I Flunked Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding New Mom

I Flunked Breastfeeding

By Shannon Norwood
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Ok, So Maybe I Got a D in Breastfeeding –

I studied really hard before the big day! I read the freaking books, I bought the stupid pump, I even bought those little nursing pads! I was going to do whatever it took to give my little bambina milk from the boob.

Well, that was until I realized breastfeeding was no walk with your baby in the park! I wrote out my birth plan, and was going to tell the nurses to hand baby over to me right away, so I could do what the books said, and do skin-to-skin until she just magically latched. Baby G, must have been playing games with the her umbilical cord, because that thing was all tied up around her neck, and they whisked her away to the baby cooker/oven for about 15 minutes until they got her breathing. This blew my chance of having immediate contact with my chick! Birth plans sometimes have other plans, and when its your baby’s life, you won’t think twice about going a different direction.

Once I finally got my peanut in my arms, the last thing I wanted to do was learn how to teach my baby to feed off of me. I could hardly hold my head up because of pure exhaustion. My babe was taken after 20 minutes because of Strep B, and we were not reunited until 6 hours later. This is where my real BF journey begins.

Latching or Lack Thereof

Once you can figure out how to get baby onto your nipple, its smooth sailing for awhile. However, if you have flat or inverted nipples (soon-to-be mamas are currently feeling themselves up to check their nips), this is going to present a challenge for you and baby. Several nurses inspected my nipples, and declared, “Yup, you’ve got the flat kind! Next, without even buying me a drink, they tugged and yanked at my flat nipples to get them to come out, thats when they decided to bring in reinforcements! Enter the “Faux nipple” AKA “The Shield”. This device is basically a fake nipple that you stick on your real nipple, so that baby can get a better latch. Now, I have to give my girl credit, she could latch just fine, and I’m sure if we brought a stunt double Mama with “not so flat” nipples, she would have rocked it!  The shield was my BFF for a hot second, and then Baby G began losing the weight. DUN, DUN, DUN…


Here’s the deal: Your child has got to eat! They shouldn’t be losing weight, which they will in the first couple days, but after that your baby should be gaining, and quickly gaining. If you bring baby in to their first doc appointment and they are not gaining weight, the doc is going to begin pushing formula.  They want you to BF, they really do, but if baby isn’t packing on the pounds, then doc is gonna step in with some samples and push that shit! I begged the Doc not to make me give my baby formula, and I got away with this song and dance for a whole week after Baby G’s first doctor visit. No binkys, no bottles, and no formula, just straight up boob (and my trusty faux nipple). All I had to do was bring my little one in for some weight checks. I was feeling extra confident when the lactation consultant dropped by, and told me that G was doing just fine! I was even pumping enough milk to feed baby a bottle if I wanted to. Sweeet! I’ve got reserves! I thought I was in the clear, FO sure FO sure!

By the time week 2 rolled around, my baby was slowy looking more and more like a premie. I had the lac lady come over for one more visit, and it was pretty clear that something had to be done. My chick was about a pound lighter. In baby world, that ain’t nothing to brag about! When I went in to see my doc, she got down in her “Doc rolling chair”, and slide over eye level to me. “ITS TIME FOR FORMULA!” At this point, I couldn’t argue. My new pride and joy looked pathetic in my husband’s arms. It was time! I did get my way a little, because the doc said I could continue giving her the boob, but that I had to feed her formula or pumped breast milk after. This way we would be sure that she was getting food in her shrinking little belly. I continued with the following schedule. Brace yourselves, its all kinds of cray!

  • Feed 1: Put baby on left breast for 15 minutes, Right breast for 15 minutes.  Feed Baby 2 ounces of Breast Milk, 1 ounce of formula (not combined) Then pump for 30 to create milk for the next feed.
  • Feed 2: Repeat
  • Feed 3: Repeat
  • Feed 4:Repeat
  • Feed 5: Repeat
  • Feed 6: Repeat
  • Feed 7: Repeat
  • Feed 8: Repeat

I did this for a month, and when I went in for baby G’s 1 month check up, my fabulous Ped, pulled her “Doc rolling chair” over, and got real close AGAIN. “You have to stop this! Your baby is not gaining enough weight because you are running her on a treadmill (your boobs) for 30 minutes every feed. You can pump as much as you like, but that baby is not to go on your boobs anymore, until I see some serious weight gain!”

I cried, and then I listened, and then I began this schedule:

  • Feed 1: Bottle of pumped milk, bottle of formula, then pump for 30 to create milk for the next feed
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat

After 2 months I finally began pumping less, and eventually STOPPED this insanity all together. My life had become all about milk! I was only ever able to pump 3 ounces at my best pump. Which is small potatoes for a hungry baby, especially one who is trying to catch up. I had two problems on my hands, baby wasn’t able to transfer enough milk, and I wasn’t making enough milk.

I tell you my personal story not to convince you one way or the other. If I would have given her formula earlier, I would have had more sleep because I wouldn’t have been pumping after every feed. I would have had more precious time with my newborn. I missed SO much because I was trying SO hard to make it work. Now, if you want to go to great lengths to make this work, then DO IT! Breast milk is AMAZEBALLS for your kiddo, and you are AMAZEBALLS if you try!

  • Call a lactation consultant.  They are FAB!  They will teach you SO much.
  • Buy a scale and weigh your baby (naked) before and after feeds to see how much they are getting
  • Take Fenugreek  (Supposed to increase milk supply)
  • Drink Mother Milk Tea
  • Use a shield for your nipple for a better latch
  • Use nipple shells to draw out your nips
  • Milk Makers Cookies
  • Rent a hospital grade pump
  • Pumping power hour=hook up to the pump for an hour, and turn the pump on for 10, off for 5.  Could increase milk supply
  • If your nipples hurt your doc can prescribe a steroid type prescription that can be turned into cream by some pharmacies.
  • If you have blocked ducts, be sure to massage the little balls in your boob after every feed
  • Ice for pain
  • Heat for pain
  • Neosporin, Lanolin or Nipple Butter for the nips
  • To cut down on the pumping and bottle feeding process.  Put a blanket on top of the boppy, and strap on to the pump (Hands free bra).  Set baby in the boppy, and bottle feed while pumping.  Then you don’t have to pump after you bottle feed baby.
  • Eat more, sleep more! Don’t stress! Lack of sleep and food can decrease milk supply. Increased stress can too.

No matter what you choose to do, just remember you are a Great Mama!!

The Other F Word

I Packed Up the Pump – For Both of Us

Formula Gear Feeding Basics

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