My Journey As A First Time Mom; a #MyStoryMatters Leaky Share

by Kelly Warner

guest post, leaky to leaky

Meet Samuel. This is my rainbow baby, who we welcomed with joy in January, 2014. After struggling with infertility for 5 years, my doctor in Houston told me it was unlikely that we would ever conceive. When we moved to St. Louis we started seeing a fertility specialist, who discovered a few factors that were either keeping us from getting pregnant or not allowing us to sustain pregnancy (an underactive thyroid, being a carrier for MTHFR and either not absorbing folic acid well or clotting after conceiving, and low progesterone). Once we addressed those issues we got pregnant right away, which was so encouraging after having our arms ache to hold a child for years. Unfortunately, we miscarried at 9 weeks and would later miscarry a second time at 6 weeks.   We were in a very dark place but continued to trust God with our fertility. A few months after our second miscarriage we found out we were pregnant again. 40 weeks later, after a snowstorm and before another one shut down the city for a week, our sweet Samuel Bennett was born!

I was so focused on maintaining a healthy pregnancy and having a natural birth that, admittedly, I didn’t educate myself on breastfeeding. Our Bradley Method instructor encouraged me to attend LLL meetings while pregnant to meet other like-minded moms, but I didn’t make it a priority to go. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed for a minimum of 12 months and had hoped that I would be able to make it for 2 years, but I figured I would have the baby first and then it would just naturally come to me. You know, because so far my story has been so natural and easy that it makes sense that I would just figure it out.

We had a beautiful natural birth and our nurses were great about immediately putting Samuel on my breast and delaying all newborn procedures until we had time to bond. He didn’t latch right away but found comfort sleeping on my chest. (In his defense, he did have a pretty long and intense birth that included 4 hours of pushing, his cord wrapped around his neck twice, and the threat of a C-section before I pushed so hard I broke my tailbone and his head came out before the doctor was even suited up to catch him). I kept trying to get him to latch and had just about every lactation consultant and nurse helping too. We were adamant about not using bottles, sugar water, or formula, so when he started showing signs of dehydration, we all panicked. The LC informed me that the combination of my flat nipples and large breasts were making it difficult for Samuel to latch and she recommended we use a breast shield. I was a nervous first time mom, who just wanted her baby to eat, so I took her at her word and began using the shield. I have since come to learn that there are absolutely medical situations that warrant the use of a shield . . . but mine was not one of them. Samuel began “latching” and getting colostrum, but it was so frustrating, painful, and messy for me. Worried that I would give up with breastfeeding, the LC convinced me to rent a breast pump to take home, pump my colostrum, and feed with bottles until my milk came in. Although she unnecessarily encouraged me to use a shield, I have to give her credit for pushing breastfeeding. She showed me how to use the pump and was shocked when I pumped 2 ounces of colostrum in a few minutes. At the time I was super confused why she was all giddy (and felt the need to show my liquid gold to everyone working in the maternity ward) but have come to learn that colostrum is not typically measured in ounces. That gave me hope that I was going to be able to feed my baby – it was just a matter of figuring out how.

My milk came in a few days after we got home from the hospital and my already large breasts became so engorged I didn’t know what to do with them! Seriously, they practically had their own zip code (38-K)! I had a serious oversupply problem and a fast letdown that Samuel did not find nearly as amusing as my husband and I. He’d pull off the breast and get super-soaked in the face or just grimace as a stream of milk shot halfway across the room. I guess when you’re an exhausted new mom you find the humor in anything, because everything else is just so, so hard!

We continued to use the nipple shield but struggled. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to quit. Thankfully, my husband knew, deep down, I didn’t really want to quit and I just needed to be encouraged to continue. He was up at every diaper change and night feeding with me, sitting at my feet, praying for me. I remember one time in particular: It was 2am and I was exhausted from nursing Samuel around the clock during a growth spurt. My husband and I got up to feed him and I burst into tears when Samuel latched and I felt the “60-second sizzle.” I said I didn’t want to mess with the shield anymore and that I just wanted to feed my baby. He comforted me in that moment and said he had read that night feeding was a good time to try to wean off the shield. So, figuring it couldn’t get any worse, we took off the shield, and together, we re-latched Samuel. I’m talking, all 4 of our hands were trying to hamburger my nipple so Samuel could latch! There were more tears (by me) and more words of encouragement (from the hubs), and finally Samuel latched! This was such a small thing but felt like such a big breastfeeding victory!

I continued to pump out a few ounces before EVERY feeding to soften my breast tissue so he could latch better. It was really annoying to be tethered to my pump and time-consuming to have to constantly be cleaning out pump parts (and during the winter, which made my hands crack and bleed), but it was worth it to be off the shield and begin having a successful nursing relationship with my son. Plus, it allowed me to build up a good stash of breast milk that I donated to my friend to give to her adopted newborn.

