The first weeks of our baby’s life are hazy, but I remember Meredith’s gasps of pain when she tried to nurse. I remember that the baby kept coming off the breast and crying and we had to get her back on. It was a constant struggle of trying to get the baby latched, having to break her latch because of the pain, then her falling asleep, unlatching, then waking up and crying. It was a seemingly endless cycle.
When we brought the baby home from the hospital, she was crying and we couldn’t get her to stop. I realized she was hungry and I gave her a bottle of formula. She drank down four ounces, stopped crying, and went to sleep. I felt relieved because I was able to make my baby happy and comfortable. I told Meredith that the baby drank 4 ounces of formula and she said that was impossible, because an infant’s stomach can only hold 5 ml, according to the nurse who taught our breastfeeding class. We both now know that is untrue.
The next day, we went to the lactation consultant at the hospital. She told us to supplement with formula, but to give no more than 5 ml at once with a syringe—no bottles. She said the baby’s stomach could only hold 5 ml (our baby was 4 days old) and we should feed her with a syringe to avoid nipple confusion. The baby sucked those 5 ml down so quickly, it was ridiculous. I knew that she needed more than 5 ml, but I didn’t feel qualified to disagree with the lactation consultant. Because she worked at the hospital, I assumed she was giving evidence-based advice. So we fed the baby 5 ml at a time with a syringe. When one syringe-full was insufficient to sate the baby, I often fed her multiple syringes at a time, even though I felt like it was wrong to do so. Continue reading