Thursday, May 27, 2010

topless thursday: nursing baby #2

Photo by Sarah Christensen of Becoming Sarah

Nursing my second child has been an interesting, frustrating challenge (to say the least). Not only did she have some "preemie" challenges, even though she wasn't technically a preemie, with latching and ultimately feeding, she also has a big sister who is under two and was a boob fiend until she was 15 months old. Oh yeah, and is a very curious, busy kid. Needless to say, these two factors alone has made nursing challenging.

In the beginning I was producing a lot of milk. A LOT! Like ten ounces in a ten minute sitting when Hayden was only four days old. My freezer is full of milk, still (Unfortunately, we figured out that she has reflux and some cows milk sensitivity, so all that milk sits). But, I couldn't get her to latch properly. So, I decided to be patient. Put her to the breast, feed her by bottle, pump.

Let's just talk about the attempt to breast feed, feed by bottle, pump scenario... Mom's who've had to do this know that this is no walk in the park. When you have a kiddo that latches, you only have to do one of these processes. But add two more tasks. Plus, feeding a newborn every two hours. You may as well leave your pump bra with all the gear attached and never leave the house, because this is all you will have time to do. Not to mention the nights are a bear. It's really not a reasonable situation when you have a tot running around trying to keep your attention, too.


After three weeks or so of this vicious cycle, I sought the help of a lactation consultant. This is when it was determined that Hayden has premie tendencies - not transferring milk from breast and falling asleep at the breast - when it came to feeding and we devised a plan to teach her how to nurse. The plan included using a nipple shield and a supplemental feeding device (a syringe with a long tube that goes into the nipple shield and provides bate of expressed breast milk or formula to encourage baby to suck).

While the plan was a good one, it wasn't working. And the more frustrated I became. My baby was screaming. Sounded congested. Not nursing. My milk supply was drying up because I was not pumping like I should. And I was sad that I felt I couldn't nurse my child. I gave myself a deadline of two more weeks to make it work, then we would go to 100% formula.

Back to the lactation consultant we went... She became concern of Hayden's lack of weight gain from birth weight (I don't think she understood that she lost nearly a pound of that at the beginning) and the fact that she seemed colicy and seemed to have reflux. The new plan was to visit her doctor, cut out dairy, nuts and chocolate from my diet, pump and bottle feed, then reintroduce the breast the following week. So, off to the doc we went... Not a huge concern with weight, but we were provided with baby Zantac and instructions on how to manage reflux. And pumping I did.

I went back to the lactation consultant's breast feeding support group the following week to see if we were making progress with nursing. But, per the usual, Hayden fell asleep in the clinic and wouldn't nurse. I started to cry. Right there among all these blissfully happy, breastfeeding mommy's. Mine wouldn't nurse. I was going to have to formula feed as pumping eight times a day just wasn't a possibility for a mom who was busy with another kid. The consultant felt my pain and lent me a scale to take home to do pre and post weighs to see if Hayden transferred milk when she would latch.

The next day, Hayden transferred 2.5 ounces. There was hope.

So I continued trying and it got better. I eliminated the breast shield. And she go even better at it. She even seems to look for the boob.

NOW... Hayden is two months old and nursing like a champ. However, I have found that nursing her exclusively is just not possible with Hadley. I like to go out and do things with Hadley. And sometimes we just don't have an hour to allow Hayden to feed off the breast, so we give her a bottle during those times. Also, I tank her up with formula before bed and we generally get a nice five hour stretch of sleep out of her. After that, I nurse her (which is a good time for us because everyone else is asleep).

While I had hoped to feed her breastmilk exclusively, at least I feel good that she gets breast milk and we have that bonding time. I needed to recognize what my capabilities were as a busy mom of two under two, not beat myself up about not being able to do it the same way I did it with just one baby, and set my limits. I think we have a good system that everyone is content with.

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