Monday, March 14, 2016

Breastfeeding: It Ain't Easy!

             Hey folks! I felt like sharing my breastfeeding struggles today for two reasons: 1) To vent, because this is my blog. Hear me roar. ;) and 2) In hopes that other new moms out there who might be struggling come across this post and know they're not alone. While I definitely don't think we should go around telling a bunch of horror stories to expecting or new moms who are considering breastfeeding and potentially scare them away from even trying, but I feel like there is this common misconception that breastfeeding is easy just because it's natural. I, and many other mothers out there, beg to differ. Here's our story thus far...

             I guess it started with Ripley's two week check-up. She still (supposedly) wasn't gaining weight quite as fast as she “should” have been, so the doctor suggested seeing the in-office lactation consultant. I wasn't so much worried about her weight since she was still gaining and was and still is in the 50th percentile for both height and weight, but I thought it might be a good idea since it hurt like hell to nurse her on my left side. Even for being the first time that I had breastfed exclusively, I knew it wasn't supposed to still hurt that bad. And so the lactation consultant appointments started.
             Normally I absolutely loathe going to the doctor, but “Kathy”, our LC, has been great. She has been super helpful. I like that she actually takes plenty of time for her appointments and even sends helpful email links for how to build your supply, info on tongue ties, etc. Speaking of tongue ties...
             She's the one who noticed that Ripley has a tongue tie. So, since nothing else was really working as far as different positions, working on her latch, and whatnot to make nursing hurt less, I decided to have it revised by one of the doctors in the main office she works at. No one pressured me by any means to have it done, but I originally didn't want to have it done...until I talked to several people who also had their children's done and they said how helpful it was.
             So, we had it done (she was actually the first baby he had performed it on after receiving his training!)...and there wasn't much noticeable improvement right away. Although I told myself beforehand not to expect a miracle right away, I couldn't help but feel disheartened. Especially since a friend of mine had her baby's done a week before and said it was better instantly as far as the pain went and her emptying her breasts a lot faster.
             Since it was suggested and our insurance covers it, we started physical therapy the following week. It's supposed to help loosen muscles that she may have been overcompensating with and hopefully help her nurse more effectively. We were also given “exercises” (stretches) to do with her at home as well. I have to say, the physically therapy seems to be helping a lot more than the actual tongue and lip tie procedure. (If you're not familiar with what this is, they snip the frenulum under the tongue and between the upper gums and top lip.)
             While it's still not perfect, I no longer dread breastfeeding Ripley. I don't scream and curse when she latches on to my left breast, but, again, it's still not comfortable by any means. She does seem to be improving as far as how long it takes her to finish too. Before she would usually take an hour altogether, by which point she would still be hungry again a short time later. She seems to be staying sated for longer, thank God. I was starting to go a little insane. Actually, I started supplementing with formula around the time she was 3 weeks old because it was to the point I dreaded feeding her and was crying almost every time from frustration over it all.
             Speaking of formula, that's a whole other can of worms, kind of. I'm really trying to wean her off of it altogether. I've been doing what the lactation consultant suggested and nurse her from both sides each time and only supplement after if she still acts hungry. Before I was giving her 2-3 four ounce bottles of formula a day and giving each in one sitting instead of just a little bit here and there throughout the day. It's been almost three weeks and we haven't been able to cut down as much as I would like or was expecting, but hey. I'm sure I could probably cut the formula out entirely...but she would literally be attached to me all day and that's not really feasible, especially with having a 3 year old as well. But, she's only been having around 6 ounces of formula a day now, so it's not that bad.
             So yah, we've had all kinds of fun. As usual, I could go into more detail about certain things, but I'll stop while I'm ahead. Again, I'm hoping someone out there who may be struggling with breastfeeding comes across this post and knows they are not alone. I definitely recommend seeing a lactation consultant if you are able to. If nothing else, try to find a local breastfeeding group that has meetings so you can get some help in-person and ask questions from other women who may have gone through similar issues.
             Now, if you are considering having your child's lip and/or tongue tie corrected, I have some food for thought on that as well. While there are many people who notice an improvement with nursing right away, others, like me, do not. However, having these things corrected can help avoid speech impediments and dental issues later on. I definitely recommend seeing a physical therapist of some sort in conjunction with the procedure. Actually, I would recommend going beforehand if you are able to see if it helps. You may not even need to have the revision done if physical therapy helps!

             What breastfeeding issues have you encountered? Did they ever get better for you or did you struggle during your entire breastfeeding journey?
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