Thursday, October 15, 2009
Posted by Hilda
Any men out there who start to read this, gag and want to skip this article, if there is a woman in your life who might get pregnant and deliver a child she intends to nurse, I'd try to at least get halfway through it. I promise I won't get graphic.
The timeline from then on went basically like this:
Day 4 - Morning: Community midwife comes to the house as part of the National Health Service. First helpful with tips to improve latching position and keep baby awake during a feed, but also thinks baby looks very jaundiced and even though the hospital pediatrician has declared her to be fine, I become extremely anxious.
Day 4 - Afternoon: Our pediatrician checks baby over thoroughly and plots out her bilirubin level on a special hospital jaundice chart so we can see that she's fine. He declares her to be in very good health. Says to put her in sunlight for the jaundice.
I'd been told that it would take 6 weeks to establish the nursing completely, but I'd also been told that I seemed to be a natural at it and that I had the latching down properly somehow from the beginning, the main issue was that I had this baby who just couldn't last more than a few minutes into a feed without falling asleep and I was having a great deal of difficulty keeping her awake long enough to eat.
Day 8: I've developed an infection and must urgently return to the hospital, nursing baby in tow.
Day 9: I have an operation under general anesthesia which makes me drowsy and sick to my stomach. I am exhausted and have a hard time waking regularly to feed a baby I can't wake to eat and who won't stay awake through a 45mn feed. Am convinced my supply is not going to get established and my fatigue only augurs bad things when I'll get home. Am hysterical on the phone to my sister about the baby not putting on enough weight and my supply dwindling. Am sent home with more painkillers and antibiotics.
Day 11: Midwife visit, I am advised to really supplement more with formula as she is not gaining enough weight, and by then am a complete mess. Tired, in pain, with an adorable baby who seems fine and alert when awake but who is asleep when the midwife visits and isn't gaining weight quickly enough. Try to pump to increase my low supply. I supplement grudgingly, feeling excessive guilt even though I know very well that it would be fine if I ended up not nursing and giving her formula, after all I was a formula-fed baby. No matter how much coaxing we do or what we try, she takes almost no supplemental formula.
Day 17: The health visitor, a person who basically checks in on the family from a child's birth until he/she is 5, comes by and I see my first glimpse of hope. She says that though she has no empirical evidence to support her thoughts, her experience is that in cases such as mine, as soon as the new mother stops taking the painkillers, the milk supply increases dramatically and the baby gains weight very well. I'd taken my last pill that morning and wait to see what might happen over the next couple of days.
Day 19: Even though I can't measure it, I know my supply has increased and baby is starting to wake up to the world, clearly the painkillers were not helping in this whole debacle.
Over the next few weeks, I had to sort through a number of other hiccups in the process (biting, soreness until I thought I couldn't possibly get through one more feed) until by about 6-8 weeks in, just as predicted, and in spite of everyone saying it would take me less time because I seemed to be doing well the first couple of days in the hospital (even though I wasn't), I'd figured out 95% of the problems and was nursing her fairly comfortably. I'm still nursing her now as she discovers solid foods.
I often thought about just giving up, especially since we'd found a brand of formula that she actually seemed to like when we first had to supplement her, the point being that it was only perseverance and the will to nurse her that got me through. During those first three weeks in particular, and still fairly often until she was about 2 months old, I never thought I'd make it this long or that the pediatrician would ever say that she looked wonderful and could be an advertisement for nursing.
I know this has been a long post, but I wanted to share that, just in case one would-be mom reads it and it makes a difference. Experiences like nursing that are very personal can make one feel very guilty or inadequate when they don't go well and it becomes hard to share, so if this helps even one woman out there, it's worth putting the rest of you to sleep.
This post was written by Hilda
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