I have been meaning to write this post for a long time - 11 weeks to be exact, and I'm just getting around to it now - funny how having a tiny human to take care of 24/7 takes up lots and lots of time. We wouldn't change it for anything though!
I have wanted to write this post because we have a positive outcome to what was a horrendous start in our breastfeeding relationship. I am hoping that it will inspire others to stick with it if at all possible.
Let's start at the beginning......
When Drew was born, we started immediately placing him at the breast to try to establish feeding. All throughout the first day, we placed him at the breast every 2 hours and he would not latch. We had the help of the nurses and lactation consultants, but no go! Finally at the 24 hour mark, the lactation consultant let us know that we needed some "intervention" because Little Man needed to eat! This intervention came in the form of a nip.ple shield. (TMI warning) - My nipples are TINY - so the poor little guy had nothing to latch on to, and we needed a shield to give him a latch. I was kind of annoyed at this point because it's not like my nipples had shrunk or anything in the first 24 hours - they have always been tiny - why didn't we start with this from the beginning?!?
Anyways, Drew finally latched and got some much needed colostrum and we were all happy campers. At that point, they also started me pumping to encourage my supply to come in. Drew did well nursing with the nip.ple shield through the rest of the next day and a half that we were in the hospital. I was ecstatic - I wasn't worried that we had to use a shield - who cares as long as he is nursing was our take on it! We left the hospital excited to finally be home together as our little family and that's when everything went south....
The first night at home (Sunday), Drew would latch a tiny bit on my right side and not at all on my left. MJ was so, so supportive and was helping us as much as humanly possible. She was getting up at night with us and everything as it seemed to take all four hands to try and get him to latch. But, it just didn't seem to be working. By the middle of the day on Monday, we knew our little guy had not had enough to eat. We just had that instinct that something wasn't right.
At this point, we were feeding him pumped milk via a syringe because everyone warns you to NOT give a bottle in order to minimize nipple confusion. Talk about stressful....MJ would give him her finger to suck on while I would squirt tiny bits of milk into his mouth. We did this all through the night and it was awful. I was crying and just saying "I just don't want him to be hungry." I was absolutely ready to give up at this point.
Then, on Tuesday morning, the Visit.ing Nu.rse came for a visit. Thank heavens for her!! I explained the difficulty we were having and she worked and worked with us to help Drew latch. We ended up having to place him at the breast, with nipple in his mouth and then use the syringe to drop bits of milk into his mouth in order to "tease" him and get him sucking. She worked with us for an hour and a half to get him eating well. I don't know what we would have done without her. She was also the first person who gave us "permission" to "pump, put it in a bottle, and feed him, because happy parents make happy babies." It was freeing to know that someone thought this was OK!! Never mind the fact that I was using a shield, so there wouldn't be confusion anyways! (Now the interesting thing is, we never had to do that as she gave us enough tips and tricks to get him to latch!)
For the next two weeks, I had to use the syringe to get Drew latched and then eating. At the beginning, MJ had to help as I just didn't have enough hands to do it all. I don't know what I would have done if she hadn't been as supportive as she was. All of a sudden, one day, I realized that Mr. Man was latching just fine on his own! We have continued to need to use the nipple shield, but who cares! We have now been breastfeeding for 11 weeks and he feeds like a champ!
We also introduced a bottle of pumped milk at almost 2 weeks old so that MJ could feed him as well. He goes back and forth with no problem at all!
So, while it was a very rocky start, we are so glad that we stuck with it! Hopefully this can give some of you having difficulties some inspiration to keep at it, because you can do it and it is well worth it in the end!