Thursday, August 13, 2009

Breast feeding Blues

We brought Rohan back from the hospital on a Thursday afternoon. That Friday morning, we had his first check up with the pediatrician. It was there we learned he lost about 10% of his birth weight. The doctor was worried about his weight loss and asked us to supplement the breast feeding I was doing with formula. We agreed to bring him back Monday morning to check how his weight was doing.

I cried in the parking lot, devastated that I wasn't able to properly feed my child, beside myself with worry about his weight loss. Not even a week had gone by and I was already failing as a mother. I kept asking myself what we were doing wrong. Josh was close to tears, too. To hear that there was something wrong with our baby was hard. We were both not expecting bad news that morning.

Later that day, a nurse came by to check on my recovery. We told her about his weight loss and she was surprised no one had told me that my milk will take about a week to come in. A week! She also said that someone my size is not automatically equipped to feed a 9 pound baby. That this type of weight loss is normal and expected. And that there was nothing wrong with me.

When we got the pump and were able to measure how much milk I had in ounces, I found that I was giving him a quarter of an ounce of milk at each feeding. A quarter of an ounce! I was slowly starving my child and had no idea. It terrified me that if we hadn't gone to the doctor that morning, I would have continued to underfeed him. I was also shocked that with all the doctors and nurses that paraded in and out of my room for three days, no one told me that this may happen. I was also surprised that the pediatrician didn't mention that my milk may not be in yet, and that this may be a reason for his weight loss. I was angry at myself for not being able to feed him, angry at myself for not knowing that this may happen, and angry at the doctors and nurses for not even giving me an inkling of a warning. The formula worked like a charm, and his weight was back to normal on Monday morning. I don't know what would have happened if he didn't get the formula. What if the doctors appointment was Monday instead of Friday? We would have gone all weekend without knowing that he wasn't getting any food from me. I don't even want to think about it.

In addition to thinking I could adequately feed my own child after he was born, I also was under the misconception that breast feeding would come naturally. It doesn't. The first three days, it was stressful for both of us. He was fussy and unhappy and needed to eat every hour and half (clearly because I was barely giving him anything at all). I dreaded the pain and discomfort that accompanied each feeding. By day three, I was seriously considering going the formula route. When I found out that I was starving my kid, I was all set to quit.

Luckily, my mother-in-law knew a lactation consultant, who came to the house Monday afternoon. She not only showed me what I was doing wrong, she taught me how to teach Rohan to feed properly. She told me that what I am going through is normal, that it could take up to two weeks for my milk to come in, and stressed that I was doing nothing wrong. I sobbed with relief. For three days, I felt like a failure. It was like someone lifted a huge weight off my chest and head when I heard that everything was going to be ok. Now, I look forward to feedings; Rohan usually locks eyes with me and his expression is just so content and trusting, it is indescribable. I am already dreading weaning him onto just formula when I get ready to go back to work. For now, I am just happy that I am able to give him whatever I can. Happy that I am doing everything I can for him, including a bottle feeding here and there when I don't have enough.

For all you would-be mothers out there, don't go through the drama and tears that I did. If you want to breast feed, talk to the doctors and nurses in the hospital about what you can do to feed your baby while you milk comes in, make sure that you are watching your baby's weight loss those first two or three days, and be prepared to supplement with formula. Don't make the mistakes I did; read up on breast feeding beforehand, take a prenatal breast feeding class, and talk to breast feeding mothers about their experiences. Talk to the nurses about teaching your baby how to latch on properly. If not the nurses, then a lactation consultant. For something that is supposed to be so natural, it does not come naturally for everyone.

And on a much lighter note, how cute is this?

And this?


Blogger Kerri said...

That is awful you had to go through that! But that is good advice to know for the future! Rohan is adorable! I love him in his green onesie!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Deepa said...

Thanks! And green is def his color (just like his mom!)

9:30 AM  
Blogger Kiwi said...

Oh my goodness, what a gorgeous little dear! Amazing pics :) (And as you said in the previous post, the pictures do the talking hehe!)

The other part of your post sounds scary :( I'm sorry you had to go through that too. It's great that you had someone to give you advice.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad it seems to be going smoother now! Rohan is very lucky to have two parents who love him so much.


8:44 AM  
Blogger tarah said...

I love that photo of Rohan and Josh! and like the rest, I'm very sorry you went through that! I can't even imagine. But I'm glad it's now such a special time for you both.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Wow, just wow. BID signed me & O up with a lactation consultant about 3 days post birth. B/c he was early I was already pumping & they were supplementing. It sucks that
the docs made you feel like a failure when you are hormonally vulnerable. Bfeeding takes a lot of work, but I always loved the closeness.

8:04 PM  

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