Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Time to Celebrate-Part 1 (my nursing story)

This post is about my journey of nursing Paige. So if you're male, feel free to skip this.

While I was pregnant with Paige, besides praying for her health I prayed a lot for my ability to nurse her and nurse well. I had heard stories and had friends who had tough nursing experiences and weren't able to nurse. I really really wanted to breastfeed and I prayed often in hopes I would be able to do it.

Little disclaimer to new moms or moms to be-all the baby prep books and pregnancy books make you feel like a nursing failure before you even start. Or at least that was my take on it. It seemed like all the books I read focused on how hard nursing is, the common problems, and focused on low milk supply. I felt like my supply was low just from reading those books! 

So......I had talked to my doctor and nurses and made sure I was VERY clear that as soon as possible after Paige's birth, we would have time to do skin-to-skin. I was so thankful that even though I had a c-section, I had about 40 minutes with Paige for skin-to-skin and to nurse for the first time as soon as I was wheeled back to my room. They waited to do her measurements and checks until after we had our time together. I'm forever grateful for that time. 

I was so out of it after the c-section that when they handed me Paige to nurse, they asked if I had taken a class or knew what I was doing. (what first time mom ever knows what she is doing?) Anyways, I completely forgot I had taken a nursing class and told the nurse I didn't know what to do. I got a little help while I was in the hospital, but they seemed to be more concerned that I WAS nursing, and not so much if it was going well or not. 

Paige started out really well. I had read how important it was to get full feedings, so I was really excited when she nursed both sides for several minutes. Paige was born on Tuesday night and we went home on Friday morning. 

When my milk came in on Friday night, Paige wasn't able to nurse with the new milk, so I called my sister crying because I didn't know what to do. Luckily she came to the rescue! She told me to pump a little bit out and then try feeding. Worked like a charm!

Without being too TMI, I will just say low supply was never my issue, thank the Lord! I know friends who have really struggled through nursing because of low supply so I was sincerely thankful that my supply was more than adequate. Of course, that didn't stop me from worrying about it for the first few months. Again, I blame the books. Everytime something seemed wrong with Paige, I questioned my supply. 

So Paige is a few days old, and nursing is NOT going well. She's eating and sleeping well, but I am in extreme pain everytime she latched. I would gasp in pain everytime. A friend of mine gave me some advice when I was pregnant. She said not to wait to see a lactation consultant, sooner is always better. So I called the hospital and took my 5 day old daughter in for a consultation. We met with a WONDERFUL lady, who watched me nurse and immediately was able to tell me that Paige wasn't latching properly. She showed me what to do, answered all my questions and I left a whole new woman! 

After getting the latch fixed, the pain was completely gone! But I still felt so inexperienced and unsure with it all. So I went back to the LC at the hospital to ask more questions. Sidenote-at Paige's two week check up she was gaining weight right on schedule. 

So I met with the LC again, and asked her all my questions. My big question, was not really knowing when Paige was done eating. Sometimes she would eat for 10 minutes on one side and not at all on the other. After watching me nurse, the LC told me that Paige was full after one side, and that was okay. She also helped me become more comfortable with the different holds. Again, I was so thankful I went and even more that the hospital offered the service for free.

The first few weeks Paige went through a weird phase of latching and unlatching over and over when she would nurse, and fuss a lot. I wasn't sure if it was reflux, a dairy sensitivity, or if something else was going on. At her 4 week check up I asked my pediatrician some questions, and he referred me to a different LC. I loved the one at the hospital, but she was only able to give me a short amount of time. We were about to move back to East Asia, and I wanted to sit down with someone for a few hours while they watched me nurse, to make sure things really were okay.

Daniel and I met with the LC just a few nights before we were flying back to EA. The lady was really nice. However, she was a little on the strange side and freaked us out a bit. After watching me nurse Paige, she told me Paige wasn't sucking correctly and she wasn't taking in any milk. I was pretty surprised because she seemed to eat and sleep on a pretty good schedule and was gaining weight really well. She weighed Paige before and after I nursed, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that she had actually taken in a few ounces, despite the lady telling me she was convinced Paige wasn't eating.

But then she went into all the weird stuff that I had never heard and told me that within a few months, Paige wouldn't be able to nurse anymore. She said because my supply was so great Paige wasn't really having to do anything right now and when my hormones dropped in a few months, I wouldn't be able to nurse. HI. Umm, thanks for scaring a new mom.

Anyways, she suggested a couple different kinds of therapy for Paige and a minor surgery. When Daniel and I left Daniel said "That lady either knows exactly what she is talking about, or she's crazy." We were leaning towards crazy.

We were pretty upset and stressed because we were leaving in a few days and didn't really have time for therapy sessions and surgery. We prayed about it and the next day I called my pediatrician to discuss what we had been told. He told me the surgery was very controversial and he advised against it. (i know that many babies need surgeries to help them nurse, my point is that none of this made sense with how well Paige was doing.)

We decided to not move forward with therapy or surgery, and felt great with that decision. We took Paige to East Asia at 6 weeks old. While dealing with jetlag, the 6 week growth spurt hit and it about did me in. I was still struggling with doubt about my milk supply and seriously thought about giving up. Looking back, I'm so glad I stuck with it. But at the time, whew!!! I wasn't prepared for the extra feedings and demand increase!

Thankfully we pulled through and made it through that growth spurt. The 6 week growth spurt is really the only one I noticed. I'm sure she went through other ones, but nothing like that first one. It was a doozy!

From day 1 of moving back to EA, I had to nurse in public. Often. It made me a nervous wreck at first. I nursed in public frequently and I will say the more I did it the more comfortable I got. But it wasn't until after Paige was 3 months old, that I really felt comfortable with all areas of nursing and felt like I had a clue. 

That would be my advice to a new mom struggling with nursing-give it 3 months. The first 3 months are hard. It's difficult. BUT, I think the 3 month mark is huge and it gets so much easier after that. 

I know this is a weird place to leave off.....but I'll continue in my next post about my love for nursing, weaning, and everything in between. 

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