Thursday, April 4, 2013

Struggles with breastfeeding

I have been putting off writing this post. Breastfeeding is a bit of a touchy subject for me. Mostly because I feel like I have failed at it multiple times.

With Elisabeth I didn't make it past 6 weeks. It was painful, I was stressed, she stopped growing, I didn't feel good about it, so I stopped. It was a both good and bad. Suddenly we had a very happy, growing baby. I however experienced something I didn't expect. I missed it.

Past experience made me even more determined to breastfeed Julius. I know the benefits and I think it really is best for baby. I made it in total, 6 months. However, at around 4 months Julius stopped growing. We added food at 5 months to make up for the loss.. however the stubborn child decided it was boob or nothing. After a few days of him starving himself for over 8 hours just so he could have breast milk, we decided it was best if we cut him off. He needed the nutrition. I was emotionally heart broken. But.. he needed to grow.

I had/have a lot of guilt over this. I don't quite understand why I can't seem to make nutritional milk past a certain point. Why doesn't my body do what it is supposed to do. I figured perhaps it was the stress of moving from one city to another. I had a lot of stress the first time around as well.

I tossed around the idea of not breast feeding Olivia out of fear of having another child not grow. But I know breast feeding is so good for them. So, that is what I did.

It has been a struggle with Olivia from day one. She had a sever tongue tie, and although we got it clipped only days after she was born.. the damage was done. I pushed through the pain only to get thrush. Then a blocked duct, which turned into mastitis. But we pushed on. I was determined to make it to 6 months.

Around 5 months, her eating habits changed. She started eating every 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs around the clock. Warning bells starting going off. I talked to a couple of people. I was told it was normal and to not worry about it. Knowing my past experiences I should have known better. I should have found someone who would take my concern seriously. Someone who would have looked at my past, my health (because my body has never done things the way it is supposed to), and might have considered that I am a rare case of just not being able to produce healthy fatty milk.

In the beginning of March we moved to a new city, which meant new doctors. We took Olivia for her 5 month check up a month late. Since birth Olivia has dropped down to lines on the growth curve. She has grown very little over the last few months.

I.Felt.Horrible. The reason she is up and eating every 2 hours around the clock is because she is actually hungry because she isn't getting enough.

The doctor suggested we call the children's nurse (here in Denmark we have a health professional who is specialized in children under 5 and particularly the first year), and have her come and look at Olivia, talk about our food options for her, and to schedule a weight checkup in April.

I was pretty sure this was the end of breast feeding for us. Over the last week I have been having an internal battle with whether I should continue and be stressed about Olivia getting the nutrition she needs, or just going with formula. It has weighed very heavily on my mind.

Today we met with the nurse. She was wonderful. We discussed many things, including how to get Olivia to not eat at night. She pointed out things such as your child will be angry, but she never needs to cry alone. We are not to wean her at night until we can get her to eat 4 meals a day of table food for a week.

We also discussed how I should NOT stop breast feeding. She does not think formula is the answer, at least for now. Olivia does, however, need to gain weight. The nurse made this assessment  not by actually weighing her, but looking at her. He said she doesn't have enough 'chunk' on her. She showed us that Olivia is a bit too much skin and bones around the belly. Then she weighed her and looked at how tall she is. She is 71 cm and 6.6 kg. A bit too small.

So our plan of action is this: 4 meals of day, no matter what. Since Olivia isn't that fond of mushy food, just skip it. Give her the real stuff. Feed her what we are eating if we can (minus all the salt). Breast feed Olivia whenever she wants it during the day (and night for now). In a month, she will come back and we will re-evaluate.

She also explained to me that there is a breast feeding hump. All women reach a point where breast feeding alone is not enough, and food needs to be introduced. Some women reach this point sooner than others. Me, it seems, to be about the 4 month mark.

After today I feel considerable better. We have a plan, and we finally have found both a doctor and a children's nurse that takes us seriously. No more with the 'that is rarely the case' so that can't be the problem. Because lets face it.. we kind of do rare in this family. I labored 3 times in a extremely uncommon way (even more so since it happened 3 times!), Julius had a very rare time of seizures do to an iron deficiency (which could have been due to my crappy milk).

All that a side, I am happy that this doesn't need to be the end of breast feeding, because I am really not ready to stop. So wish us lucky in fattening the little one up!


  1. So happy to hear that you have a happy "ending". My first time I didn't nurse outside the hospital - not even 48 hours. My second we made it to 8 months when we started giving her a bit of formula (because she was smaller than she should have been, even getting food) and she weaned herself. I was happy with the 8 months since 6 months was my goal in the beginning. I'm expecting again and my goal is to breastfeed for 8 months. :-)

    I had low milk supply a lot it took a lot to keep my supply up. Good luck!

  2. SO glad to hear that you found some peace about this. Kids are a lot tougher than we think!

  3. I am going to show this post to my mom. Shes a lactation consultant so this is kind of a perfect read for her :)