New Challenges
by Karla ° Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nate and I have recently overcome something that I find very difficult to put into words.

A few weeks ago, my son suddenly refused to breastfeed.

For days and days, nursing was a constant battle. Whenever I tried to put him in the nursing position, tears would fill his eyes and he would scream out in distress. I didn’t understand what was wrong and all I could do was cry along with him while my confidence tumbled on a downward spiral of frustrated guilt faster than the fall of a skilfully crafted house of cards.

This, I suspect, is the same way that mothers who wanted to breastfeed, but were unable to, feel. Like they are living in a shadow guilt over their perceived failure.

I think that is the operative word though – perceived - because at the end of the day, we parents are all just trying to do what is best for our children and our family in the best way that we know how, and by definition that simply does not translate into failure.

I just need to remember that.

If you would like to read more about my breastfeeding challenges, please come and visit me over at Durham Region Baby today.

I look forward to hearing about the challenges that you have had with breastfeeding, and how they have personally impacted you.

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Comments:


You are an awesome writer! I thoroughly enjoy reading every post!

I am glad things are working out and yo are determined to give your son everything he needs! Breastfeeding is an awesome thing to give to your child. I am still guilted by how easily I gave up with my lactose intolerant little boy.

One other thing (if it happens again) My kids did the same thing if they had a ear infection, because it hurt to be lying down like that. And if he is teething there is a good chance his ears could be hurting.

I am going to look that doctor up. I am in school debating on being a midwife, L&D nurse or some kind of lactation aid.
Posted by Blogger Donna :  July 19, 2007
 

That's a great article, Karla! Way to go!

I had a few similar road bumps on my breastfeeding journey. I'm glad you found the support you needed.
Posted by Blogger Heather :  July 19, 2007
 

Please forgive me...I previewed this and it is really long, but I wanted to share my story with you!.....

That's great that you were able to keep him nursing!!

I had a similar start to nursing my first son. I tried nursing him a couple of times after he was born and he just wouldn't nurse. Then about 7 hours after he was born, they thought his breathing seemed labored and they took him to the nursery to observe him. He didn't improve, so they "admitted" him into the NICU. They didn't let him eat at all for two days because they were afraid he would aspirate it. Turns out, my little fella had pneumonia. I didn't start pumping until the day after he was born. When I did, my milk was already in! I was pumping and taking my milk to the NICU (even though my baby couldn't eat it) and the nurses were amazed at how much milk there was. They said I had enough to feed the entire NICU...LOL! Well, they finally thought Logan was well enough to eat, but I had to leave the NICU while the doctors did rounds. They told me they would call when they were done and I could try to nurse him. They never called and I returned on my own. After scrubbing in, I headed towards his bed and my heart sank at what I saw.....his doctor was sitting there feeding him a bottle. Yes, it was my breastmilk, but I was sad that I didn't get to give him his first meal. On top of that, getting him to latch onto me after having the bottle prooved to be a challenge. I gave in a few times when he was screaming his head off and I didn't want to disturb everyone in the NICU. Finally a nurse gave me some advice. My breasts were so full of milk that it was difficult for him to latch on. She told me to go pump a little bit and come back and try again. It WORKED!! By the 4th day, he was nursing like a pro!! I would go into the NICU to feed him throughout the night (the hospital let me stay extra because they thought he would go home soon) and leak milk all the way down the hall to him. I would get there and have to scrub in while my baby screamed in hunger...which made me leak more!! He had to stay longer than we thought and I had to go home on day 3. I continued pumping at home and had enough milk at the NICU that he ate it from a bottle at night while I was gone. We got a call on day 5 that we could take our little one home if we were willing to give him oral anitibiotics to finish out his treatment. So, we brought him home and I was able to nurse him until he was 9 months old. At that point, he quit in the same fashion Nate did.

Now I have baby #2 and the only problem we had with nursing was he wanted to keep his tongue in the roof of his mouth. Well, of course he couldn't latch on properly like that. After about a week of pulling his chin down and opening his mouth wide, he got it!! He is now almost 17 months old and I am still enjoying nursing him!!
Posted by Blogger Candi :  July 19, 2007
 

Breastfeeding was an absolute nightmare for me! My son was born just a few weeks before Nate and I only breastfeed for 9 days. I wanted to sooo badly and felt like such a failure for not being able to. I wanted desperately to do what was best for my baby and all I had heard was how "breast is best". But on day 9 at about 11:00pm as I sat in the rocker with Evan screaming because he was hungry and my nipples crackled and bleeding because he would suck for hours and barely get anything I screamed to my husband to "Make A Bottle NOW!" haha and my boobs have not seen the light of day since. Later on I found out that Evan had never latched on correctly so he was barely getting anything... and because of that I had zero milk supply. And even though my local lactation consult called formula poison I don't think Evan is any less healthy than the average kid. Good Luck on your journey and if it doesn't work out... that's okay too.
Posted by Blogger Beth :  July 19, 2007
 

Breastfeeding my son was a constant struggle. He was always hungry and I wasn't producing enough. We stopped when he was 6 months. I needed to enjoy my child and being a new mother not bother about what everyone else thought.

