Breastfeeding is hard. Everyone who has tried, done it, or even thought about it knows. On the same hand, the saying is true, fed is best. My first child, Alina, breastfed for maybe a week or so and that was that. So believe me when I say, I know fed is best and breastfeeding is not for everyone.
When I had Iyla, my plan was to do as I did with Alina. Try breastfeeding first, if it works out then great, if not then I tried.
Right from the start it was difficult. Immediately after she was born, her latching issues began. So here came the nipple shield (I have such a love-hate relationship with them). She seemed to latch with the shield sometimes while other times she would get frustrated or smack it off me.
Little backstory, when I had Alina, the hospital staff never offered to let me use a pump while in the hospital. Instead, I was instructed to hand express the collostrum into a spoon. So I guess Alina has been spoon fed from the beginning…LOL JK! This was such a painful and emotional experience for me!!
So, being that this wasn’t my first rodeo, I knew the frustration I experienced during that time. When we met the lactation consultant, I requested they please provide me with a hospital loaned pump.
I knew what was best for me and what would work. They luckily had one available for me to use – LADIES, DO NOT be afraid to ask them for a pump. Hand expressing may be a great technique but it is not for everyone. My mistake with Alina was I was afraid to speak up for what I WANTED and NEEDED.
Another request I had was to provide me with bottles to feed Iyla with rather than using a spoon or syringe.
During our hospital stay we continuously worked with the lactation consultant to help with tips and tricks to help ease the breastfeeding journey. On our final day in the hospital, Iyla successfully latched to me but only while feeding her in a lying down position.
Once we got home, I fought her continuously to latch naturally. It seemed like the nipple shield was her preferred way to feed. After having her home for a few weeks I was able to get her to latch to just my nipple, no shield.
The only problem was I had to feed her in a lying down position on our couch or sideways with the boppy pillow. During this time her and I slept on the couch together because of her feeding preference and my c-section scar caused too much pain to get in and out of my bed.
Although she was successfully drinking and latching, there were times in which she struggled and so did I. One day she was screaming crying, she wouldn’t latch and when she would…she would pop back off and cry more. I didn’t know what to do. I was frustrated and crying. She was frustrated and crying. We were a mess!
I continuously reached out to my mommy friends and I am so glad I did! Get you a support system during a journey like this, it is SOOO important! They recommended I go see the lactation consultants sooner rather than later. They said if they would have done the same thing, it would have reduced a ton of the pressure and stress she felt while trying to get the hang of breastfeeding.
So I contacted my lactation consultant and scheduled an appointment. During the appointment, she could tell that Iyla was frustrated trying to feed and latch. She also determined that she had not taken in very much during the “feed”.
Upon further inspection she diagnosed her with a lip tie. She graded it a Level 3 which is one of the worst types. I was recommended to take Iyla to her pediatrician and follow up in a week or so with the consultant.
I’m not going to lie, she had me pretty panicked!
Once I took her to see her pediatrician, she had a different feeling towards Iyla’s latching issues. She didn’t feel like it was something that needed to be corrected but let me know that if I was interested in it, to contact a pediatric dentist.
Trying to Correct the “Problem”…
I researched pediatric dentists in my area that specialize in newborn lip tie corrections and scheduled a few consultations. BUT – before we were able to make it to any of the consultations, we were told that the procedure is not covered by insurance and would have to be paid for out of pocket.
I contemplated the price and my motherly instincts. I ultimately decided NOT to correct it and felt like she would get better latching as time went on.
The procedure was going to be too expensive and I didn’t want to put her into any unnecessary pain if I felt it wasn’t detrimental!
The Light at the End of the Tunnel..
There were so many times that I contemplated quitting and just switch her to formula but she hated bottle feeding. So we just chugged along and as time went on, she got better and better at latching herself, drinking more and more.
Like I said, bottles were not her jam so I would pump at work to supply her milk for daycare. A majority of it wouldn’t get fed to her because she just didn’t like to bottle feed.
She enjoyed the bonding time with me, cuddling, perfectly warm milk and comfort.
The End of Our Journey…
Just recently Iyla decided to wean from breastfeeding on her own. I enjoyed our bonding and cuddling time during feedings. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t miss it.
My goal was to just try and breastfeed her for as long as I could and little did I know that I was able to breastfeed her for 16 months. I get teary eyed just typing this!
I am so proud of her for never letting me give up and I am so proud of myself for continuing on even through all the hard times.
Breastfeeding is hard. Breastfeeding is beautiful.
I will truly miss my time with my little munchkin snuggling me while she drinks. But I am so so so happy I experienced it for this long.
To my mamas: don’t give up! It is so hard and can be so stressful but if you are willing to tough it out – you will be so happy you did! There is so right or wrong way to feed, I just know from my experience that I truly felt such a special and emotional bond between us. Reach out if you need to talk or have questions!