This week’s FFF Friday comes from Rhonda, who struggled with supply issues, and later on, a health emergency that complicated her feeding choices. I sincerely hope that after such a rough start, it will be smooth sailing for Rhonda and her son from here on out.
My little boy was born in May 2010, and I had entered into the birth with the intention of giving breastfeeding a good try at the very least. I had felt the usual pressure from the lactavists to breastfeed, and I discussed my feelings about it with my doctor around 34 weeks; we came to the agreement that I would give it a try for a few weeks even and if it just wasn’t working out, then I’d switch to formula. I felt good about the agreement, I felt good about my doctor being behind my decision, and my fears about my lack of colostrum production prior to my son’s birth were calmed by my friends and prenatal instructor insisting that my lack of leakage meant nothing in the grand scheme of things and that after delivery production would increase.
He was born in the wee hours of the morning via c-section, as his shoulders were way too wide for my pelvis; I knew this would delay the milk production a little bit but I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t going to be producing nearly enough to even begin to satisfy his hungry little tummy. Born at 9lbs 1oz he is a big boy and eats like a horse.
Less than 48 hours later he had lost over a pound, and developed what would be later diagnosed as dehydration, even though every time he started mouthing or rooting I would put him to nurse, and we were on our way to the nearest Intensive Care Nursery 2 hours away because our little town doesn’t have a pediatrician or an ICN unit. The first thing the ICN nurse asked me was if it was alright to give him formula. Through my tears from the sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t producing enough for him, I said of course it was alright. The little guy ate 48oz of formula in the space of four hours! My poor little baby was starving and it took me a lot of tears and a lot of days to stop blaming myself for that.
Over the course of the next week, through a combo of IV fluids, breastfeeding what little I was producing, pumping, and topping up with formula, we were able to get him back to health; he’s approaching two weeks old at the time of writing this, although I’m still not producing enough milk to only feed him myself and am going to give Domperidone a try for a month. If it doesn’t do the trick then I’m just going to switch to formula. If that happens I will miss nursing him, but I refuse to let myself feel guilty anymore for something that my body is just not up to doing. My mother and sister both had supply issues with breastfeeding; I don’t know if these things run in the family but in my case it seems to have done so.
During the week we spent at the hospital, his great latch went downhill and I finally brought it up with the lactation consultant I had been working with and she suggested that all the interventions and suggestions that I had been trying affected his latch. I didn’t see hide nor hair of her or any of the nurses who were trying to help us out with the latch over the last few days of our stay, and his latch went back to being great. After being home it’s now better than ever, I’m just not producing enough. Hopefully the Domperidone will help my production.
With the next baby I intend to give breastfeeding another try. Hopefully it’ll be a smaller baby with a less ravenous tummy, but regardless I will try it again. We will continue to supplement until I feel comfortable with my production, and I will feel no shame in making sure that my baby is getting the nutrition that he needs, be it from me, formula, or a combination of both.
I ended up developing a massive DVT (deep vein thrombosis) blood clot in my leg that went from my groin down past my knee. I’m on a massive amount of Warfarin to thin my blood; most people need under 10 mg to get things normalized… I’m on 14mg. Needless to say I’ve stopped breastfeeding, and am exclusively formula feeding; and I have a happy baby. At his 6 week appointment, he had climbed back up from his lowest weight of 7.5lbs to 11lbs, 2oz. That was two weeks ago; he’s two months old in a few days and he’s already wearing size 6 month sleepers because he’s so long. Sometimes as I’m holding him and feeding him I still miss breastfeeding him, but at his size and the amount he eats, there is no way I would have been able to produce enough for him, even being on meds to get production up. After I stopped nursing him I had one day where my breasts were tender and I needed to pump to relive the pressure. One day. That’s it; and then I dried up. I cried a little bit, even though I knew I wasn’t going to be able to nurse him while being on my medication, but as my husband, and mom, and doctor have told me over and over again, maybe the next baby won’t be so big and won’t have such a huge appetite, and I can try it again. If it doesn’t work better for the next baby, if he or she still is hungry after nursing for 40 minutes, then I will know to give a formula supplement. The next time though, I will do it without any guilt at all.
Have a story about breastfeeding, formula feeding, or some combination of both that you want to get off your chest? (Get it? Off your chest? Ha.) Send it my way – firstname.lastname@example.org.