These days everyone and their bother is on the breastfeeding bandwagon and while it's the best form of nutrition for your baby, it also has to work for both of you. It all comes down to being happy with the choice you make.

Good Luck! And BTW, you'll still be an awesome mom even if it doesn't work out!
Posted by Blogger Shelliza :  July 19, 2007
 

I was able to breastfeed my son successfully for 2 months and then the problems began. I averaged about 5 blocked ducts per week, overactive letdown which caused latching problems which then caused sore and bleeding nipples. I consulted the health nurses everyday to help me because I didn't want to stop breastfeeding. I was able to hang on for another month, but after weeks of tearing up in pain every time Jaxson would latch on and after my twenty something extremely painful blocked duct that month I decided it wasn't getting better and it was best for both of us to switch to bottle feeding. Breastfeeding had become about pain and problem after problem. It was extremely difficult for me to make the decision to stop, I cried over it alot because I thought I had failed him. During my pregnancy it was so important for me to breastfeed and I was so happy that it came very easily to us, so when I had to stop I was very upset. I still hold alot of guilt, I play the what if game and think mabye I should have just held on a little longer things would have gotten better. But it was the best choice at the point so I just have to think I made the right decision.
Posted by Anonymous Tara :  July 19, 2007
 

Karla,

Great article! First I just wanted to say that you are NOT a failure! Even if Nate stopped breastfeeding completely (but from your article it looks like things are back on track - congrats!), breastfeeding for 6 months is no small feat. That's longer than the majority of women in the US and Canada achieve. So kudos to you for sticking with it!

Here's my story:
When I was pregnant and even long before, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed. When my son latched on within an hour of his birth, I experienced pain that was worse than labor. I was curling my toes, biting my lip, and doing everything I could to hide the pain from my little baby and everyone else. But it was just too much. Nurses in the hospital were of no help. At some point one nurse said to me: "If you can't do it, you can always bottle feed. I was bottle fed, it's really not a big deal." I wanted to smack her. I came really close to giving up, and it was tearing me up inside, but I'm so glad I didn't. During the first three months I had to deal with cracked nipples, blocked ducts, nipple creams and nipple shields. Then it got better. What followed was 2.5 years of blissful nursing relationship with my son, who it turned out loves boobies more than anything else in the world.

I had never planned on nursing for that long. It just seemed so natural. When he was a year old, I honestly couldn't imagine weaning him. He LOVED nursing. After he turned two, I slowly started to prepare him for weaning. He was fully weaned three months ago. He's almost three now, and he still talks about nursing sometimes.

I will never forget those precious moments. It was easily the most peaceful and content I've ever felt. When I'm sitting on the couch, my sweet baby boy happily nursing in my arms, everything is right with the world.

Oh, and when he was about two, I asked him why he liked nursing so much, to which he replied: "Because it's beautiful and yummy."
Posted by Blogger Alena :  July 19, 2007
 

Great story, Karla. I'm glad the medicine is working for you. I've also heard eating oatmeal is good for the supply, so that could supplement the meds maybe.

My challenges were minimal. Both of my kids knew exactly what to do with the nipple, so I never had any latching difficulties or anything. My supply was sufficient, but never overly abundant despite the newfound DD cup size. My attempts at pumping so I could leave them with somebody were unsuccessful because of that. I just dealt with it by rarely leaving them.

I got mastitis when Alison was one. It was like the flu with hot, swollen breasts. (Let's see what kind of Google searches are led to this now!)

My main problem was that my kids were so attached to nursing that it was difficult to get any time to myself and my sex drive was non existent. I'm still grateful I was able to make nursing work despite the challenges.
Posted by Blogger Julia :  July 19, 2007
 

Oh, you might like this. Shortly after Alison weaned she told me the best thing about "nursies" is they taste like melted ice cream.
Posted by Blogger Julia :  July 19, 2007
 

Great article, Karla.
As you may or may not not, Avelyn could not latch onto my flattish nips and I ended up pumping exclusively for 6.5 months. I am glad I did but I am sure not ready to do it again any time soon.
I was so disappointed when nursing didn't work up but we found a way for her to get the breastmilk, even if it had to sucked out of me with a machine every 4 hours. :)
Good luck with increasing your supply. Six months is a more than wonderful start for your sweet boy and you can rest assured knowing you're doing all you can to nourish him.
Posted by Anonymous Amanda :  July 19, 2007
 

I simply had a low milk supply. After nursing Porgie exclusively for a month, she has still failed to regain her birth weight. I was instructed by the pediatrician to start giving her formula.

