Breastfeeding Journey – 4 months in

Hey Saltee People,

Today we are talking breastfeeding! What a wonderful crazy thing breastfeeding is. Before I get into this post, I just want to say I firmly believe fed is best! This is just my experience and what I have chosen when it comes to feeding Jameson.

SO, let’s start from the beginning. When Jameson was born he had to be admitted to the NICU (a different story for a different day). Because of the treatment he was on he didn’t physically eat for the first three days of his life, instead he was on an IV. He did get colostrum that I hand expressed swabbed on his lips with a pace but that was pretty much it. The doctors and nurses were very addiment on telling me that breastfeeding is still very possible BUT it would probably be difficult. So right of the bat, I went in thinking it wouldn’t be easy.

I remember being so excited to try and feed him for the first time. This was also the first time that I ever got to hold him and do skin to skin. It was like 1:30 AM and my husband and I went down to the NICU. Jameson was still connected to all of the monitors so it was definitely not the most comfortable position but once he was in my arms, we got down to business. And what do you know… he fell asleep! He latched, but he fell right asleep. We did the best we could to wake him up but nothing worked. So I took it for what it was and just enjoyed the time holding my baby boy but in the back of my mind I felt sad and defeated.

Over the next few days we kept trying while he was connected to the wires. Any time they would do a feeding I would come down the the NICU and try to feed him on the breast but homeboy just would kind of latch and then fall asleep. Then when he got moved to the step down area of the NICU (more comfortable room, getting ready for the real world) we saw a lactation consultant. She told us Jameson had a tight frenulum (aka tongue tie) and we will probably have to get it fixed. If not, breastfeeding would remain to be difficult. She suggested a nipple shield, but I had a hard time with that and didn’t really feel comfortable. By now, I feed like I was really over thinking it. I would get stiff and my muscles would be tight whenever I knew it was time to start feeding him. I had so many nurses (with good intentions) hovering over me and really trying to get him to breast feed and it was really intimidating. I knew I had wanted to breastfeed but he would get mad when would try, my let down would be too intense.. I didn’t know what to do.

Meanwhile this whole time I was pumping every 3 hours. I produced TONS of milk.. like TONS. I was able to get my supply going within 24 hours of birth. I was so dedicated to pumping and making sure that Jameson had food while he was in the NICU. I am so fortunate for this because I was able to supply the NICU nurses with a good supply to bottle feed him. However, this turned me into a super producer. I was pumping so often (at night too) that Jameson couldn’t keep up with the supply.

It was nearing the end of Jameson’s stay in the NICU and he was breastfeed so so. We would try the breast for like 10-15 minutes and then would eventually switch over to the bottle. My husband and I tried our best to be there for every feeding so that way Jameson would get used to me feeding him whether it was bottle or breast. The morning before we left we saw another lactation consultant. I was so nervous when she asked to watch me feed him. But he latched and fed (for just a little while) and she said Jameson was going good but his latch could improve. Just to keep practicing.

When we got released from the NICU and we progressed over the next few days or so and would do breast then bottle rotating every feeding. We saw our pediatrician for the first time and explained the situation to him. After talking to him we decided to stop pumping, and only breastfeed to regulate my supply not only for me but also for Jameson. The poor guy couldn’t handle the let down that I was producing. We gave it a week to see how it went. During that week we also had a family friend come over to help us with his latch. Once again I was so nervous to have an expert look at how I was feeding my baby. I had gotten so concerned that the latch wasn’t good, and that we would have to snip his tongue tie, would he be able to keep breastfeeding, so many thoughts and concerns in my head and I was really really overthinking it. I had put so much stress and pressure on my self to get this right. So she watched me feed Jameson and said it looked good. Jameson had a good latch and we shouldn’t have to snip his tongue tie. It was SO relieving to get positive feed back.

There are SO many opinions and people telling you what is right and wrong, but just do what feels right. We checked in with his pediatrician the next week and Jameson’s weight looked good, his temperament was good, I wasn’t experiencing pain or chaffing so we decided breastfeeding was working and to continue on with what we were doing. I took this as a personal victory.

Fast forward to now. Jameson is exclusively breastfed. I look back and think, mama you were doing great all along. I never experienced pain, I wasn’t chaffing, never used nipple butter and I should’ve taken these as signs that breastfeeding was going well. I was so wrapped up in the chaos and technicality of it all that I didn’t check in and see how I actually felt. He no longer takes a bottle which is kind of a strain on me and my ability to go places without him, but I don’t mind it too much.

If you have the ability to exclusively breastfeed, do it. It’s such a good bond but also (in my opinion) the easiest method of feeding. No prep, no cleaning, just on the boob off the boob. In my experience from pumping – that is a full time job. Cleaning and drying and pumping and doing it all over again every 3 hours was a lot. If you’re an exclusively pumping mama MAJOR props to you.

I think what I want you to get from this post is that whatever is meant to be will be. Don’t let all of the opinions get to you. Focus on your and your baby’s well being. Questions to ask yourself: Am I in pain? Is my baby happy? Am I happy? Is my baby gaining weight? If all of the answers to these questions are positive, then I would say whatever you’re doing is working! I’m not an expert but I really wish someone would’ve said those things to me sooner instead of things that caused me to worry if I was going to have a “successful” breastfeeding journey. My version of success is a fed, happy and healthy baby. SO, if you’re a new mama or mama to be reading this, take this as a sign to stop worrying and to do what feels best for you and your family. Block out the noise. YOU are the best mom for your baby.

I hope you guys found value in this blog post. I hope it was helpful! Until next time!

Stay Saltee,

Annalisa

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