By the time Samuel was 6 months old my supply had finally regulated. It was so freeing to be able to feed on demand and not have to pump first. Samuel was healthy and happy and in the 50th percentile for his weight, and an added bonus was that he was a really good sleeper! Shortly after he turned 7 months old, however, he started waking up multiple times at night to nurse. We brushed it off and assumed he was just teething or going through a growth spurt, but it continued for weeks. I called my pediatrician and asked her why she thought his sleeping pattern changed suddenly. We ruled out ear infections, viruses, the Bubonic Plague, and continued to be dumbfounded . . . until my ped asked if it was possible that I was pregnant. I probably offended her for laughing so loud on the phone, but, come on! Me? Pregnant? I mean, sure, it was a possibility I could be pregnant, but I was exclusively breastfeeding, had not introduced solids, and remember how it took the stars aligning for me to have a healthy pregnancy with Samuel? I hung up the phone, dug out an expired pregnancy test from the Dollar Store, and took the test . . . and then proceeded to take another 3 before I believed my eyes! I told my husband and he didn’t believe me, so he went to the pharmacy and bought the most expensive digital pregnancy test . . . which told us the same thing the 4 tests prior did, only in words instead of hieroglyphics. I. Was. Pregnant!

guest post, leaky to leaky, pregnant photo

Once the initial shock settled we were thrilled for our news, but clearly my milk supply had already begun to decrease. Ahhhh the irony! My ped suggested starting a supply-boosting supplement that was safe while pregnant, but cautioned that it was likely we would need to supplement with donor milk or formula. Having just donated all of my pumped milk to my friend for her adopted baby, we were forced to supplement with formula. We chose the only organic formula that we can buy locally and hoped that it would be palatable. Only, Samuel wouldn’t take it. Clueless about what to do, I emailed Jessica from The Leaky Boob for advice and was so humbled that she took the time to answer me. She encouraged me to get a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) to keep stimulating my breasts to produce milk while getting Samuel the supplementation he needed. He had lost so much weight he dropped to the 5th percentile, so we were ready to try just about anything. All I can say is using an SNS is like trying to juggle flaming arrows while blindfolded! I feel it apropos to high five any mom that has successfully nursed with an SNS. First off, that thing is impossible to set up alone (thankfully my husband is really supportive of me breastfeeding). Secondly, the tape that is supposed to keep the tube in place is worthless! Thirdly, my son was so offended that I was trying to sneak that tiny plastic tube in with his latch. Needless to say, we gave up.

After giving up on the SNS we tried to introduce a bottle. By this time Samuel was close to 9 months and had only had a bottle when I pumped my colostrum the first few days of his life. If he was offended about the SNS tube, he was not having the bottle either. We must’ve bought one of every brand of bottle on the market only to find out he would rather starve. We tried syringes, medicine droppers, spoon-feeding, sippy cups, open cups and this kid was not impressed. The only thing that he took a liking to was a straw – and not a sippy cup with a straw because that’s far too juvenile for a 9 month old – a straw that you, a grown adult, would get at a restaurant. He’d sip on the formula throughout the day but never really had a “feeding” like he would with breastmilk. We sneaked it in smoothies, made popsicles, and just about anything to get that kid to drink milk.

Keep in mind I’m still pregnant through this . . . I’m tired, hormonal, my nipples are sore, and I’m nauseous! I lost 10 pounds from throwing up and not being able to eat food while pregnant and still nursing Samuel. Those days were ROUGH! I kept telling myself that, “This, too, shall pass.”

We found our rhythm and made the most of our cuddles and nursing sessions until Samuel started throwing fits when I offered him the breast at nap-time or bed when he was 13 months. After a few days of us both crying at every feeding, I assumed he was no longer interested in nursing and wanting to wean. I stopped offering it and we just, kinda moved on. Looking back, I honestly believe he was having a nursing strike from being frustrated from having to work so hard to get any breastmilk.

In May we welcomed our daughter, Felicity Claire, into the world. Once his sister was born he started showing interest in nursing but it was as if he had forgotten how it all worked. He constantly talked about my “ba-ba’s” and wanted to touch them for his sister’s first month of life. 4 months later, he asks for milk at bedtime and smells and touches my breasts asking for more. It breaks my heart that I likely cut our nursing relationship short, but I am glad we were able to overcome so much and still make it 13 months.

guest post, leaky to leaky

So far, Felicity nurses like a champ and I feel so much better prepared this time around. While I wouldn’t wish my struggles with breastfeeding on anyone, I am glad I had to persevere through them. Not only did it show me how much support I have, but it highlighted how important a good support system is for breastfeeding. I hope that other moms find support to help them reach their breastfeeding goals and that my story encourages them in their journey.

