Booby Traps

I recently came across an article through Best For Babies that really spoke to me.
It talked about the "Booby Traps" or roadblock that almost every new mom faces if she decides to breastfeed. A lot of them are things you wouldnt even think would affect your feeding choices, for example whether or not your mom or friends breastfed, but these seemingly minor details can have profound effect on you if you are already doubting yourself even a little bit.
And lets face it, we all doubt ourselves even under the best of circumstances, and becoming a mother, with all of the responsibilities involved with it, can be one of our most vulnerable times.
If you've been reading this blog for a while you know I am very pro breastfeeding, and while I know its not possible or even desirable for every mom to breastfeed, I really do beleive that a lot of women who do want to breastfeed are given road-blocks every step of the way.
For me, breastfeeding my daughter until she was 13 months old is a huge accomplishment. I loved doing it, and there was never a doubt in my mind that i wouldn't do everything in my power to continue our relationship as long as it was mutually beneficial, but at the beginning especially, there were a lot of people and situations that made it a lot more difficult than it had to be.
There were two in particular from the article that I could especially relate to;
You’ve taken a childbirth preparation class, and think you are ready, but breastfeeding got only an hour tacked on at the end, or you took a hospital breastfeeding class but, that unbeknownst to you, included myths and misinformation and was given at a hospital that does not have a good track record for breastfeeding continuation (ask how many moms leave the hospital exclusively breastfeeding if you really want to know how committed they are).
During my hospital registration and hospital stay, it was drilled into me that my hospital was pro-breastfeeding, but I found this to be the opposite of the truth. I was told before going in for my C-section that I would be able to breastfeed in the recovery room. After two and a half hours of waiting I finally asked the nurse when I would be able to hold my baby and breastfeed her, and I was told I had to wait until I got a room because they wouldn't be able to transport me with the baby in my bed.
I had my husband bring her to me anyway and I fed my child for the first time under the unapproving looks of he nurse. Once I got her though, I didn't want to let go, and the porter never even batted an eye about taking me to my room as I held my daughter.
The second obstacle I faced was when the weighed my daughter, she was born at 6 lbs 11 oz and by the second day she had dropped to six lbs. The nurses started talking about supplementing her with formula. I asked to speak with the lactation consultant on staff before I did that and was told I would have to wait, possibly until the next morning.
Luckily I had packed the contact information of a lactation clinic that i had already decided to use for my follow up care. I called them and explained the situation. They told me that it was in my best interests to supplement with the formula, but to use a tube attached to my nipple to do so.
I had learned about this technique through my prenatal classes and was comfortable trying it. When the nurse came back though, I asked her if the hospital supplied the tubes, she had never even heard of them. I asked a second nurse and she told me that the tubes were impossible to clean, difficult to use and very uncomfortable.
This went against what I had read about them before, and so I sent my husband in search of one figuring one of the twenty plus stores in the hospital would have it, but no luck. In fact the only breastfeeding supplies he could find i any of the stores were pumps and they only carried one type from one brand .I couldn't beleive it, you could buy everything from a christmas tree to a coffee mug to a welcome mat, but nowhere carried breastfeeding supplies.
In the end we ended up having to use the bottle provided by the hospital. I figured supplementing for one night wouldn't hurt, and the next day after we were released we could track down a tube.
I was so mistaken, after the very first bottle my daughters latch changed, after the second it was as if she had forgotten how. Even though we were breastfeeding at every feeding
(feeding for twenty minutes per side, then pumping for twenty minutes per side, repeated every two hours) the bottle was completely undermining our efforts.
I was so stressed out and I didnt know what to do, on one hand Sophia needed the formula in order to gain weight. The words failure to thrive were already being whispered by my nurses and threats were being made about keeping her in the hospital. On the other hand the bottle was destroying her ability to latch. Even worse, we still hadn't seen nor heard from the LC.
Luckily, we were released the next morning and were able to see the lactation clinic of our choice that afternoon. The difference between the hospital and the clinic was night and day. They listened to my concerns, they watched me feed her, weighed her before and after and concluded that she was getting milk. They showed me how to hold her chin so she would latch properly, provided us with a feeding tube and most importantly gave us the confidence that we could reverse the damage done by the bottle.
Now this was pro-breastfeeding.
They also told us that Sophias weight at birth had probably not been a true weight. I had had an extended labor before the C-section. For almost forty eight hours I had been hooked up to steady stream of pitocin, antibiotics, and fluids. According to our Dr at the lactation clinic, most babies born after similar labors lose more than 10% of their body weight when they lose the excess fluid from the labor. I was shocked, this hadn't even been brought up in the hospital.
They told me that it was up to me if I wanted to continue supplementing or not, but they recommended that i did just in case. I went with their recommendation and they taught me how to tube feed her the formula, they also told me that i only needed to supplement an ounce a feeding, and as I was able to pump more and more I would need less formula.
Happily, after almost a week of breastfeeding and pumping every two hours around the clock, as well as daily visits and weigh ins at the clinic, my milk was in enough that we were able to stop supplementing, and within two weeks, she was above her birth weight.
I am so glad that I had been proactive about choosing a lactation clinic, they were immeasurable helpful to me in the first few days and weeks. Had I relied on my "pro-breastfeeding" hospital to guide me through, I doubt I would have made it.

