A Journey of Hope

New parenthood craziness

11 Comments
Baby, Life, Parenthood

We have been absolutely busy. Thank heavens that my mother-in-law is here with us, because the extra help is phenomenal. I’ve been on a schedule of sleep for a few minutes, wake up and tend to baby, sleep for a few minutes, wake up and tend to baby, etc. He needs to be fed, changed and comforted a lot, as all newborns do. He also has a very loud, distinctive scream and cry that has me wanting to do anything I can to make it better. But sometimes I feel helpless.

The major issue I have been having is breastfeeding. I had no idea how hard breastfeeding would be, and we ran into difficulties almost right away. His head seemed too small compared to my size, and although he eventually latched on the first day at the hospital, he was fussy ever since. He has a strong suction, but he didn’t like to keep sucking, and I was worried that he wasn’t getting much out of me. My nipples were sore and raw with blood blisters. Then after we got home, he would fuss more and more, and it would take longer and longer to get him to latch on until eventually he would just scream instead of latching on, even though he showed all the signs of being hungry and rooting. He also had a lot of gas because we weren’t burping him enough, which caused more screaming, which was using up energy that he needed to nurse. Instead of feeding every 2 hours, he would go 4 hours sometimes. All in all, it was a disaster.

Yesterday we visited his pediatrician, a younger male doctor whom we liked immediately. Aidan had gone down to 5 pounds 11 ounces, and the weight loss was concerning. He was about 3 days old and had lost 8% of his body weight, and we do not know when my milk would come in. The doctor said that although it’s normal, they want to see not more than 10% of body weight lost, and that he was starting to get a little jaundiced from not feeding. He suggested supplementing with formula for the beginning as an option but didn’t push it.

When we got home, I had another heartbreaking episode of trying to get him to latch on only to have him cry like I was trying to torture him. In the meantime, my breasts weren’t getting frequent or sufficient stimulation, and the supply must be dwindling. So I got the Medela Harmony hand pump that we had purchased a long time ago for Liam, and I started pumping. I managed to get a couple of teaspoon colostrum out, and Aidan happily gulped it all down. That was nice to see something tangible going into him. After three manual pumping sessions, we went out to a local store to buy a double-electric pump to make it faster and easier.

And thus I began to pump in earnest, every two hours. In the middle of the night, I would wake up, pump for 20 minutes, try to calm him for a bit, then try to get 40 minutes to one hour of sleep in between. Being on this schedule has basically doubled my output in less than a day, and even though he’s still not latching, I can still provide him with a good amount of nutrition. Hopefully my milk comes in soon.

I feel much better about the failure to breastfeed now that I can pump for him. It’s been a good day, with 12 pumpings per 24 hours and at least 8 oz output. If I have to be exclusively pumping, I think that would be okay, though not ideal. Right now, I’m just taking it one day at a time. The satisfaction of seeing an adorable, contented little Aidan is worth all the sleep deprivation and work.

11 Responses

  1. Boy, oh boy, does this bring back memories. I remember how helpless that newborn cry made me feel. Don’t worry, in a few more days you’ll actually be able to distinguish between a hungry cry, a wet cry, a cry for attention, etc. Then you’ll know how to respond, and you’ll feel more in control. In a week or two, you’ll feel like you’ve always been a mother.

    I wish I could actually see you, but I think that your nipples are bleeding because Aidan isn’t latched on properly. I would guess that he isn’t taking the nipple deep enough into his mouth and is working at the nipple with his gums. His gums should actually be making contact with the margins of the aureola, not the nipple itself which should be farther back in his mouth. Is there a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader around who can give you a hand with that? If not, I’m sure you can find a diagram of a good latch on the net. I would also guess that the burping is coming from swallowing more air than milk; again his latch is probably the culprit. This is a simple and solvable problem once you know what you’re doing.

    The weight loss is normal and was probably mostly fluids that were given to you by IV. All babies lose a bit of weight the first few days. It’s good though that you started pumping because you don’t want him to lose real weight. You can continue to pump and feed him that way for a while, but a lot of women have trouble pumping exclusively longterm.

