I knew the first few months having a baby would be life-changing. I just didn’t realize how much; aka: you can shower, sleep, or eat, but you only have time for one, choose wisely. Needless to say, we didn’t have the easiest start to our little family, but we’re powering through.
Bennett was born with sever jaundice. He was born early (37 weeks). We (Bennett and I) have different blood types so his slightly underdeveloped liver had an extra difficult time processing my red blood cells. This led to him being “under the lights” for the first few days of his life. We also had to stay in the hospital longer.
The combination of the jaundice treatment (being away from me), a
not great terrible nurse who advised me to “wait a long while” before trying to breastfeed for the first time, and his being born early, resulted in nursing challenges. I ended up seeing many lactation specialists, five to be exact. Who, all determined, I was producing hardly any colostrum and then later, I didn’t produce enough milk. Weight tests before and after feedings determined I was only making about half of what Bennett needed. So, all the lactation specialists and pediatricians advised us to supplement with formula. We needed to get the calories in so he could process the red blood cells and get the bilirubin levels down.
The next couple weeks were spent with daily trips to the doctors to get blood work done for his bilirubin tests and weight checks to see if he was gaining. Bad news for both, for a solid week. Bennett ended up losing almost a pound and his levels did not go down like we hoped. Not being able to produce the food my baby needed made me feel like such a failure. Breastfeeding was something I was passionate about. Eventually (after a lot of formula), we got his bilirubin numbers down (at about 2.5 weeks) and then finally at three weeks old, he passed his birth weight.
Despite everything, I haven’t given up on breastfeeding. It’s a long, hard, and tiring road, but I’m trying. I have modified my six month goal, to a one month goal. Then, I’ll continue to set manageable goals to keep my sanity. The feeding plan is as follows:
- Breastfeed on demand (usually every 1.5 hours but can be up to three hours) this of course includes waking him up throughout the night. I was not prepared for that. At the beginning, he was nursing for 45 minutes to an hour. Around week three, we cut that time to an average of 36 minutes per session.
- After breastfeeding, supplement with formula if he is still showing hunger cues and doesn’t seem satisfied. He never is satisfied after nursing. The supplementation started at one ounce, but has increased as he is getting older and growing.
- After breastfeeding, I pump. Pumping started with 30 minutes after every nursing session. Then we cut it to 20 minutes after every daytime nursing. [I was dying with the previous schedule]. Then, after my body still wasn’t improving, the lactation specialists reduced the pumping to 10 minutes. I know they thought I would give up completely if I kept up with the previous schedules.
So, yes, that is a lot. The whole process takes about 1.5 hours. Yep, by the time I finish the feeding, it is time to get going on another feeding. All day, every day.