"Breast is Best"

When I was younger, a teenager, the thought of breastfeeding wierded me out, and for a long time I didn't think I would do it. As I got older I learned that it was the best option for my future babies, and when I became pregnant with Hudson I even looked forward to it. Turns out it's not as easy as some might think. Sadly, it hasn't gone as smoothly for me as I would have hoped. In those first moments after Hudson was born and the nurse placed him on my chest and we had that first skin-to-skin contact, I was proud of how easily he latched on, but unfortunately this was short lived.

Once we were back in the postpartum recovery room, Hudson had a hard time latching on. It was very frustrating. Once, when I thought he had been feeding quite peacefully for fifteen minutes, a nurse came in only to tell me that he was in fact sleeping. I felt so discouraged. After tears of desperation, the lactation nurse gave he a nipple shield. I was so relieved as Hudson latched on and nursed successfully. The nipple shield became my nursing salvation, but the nurses warned me not to use the nipple shield for too long. A warning to which I did not heed.

I used the nipple shield for two months. During that time I realized that it was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because often times Hudson would knock it off while rooting, or I would sit down ready to nurse only to realize that I had forgotten to grab it from the kitchen. It was an extra step to worry about. A blessing because once it was on he nursed well.

After two months I tired nursing without it, and I was happy to find that Hudson latched on well. I would do some sessions with the shield, some without. In early April Hudson soon became very fussy when I tired to nurse him. He would wail and become quite frustrated; therefore, I became equally frustrated. If he did latch on he would only take one side, nurse for only seven minutes or so and then completely reject the other side. I worried that he was not eating enough and restored to pumping and bottle feeding him.

Around this same time I also worried that about my milk supply. I had started back on birth control and felt it was affecting my milk, so I soon stopped taking it and began pumping every hour and a half to try to build it up again. All the while I was bottle feeding Hudson. I would offer my breast whenever I could, but I believe he came to like the immediacy of the bottle. He had "nipple confusion" and there was nothing I could do about it. I was going back to work and he would need to eat from a bottle anyway; I couldn't eliminate it as recommended when trying to fix nipple confusion. It was very hard on me. I missed that special time with Hudson. I felt inadequate, as if I was somehow failing.

Pumping and bottle feeding is double the work. I am now pumping every three and a half to four hours, and thankfully I've been able to pump enough to fill Hudson's needs. Most times it works out that I can pump while he's napping but not always. Sometimes I have to amuse him whilst pumping. It can be a juggling act. I feel like a slave to the pump. I can't go out for more than 3-4 hour stretches because I have to pump.This summer my family plans on going to Disneyland, and I guess I'm going to have to drag my pump along. It's quite confining. There have been many times when I've thrown my hands up and swore I couldn't do it and that I was going to give up on breastfeeding Hudson altogether, but each time I felt like this I got a gut feeling that it was not right and I've pushed forward with pumping.

Thankfully, I am still able to nurse Hudson in the morning. My milk supply is high, so he will take it, and sometimes he will nurse at night before bed as well. I still offer my breast as often as I can, especially on the weekends, but he never drinks enough to satisfy his hunger. I've considered seeing a lactation consultant, but I feel that Hudson is so stuck in his ways, that she might not be able to help me. Perhaps I will still, but if not I will pump as long as the milk is there.

I share this personal story with any mother who may find herself in my position so that she may know that she is not alone. I commend all breastfeeding mothers. It is a major commitment. It's hard, yet in spite of the fact that pumping takes extra work, I am happy to do it. Heck, I'll do anything for my Little Mister.

7 comments

  1. :( I'm sorry it hasn't been easy.... But just wanted to give you a tip for Disneyland. They have a baby care center with a little pumping room so it makes it nice. It can't be easy on the little guy going back and forth. You're awesome for pumping... I hate it. I would have given up! Glad you haven't!!!

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  2. Thank you for sharing! I have an 11 week old little girl and was absolutely heartbroken when nursing didn't work out for us. My mom has been a member of La Leche League and we practice attachment parenting, so breastfeeding was always a part of being a mother that I really looked forward to. When our little girl had problems latching on, the nurse told us to use a nipple shield as well. Unfortunately, the lack of physical contact that resulted meant that my milk never actually came in (and pumping didn't work either). For weeks I felt like I was literally in mourning for the feeding relationship that I imagined I would have with my daughter, as weird as that might sound, and I still feel a little guilty when I mix up formula, but I am now realizing that she is healthy, thriving, and we have an amazing bond! I hope you are able to keep your spirits up - that beautiful little boy definitely loves you and mamas are strong!!

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  3. Andrew wouldn't latch on either but the lactation never offered a shield. They just told me to pump and that I did for one year. I tried to latch him on when Andrew was a couple weeks old but didn't have success. I know how you feel about pumping, I was in your shoes. You are a good mom and it takes strength to keep up with pumping/breast feeding.

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  4. Breastfeeding is hard work! Pumping or not! You are doing such an awesome thing for Hudson!! Be proud of yourself!

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  5. Nursing is definitely challenging. And every child is different. I nursed all my children except for Molly. I really wanted to nurse her, but I couldn't. When I nursed Mason he had tongue tie, which caused me to feed him wrong which in turn caused damage. When I tried to nurse my next child it was the most painful thing I've experienced. I cried while feeding her because of the pain, and I don't usually cry because of pain, not even during labor. So I chose not to go through that wilts Molly. Sometimes I wonder if that was the right choice. She had some difficulty with formula and we had to try lots of different types and brands until we found one that didn't seem to upset her. Breast is definitely best and I hope that things will work out for you and little Hudson. Seeing a lactation consultant probably wouldn't be a bad thing.

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  6. oh my goodness, i had the same issue. with my first i used a shield, but could only nurse for 4 months, since the fact that i was a pacifier as well as a cow was rough on me (and i needed to go back to work). my second never latched; shield or anything. so i pumped. every. single. bottle. ... and my daughter was only 17 months old when my son was born. so i often had two screaming babies watching me pump every 2-3 hours, and i often would cry right along with them. it made me feel like i couldn't meet their needs and i was a bad mom. this only lasted 4 months, and i convinced myself that cutting the ties with the pump would make me a better mama, so the guilt that came along with stopping breast milk was left behind. and i do feel like it was a positive thing. formula is not cyanide, and both my kids are healthy and smart. as a nurse, of course breast is best, i know that for sure! but as a mom, crying every day can't be good for the kids to see. glad to hear you're sticking through it. hudson is a hunk!

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  7. Thank you, Melody, for this candid post! Honestly, I am planning on breastfeeding, but we'll see how it all works out. You just never know until you have that baby if he will latch on or what will happen. I have to go back to work 6 weeks after he is born, so pumping is another challenge to add in to the mix! I really appreciate your thoughts and I'm sure I'll be referring back to them for comfort in 6-7 weeks as I'm dealing with my own struggles to breastfeed!

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