    If you want to breastfeed, you need to correct that latch. My older son had some rather vigorous suctioning of his lungs in the NICU and also cried like I was trying to torture him when I tried to get him to latch on. I wanted to quit, but DH pointed out to me that I was going to spend the 18 years getting the kid to do stuff he didn’t want to do, so now was a good time to start. I worked on the latch despite the crying over a period of about 10 days once we were home from the hospital. When my son finally figured out how to nurse correctly at about 3 weeks old (A good latch means good milk flow for the baby.), he seemed pretty happy. He enjoyed nursing a lot, so I was happy in the end that I sort of forced the issue.

    I think you are speaking prematurely about your “failure to breastfeed.” The most important thing is to feed the baby. Getting the pump was the right thing to do. I wasn’t able to establish a pattern of regular nursing until my son was 3 weeks old. He spent his first ten days in the NICU and came home with the latching problem. Once we got going, my milk supply really picked up, and I was able to breast feed exclusively until he stated solids at 6 months.

    I had a rented hospital grade Medela electric pump for a month. I was able to get my son on the breast for most feedings before the month was over, but DH enjoyed giving supplemental bottles of breastmilk and I enjoyed getting a little extra sleep, so I pumped milk for them. I switched to a hand pump after that if I needed to go out and leave milk or just relieve the pressure in my breasts. Some women hand express milk, but I never learned how.

    Things will probably we easier and convenient if you can get Aiden on the breast, and that’s still something you can most likely do if you want. I have signed in with an email I use for net friends and check often. Please feel free to contact me if you want to discuss some ideas for getting Aiden to nurse directly from the breast. This isn’t so unusual, nor is it a failure on your part. I got off to a slow start with number 2 as well. He took 10 days or so to start nursing. He also breastfeed exclusively for six months.

  2. Thank you J. I haven’t consulted La Leche yet since I am hoping that when my real milk comes in (tonight/tomorrow will be day 4), he will want to latch. He does open his mouth fine and had an okay latch, but he seems impatient for the milk and would fuss because he was hungry. I hope when things calm down, and he isn’t so stressed out, he will latch better. He has even been able to sleep alone for an hour at a time and was not nearly as fussy this evening. I’m also now pumping now every one and half hours to get ahead a little bit. There are women who can establish full milk supply with just regular pumping, and I figure that since I’m getting an early start on it that if it is the worst case scenario, it isn’t so bad. I will have to go back to work and get into a pumping schedule anyway.

    By the way, your son spent 10 days in the NICU? That must have been really hard. The problems we’re dealing with are pretty minor all things considered.

  3. Oof, new parenthood seems tough! I’m in awe of everything you’ve been through in the past couple weeks. On the one hand babies are amazing, on the other I wish it could be as simple as laying eggs, lol.

    Best of luck, Hope! : )

  4. Yes, he did. He had sort of transient hemophilia-like thing. They were talking for a while about taking out his spleen, but they were able to get things under control with gamma globulin. It was pretty scary, especially after having had so many miscarriages and infertility surgeries. We got through it though, and my son never had any sequelae from it. DH jokes that the best thing about it was that I was pumped so full of morphine myself that I was blissfully ignorant, but I recall being aware enough at times to be afraid and miserable. We were lucky things turned out well in the end.

    You should really consider getting in touch with LLL or a consultant. They can help you with loads of things including pumping at work. I found them to a great resource with both kids. I also think that someone should watch you breastfeed because I suspect that whatever’s going on will be easy to fix if the right person sees it.

    You may also be able to deal with some of the problem on your own. One thing I did was to bottlefed a bit first to take the edge off my sons’ hunger. That minimized the fussiness and also my nervousness about the fussiness. Then, when they were still a bit hungry, I would put a little breast milk on their lips and my nipple to give them the idea that this was were the good stuff comes from. Once they had a good latch with good milk flow, they took to it rapidly. They moved slowly from sort of having “dessert” at the breast to having a “snack” to eating their whole meal there. Babies actually like to nurse in preference to the bottle because, once they figure it out, they can control the rate of flow, the temperature is perfect, etc. It’s all dependent on the latch though.

