It’s 7:35 am and I’m sitting in E‘s nursery pumping. Baby girl slept nearly 8 hours from the time she was put down and I’ve already filled a 4 ounce bottle from just one side, and switched it out. Going into and throughout my pregnancy, my nightmares revolved around breastfeeding. I was convinced it wouldn’t work out or that E would end up preferring bottles. Personally, I wasn’t looking forward to the idea that I’d end up offering formula or being an exclusive pumper.Once E was born, she was a champion nurser according to our nurses! Our issue was in demand vs supply. Right off the bat she was starving and no amount of colostrum would satisfy her. She’d eventually get so frustrated she wasn’t satisfied she would refuse to nurse more.
At one point in her first full day of living the kindest nurse asked me how I felt about formula. At this point E had been screaming for hours, fitfully attempting and quitting to cluster feed and was overall miserable. I told her I hated the idea but seeing my baby so miserable was worse. Later that evening, E got her first supplement with formula.
While in the hospital, she had a few more instances of supplementing but overall she was attempting to breastfeed. We were able to meet with a lactation consultant our last morning inpatient and she set us up with a supplemental nursing system and sent us home with formula. I did find it interesting (and food for thought) that when I’d mentioned I’d pumped to induce labor several times (unsuccessfully labor wise) but didn’t save the colostrum expressed she was disappointed I hadn’t saved it. What first time mom thinks to save the dribbles of colostrum that she initially expressed before baby is born?
E had about 5 supplemental instances while home the first 2 days with her. She was fully breastfed by our doctors appointment 2 days after bringing her home but sadly had lost more weight. Needless to say I was worried! The pediatrician we saw that day said we should put her on an every 2 hr nursing schedule, offer her a bottle of breast milk or water in between if she’s inconsolable. I’d expressed to her that E was feeding almost constantly and wouldn’t take a pacifier other than the breast.
I had a hard time following the pediatricians recommendation. I continued to have C offer her one evening bottle of expressed milk but otherwise tried to let her eat on demand. We’d worked hard so far for this relationship and I didn’t want to supplement (even with breast milk) if unnecessary medically.
At a follow-up lactation appt when E was 10 days old, we were given a full seal of approval for all we were doing. Our little gal was latching properly, eating 2-2.5 ounces per session AND had regained her birth weight! In fact, she’d gained 10 ounces in just 5 days!
Evenings were hard those first couple weeks/month. Our version of cluster feeding is akward and unsatisfying for both parties. She was irritable and so was I. Neither of us knew what she wanted…but we stuck it out. Lately, her evening bottles are only every 2-3 days and we’re all much calmer (relatively speaking) in the evening fussy hours.
I had been terrified of the supposed 6 week growth spurt and the rumors it was when lots of mamas and babies quit breastfeeding. I desperately didn’t want to be one but…seeing my baby full and satisfied was an amazingly content feeling.
We still struggle with some issues, mainly flow wise. For bottles, E is currently using Avent and their preemie or newborn flow. This causes her the least discomfort. She still has some difficulty with the flow rate when breastfeeding but doesn’t get nearly upset as she used to!
A few days ago we tried introducing the Medela Calma nipple to her. This nipple is marketed to be uniquely similar in usage to breastfeeding and reduce nipple confusion. I haven’t seemed to have any issues with E and confusion, I’m mainly concerned with flow. This nipple is attractive to me due to its ability to work directly with the Evenflo glass bottles I pump into. One less transfer and bottle to wash is ideal for me! E did great with it for the small bottle she received. I hope to introduce it more and see if we can transition to mainly using that.
Overall, this girl is a champ. We’ve been working really hard on a loose routine during the day and we’ve made a ton of progress. We try to follow an eat, wake, sleep routine however our main concentration is keeping the wake time to around an hour and getting her to sleep. This means we are often running an eat, wake, eat, sleep schedule but it’s working to get her the rest she needs to grow. Therefore, she’s still feeding every hour or so.
It dawned on me recently that this little lady and I have made it nearly eleven weeks now in this journey. Her and I have developed a system for what works and doesn’t work for us. Shortly, our story and system will change slightly but in time we will adjust, continuing our journey.