Our experience in the Labour and Delivery ward of our hospital was outstanding. Our nurses were kind, compassionate and caring. They were my biggest cheerleaders next to Dave and when it was time to say good-bye at the end of their shifts, I felt as though I was saying good-bye to friends. I recovered from birth in the Post-Partum ward, where the nurses were friendly but not nearly as kind, helpful but not nearly as patient.
We were discharged from hospital 24 hours after Jack’s birth. For those 24 hours in hospital the nurses did what they could to help Jack latch. This included forcing his head to my breast repeatedly, even when he showed signs of frustration. When we arrived home, we quickly learned their helpful methods were incorrect and a big no-no to establishing a healthy latch. This resulted in a frustrating start to a breast-to-baby bond with my son.
Jack struggled to latch in hospital and continued to struggle when we arrived home. Our discharge nurse told me Jack “wasn’t going to breastfeed” and sent us home with formula. As a first time mom, I felt completely defeated.
For the next two days Dave, my mum and a hospital lactation consultant attempted to help Jack latch onto my breast. Just as he did in the hospital, Jack would flip up his bottom lip and suck on his tongue rather than his meal source. The hospital lactation consultant advised us not to intervene with a breast shield, a pump or a bottle. We were encourage to syringe feed our son while practicing “suck training.”
When Jack was three days old we had our first appointment with our family doctor. It was then we would find that our baby’s inability to latch was having larger consequences than we anticipated. We discovered Jack was discharged from hospital on the high end of normal for Jaundice. Sending him home with the inability to latch resulted in breastfeeding Jaundice. Jack was not receiving enough to eat through the syringe method and was nearly readmitted to hospital that day for treatment.
Our family doctor immediately connected us with a private lactation consultant. Within an hour of leaving the doctor’s office Jack was breastfeeding with the aid of a breast shield and topping up with the use of a bottle. Over the next 24 hours he would gain 3 oz. Within two days his Jaundice symptoms began to ease up and within three days he returned his birth weight. We accomplished this by exclusively pumping.
A few people have asked me whether or not I’m breastfeeding my son. We’ve all heard breast is best, after all. The question, which is a sensitive one, especially when a mum’s experience isn’t what she expected, is one I’m addressing today because I believe no mum should be judged for the way she chooses or is obligated to feed her child. Weighing out all of our options (cost, nutrition, benefits to baby and mom) we decided to exclusively pump and feed our son breast milk via a bottle.
The decision to exclusively pump first made me feel defeated. My son and my body weren’t bonding easily like I anticipated and I felt as through I wasn’t providing my son with the best source of nourishment possible. As we’ve transitioned into this new parenting plan, I feel empowered because despite being unable to breastfeed, I’m still able provide my son with breast milk (really, this was my number one priority and goal). Bottle feeding also allows my husband the opportunity to bond with our son and give this Momma an extra hour of shut-eye during some of the late night feeds.
Our decision to exclusively pump is a decision that requires commitment. Although I’ve only been at it for little over a week, here are some highlights from what I’ve learned:
- To establish a good supply you will want to pump every 2 to 3 hours for 15 to 20 minutes (for the first three months).
- Your body produces the most amount of milk between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Try to pump between those hours if you can!
- Stay hydrated! You will require lots and lots of H20 to keep your supply up.
- Continue to practice skin-to-skin contact. It will help you gain some of those hormonal benefits for yourself and baby without actually breastfeeding. If you feel ambitious, you can also try latching your baby to your breast during this time. Jack and I give it an honest effort a few times a day. When he becomes frustrated, we stop.
- Invest in a good pump. I love the Madela Freestyle. It is a lightweight, rechargeable double pump. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of your pump, so be sure to check with them!
- Massage your tatas while pumping. The last thing you want is to develop a blocked duck. Massaging will help you with your let-down and milk production.
- Invest in good bottles. Bottle fed babies are more likely to suffer from gas and colic. We are using a slow-flow nipple head provided to us by the hospital on our medela bottles. The slow-flow nipple head controls the flow of milk into the baby and helps establish a good suck. Your baby is more likely to transition onto your breast while using a slow-flow or natural-flow nipple head because it mimics the flow of breastfeeding more accurately.
- Remember the 6, 6, 6 rule. Your breast milk will last:
- 6 hours at room temperature
- 6 days in the fridge
- 6 months in the freezer
As a new parent, you have many important decisions to make. One is to choose whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby – make the decision that works bets for your family in consultation with a health care professional. Coming to the right decisions can take time and can be frustrating. Whatever decision you make, stand proud by it and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re doing anything less than your best – you’re one strong Momma!
Exclusively pumping is something that will be a big part of my life, so you can expect to hear more about this topic on my blog!