Asher was born after 46 hours of induced labor at 39 weeks, 4 days. I had sudden onset severe pre-eclampsia. In the “golden hour,” he didn’t latch. He was exhausted and a bit lethargic. After the staff took Asher for his bath, I worked with the RN and he latched really well and nursed on both sides. Towards the end he fell asleep and they had me hand express colostrum and finger feed him. His first two days at the hospital he only lost 3 ounces. I thought he was latching well but the lactation consultant who saw us before discharge said his latch was shallow. She sent us home with a shield, “just in case.” At his first pediatrician appointment at four days old he was down 10 ounces. The doctor gave us ready to feed bottles, encouraged supplementation and sent Asher for lab work because he was slightly jaundiced and lost too much weight. While we were at the hospital, I ended up getting readmitted because my preeclampsia never went away and had gotten much worse. I was put on a magnesium drip for 24 hours which made breastfeeding really challenging. My husband was so supportive and somehow we made it through a three day hospital stay. During that time they checked Asher’s bilirubin levels regularly. His jaundice improved and he had gained four ounces! By then my nipples were raw from his very bad latch. I started using the shield and it was a lifesaver. Asher was back up to birth weight by his two week check up. I was encouraged to wean him from the shield. That ended with many deep cracks and damage to my nipples that led to a six week bout of thrush, a bad clog, and mastitis.
When I had mastitis, we used the ready to feed bottles because my supply decreased. Asher’s weight gain remained steady and after pumping and supplementing for a few weeks we went back to exclusively nursing. In that time, Asher had spinal surgery. He nursed 24/7 after his surgery, which did wonders for my supply. After his first post-op check up he had gained a pound! We weaned from the shield in between his post-op appointments, his weight gain slowed down a lot and I got worried. I saw a new LC, who I loved, and she checked our new and improved latch. She said he was transferring milk well without the shield. I still didn’t feel comfortable with how his weight gain had slowed.
I found the Fed is Best support group through a fellow mom in a birth month group I was in. It was there that I learned about weighted feeds and bought a scale for use at home. I was shocked after the first 24 hour weights because Asher wasn’t transferring that much milk from me. So, we supplemented a lot and I pumped a lot. My husband did random weighted feeds without me knowing and they showed that Asher was transferring milk but I had some major scale anxiety that was affecting my ability to let down and feed Asher. But, the experience helped reinforce in me that I knew my son’s hunger cues and I usually had enough milk to satisfy him.
We got into a really good swing of things, I nursed, if he seemed hungry I would supplement and pump. I quickly built a freezer stash and we got back to exclusively nursing and solids. His weight has been in the 5-6% pretty much his whole life and then last month he went up to 8%. With the knowledge I gained from the Fed Is Best Support Group, I am now certain that he wasn’t going hungry, he is just a little guy! Since July, about a month after I learn about Fed is Best, things have been easy and uneventful. Asher nurses whenever he wants; if I am at work he gets breast milk sippy cups and solids.
Asher is now 11 months old and about a pound and a half away from tripling his birth weight. He is in the 75th percentile for height and 8th percentile for weight. He is so healthy, despite his surgery and problems resulting from his tethered spinal cord, and he is hitting milestones slightly ahead of schedule. I can finally feed him without worrying about anything, well except the occasional biting! Looking back on our adventure, I wish someone would have taught me what a good latch was and how to achieve it. I also wish I would have known more about weighted feeds. I worried endlessly for about a month; I thought I was starving him because even with supplementing he wasn’t gaining like we expected he would.
I went through a little bit of stress but Fed is Best helped me gain confidence and I learned that I was capable of breastfeeding my son, and that I did recognize my son’s hunger cues.
I genuinely enjoy nursing him and I fought very, very hard to keep our breastfeeding relationship going, not because of social pressure, but more because it has helped me to feel needed by him. I think it really helped me avoid PPD. We supplemented with formula when it was needed and there are still days that I top him off with our freezer stash because he seems hungry. Our goal is to make it to a year breastfeeding and anything after that will be a bonus. I love that I am able to provide for my son in a way no one else can.
Without the education and support I received from Fed is Best support group I would have cracked and stopped breastfeeding all together back in early June, when his weight gain slowed. So, Asher and I are both so thankful The Fed Is Best Foundation exists to help educate and support mothers in their feeding choices without judgement or guilt!
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST
There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:
- Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
- Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
- Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page and by sending our resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
- Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
- Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
- Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
- Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
- Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child. Your messages of support keep us all going.
Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!