My baby girl Zoe was born to be a breastfed baby! She immediately latched on correctly and my heart soared. All of my preparation had paid off! For this pregnancy I came to to hospital with two different teas to build milk and nine months of preparation. I had even talked to two lactation consultations prior to my daughter being born. Being able to nurse her was one of the things I looked most forward to in parenting her as an infant. So many of my friends described it as a favorite memory of theirs with the sweet bonding and special relationship.
Nurses and lactation consultants watched me nurse and everyone said we were doing great. They remarked that she had a good latch and could hear her swallowing. On day two a nurse said because the night before the baby had cried a lot, she worried that blood sugar was low. She checked it and it was fine, however. That night a second nurse had the same suspicion that the baby wasn’t getting enough milk. Remember, little one hasn’t even been in the world for 24 hours! She said that she thought that the baby wasn’t getting enough milk because she was fussy. The nurse insisted that I stop nursing so much, saying I was wearing the baby out. Of course, the lactations consultants and EVERY other professional I’ve ever read or spoken to has encouraged frequent skin to skin contact. A few hours later the nurse came in with a pump and said, “Show me you are producing enough milk. I want to see how much you are producing. I don’t think you are producing enough”. I told her about the blood sugar being taken and that the levels were fine. She didn’t care. I told her that lactation told me that babies need a very small amount of colostrum the first 24 hours. She didn’t care. I told her that many women can’t produce milk through a pump but that the babies are more efficient and drawing the colostrum out. She told me I was wrong. I started crying. I was crying because I felt more knowledgeable about her on this subject based on the errors she was making and felt like she was going to ruin my breastfeeding success.
She forced me into pumping and I couldn’t produce anything. The question is…how much is due to stress after the things she had said to me? Remember the baby’s blood sugar had been fine and lactation said the baby was eating just fine. She told me that I must give the baby formula. She said and I quote, “There comes a point where you need to think about her and not yourself”. I became very upset and with a tear running down my face told her, “If I was just thinking about myself I’d shove a bottle in her mouth and get it over to get some sleep. I’m doing this for her!”. She went on to say, “If you don’t give her formula then I’ll have to make a failure to thrive referral”. Having worked in social services for several years, this scared me to death! It hadn’t been 24 hours! It felt like a nightmare. My mind started spinning thinking about my baby being taken from me, being accused of starving my child, of being an unjust mother. I immediately said I would give her formula and as much as she wanted me to give my child.
I asked her for an alternative feeding method. She said she had never heard of any. I told her about the supplemental feeding system and she said, “I’m a NICU nurse most of the time and I’ve never heard of anything like that. It doesn’t exist”. I told her that it does and that it is all over blogs and breastfeeding material. She said that she thinks there might be some feeding cups somewhere if I wanted them. I told her that I definitely did. She never brought me one…ever. Also, during this time, I had asked her not to use a pacifer. She insisted on using a pacifer. I told her about nipple confusion. She said that was nonsense from lactation consultatants and proceeded to plop it in my babies mouth. Do you know what it is like to specifically ask someone not to do something and to sit there crying as they do it anyways? I cried for three hours straight because I felt like I had no control over my baby and that they were going to mess up the start of my breastfeeding success. I may have been right…Remember, this was the first 24 hours.
I, at 6 weeks, still am not producing enough milk to breastfeed exclusively. The nurse may have been right. Perhaps, I am just not able to produce enough milk but the way she handled the situation was wrong…I can’t help but think it is entirely HER FAULT however. Lactation said the baby was doing fine and I agreed. However, after that she had me so unbelievably stressed.
Since then I’ve been giving my little one formula. I tried limiting the amount and she lost weight. So…for now I breastfeed first, then give 3 ounces of formula or pumped milk, and then pump. I feel that my body has betrayed me. It hates me. I have endometriosis which is supposed to make getting pregnant difficult. I have a bicornuate uterus which increases my chance of having miscarriages and premature birth. I haven’t been able to breastfeed either of my children. Now, there is the possibility I have PCOS. I have experienced great morning sickness with both of my pregnancies, throwing up for seven months with the second one. I swelled with both children to the point I couldn’t wear any shoes except for flip flops. With the second pregnancy I had excruciating (really it was. Way worse than c-section pain) pelvic pain. I had to have a c-section with both children due to body anatonmy. The list goes on but I’m getting bored and more frustrated naming all of the problems with myself! I am angry that my body is not cooperating with my dreams of motherhood. Anyway, though the nurse upset me but I do think there is something wrong with me. My breasts didn’t change either pregnancy and I never leaked colostrum. So I’m writing this post for two reasons 1) In great hopes that a woman with a similiar story can direct me with what to do and help me find the “magic cure” I’ve been looking for and 2) to help women out there in similiar situations.