    One other thing you can do is have someone check where Aidan’s lower lip is. It should be everted, as though he is pouting. Sometimes a baby’s lip gets folded under and that interferes with the latch, but the mother can’t really see that because her breast is in the way. You or whoever can just pull his lip down with your finger if it’s folded under. The mechanism is that Aidan should be able to milk you (Sorry for making you sound like a cow.) by compressing the area just outside (or thereabouts, depending on the size of his mouth) of the areola with his gums, that will cause the milk to squirt out. Then he has to coordinate that with swallowing. Once he figures that out, you’ll be in business. It occurs to me that there must be instructional videos on the net that show how a baby should latch on. The blistered nipples still say latching problems to me. It sounds like he is working the nipple, as opposed to the areola, with his gums; that is a typical cause of blisters. So is tonguing the nipple; his tongue should be under the breast, not swirling around the nipple.

    Also, you mentioned thinking your breast was too big for his head. As funny as that looks, it shouldn’t interfere. Heck, mine were almost bigger than DH’s head when my milk first came in. There are a variety of holds that compensate for larger breast size. Goggle “football hold.” I used that until my kids got big enough to cradle in the position that you usually see mothers using. You might also want to consider laying a pilow in your lap and placing Aidan on the pillow. Experiment till you both feel comfortable.

    In the meantime, you are doing a fantastic job with the pumping/schedule. I’m glad you own your electric pump; it’ll be very helpful no matter what you end up doing. They weren’t that readily available when my kids were new. I felt a lot of pressure to get my sons on the breast because the pump had to go back to the hospital. In retrospect, that was an additional stressor I didn’t need.

    Take good care of yourself and baby. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. The sole good thing that comes out of having had all the issues I did is that I can be a good resource for others, so don’t worry about imposing. OTOH, if this feels like interference, tell me. Sometimes, older women telling you their baby stuff can be a pain in the butt. I recall resenting unsolicited advice, but women my age do love to give it.

    J

  5. Thank you J. I really appreciate your advice, and it’s actually very helpful. His latch is wrong, and I’ve been trying to train him with these bottles:

    http://www.thefirstyears.com/wps/portal/breastflow/

    He has never liked opening his mouth very wide, and I see very clearly with the bottles that he doesn’t have a big enough area of coverage. My blisters have been healing with the pumping, but I’m a little wary of trying again until he gets the latch right on the “training” bottles.

    On the pumping front, I’ve more than doubled my output since yesterday and getting basically 2oz at every pumping since the last three times. It’s still transitional milk, but I shouldn’t have to worry about future supply. I’ve also had 16 pumpings in the last 24 hours, so yeah, I’m not getting much sleep. :P

    Also, we had another weigh-in at the pediatrician, and he’s back up to 6lbs. The pediatrician was surprised and pleased, because that was only in the span of two days. He said that it would be great if I could get back to breastfeeding, but in the meantime it’s good to get him the nutrition he needs. I’m glad we went out and bought the pump. It’s been a huge stress relief.

    SayWhaat, I bet laying eggs hurts for the chickens, too. My friends who have had chickens say that they make a lot of noise when they lay a particularly big one. :)

  6. Wow, Hope. I’m not sure what to be more impressed by: your pumping volume, Aidan’s weight gain or those new bottles. Nothing like that existed when my guys were babies. It’s so cool that the baby’s latch must mimic the natual latch and the you can actually check that by watching the baby suck the transparent nipple. I’m amazed by that. What a briliant idea for a product!

    I’m glad to hear that your nipples are healing. You probably don’t want to try again with open sores, but once they heal, you can avoid sorenss by taking tylenol about 30 minutes before you nurse. (Double-check with your doctor first. This was considered good advice when I did it, but things may have changed.) There are also nipple balms (with lanolin, IIRC) on the market, though I personally began using A & D ointment on everything after I saw how well it works for diaper rash. It heals cuts and sores FAST. We still use it.

