sun the first week home. Luckily he was always hungry, and I just nursed him every hour.
Just don't drive yourself crazy. Breast, bottle, your baby will be healthy and happy no matter what. Do what will make YOU happy.
Can't wait to see her pix!

Erin said...

Thanks for asking the difficult questions so that three months from now I can read back over your blog to get some answers!

(With my other two, they refused bottles. I felt tied to the house for six months straight.)

Debbie said...

I was a La Leche League leader for about a 100 years and this is a very common problem. And a very frustrating problem. I hope the lactation consultant can give you advice and also confidence.
I always had my mom counting diapers. You can't see what goes in but you sure can see what comes out. If the number of diapers is OK, Eden is OK.
And I applaud you with both hands and feet for pumping for so long. Amazing. I hope breastfeeding will work for you and Eden but remember, her health and your health are the most important things. Don't beat yourself up if this doesn't work.
And since March 8 was my guess and my son's birthday, I am a happy lady that she came on that day:)

Marian said...

Rough stuff. And feeding your baby "the right way" seems to be so tightly wound around being a "good mom" that when it doesn't work out, we question ourselves.

My milk didn't come in for two weeks, so I tried the tube feeding (not at all fun) and pumping (hated it and not much came out) and had to supplement each feeding with a bottle. By the time my milk came in (still not enough to feed my sweet little boy) he was more used to the bottle and so he go the bottle by day and breast by night. And then just formula in a bottle. He is really healthy. We bonded perfectly. He is super smart (completely objective opinion). And I was a little bit better mom without all the anguish and stress. Just saying.

Try it all. Then do what works for you. There is no "wrong" way if you and your baby are healthy and happy.

stewbert said...

My son was a 36-week preemie with an underdeveloped suck, and my milk took quite a while to come in. We used a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to give him formula while he ate because he refused to nurse after the nurses in the hospickle gave him a bottle. (he was readmitted at 4 days of life because he'd lost a pound and was severely jaundiced. that's when they gave him the bottle.) It took a little while. But, once we got the hang of getting the tube in his mouth just right while he was nursing, he was more content to nurse for longer periods. After about 2 months, we switched to supplementing with a bottle (he only took about 3-4 ounces of formula a day), and that lasted until he was 9 months old. He gave up bottles entirely at that point.

Our SNS was just a syringe and a small gavage tube they gave us in the hospickle, but you can purchase one that hangs around your neck (though that is very expensive). Next time I plan to do this: Get a few bottles and slightly enlarge the holes in the nipples, then use some gavage feeding tubes. A friend is having wonderful success with this with her son. You can probably get the tubes from the lactation folks; our pediatrician in the hospickle had the nurses give me a bag full.

Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging things as a mother! I'm impressed you pumped and fed for so long -- but understand your reluctance to do so again. Good luck!!!

InkMom said...

I forgot how hard nursing is. This time around, I thought it would be easy because it was last time. Don't get me wrong, it's going like gangbusters now, but it's never easy in the beginning. My sister had to remind me of that early on with this one. I just didn't remember.

So I don't have any great advice -- you've already gotten a ton. I just know that it starts out painful and hard and then it gets easier, and you are a great mom for even giving it a try. So good job! And good luck. Love you!

Eowyn said...

I'm quite late to the party, so I realize this all may be past tense, but here's my two cents.

6 months is better than three months. Three months is better than one month. One month is better than two weeks and two weeks is better than nothing at all.

With my second son I got to the point that he was sucking me dry every hour or two, still screaming for more food and he started to lose weight. My body did not respond to all of his sucking. This went on for a couple of months until I weaned him--cold turkey. (Actually, my sister weaned him but that's an entirely different story.)

I had spent months feeling horrible because I wasn't producing enough milk and being a horrible mother for even thinking of weaning him.

And then we did.

And suddenly all was right in the world again.

Sometimes we get so caught up in what's right for baby that we forget that we also have to do what's right for mom and family as well. And in my case what was right for mom and family, and ultimately him, was to put him on a bottle with soy formula. Everyone was happier.

That was a really long way of saying, do your best. But don't beat yourself up or think you are any less of a mother if, for your sanity and that of your family, you need to stop breastfeeding.

You're already past the two week point. You've already done better for him than you can possibly imagine. I say do what makes your relationship with him the most enjoyable.

Nishant said...

You might try that with just the bottle nipple -- not the actual bottle. Maybe getting nothing from that nipple then something from you would help.
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