So I never imagined I will be one of those new age super moms with deep-rooted beliefs in breastfeeding. I always said, I’ll try my best to breastfeed when the baby is born, and I will not hesitate to adopt (ahem) alternative methods aka the big F(ormula) if I did not have enough “supply”.
A few of my friends had c-section births right before mine, and they all complained about how their supply did not come in until after a few days of their babies’ birth. They talked of “latching issues”, “nipple confusion”, “bottle regimen”, “pumping”, yada yada. When the LO arrived, my motherhood instinct arrived as well.. AND with such major force that breastfeeding not only became my goal, it became my challenge. I swore off the formula and had every single nurse and lactation consultant in my maternity ward help me with proper “latching” and get working on my supply. Sure enough my colostrum arrived along with wincing pain from cracked and bleeding nipples that my daughter delightedly ravaged every hour. With gusto, I accepted the pain as a part of my new motherhood journey and smilingly offered the other breast in peace.
All my bravado came crashing down when my LO lost first 6% of her birth weight by day 3 and 9% by day 4. Of course, being well-read and all that I knew it was normal for most breastfed infants to lose 7-10% of their birth weight and regain it by week 2. But the sheer panic with which my lactation nurse complained of the “seriousness” of the situation (they will not discharge the baby unless she is on track) and to work on increasing my supply by pumping after every feeding, I succumbed to my first nemesis — the breast pump. The pediatric nurse warned they will not discharge my daughter unless I can convince them, I could feed her at least 30 ml (~1 oz.) a feed. That afternoon, I pumped an exact 30 ml and heaven knows my husband and I were so excited we brought the whole hospital floor down to witness the “miracle”! We were then sent home.
When I had my first lactation appointment that week, the amazing Debbie (and I will always refer to her that way), RN weighed my little girl, said she was on a positive trend with the weight gain and that I was to STOP pumping IMMEDIATELY! I was happy that the only equipment she needed was mommy and actually went back home feeling pretty smug. And then, I got home, and my daughter who latched beautifully at my lactation appointment, refused to have anything to do with my breast for two full days. The more I pumped the more engorged I got, the more my boobs hurt and the more latching issues I had.
I called..and called (the amazing) Debbie in sheer desperation, almost in tears, that her plan had gone horribly wrong and that I cannot get out of the cycle of pumping and that my LO will have nothing to do with my breast! Debbie instructed me to keep the pump out of my sight, “the pump is your enemy!” and went on to explain that my problem was that I was too full and possibly smothering my daughter, which is possibly why she was refusing to latch on. She suggested that I use a wet towel to hand express first, and when my breasts were a little less fuller, offer it to her mouth while leaning back a little so too much did not flow into her mouth at once. This little tip saved me from writing off breastfeeding forever.
I do not deny, there are times already in the three short (yet monumental) weeks that I have had her in my life, I have questioned my choice to breastfeed exclusively. After my first pediatric visit two days ago, I gave myself a little break, as our pediatrician assured us, we had a tall baby in our hands and despite her percentile weight, she was beautiful and well-nourished..and whatever we are doing is working really well for her. I now keep formula as back-up plan for when we have to step out and pump as necessary to put my mind and breasts in ease. I cannot also deny how beautiful my daughter looks when she lays latched to my breast in a complete state of mental and physical well-being, and how the image of every tiny part of her body — her fluttering lashes, her little upturned nose, pink cheeks, the softness of her feet, and beautiful long fingers, will forever be etched on my mind.