Franklin Goose employee Carrie shares her experiences with breastfeeding in honor of World Breastfeeding Week.
In honor of World
Breastfeeding Week, Sheri asked me to share my experience with
breastfeeding. It has not been easy and I would never tell anyone that nursing
a baby is an easy feat. However, I do tell people that it is, by far, the most
rewarding thing I have ever done. We (baby and I) have had lots issues and it
has been extremely stressful; she (baby) wasn’t gaining weight, I decreased my
own supply, we had latch issues, and now I have low supply. Without the support
of my husband, mom, and a very old friend, I would have given up months ago.
I did not have my daughter in a hospital: we went to the (now closed) Complete Care Birthing Center in Richmond, VA, and so I didn’t get to see a lactation consultant after her birth. My midwife and the nurse tried to teach me what to do, but for some reason I just didn’t get it. Virginia (my daughter) didn’t lose a full pound after birth, but it took her a good three weeks to get back to her birth weight. I was feeding her on one side for 30-45 minutes at a time for each feeding; I didn’t know that I was supposed to offer each breast every time I nursed her. This caused my milk to come in very late and decreased my milk supply right from the beginning. All of this was very discouraging and I felt terrible for not knowing and not feeding my baby enough.
We had multiple weight checks in the beginning; we didn’t get to see our pediatrician for one of the visits and the new doctor made me cry. Nobody really, ever makes me cry; I’m not a crier. But, she was so negative: she talked down to me, and was just flat out rude! She told me, “You are giving her enough to keep her hydrated, but there is no way she will grow.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! She told me that some women just don’t make enough milk for their babies, that I needed to give her formula, that there was no need to continue breastfeeding, etc. Then, like that wasn’t enough, she bashed me for co-sleeping and holding my baby too much. Needless to say, I left there feeling defeated and like a terrible mother. Thankfully, I saw an amazing lactation consultant, and she helped me increase my supply and become the “dairy cow” that my daughter needed. It was awesome to see Virginia’s milk drunk face after her first real meal! I was so happy that my milk was in and there and she was getting full.
This lasted for a few months and things were going great! I decided it was time for me to start running again and get my pre-pregnancy body back! Horrible idea! After running for about two weeks, I noticed Virginia getting fussier and nursing every 45 minutes to an hour. I thought it was a growth spurt. We had another appointment soon, so I figured I would just talk to the doctor about it then. The day came to go to the doctor, they weighed her, and she only gained 6 oz in one month…not good. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t gaining weight! I thought she looked fine. She was even ahead of her developmental milestones—people always commented on how alert and social she was. She didn’t seem hungry; I, once again, was feeling defeated. Our doctor gave us a month to get her chunky or we would have to start looking in to her heath more. With the threat of having to see a Gastrointestinal doctor looming over my head, we went back to see a lactation consultant. We weighed Virginia after I fed her; she had only transferred 2 oz from me. On one hand I was disappointed that it was my fault (again), but on the other hand I was glad to know that it was my supply and that nothing was wrong with her.
Now I was forced to supplement after nursing her, all while trying to increase my own supply. My husband found the Facebook page for Human Milk 4 Human Babies and we posted that we were in search of some milk to help our daughter gain some weight. Within a week we had three women come forward offering their frozen milk to us. I was so incredibly moved by their generosity, I still get a little choked up when I think about it. I know how hard it is to make milk and I couldn’t imagine just giving it away! After a week of supplementing she had gained 8 oz! I had a long chat with an old friend of mine that gave me a wonderful pep talk to keep me going; not that the support from my husband and mother weren’t enough, but sometimes you just need another breastfeeding mama to give you that extra boost. She made me feel so much better about my decision to supplement and use donor milk and that I was doing the right thing by continuing to breastfeed.
My venture in increasing my supply has been tricky; I am taking fenugreek, eating “lactation” cookies, drinking tons of water and lactation tea, and no longer exercising as much as I was. Things are slowly getting better, but I have a feeling this is going to be a constant uphill battle for us. In the end, the struggle on my end is totally worth it. I know that breast milk is what my daughter needs and I know that the bond we have created because of breastfeeding will be treasured for a very long time. So, I think the thing that I want all mamas to take away from this is: don’t give up, it’s hard, but totally worth it!