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My Breastfeeding Story

J's tight frenulum

Hello everyone, My name is Stacy. I had my first baby in April, 2001 at the age of 32. I had wanted a natural, drug-free childbirth, and ended up having an emergency c-section. This left me with feelings of inadequacy and terrible baby blues, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. J was born, as I said, by emergency c-section, nearly three weeks early. She latched right on and I thought she was nursing well, but it turned out that she just couldn’t get milk out even though we were both doing everything right. Well, at one week old, she had lost over a pound and was hospitalized for jaundice (bili level 19) and dehydration. Instead of sending us home with the bili lights, our anti-breastfeeding pediatrician kept us there until I started giving her formula. This, coupled with the stress of another week in the hospital and the financial burden of a second hospital copay, caused my supply to drop drastically. The pediatrician told me that my baby wasn't thriving on my milk, which led me to believe there was something wrong with my milk and even more feelings of inadequacy. She never even tried to address any breastfeeding issues, just pushed formula on me like some sort of drug dealer. She accused me of starving my baby and threatened hospitalization if I didn't start giving her more formula when DD had *one week* of low weight gain at one month of age. Not weight loss, mind you - low gain. So I gave her formula, which hurt my supply, so I gave her even more formula - I'm sure you have heard about this vicious cycle.

I found a new doctor, and started seeing a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), who recommended renting a Medela Lactina breastpump and giving her as much MM as I possibly could. The LC also told me that J had a tight frenulum (tongue-tie) and a very small mouth, which she thought was the problem. Though, I could find no doctor who would clip her frenulum. We tried finger feeding, cup feeding, supplementing at the breast, you name it! Nothing worked. She still wanted the breast, but just for comfort. She seemed to try so hard to nurse, but just couldn't get anything out. I was doing the triple feeding thing - nursing, supplementing, pumping. By the time I finished pumping, it was time to feed her again! I was really worn out. Never in my life have I ever worked so hard! At first, I was only pumping maybe an ounce from both breasts combined. Pumping more often didn't really help my supply, but I found that pumping longer each session did. Finally, I did get enough supply to drop all the formula supplements and J was only getting breastmilk. But I was still triple feeding her and really needed a break and some sleep and... I decided to just pump full time and give her bottles. At least she was getting my milk. Since she'd get so cranky if she didn't get any boob time, I still put her to the breast a couple times each day, and hoped someday she would be able to nurse. I really hated pumping, and it was still taking up so much of my time. I had to pump, then bottle feed, then clean the pump parts and the bottles and nipples.... Then, finally, at three months, J had a major growth spurt and was magically able to nurse! You have no idea what a relief it was when she continued gaining weight after I quit supplementing.

Breastfeeding wasn't so easy as I thought it would be at first, but after it started working out, it became even easier than I had ever imagined. If you are determined to make it work, don't let anyone stop you. My daughter was physically unable to nurse at first, but I didn’t let that stop me. Everyone thought I was crazy to keep trying so hard for so long. Nursing my baby has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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