____________________

guest post, leaky to leakyKelly is a mother of two from St. Louis, Missouri, who lived a good chunk of her adult life in Houston, Texas.  She and her hunk of a husband struggled with infertility for 5 years and had multiple miscarriages before having their first child in 2014.  Prior to starting a family, she taught 7th grade life science at a college preparatory charter school for low-income, minority students in Houston.  When she’s not nursing her 5 month old or telling her 21 month old to stop throwing balls at his sissy’s head, Kelly enjoys hanging out with her husband, binge-watching Gilmore Girls, and writing music.  Despite many struggles with breastfeeding, Kelly nursed her son for 13 months; 6 of those while pregnant with her daughter.  In addition to being passionate about breastfeeding, Kelly loves baby wearing, cloth diapering, staying up to date on car seat safety, and having grandiose dreams of being a midwife someday. In the meantime she’ll stick to chasing her sports-nut toddler around the neighborhood and hoping that she remembers to put her boob away before answering the front door.  

 

Share

Dear Kathleen- Leakies ask an IBCLC

Daily, we receive hundreds of emails and messages from Leakies looking for help and information in their breastfeeding journey.  As so many seek support from us, we are so honored to have the support of Kathleen Huggins, IBCLC and author of The Nursing Mothers’ Companion.  Kathleen is jumping on board with The Leaky Boob to have a regular article answering Leaky questions every month.  The questions will be selected from the huge pool we get in every day to try and help cover the wide range of topics about which Leakies are asking.  These questions are from real moms and represent hundreds of requests for more information in the past two weeks.  Please understand that this is simply the professional opinion of one International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in an informal setting and is not intended to replace the care of a health care provider.  Kathleen is offering support and information, not diagnosing or prescribing treatment.  For your health and safety, please seek the care of a qualified physician and/or IBCLC.  Kathleen does have limited availability for phone or online consultations, see her website for more information.

Dear Kathleen,

After pumping, is it ok to feed the baby that milk and then if baby doesn’t finish to save the rest by putting it in the fridge?

Thanks!

Bewildered in pumping land

 

 

Hi Bewildered!

Pretty hard to work to express milk for your baby and then have to toss it out!  Some health care providers say to dump partially drank bottles, or give it at the next feeding.  I think that placing back an unfinished bottle of breast milk back into the refrigerator is just fine. I would suggest removing the nipple and screwing on a clean lid to keep the bacteria from the baby’s mouth to a minimum.  By using a fresh nipple for the next feed you will keep more germs from mixing in with that bottle of milk. I would recommend using the milk within the next 24 hours.  One very small study of just a few moms found that milk could be placed in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours at 4-6 degree Centigrade.  Storing milk in the back of the refrigerator is recommended. If you use the milk a second time, and there is still leftover milk, it is probably best to dump it out.  When milk has gone bad, it does have a rancid smell.

When pumping or feeding your baby a bottle, be sure to always start by washing your hands well.  Also, make sure that all of the pump parts are washed thoroughly in warm soapy water or in a dishwasher and if wet, left to dry on a clean paper towel. Also, try and store just small amount of milk for your baby; maybe just 2-3 ounces per bag or bottle. In that way, there will be less leftover milk to deal with.Hi Bewildered!  Pretty hard to work to express milk for your baby and then have to toss it out!  Some health care providers say to dump partially drank bottles, or give it at the next feeding, but I think that placing back an unfinished bottle of breast milk back into the refrigerator is just fine. I would suggest removing the nipple and screwing on a clean lid to keep the bacteria from the baby’s mouth to a minimum.  By using a fresh nipple for the next feed you will keep more germs from mixing in with that bottle of milk. I would recommend using the milk within the next 24 hours.  One very small study of just a few moms found that milk could be placed in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours at 4-6 degree Centigrade.  Storing milk in the back of the refrigerator is recommended. If you use the milk a second time, and there is still leftover milk, it is probably best to dump it out.  When milk has gone bad, it does have a rancid smell.

Happy pumping,

Kathleen

 

TLB meme breastmilk storage

 

Dear Kathleen,

As a first time mommy (I have a two week old girl), I’m really struggling to seek out why things to happen and don’t happen… maybe you can help? 

To make a long story short, I wanted to nurse my little one since day one she was born. However, I have flat nipples so not only was it extremely painful when she would latch on, but it was also challenging, frustrating and depressing because I refused to even give her a bit of formula. The pain was so strong when she would latch that I would cry every single time and I knew she could feel my frustration because she would stop and look at me. I even dreaded watching the clock because I knew that in a few minutes it was going to be time to nurse again. As the days passed, my baby lost almost 3 pounds under her birth weight because I thought she was getting enough milk from me but it turns out I was barely making any. That made me so sad; I felt like a HORRIBLE mother so because I wanted her to get better, my husband and I decided we give her formula. After she gained a few pounds (almost back to her birth weight), I tried nursing her AND giving her formula but she would no longer latch on to me. She obviously likes the bottle nipple better because she can actually latch on without struggling. I tried everything I could. I’ve tried pumping and nothing comes out. Maybe one drop– if not, two. I’m honestly broken yet content she’s healthy once again. I’ve humbly given up on nursing because my husband and I feel it’s the healthiest decision for her and I. She won’t get frustrated and I won’t dread seeing her precious innocent face. We’re just bottle feeding her now but a lot of questions are going through my mind such as will be baby still be healthy with formula?

