Welcome back to the continuing story of My Abnormal Breastfeeding Journey! Last time I shared about how trained professionals all informed me that I would be unsuccessful in nursing my newborn unless I used the nipple shield all throughout my nursing experience. There were no tips offered from any of them either, I might add, that could have made all the difference.
I completely believe that, had I had the proper information from the beginning, I could have weaned her successfully off of the shield and began nursing in the way God designed. Here are some of the breastfeeding tips out there that I learned all but too late in the game for me:
- Prior to nursing use a breastpump for a few minutes
- Prior to nursing let the baby suck on your finger a few minutes
- Prior to nursing roll nipple back and forth between fingers
- Attempt nursing without shield during the early signs of hunger (prior to crying) or be prepared to reintroduce the shield if baby gets too upset
- Give your baby ample time to root around and find you for themselves
There are, of course, pros and cons to using the nipple shield. The main pro (for me) being, there was nursing happening. The main con for me, that there is little to no natural stimulation of the nipples and the shield is basically acting as a breast pump at this point. I ended up trying self stimulation for a period of time – With varying levels of success for me.
Stimulated nipples are supposed to get your milk following faster, stronger, etc. And in a normal nursing experience, a suckling babe provides all the stimulation you need.
And though I was happy for being able to do some form of nursing, it was not a walk in the park. As time went on, there were more and more difficulties that introduced themselves into our routine:
- We were using the nipple shield, period. Not the most stressless of tasks in of itself. There were multiple times in the middle of nursing with tears, and flailing, causing me to have to reinstate the shield I was trying to get rid of. I’m sure all mothers using the shield have shared my envy of mothers who were blessed to not need it.
- Baby had pretty poor suction. So, after nursing as best as she could, she was still hungry and not strong enough to pull out what she needed to fill her belly. I ended up having to introduce a bottle long before I wanted and even a little formula to catch up with my pumping.(she was only a week and a half old)
- I was only able to produce the necessary amount for her intake for a very short period of time… around a month. In spite of all my efforts to increase my supply, I was never able to catch up with her needed intake amount. (Before you assume what I was or wasn’t doing wrong, stay tuned for more on this part of the story.) I literally was forced to regularly supplement with formula.
- I had to calm down a hungry baby prior to her even accepting the bottle (every time).
- I had to spend time pumping after time spent nursing and also bottle feeding. (I also often had to comfort her again after the bottle, even when she’s had her fill, had burped, etc., before pumping could take place)
The whole routine of nursing, bottle feeding and pumping were all much more demanding than anyone might realize. You see, as I nursed I was more or less chained to my seat because of the nipple shield (It often fell off during nursing for various reasons, and was a hassle to reattach,) preventing me from being able to preprep her bottle one handed (which would finish her meal) let alone stand up for anything. She would nurse until she was upset / frustrated for not being able to get anything more from me. At this point it was nearly impossible to calm her, and I had to somehow prep the bottle while trying to soothe the poor soul.
Once her bottle was ready, I would do my best to finish calming her down as much as possible again for her bottle to be accepted, then all was well again for a short time. After her meal, I would then try to focus on pumping.
It took anywhere from 5-10 minutes to get my pumping gear in order (depending on how skilled I was at assembly and if everything was clean and ready to go or not.) Sometimes, baby was asleep while I prepped, sometimes she cried, and other days she was just laying quietly. But, she never failed to have some desperate need for me 3-5 minutes into pumping. I would pump as long as I dare let her cry, pause my efforts, and come back again as soon as possible. There were definitely days that I pumped off and on every hour just trying to meet the recommended pumping time.
This meant that many of my days were spent with some degree of a constant flow of nursing, bottle feeding, and pumping, combined with time spent calming baby, changing baby, helping relieve baby gas (a story for another day!), bathroom breaks, etc., etc., etc. It was a vicious circle of events that never really seemed to end.
Many might say that I could have and should have let her cry while I got my pumping sessions in, but I didn’t feel justified in doing this. Every time she cried, it was because of a genuine need. She didn’t like being in wet/dirty diapers and remained this way for 8-9 months of her life. In fact, for the longest time, she even knew when it was about to happen and give warning cries as well as cries at the time of the deed. But all was well when she had a dry diaper on.
And since her cries were all a result of an actual need, be it diapers, hunger, gas, or otherwise, I wanted her to know that she could depend on me to do my best to ‘fix’ the issue. I even read multiple articles saying that responding to babies cries and needs as soon as possible would build trust in their eyes. And I wanted her to trust me. Pure and simple.
As stated above, I was only able to produce enough breast milk to fill her little belly for a very short time. Which meant we had to look at other alternatives.
Well, what about the breast pumping? And that formula feeding (what a completely blasphemous thought!)!?! Was it really necessary for me to stoop so low and deny or baby the healthy benefits of breast milk?!
To Be Continued…………..
Please check back with me next time for the story finale! Follow me for notification on my next post!
Resources Used while writing this article series: