Breastfeeding Chronicles: Late Let Down
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
So this is a shorter story about my milk coming in super late. 6 days post c-section. Again, baby boy was born at 10 lbs and 6 ounces by cesarean section, which has its own host of problems. I knew from the jump that I wanted to breastfeed for as long as baby would allow, ideally, at least a year.
If you stop reading after this paragraph, just know this: Breastfeeding is HARD. Think second job hard, because you will put in just as many hours. But MY GOD it is worth it. Forget taking 24 credit hours my last semester of college while working part time; forget moving houses across the city while 33 weeks pregnant while in grad school with my husband deployed; brea
stfeeding takes a physical, mental, and emotional toll on you, but if you can persevere, there is nothing as rewarding.
Breastfeeding for one year is approximately 1,800 hours. A full-time job with three weeks vacation is 1,960 hours.
Latching. First of all, if this is your first baby, it is awkward and weird. I just had this little person come out of my body and now I am trying to shove my breast into his or her mouth. Go for it! If you've ever seen the office, think of Pam's lactation visit, (sandwich it and stuff it in! But speaking from experience, baby can latch well and not get milk. You mean, I just spent nine (plus) months growing this human and now I have no food for them? BODY! WAKE UP! What else were you doing for the past nine months besides turning food into a human and now we can't turn food into milk? Seems like a much easier process if you ask me. But you didn't.
So anyway, we're latched. We're rolling! Except not. And FYI: Baby needs milk within 2 hours or so for tests (Vitamin K, I believe?). So I was not able to offer colostrum or milk and my baby got donor milk. NBD. But I would get milk soon, right?
You would think! We nursed for 45, yes, 45, (you heard me, FORTY FIVE) minutes minimum on each side at one point when we were still in the hospital. He cries, we latch, he nurses until he falls asleep. Everything seems okay, but the nurses are growing concerned because he is losing weight. If the threshold for weight loss before concern was 8%, we left the hospital and he had lost 7%. However, being born at such a high weight, he had a few ounces to spare, right? Either way, it just added to my stress since my son was not gaining any weight. (We did check the normal things, wet diapers, dirty diapers, he was getting something.
Discharged: Now we are on our own! Relatively speaking, as both our moms were around to help. My mom lived with us for a few weeks and really just helped us transition to being parents by doing things I could now not do: cook, laundry, dishes, cook..etc. Also, because of my c-section, I was confined to my bedroom because I could not walk up and down the stairs as I please. Our first night home, I think I pumped maybe half an ounce in total. It felt like something! But really, it was nothing. We also gave baby boy a bit of formula and that was the first time he seemed to sleep soundly. THAT RIGHT THERE was temptation. Formula was almost a guarantee because you could always buy the formula and mix it with water to ensure your baby is getting nutrients. But I did not want to do it. I was determined to make my milk come in to feed my baby.
They say when the tears flow, so will your milk. FALSE. While the first couple of days remain a blur, I do have proof that my milk came in on day 6 of baby boy's life; I cried and still did not feel my milk come in. I googled and read so many articles about feeling your milk come in, but I felt nothing. I wanted to hope that my milk was coming in and I was oblivious to the feeling, but when the doctor's visit just stirred up more concern from myself and now a medical professional, I was a bit discouraged. We saw our doctor on 08/06, 08/13, 08/17, and 08/23; all visits around baby boy being underweight and/or breastfeeding. It was definitely an uphill battle.
FINALLY, 6 days later, it was clear that my milk was in and we were rocking and rolling. However, because of his birth weight, baby boy had a lot of catching up to do, weight-wise. The doctor advised we offer formula as well as breastfeeding, which, I was incredibly reluctant to do. I wouldn't reject the idea, because it wasn't about me, it was about my child. However, I was not happy with the suggestion. We only ended up giving him about an ounce after nursing (and pumping), but within a month he was not losing weight as fast as before. We ended up supplementing for about three months..? Until the end of October (I think).
(Fun fact: Fast forward about 6 months and we are fighting with that damn growth chart to be in the normal range. My uncle pacified my concerns by reminding me that he is not malnourished or at risk of being sick. Long and lean are attributes basically every one strives for.)
So that was my 6 day late let down. That was merely the start of my endless supplements and diet changes I made to make more milk. Everything, literally everything, in baby boy's first month--and pretty much right until he weaned himself at almost 17 months--was about making enough milk for him. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
As I told a friend recently,
"Breastfeeding is a war, not a battle. Latching is a battle. Pumping is a battle. Giving in to supplementing with formula is a battle, night feedings, cracked nipples, mastitis...I’ve been there.
You cannot, for the sake of your goals for your new baby, give up because of obstacles. You will emerge on the other side feeling so victorious you might want to even start a blog to share with other mamas 😉
Keep it up! Know that you are not alone. Just be careful when supplementing because you could develop mastitis. And boy do I have a story about that!