Your pediatrician charts your baby’s weight against formula-fed babies and thinks she/he is undernourished, undermining your confidence and self-esteem. Compared against breastfed babies, your baby is healthy and thriving, but your pediatrician doesn’t know that breastfed babies have different growth patterns so he recommends you supplement with formula.

My dr. was constantly telling me that Sophia was underweight, or gaining too slowly. She was consistently in the tenth percentile according to his charts. Luckily I knew that Breastfed babies grow at different rates than formula fed babies according to the WHO. I followed the chart on KellyMom and never worried about her growth.

It can be hard to know who to trust when everyone is giving you conflicting information. The best thing you can do for yourself and your child, is to educate yourself in advance of giving birth, on the choices you have. Talk to your friends and relatives that have breastfed and find a lactation clinic in your area before you give birth. Ask questions, and dont be afraid to question any information given to you. Demand second opinions.

But most of all, trust your instincts, dont let anybody make you doubt a decision you made in the best interests of you or your family. Always remember that you are the expert on your child.

Click here to read the rest of the Booby Trap Article at BestForBabies.com

This is one of may all time favorite photos from the first few days after having Sophia. I loved feeding her, and she loved to eat, actually she still does to this day.



3 comments:

  1. I can relate to so many of the obstacles you found, except that I had not done the proper prepwork. I wanted to keep my pregnancy as "low stress" as possible and knew that I would drive myself crazy with all of the researching I knew I was likely to do. I figured that women had been BFing for thousands of years - how hard could it be, right?

    I didn't have any relatives who BFed, my MW, LC and public health nurse were all giving me conflicting information. All of these people that I trusted. And then there was the research... I just about gave myself a nervous breakdown! I was so OVER breastfeeding.

    Thankfully (even though I listened to him begrudgingly) DH gently suggested that I stick it out for a while, that I wasn't just giving up over small roadbumps and to wait and see if it really just wasn't working out.

    Little Squeak will be 6 weeks on Monday, and we've only recently begun to hit our stride.

    So yeah, I can definitely relate. Thank you for writing this out!

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  2. I just wanted to say Congrats to you Jstar, for making it through the first, and in my experience, hardest part of your breastfeeding relationship.

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  3. I identify with so much of your post. My daughter was born on a Tuesday afternoon, 8 pounds 10 ounces, a far cry from the 7 pounder I was supposed to have if she was big! I had a "normal" epi free L&D. By Thursday when we were supposed to be discharged she was 7#14. Cue ominous music, she lost 10.1% of her birth weight. They let me go but kept her. They were kind enough to give me a courtesy room. Well it was on a different floor and they wouldn't let my daughter leave the ward.

    We were devastated. We asked to take her home with us. She was nursing like a champ, meconium was done before she was a day old and she had loads of wet and dirty diapers. All signs of successful nursing. They brought me a pump, I got a half ounce of colostrum. We were good, I knew we were. Nope, baby can't leave.

    The overnight nurses made me feel like crap. We hid in a little room with a couch only returning to the nursery every two hours to feed like clockwork as they wanted before and after weights. At 1am, she only ate for 5 minutes and she only gained 5 grams. The HCA that did her weight made me feel horrible and told me not to expect them to discharge my little girl. Well, maybe if I would just suck it up and give her formula. I flat out refused.

    Her morning feedings went amazing and she gained the 20-30 grams per feeding that they wanted and by noon we went home a family of three.

    I found out later that it's also common for a baby's weight to be slightly inflated when the mother receives any sort of IV fluids during labour. I did have a bag of saline at one point so if that pushed her birth weight up even an ounce or two from what it "should" have been, she would have never lost the magical 10%.

    Best of luck with nursing your new precious daughter!

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