    I’m really encouraged by your progress. Between your building your milk production and your retraining Aidan’ suck, I think you are well on your way to getting him on the breast (which, in the longrun, will be more convenient for you). Not opening wide enough is a common problem; babies have little mouths. You might want to try compressing your breast with your fingers behind the areola to make it easier to mouth the nipple.
    That woked for me.

    I saw that Susan advised you call a lactation consultant. It’s not bad advice. I used them with both kids; I think that may have been part of an in-home follow up nursing visit from the hospital. Oddly, LCs and LLL leaders often know more than OB/GYNs and pediatricians. Things may have changed over the years, but I was told by both my OB/GYN and pediatrician that they had minimal training/education about breastfeeding. Pediatricians tend to know a lot nutrition and growth, but little about the nuts and bolts of breastfeeding. I once had a pediatrician answer a breastfeeding question with, “Huh? I don’t know. I’d have to ask my wife.”

    Anyway, it sounds like you are doing very well, but if you have any questions, I’m here and happy to help.

    J

  7. Not worth getting worked up over.. Breast is best, of course.. But sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t work for some.

    I had huge boobs and small nipples.. My baby daughter had trouble attaching… Fourth day.. Still no milk. Bloodied and painful nipples..Stressed to the max!
    I gave in.. Felt a failure… After all, breast is best!

    When I gave birth to my son 4 years later I put him staright onto the bottle.. Never skipped a beat.. All was calm and serene. He flourished..

    Btw, my daughter is now 16.. Gorgeous young girl who has never had any major sickness in her life.. My autistic son? Strong as an ox..

    I do not advocate NOT breastfeeding.. It’s the natural thing to do..

    But, by the same token, I don’t think it is the end of the world… or that the child will suffer later if he is not breastfed.

    My mother had the same problem..

    Reared 4 healthy bottle fed children..

    The specialist told my mother to give me solids at six weeks as I was a big (milk) spewer..Lol.

    How many babies do you know who ate roast lamb(mashed to a pulp) at such a tender age…??? :)

    Perhaps that’s the reason why I am such a big meat eater today. ;)

  8. J, my mother-in-law who is a boomer and also breastfed said the same thing. She didn’t have a pump, and my husband was very jaundiced as a newborn. She also contacted La Leche League. Eventually they did fine though, but he was never bottle fed.

    I’m not sure if A&D is safe for ingestion, so I’ve been sticking to the lanolin and some olive oil-based stuff I got. I also used the “squish the areola” method, but he’s just too fussy. Last night he fussed with the bottle for a few minutes even with milk dripping out because it wasn’t as fast as he was used to with the normal bottles.

    Kathy, thank you for that encouragement, too. I have friends who formula fed their babies, too, and they are just fine and healthy.

  9. I’m not sure if A&D is safe for ingestion, so I’ve been sticking to the lanolin and some olive oil-based stuff I got.

    It’s basically petroleum jelly with vitamins A and D added. I would assume it is as safe as lip balm, but I washed it off before pumping or breastfeeding. Having something sticky on your skin attracts lint and stuff.

    I’m glad you have your MIL to rely upon. Neither my mother or my MIL ever breastfed, so I had to rely on myself, lactation consultants and LLLI. Having someone in the home who did breastfeed is a huge asset IMO.

    It’s not a bad thing that Aidan is taking a bottle now, especially since you are going back to work. They used to say that bottles caused nipple confusion, but the bottles you are using look so good I doubt that will be a problem.

  10. “SayWhaat, I bet laying eggs hurts for the chickens, too. My friends who have had chickens say that they make a lot of noise when they lay a particularly big one. :)”

    Bah. Now I wish I was a seahorse.

  11. Breastfeeding is a challenge when you first start but you are doing fine. I know it doesn’t seem that way now but I’ve been through this twice myself. I know how it goes. You have been offered some great advice here.

    Something that really helped me with one of my sons was skin to skin. I placed him on my chest and let him find his way to the breast. It was incredible to watch and I would never have believed it possible but they do it. It seems to awaken their instincts to suckle and it really helps them to get the hang of it. I can recommend it also for just some nice bonding time between you both.

    Good luck – you are doing great … more than great!

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