Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adventures in nursing

I wanted to take the time to write about my latest venture: breast feeding.

When I was pregnant with Bella, I planned to breast feed. I was so prepared to breast feed that I didn't purchase any bottles. Unfortunately, complications for both Bella and I posed significant road blocks to my master plan. I hemorrhaged after delivering Bella and lost a lot of blood. As a result, I was severely anemic and my body was too weak to produce breast milk. Bella was admitted into the NICU after our initial discharge and I literally had 15-minutes to feed her at each feeding. Add to that a very lethargic newborn and the odds were stacked against us. We decided to supplement with formula until my production improved and Bella's condition improved. I utilized the services of the lactation consultants at the hospital to improve our situation. I thought it was temporary, but I was mistaken. When we were at home, I worked tirelessly to increase my supply but I simply could not keep up with Bella's demand. I tried EVERYTHING: herbal supplements, tea and the list goes on and on. My supply never improved and we continued to supplement. Each day I attempted to nurse Bella, but our nursing sessions would turn into a total meltdown. Bella wouldn't latch and would scream while staring at my boob. I would cry and cry, trying to get her to latch. I turned to pumping and vowed to exclusively pump. Unfortunately my supply continued to diminish and after about 6-weeks of pumping, my supply was gone. We decided to exclusively formula fed Bella. Needless to say, I was beyond disappointed.

When Bella was an infant, I was constantly questioned about why she wasn't breast fed. At first the subject made me VERY uncomfortable and I felt guilty for not breast feeding her. I didn't have confidence in my decision. I was a new mom and I hadn't developed my thick skin yet. Other moms often made comments and I often left situations with tears in my eyes because of the judgment. Eventually my confidence improved and I was able to defend my decision to formula feed Bella. Yes, I said defend... because I was often at odds with other moms because I didn't believe that "breast was best" for us. A turning point for me was meeting other moms who formula fed their children for various reasons. I finally had support and it felt good.

Fast forward to today... I am happy to say that Cecilia is a breast fed baby. My delivery and recovery has been MUCH different than it was with Bella. I didn't hemorrhage and Cecilia didn't require a stay in the NICU. The odds were not stacked against this time. Upon delivery, Cecilia and I had skin-to-skin contact. Within an hour, I was able to nurse Cecilia. Again, I worked with the lactation consultants at the hospital and even hired a private lactation consultant. I surrounded myself with an amazing support system and I will continue to rely on those people. Despite several minor setbacks (nipple soreness, a blocked duct AND mastitis), we have survived 9-days of breast feeding! I was able to overcome these setbacks with the help of the wonderful lactation consultants. They worked with me to troubleshoot the issues and I have been able to work through things. Breast feeding isn't easy and it requires a lot of hard work and determination. Cecilia and I are making this work and I am so very happy. I would be just as happy if Cecilia was formula fed, but the money we're saving makes both Ian and I very happy. I kid, I kid...

Breast or bottle... all that matters is that I love my daughters and I need to make the best decisions for them. I feel confident in the decisions that I have made for both Bella and Cecilia thus far. People will always judge, it's my role as a mother to be confident in my decisions. This time around, I am confident and it feels really good.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

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