Since posting part one of this series on Monday, I've worried about being so open here. I know for some people the things I said are not that big of a deal. But for me, it's like I'm sharing personal details. I am a very private, modest person. Hopefully I haven't been to open and offended anyone. My purpose in sharing is 2 fold....#1--to record these details for my memory sake....and #2--to encourage anyone else that is struggling with breast feeding. If you are interested in catching up with the beginning of this feeding journey you can find it here.
So after the scary report from the pediatrician, we went home and plopped our baby under the lights and a bottle in her mouth.
During this time, I would always attempt to breast feed first, then give her a bottle with part formula/part breast milk, and last to pump. Most feeding sessions were over an hour long. So I might have an hour between sessions if I were lucky!
Thankfully all the hard work paid off and the next day her bilirubin counts were way down. Her pediatrician was impressed with her progress. We were thankful that our baby was on the mend!
Remember the foreshadowing from part one...that nipple confusion wouldn't be a problem? Well as much as I love our pediatrician...that was a lie!
Here's the thing. With a bottle, the baby sucks and gets immediate gratification with a mouth full of milk. With breast feeding, they not only have to work harder but longer to get any milk. Our baby girl decided she liked the immediate gratification route a whole lot better than the working one! Also with a bottle, the nipple feels different in her mouth.
For the next 3 to 4 weeks, we fought the emotional battle...stubborn mom vs. lazy daughter! I would always attempt to breast feed before giving her a bottle. Sometimes she'd last 1 minute but most of the time it was more like 10 seconds. She wanted no part of it.
In the hospital we worked with 2 lactation specialists. Our pediatrician suggested we go and see the one that worked with their practice. Here's the thing with lactation specialists...they are wonderful if mom is struggling. But it was so frustrating to me to hear, "You're technique is great. The baby will eventually catch on." I was ready to throw in the towel, but decided to visit the last lactation consultant that our pediatrician recommended. Now I am so glad we went. She was very helpful and encouraging. She recommended pumping for a few minutes before breast feeding which would make it less work on my lazy baby. She also recommend nipple shields to help with the nipple confusion our baby was dealing with.
I spent the next two weeks using her tips. And they did help. We slowly progressed from 10 second feedings, to one minute, and up to 5 minutes.
After researching, Michael found the breast flow bottle, that is made by first years.
We located them at a nearby baby store, and went and picked up three. While they weren't the immediate answer to our woes, I do give them a lot of credit with helping! In case you are wondering about the advantages, the nipple is smaller than most bottles, and it has a nipple inside of a nipple. This way the baby has to work for the milk. It is very slow flow. Out of all the bottles we have tried this is the one closest to nature.
At about 4 weeks, I gradually stopped pumping before feeding her. I'm sure our new routine would have been pretty funny to watch. I would start with having a bottle ready. While trying to convince her to latch on, I'd be squirting bottle into the side of her mouth. It would work. After nursing, she'd take the rest of the bottle. After about a week of this insane-ness, I was able to drop all the pre-feeding gimmicks.
Now at 6 weeks of age I'm happy to say that our baby is mostly breastfeed. :) I still supplement with formula. Typically she'll get a 2oz bottle once a day. I just follow her hunger cues. I also give her a bottle with as much as she'll take before putting her to bed at night (for obvious selfish reasons!)
Will I ever be able to say is she 100% breastfeed? Probably not. But I'm completely ok with that.
Each feeding is a new adventure for us. Some days I have to work with her more than others to get her to latch on. It's still not a painless process for us.
My feelings toward breast feeding have changed. Now more than ever I'm convinced you have to do what's right for you and your baby. If you breast feed great...if you pump great...if you formula feed great.
Thanks for taking a short ride on this roller coaster with us! Oh and for the record...I'm just a little bit more stubborn than my baby! Bring on potty training....J/K. I'm glad that's still off in the distance!