What I envisioned breastfeeding being, in the hours, days, and weeks after having my first baby, and the reality was quite different. My son lost more than 10 percent of his body weight after he was born. Doctors and nurses were concerned about the decrease in weight and suggested supplementing with formula, but I was determined to exclusively breastfeed. To add to the stress, every time I tried to breastfeed my new baby, he preferred to scream and I had no idea what I was doing.
It can be common for breastfed babies to lose weight after they are born because it can take a few days for the mother’s breast milk supply to come in. Expect more weight loss if you had IV fluids while laboring, because baby also got that extra hydration.
I understood this, but I didn’t expect that I would have to feel pressure from doctors to give my baby formula before ever having the chance to try to be successful with breastfeeding. I felt like I failure. However, the doctor called in the lactation nurse troops and ordered me to work with them if I wanted to be successful with breastfeeding and avoid using formula.
I was disappointed that the process of breastfeeding hadn’t worked out as naturally and easily as I had hoped, but I was willing to take whatever help I could get. The lactation nurses instantly became my coaches and biggest cheerleaders. They wanted to be called any time of day or night to hear my struggles and successes. For the first month, I had more struggles than successes, but they kept me going. It took over four weeks for my son to get back to his original birth weight. Every feeding felt difficult, but we made it through. These were the things that helped ease my anxiety and know that my baby was getting the nourishment he needed:
I pumped breast milk every two hours around the clock. I had a constant supply of breast milk that could be fed to my son when nursing was too stressful for both of us. Pumping also helped maintain my supply when my son refused to nurse.
Lactation nurses immediately taught my husband and I about this tool which helped tremendously. We were able to feed our son my breast milk even when breastfeeding was too difficult and we were able to avoid getting him used to bottles from the very start. Finger-feeding was an excellent solution to some of our problems early on.
Breastfeeding Support Group
I attended a few times a week to get guidance and support. It was reassuring to be able to weigh my baby before nursing him and after nursing while I was there to make sure he was getting a good amount of breast milk. These groups are all over the country--find a breastfeeding support group near you.
Ongoing support from Lactation Nurses
The support started from the moment they delivered a new breast pump and breastfeeding pillow to my hospital room shortly after I delivered my baby. I will be forever grateful for their patience, expertise, and support which motivated me to continue with breastfeeding even when it seemed too difficult.
Sarah Cole is a freelance writer who enjoys reliving the moments of her early days of motherhood through writing. She is a mother of two young children in Colorado and misses them being babies.
Keywords: breastfeeding, baby, weight, breast milk, lactation, lactation nurse, support, pumping, finger-feeding,