I was heartbroken. I cried and cried and cried. Finally, I ended up pumping exclusively for the next 6 months and supplmenting with formula.

Pumping sucked ass, but at least I was able to give my baby breastmilk.
Posted by Blogger Christy :  July 19, 2007
 

Hi K - I posted a rather long comment on your article page - which, by the way, was a fantastic article. I really enjoy reading your work, and I never miss a new blog post.

Anyway - just wanted to say that I'm happy that your supply is increasing again, and that your journey will seemingly continue; although, if it didn't, your journey wouldn't be any less sweet in the eyes of your precious Nate.

It makes me sad that some of the commenters were made to feel badly about their choice to stop nursing. I will never understand why someone would add guilt to an already guilt-ridden mommy. It blows my mind.

Great blog post; great article; great memories of my nursing experiences. Thanks.
Posted by Blogger B :  July 19, 2007
 

I got nuthin.
Posted by Blogger Christi :  July 19, 2007
 

i met the big dr,newman and he is not all that and a bag of chips. he makes you feel like shit when things go wrong and when you HAVE to take other methods to feed a baby - ie baby not latching and starving to death and drinks 5.5 ozs in one sitting when only 2 weeks old (babe doesn't even drink that much now in sitting at 11 weeks).
he made me feel so bad i never went back for my follow up, in fact i cancelled it by telling the clinic things were better (they were not) so that they would not make me feel even worse.
breastfeeding has been a nightmare, but i have pumped for 3 months and slowly starting to wean as cant do it anymore as hubbie going back to work and too hard to pump and feed at the same time.
i tried the cream too and have to say it works wonder. i have also tried the violet and that was kinda gross but worked.
i also tried nipple shield, feeding baby with a cup, a dropper, a tube, my breast, and then final a bottle. even though i was not supposed to since that was the WORST THING I COULD DO, even though was the only way she would eat and the other methods were too slow to satisfy or fill her.

anyway that is my rant!!

i am sooo glad the breastfeeding has been such a great experience for you!!
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  July 21, 2007
 

You said it Karla. The whole breastfeeding thing I truly believe is what threw me into a terrible bout of postpartum depression that I clawed and fought to get out of for a whole year after my sons birth. He wouldn't latch, I had my own issues. There were a number of things at that point that was just making it literally impossible for me to get Tyler on my breast and I hated myself for it.

I felt like I wasn't good enough to be a mother, and even though it was supost to be one of the happiest years of my life, it honestly was one of the worst for me- emotionally.

You are such a wonderful writer, and it is so good to hear that not everyone has it so easy at breastfeeding, it makes me feel normal. I know that probably came out in a 'i'm glad you had issues' sort of way, but that is not what I mean... I guess what I am saying is that for me, hearing other people talk about the difficulties they faced and how they fought through them makes me feel normal, and not so much like a failure.

I can't wait to have my next baby and try again. For over a year I said I would never put myself through that, but now with more knowledge that every child is different, and every pregnancy is different, I have trust that things just might work out the next time.. and if not, I won't worry about it like I did with Tyler.

Thanks for the link to your article. You are such an amazing writer, do you write there often?
Posted by Blogger Melanie :  July 21, 2007
 

Hi Karla, I know I told you about the supplements my lactation consultant told me about, but I thought I'd say it here for the benefit of other Moms, too. When Max was still in the NICU and I was having trouble pumping enough, I started taking a 100% vegetarian herbal supplement in capsule form, called "More Milk Plus" by Motherlove. The capsules are a breeze to swallow. They are filled with a feather light liquid of fenugreek seed, blessed thistle, nettle leaf, and fennel seed. I checked them out with my midwife practice to verify that they were legit, and they gave the thumbs up. Within only a day or two, my milk had doubled in production. Motherlove also makes a tincture of the same stuff that you put under your tongue, but I'm told it tastes terrible and makes your boobs huge since it increases your breast tissue. You can find the supplements at most whole foods stores, and online at www.motherlove.com.

Oh, and my Mom is a retired Labor and Delivery/OB-GYN nurse. She said they used to tell new Moms to drink beer because it increased milk production (I guess this is good news for you.. lol.. ). I've also found that Sprite or a big Sonic Cherry Limeade works for me better than drinking a lot of water. Who knew?
 


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