They tell you that if you prepare enough, it will work. They tell you that all you need is support, belief that you will be successful, and commitment. If only it were that simple.
I knew I might have issues. I had breast reduction surgery back in 2001, but had been told that using the right technique would preserve my ability to breastfeed. Nonetheless, I set out preparing to ensure I would be successful. Besides doing yoga, pilates, weight training, and exercise, I got into the midwife program and prepped diligently. I did prenatal workshops and tracked down a book on how to successfully be a breast feeding after reduction mom. I hired a private lactation consultant for a session ahead of time. We talked about teas and tinctures, techniques and diet to help my supply be optimal. We talked about how I could use a supplemental nursing system if necessary. I read extensively and was convinced breastfeeding was the only way to feed my son to ensure his well being and I would have no problem breastfeeding because I had SUPPORT.
After lengthy pre-labour, labour finally started but my son was posterior and we stalled at 5cm dilated for over 10 hours. Finally, 33 hours after labour started, I delivered our son vaginally. I was exhausted after being awake for 3 days straight but determined to breastfeed. We seemed to struggle with latching and when he finally did, the pain took my breath away. I had already gone through 25 hours of labour before finally getting an epidural, but the pain during each feed was excruciating and only ended when he stopped feeding. Within a few hours I was concerned by the pain, and by my misshapen nipples that were already severely cracked and bleeding. I asked each nurse that I saw. All told me the latch was good and waved off my concerns about pain. My reading had told me to keep going but also mentioned it shouldn’t hurt this way. Worse yet, I often worried about how rarely he seemed satisfied with eating or would suckle to sleep. Yet we were released from hospital with instructions to be patient and told that breastfeeding would work out.
When I pressed about the bleeding, one nurse snapped at me: “What did you expect?”
My son barely urinated in the first few days, and by day 4 seemed more and more unsettled, finally crying 5 hours straight in the middle of the night. I was trying to let him feed as much as possible, but the pain persisted. The nipple shields a nurse gave me in the hospital helped my son to latch but the pain persisted with every feed, during the whole feed. My son still seemed always hungry and would stay latched on for over an hour if I left him. I’d try to persist feeding him, exhausted in bed, weeping at the pain and frustration.
After crying for 5 hours straight he fell asleep from exhaustion.
Our midwife team came for home visits every day. I dutifully showed our tracking charts of how long/often at each breast, his output and they would weigh him.He was quickly dropping weight so we tried to come up with a strategy. I kept up eating my oatmeal and good food like quinoa, as well as drinking lots of water. We bought a lactating tincture which I took religiously and by day 4 we both went for chiropractic and osteopathic care in case that would help. I got acupuncture. During this time, my wife contacted public health to have another lactation consultant come. I was doing all the right things, but my son was barely urinating and kept dropping weight. The lactation consultant ‘diagnosed’ a posterior tongue tie and lip tie which she believed was the cause of my pain and the state of my still bleeding nipples that would often be blanched white and misshapen after a feed. She thought temporary supplementation would be needed but was insistent no artificial nipples, so we had to tube feed him with SNS or by finger. I was told not to use a soother so he often fussed unless I let him latch onto the shield on my breast. I pleaded to get my son into specialist quickly and the frenectomy was performed at 7 days. Sadly, it did not help my pain. The Dr. who did procedure would tell me after procedure that she didn’t think tie was serious enough to warrant the frenectomy and that the real issue was an anatomically small jaw that would simply have to grow.
By this point, my midwives were seriously concerned. My son had dropped over 11% of his body weight and still struggled to urinate. The minimal supplementation at breast was not adequate. Based on the recommendation of the LC, I pleaded for domperidone. Surely I had to get to exclusive breastfeeding. Formula was not the answer. My midwife explained I would need an EKG since it puts you at risk for heart arrhythmia. I have a family history of heart disease but I was still interested. (*Please note domperidone is banned in the US.)
At that point, my wife put her foot down. “We both need you alive. He needs you more than your breast milk.”
Enjoying skin-to-skin time desperate to increase my milk supply.
From that point on, we stopped feeding with a tube and went to supplementation with a bottle. Our lactation consultant had cut off contact from me right after the frenectomy. Based on her comments, I was devastated to realize that she didn’t want to work with someone who used a bottle or a soother (something else the midwives insisted upon to give my poor nipples a chance to heal – my son wanted to be latched 24/7).
All of this took place in the first 10 days of my son’s life. I persisted in trying to combo feed for 19 weeks. Any breastfeeding session still resulted in horrible pain with my nipples blanched white and misshapen. Worse was he hated latching without a shield and as he grew my supply never increased even with continued oatmeal, tincture, water, etc. I was really struggling to bond with him all those weeks later.
Even if I was the proverbial Queen of Sheba with an army of attendants and best medical care we would have still had all the problems. I still had low supply that was compounded by the chronic pain. I look back and realize that I put us through a lot of heartache for no real benefit.
I finally weaned. My depression and anxiety lifted almost immediately and I bonded with the baby I had worked so hard to give the best start of life. I only wished I had listened to my midwife and not my lactation consultant, when she pleaded with me to understand that my son would thrive on formula. That I had done so much to make it work and it was ok. Sadly, I will never get back the time lost doing all of the unproven suggestions from my lactation consultant. Today, he thrives in daycare and I truly can’t tell which of his friends were breastfed, combo fed or formula fed. He is well adjusted, thriving and bonded to both of us. That is what really matters.
My precious son thriving on formula and love.
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST ? JOIN US!
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.
- Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
- If you need support, we have a private support group – Join
We believe all babies deserve to be protected from hunger and thirst every single day of their life and we believe that education on Safe Infant Feeding should be free. If you would like to make a donation to support the Fed is Best Foundation’s mission to teach every parent Safe Infant Feeding, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to our organization.
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Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!