I did everything I could and I STILL am. Even though my milk is drying, I’m striving to keep it going by taking some pills that will help my milk come down. I’m doing this with the hope that once my milk comes down FULLY, I’ll be able to pump and mix it with her formula. 

I welcome your advice and encouragement. 

Love,

Disappointed but hopeful

 

 

Hello Disappointed,

I am sorry that you didn’t get the help you needed and suffered so much both physically and emotionally.  Unfortunately at this point, with your milk nearly gone, you need to make a final decision.

I do have questions for you, but in this Q&A format, I can only wonder.  Did your breasts grew during pregnancy?  Is less than an inch of space between them?  If the answers to these questions is no, then you may have insufficient glandular tissue which limits the amount of milk that can be produced.  That could explain the initial weight loss.

Yes, you can relactate but that takes a lot of time and effort and, in my opinion, you need to make a commitment to either go full steam ahead or let it go.  If you decide to relactate, you will need a rental grade pump and pump at least 8 times every 24 hours including during the night, using a double pump kit for about 15-20 minutes.   While some people may suggest teas, cookies and other herbs such as fenugreek, I think you need bigger guns!  You should consider taking the medication Motilium (Domperidone) that is available through compounding pharmacies with a prescription from your OB or midwife. If you are going to get some, I would suggest getting a month’s worth to start.  The typical starting dose is 30 mgms three times a day but can be increased to 40 mgms four times a day.  You can read more about taking Motilium on Dr. Jack Newman’s website.  Understand that pills, or herbs alone will not restart your production.  Your breasts must be stimulated and drained at least eight times each 24 hours.

If you start the Motilium and want to get more, it may be less expensive ordering it on-line through a New Zealand pharmacy.  There is a less expensive version, Domperon (a generic) that is $.12 per pill.  Under the care of your health care provider and with a prescription you can order Domperon online and delivery takes about 10-14 days to get a shipment.

Being only 2 weeks into this, unless you have insufficient glandular tissue, I think you could bring back your supply with the medication and pumping.  If you decide to move forward and your milk supply is equal to what your baby requires, about 3-4 ounces per feeding, I would urge you to consider an appointment with an experienced lactation consultant. Who knows, your baby may be able to nurse completely or with a formula supplement!

While breastmilk is the biological norm for human infants, your baby needs food and formula will provide her with the nutrition she needs.  What are missing are the live cells that protect her from illness and certain other factors in breast milk that protect against other conditions. As you are finding out, formula is also quite expensive.

While nursing is a loving and bonding experience, you can capture some of this with bottle-feeding. Please be sure to always hold your baby for feedings.  It isn’t long before babies can hold their own bottles and so many bottle-feeding parents take advantage of this.  Bottle-feeding requires both hands and I believe a majority of mothers hand over the bottle to the baby as soon as the baby can hold his own bottle. I think this allows the baby to bond with the bottle instead of their parents.  This may also be the reason that so many bottle-fed babies become overfed and overweight.  Parents simply fill the bottles to the top and the baby just sucks it down.  Consider trying baby-led bottle feeding if you need to continue with bottles and here’s some information about bottle feeding the breastfed baby.

So now the decision is up to you.  I know you will decide what is right for you and your baby, no matter which way you go.

All the best,

Kathleen

 

 

Kathleen-Higgins Kathleen Huggins RN IBCLC, has a Master’s Degree in Perinatal Nursing from U.C. San  Francisco, founded the Breastfeeding Warmline, opened one of the first breastfeeding clinics in  the United States, and has been helping breastfeeding mothers professionally for 33 years.  Kathleen  authored The Nursing Mother’s Companion in 1986 followed by The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning.  Kathleen has also co-authored Nursing Mother, Working Mother with Gale Pryor, Twenty Five Things Every Breastfeeding Mother Should Know and The Nursing Mothers’ Breastfeeding Diary with best-friend, Jan Ellen Brown.  The Nursing Mothers’ Companion has also been translated into Spanish.  Mother of two now grown children, Kathleen retired from hospital work in 2004 and after beating breast cancer opened and currently runs Simply MaMa, her own maternity and breastfeeding boutique.  She continues to support breastfeeding mothers through her store’s “breastaurant,” online at The Leaky Boob, and in private consultations.  

 

 

Share