I want people who are pregnant for the first time to know something very important. The first two weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest weeks. They might very well feel like the hardest two weeks of your life. You will sleep very very little. You will be anxious. You might have lots of problems, including: engorgement, low milk supply (or so you think) poor latching, sore cracked nipples, flat nipples, plugged ducts, mastitis, and more.
Your baby might be a lazy sucker, or might have a short frenulum. Your baby will lose weight. You will worry.
I am here to tell you that you will get through it, despite the difficulty. You can make it to the other side, and breastfeed for as long as you want.
I have posted some early breastfeeding survival tips before, but I wanted to share my personal stories so you know, that even if it seems like things are looking really grim in the beginning, they can smooth out within a day or two.
Countless friends of mine have encountered the same issue over and over again whether in the hospital, or at the pediatrician. If your baby is not gaining weight at the rate that doctors and hospitals like to see (sometimes an ounce a day), they want you to supplement. So many of my friends were urged to give the baby formula in order to get to the baby’s weight up. I gave in, as my milk took almost 5 days to come in both times and the weight loss, plus the doctors and nurses were scaring me.
Fuzz had probably 4-5 ounces of formula total in the first week of his life, but then I quickly weaned him off so it would not affect my supply.
I had worse issues with Shnook. He was in the NICU for the first three days and they had super strict rules about both feeding schedules (every 3 hours) and blood sugar levels (he had to reach 60mg/dL each time- they measured by pricking his heel after every feeding). It was so so hard for me, because my milk had also not come in yet (it took 5 days that time too) and they wouldn’t allow me to feed him more frequently than three hours, so I would go back to my room and pump after every feeding. It STILL took five days for my milk to come in. Anyway, in the NICU, they don’t screw around so we siringe-fed the Shnook formula while I breastfed him, and then topped him off with the bottle. Once my milk came in, I stopped the formula altogether, but before that happened, I don’t think I slept a wink.
Needless to say, the whole experience was very VERY stressful and exhausting.
I found it very difficult to find a balance between trusting that my body would make enough milk for my baby and worrying that my baby would starve, and I think the anxiety of the latter probably inhibited the milk from coming in.
I wonder if there is a better way for pediatricians and lactation people to work together? I have found that many pediatricians and nurses at the hospital support breastfeeding, but they don’t know that much about how it works, otherwise they wouldn’t expect the baby to gain at such a fast rate? Dr. Jay Gordon tells us to Look At The Baby, Not the Scale. I wish more pediatricians would use this method so that moms wouldn’t feel so panicked about their babies ‘not making weight.’
Did you experience this anxiety with your pediatrician? Please share your stories!