Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Breastfeeding 101

A quick reminder that I am currently playing "catch up" on many of my entries, recapping the past 4 months of baby Easton’s life. Please note, this entry is written in real time.

Happy National Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7)

I was reading a blog tonight and it gave me a great idea for an entry: breastfeeding. I have learned a lot being a new parent over the last 4 months, but nothing compares to what I’ve learned about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is like a marriage. It requires love, effort, patience, dedication, time, energy, and the list goes on. There are times you’ll cry, get frustrated, stressed, and want to throw in the towel and walk away. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Nobody said it was easy….but they promised it would be worth it.

As Easton approaches the 4 month mark, I am so grateful that I’ve been able to bond with him over breastfeeding. But it hasn’t been easy. From day one, we had latch issues and found ourselves feeding Easton expressed breastmilk with a tiny spoon while in the hospital. We continued to work with the lactation consultant, and it got a little better. However, upon returning home, it only got worse. Easton seemed to be satisfied, however I was not. Talk about pain. I began to dread feedings. When Easton cried, I cried. And as he ate, I clenched my toes. I needed a Plan B.

After weeks of struggling and suffering the pain of a bad latch, I resorted to pumping, and pumping only. For 6 solid weeks, I pumped and pumped and pumped. Wherever I went, my pump followed. And when Easton ate, I pumped. There were pros and cons to this – while it was a pain to have to lug that pump around with me everywhere I went, it was nice for someone else to be able to bond with Easton over a feeding (especially Bryan), and it was a huge relief for the girls. Not to mention, it was comforting knowing exactly how much Easton was eating and that he has no problem taking a bottle.

I returned to work part-time when Easton was just 8 weeks old and while pumping was my only option during the day, it became such a hassle to try and pump and feed him a bottle in the morning before getting out the door. I thought, if I could figure out a way to nurse Easton in the morning before work, it would save me a good 20 minutes. So after 6 weeks off, back to nursing we went. And to my surprise, we clicked!! It was a miracle – no pain, no suffering, no more exclusively pumping!!! It was amazing. So while I still had to pump during the day while at work, I was able to resume a normal breastfeeding life at home and it was a huge relief.

So here we are, approaching the 4 month mark and still breastfeeding. Our only problem now: my supply. Since returning to work, Easton’s demand has increased, yet my supply has decreased. I pump 2, sometimes 3 times at work, but while Easton is eating 6oz. every 3 hours, I’m only pumping 4-5oz. per pumping session and it is beyond stressful. Not to mention, my once sleeping-thru-the-night-infant, is now waking up at 3am to eat, and it’s getting really old! My only thought is that he’s taking a full 6oz. from the bottle but not getting enough to fulfill him when nursing. I am finding myself having to supplement with a little formula here and there to complete his daily bottles and/or to top him off at night. And I’m ok with that. Some people fear that after months of strictly breastmilk, their baby will reject formula -- not my little piggy! He will eat whatever you give him. I’ve tried several combinations, from pure formula bottles, to half and half and he has no problem taking anything. I do have several bags of frozen breastmilk in the freezer that I could be using in place of the formula, however I prefer to save the breastmilk for mommy’s night out, sleepovers at grandma’s and when I stop nursing completely. My motto is that partial breastmilk for a longer period of time is better than all breastmilk for a shorter period of time.

So, while I stress that Easton’s demand is only going to increase and that I’m not going to be able to keep up with him, I’m going to tough it out and keep breastfeeding for as long as I can. I am hoping that once we introduce solids (hopefully soon!), it will help curve his appetite and his demand for milk will decrease and meet my supply. Fingers crossed!!!

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