I knew I wanted to breastfeed from the beginning of my pregnancy. I read quite a few studies that talk about the benefits of breast milk for babies, not to mention all the feedback and advice I’ve gotten from the moms around me. If I could, I really wanted to provide Isabella with my milk.
My breastfeeding journey began at the hospital almost immediately after delivery. You’ll recall from my birth story after Isabella was born, she laid on my chest for skin-to-skin bonding. My OB suggested that I try breastfeeding right away. My labor nurse was there to help. Though I wasn’t yet producing milk, I was able to feed her some colostrum topped off with 25ml of formula.
Later that morning (after hubs and I got some much needed rest), our baby nurse brought Isabella to our room and I was able to give breastfeeding another try. I did have some difficulty in finding a position that was comfortable for both me and baby. Because of the carpatunnel that is now affecting both of my wrists, certain hand movements are really painful. With that being said, the “football position” wasn’t working for me. I felt a lot more comfortable with us facing and our bellies touching one another’s. Once we were comfortable (and it wasn’t too painful for my hands), we worked on getting her to latch on properly. She wasn’t able to in the beginning and would scream the entire time or fall asleep. This left me feeling so frustrated and defeated, I cried many times. Thank God for an extremely supportive nursing staff that always gave words of encouragement and lent helping hands when needed. One nurse gave me a Madela nipple shields to help. She showed me how to use the shield and would pour a little droplets of formula on it to entice Isabella to latch on, which helped a tremendous amount.
Two days after we brought Isabella home, we visited the pediatrician for her check-up where they also measured and weighed her. The hospital was nice enough to send us home with a few bottles of formula because I hadn’t produced breast milk yet or enough colostrum to satisfy her since she was getting full feeds there.
At her one week appointment with the pediatrician, (who used to be my pediatrician years ago) he said she looked great and had only lost a few ounces since her first visit with him, which is totally normal. He asked me how breastfeeding was going. I still wasn’t producing any breast milk or enough colostrum, that left me feeling like something was wrong with me why I couldn’t feed my baby. He encouraged me to bring her to the breast as much as possible as well as continue to pump and top off with formula as needed.
It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve given birth and my milk still hasn’t come in. I’m continuing to pump, which I’ll admit, isn’t as often as I probably should. It’s really hard to keep confident when I’m not seeing much of a change. I did, however, see some progress this past weekend. I noticed that I’m producing more colostrum. It’s still not enough to satisfy baby girl’s appetite on its own, but it’s a step in the right direction. She’s latching on better and not screaming as much when I try to breastfeed her.
She’s already trying to be independent by holding the bottle on her own.
We recently had her two week appointment with her pediatrician. She’s gained a few ounces, surpassing her birth weight. She’s now weighing 8 lbs 9 ounces. I’m not using the shield very much anymore. For now, I only pull it out if I notice she’s having issues staying latched on. She also has the amount of wet and dirty diapers recommended per day which makes me feel that she is getting the nutrients she needs. I mostly bottle-feed her formula, but I try to bring her to the breast first. She typically gets 3 ounces of formula about every 3 hours each day. Lately I’ve been giving her between 3.5 to 4 ounces of formula with a tbspn of rice cereal around 11pm to help tie her over and allows her to sleep throughout the night. At night, she can go 4-5 hours without waking and I let her sleep at night and only feed her when she wakes, as recommended by our pediatrician.
My goal is to be able to breastfeed her and pump when I return to work. I’m using Medela’s Pump in Style Advanced and LOVE it! I don’t mind supplementing with formula—whatever will make her happy and healthy is all I care about. I hope I can accomplish this goal, but I’m going to try not to beat myself up if it doesn’t work out either.
I’ve also been fortunate to have a husband who really supports me when it comes to breastfeeding. Frank has been so encouraging about nursing, especially when I was down on myself and worried that it wasn’t going to work out. Having a supportive partner makes a BIG difference. I love that he enjoys bonding with her especially during feeding time. We are also fortunate that she takes bottles. She doesn’t have a preference—we use Medela and Dr Brown’s bottles, so that makes things easier.
I will continue to post updates about breastfeeding as we continue our journey. Thank you for reading and feel free to share with me your breastfeeding journey in the comments below! And remember, every mother needs to do what is best for her baby and family. Whether you choose to breastfeed, pump and/or formula feed your baby, all that matters is that you are feeding your baby and giving him or her what they need.