Sunday, April 8, 2012

Breastfeeding: Our First Challenge

We look like we're having a good time, right?

Just seconds before I took these pictures, I had tears streaming down my face as I tried to  convince Hudson to nurse. Even though I felt like I'd been up for days, I decided to embrace our time together (especially in the middle of the night) and to try to stay positive even during challenging moments (especially in the middle of the night).

I am sure that raising a child will have a number of challenges along the way, and our first challenge was breastfeeding! I'm happy to say that - at least for now - we conquered the challenge!


Long Story Short...
(I wrote a TON about this, so don't feel like you need to read the whole thing; ) I tried to be detailed in case I want to refer to this later for myself or for a friend!)

Breastfeeding was NOT easy for us at first! It took several weeks before Hudson was nursing consistently. We were able to overcome our challenge by: asking questions, getting help from lactation consultants, being patient, reading on, and visiting with other moms. I was ready to give up when he was two weeks old, but I stuck with it! Now he is an "efficient eater" and can nurse in 7 minutes! 


Our BF Story

I took a class at the hospital about breastfeeding before Hudson was born. The class was informative, and the teacher was GREAT! In addition to talking about some of the benefits of breastfeeding (some info: 1, 2, 3), she shared information about the importance of having a successful latch, and she told us how to know if the baby is getting enough milkShe did not make breastfeeding sound easy, but she had a positive attitude and shared a number of resources in case we had any difficulties. What she obviously could not tell us was whether or not we would face any of these difficulties!

In the hospital, the nursery nurses helped me with breastfeeding within an hour of Hudson's birth. At first, I thought we were doing well. I was incredibly patient (which is NOT one of my innate characteristics!), and at times he seemed to be getting the hang of things. As our time in the hospital went on, I did become a little worried. When we were having success, I was holding the baby, Nick was holding the baby's hands out of the way, and a nurse or lactation consultant was shoving my breast in the baby's mouth. It occurred to me that I wouldn't have six hands when we returned home!

As instructed by friends, I asked a lot of questions, and I frequently called the nurses for help. The nurses were great! They came at all hours of the day and night to try to get Hudson to nurse. They offered tips and suggestions, and they were extremely patient with my questions and concerns. Before we left the hospital, a lactation consultant met with us, and she gave us additional advice and resources. She also suggested that we call if we had any questions or concerns (foreshadowing!).

When we left the hospital, our discharge nurse suggested that we feed Hudson with a medicine cup if he had trouble nursing when we got home. Thank goodness she gave us this advice! 

When we arrived home, Hudson nursed ONCE before refusing to nurse for the rest of the night. As I mentioned, our first night was tough. Hudson would not nurse, so we were feeding him from a medicine cup. He would root as though he were looking for a nipple, and that made holding the medicine cup without spilling it quite difficult. We wished we would have had a Medela SoftCup Advanced Cup Feeder or something similar!

He would scream SO SO SO loud, and he would turn bright red. He was SO SO SO frustrated, and we didn't know what to do. As Nick tried to feed him a little bit of formula, I tried to figure out the breast pump (Note to others: I'd suggest opening the breast pump before you go to the hospital! There are parts to boil and instructions to read. It is NOT fun to have to figure it all out when the baby is screaming and you haven't had much sleep in days!). Luckily, I quickly figured out the pump, and we gave him less than an ounce of formula in all! Hudson cried so much and so loud that first night at home that his voice was hoarse the next day: ( 

I called the hospital the next day, and I spoke with a very reassuring lactation consultant. I cried as I told her what was going on, but she told me everything was normal and gave me some useful tips. She told me to call back if our troubles continued!

We visited the doctor twice that week, and Hudson's weight had dropped both times even though I thought he was nursing a little bit better. His lowest weight was 6 pounds, 9 ounces - almost a pound less than his birth weight: ( My doctor suggested that we visit a lactation consultant at the hospital and told us to make sure to offer bottles.

At this point, our nursing routine was exhausting! I would pump a little, try to get Hudson to latch, feed him a bottle I had pumped earlier, pump, change his diaper, and clean up the pump. It took me over an hour every time I nursed, and I was nursing every two hours! That means that about 45 minutes after I finished cleaning up it was time to start the process over again! 

I went to the hospital twice (when Hudson was 11 days old and 15 days old) to work with lactation consultants. They were SO SO SO helpful! In front of them, Hudson showed off, and it looked like we were pros! It gave me some hope, and the consultants had more tips and tricks! One tip they gave me was to put a rolled up blanket under the baby's head. This simple trick made such a difference for us! Since I'm tall, I think my boppy is too low. Putting a blanket under his head made it easier for him to reach and for both us to get comfortable!

I also went to the breastfeeding support group at the hospital. I could weigh him for free, talk to lactation consultants, and commiserate with other moms. Hudson's weight began to shoot up, and the nurses reassured me that he was gaining plenty of weight! In fact, at one appointment, he had gained about 2.5 ounces/day since the week before!

In between all of the expert advice, I spent a lot of time reading on  The information made me feel like our troubles were normal, and I began to feel like I was learning a lot.

Although it took several weeks, eventually I stopped preparing bottles for Hudson because I was confident he would nurse. As many of the experts told us, as he grew and became stronger, nursing became easier for us! I'm glad that I stuck with it, and I'm grateful for all of the support and encouragement I had along the way! I'm glad I took the breastfeeding class before he was born so that I knew what to do when our challenges began.

We're pretty much nursing experts now! Hudson still nurses about every two hours, and he usually only nurses on one side at a time. It is crazy to think that just two and half months ago I almost gave up, and now I can even nurse in public while walking down the stairs (True story! I nursed him while Lisa tried on her wedding dress, and we were still nursing when it was time to leave!). While nursing isn't for everyone, I'm glad that I was able to access the resources to make it work for us!


Lisa Wilkinson, CPC said...

I'm glad you hung in there! It must have been so frustrating for you both. He's an eating champ now. Good work, mama!

Cassie said...

I'm so happy nursing is easier for you now!! I'ts really nice you have all those resources to help you. You are such a good mama!

I remember nursing being a little challenging in the beginning with Avery and then it just got easier. With Owen it was so easy I didn't even think about it. I nursed them both until they were 21 months and it was great!

I'm glad you and Hudson have your rhythm down now.


Elisa B said...

Loved reading this - good for you to be so open! I had many many nursing challenges with Jonah, and not too many with Reuben, but I still know that it is work to get the hang of it, and I am already saying my prayers that the new baby boy and I get a good rhythm going once he arrives!