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This isn’t your traditional post of why breastfeeding your little one is amazing. I breastfed our first born for 12 months successfully, and he gained perfect amount of weight. I know how amazing breastfeeding is for our little ones. I’m sharing with you today why I wasn’t able to breastfeed, or even continue exclusively pumping.
If you’ve read my previous post, My Exclusively Pumping Must Haves, you would know that I had a very difficult time with Jaxson.
Our Struggles with Breastfeeding
I Tried to Breastfeed But He Couldn’t Latch
I was induced on February 22nd, 2017 at 0700 in the morning. Labor was quick and he came just as quickly—I pushed four times and he was out at 1526. I wasn’t able to hold him as long as I wanted because the nurses feared he had inhaled fluid.
They sucked out what they could with the bulb and cleaned him off for me. Back in my arms he went!
He had a recessed chin, a little jaundice, and had difficulties latching onto my breast but we weren’t all too concerned. His brother had the same issues a few years prior, and he ended up nursing like a champ.
We scheduled a two day well visit and I am so glad that we did.
Inconsolable + No Sleep
Jaxson was a completely different baby compared to his brother… I know, babies are all different but looking back now, something was off.
Because he had such difficulties with latching, I decided to nurse him laying down. I didn’t think anything about it because like his brother he was fussy and I had a fast let down.
He wasn’t sleeping at all either, and was frequently crying and inconsolable. By the time our well visit came, I was relieved.
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He Had Lost a Pound
We checked into our appointment on February 24, 2017, a Sunday, and found that Jaxson had lost a whole pound. Not only had he lost a pound he was extremely yellow—he was severely jaundice and bilirubin levels were shockingly high.
The Pediatrician who scheduled the well visit decided to admit us to figure out what was going on. They brought in the lactation consultant who gave me a nipple shield to help Jaxson nurse and latch on. The nipple shield worked and he was able to latch on but there was still something wrong.
They began to weigh him before and after his feeds along with me pumping to keep up with my milk production. Let me tell you, it was exhausting. When he wasn’t under the lights for treating his high levels of bilirubin, I was pumping, and trying to nurse.
We Were Allowed to Go Home + Continue to Breastfeed
They allowed us to go home because of his bilirubin levels dropping and he was latching onto the nipple shield. They still wanted me to follow up with the lactation consultant to work on latching and to check his weight.
It was so difficult feeding him with the nipple shield… he would get so frustrated from hunger, that he would knock over the shield which caused my breast milk to spew all over. I cried, a lot. It was emotionally taxing.
I Decided to Exclusively Pump Instead of Breastfeed
We were admitted again because he wasn’t gaining weight and his bilirubin levels hadn’t resolved. I kindly thanked the lactation consult and began to exclusively pump. I used the hospital grade pump and pumped a tremendous amount of breast milk.
It took Jaxson an hour to consume 1 oz to 1.5 oz of breast milk. My days were spend pumping every couple hour, feeding Jaxson every couple hour for an hour, and trying to sleep.
Instead of taking 6 weeks of maternity leave, I ended up taking 8 weeks. Jaxson had to be admitted for a third time because at 2 months old he hadn’t reached his birth weight of 6 lbs. 10 ounces.
What I learned there was that my milk had more then enough calories for him to gain, it was just that it was taking him TOO long to eat… which caused him to burn way too many calories—more than what he was putting in!
We Began to See a Feeding Therapist
The feeding therapist found that he had an inability to suck and swallow, which caused him to work very hard to consume. When he was working hard to eat, he was aspirating as well.
The therapists came up with a plan: fortify my breast milk with 2 tsp of formula + rice cereal.
Yes, I know what everyone says about adding cereal in the bottles. The doctors / therapists outweighed the risks to help him survive.
After a week of tests, tears, and strategies, we were able to go home!
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I Pumped a Chest Freezer Full of Milk + Donated it!
Due to Jaxson not being able to consume enough, I pumped hundreds if not thousands of ounces of breast milk. We had to get a chest freezer from a friend to keep it.
By month three I told my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t physically or emotionally do it anymore. I had enough breast milk stashed that I slowly started to dry up my milk.
During all of this we found that Jaxson had severe reflux / GERD and couldn’t thrive on my breast milk. It was causing him to spit up a lot on top of the inability to suck and swallow.
I donated my chest freezer of breast milk to a patient of mine who wanted to continue to breastfeed her son and didn’t have the milk production to do so.
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5 Alarming Signs Your Baby Isn’t Getting Enough Milk From Breastfeeding
Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
1 | Inconsolable baby + restlessness
A baby who isn’t getting enough breast milk will be inconsolable and restless. Jaxson would not or could not sleep, we were running on fumes!
2 | Fewer than 5 wet diapers within a 24 hour period
Babies should have five to six wet diapers a day, if you’re having difficulties with disposable diapers… you can use a food scale (our nurses used them to measure urine output).
3 | Jaundice not getting any better
Jaxson had jaundice prior to leaving the hospital, however they felt that he would be able to flush it out of his system at home. Since he wasn’t able to adequately nurse, he wasn’t able to flush out the bilirubin.
His bilirubin levels spiked within two days. If your baby isn’t getting the proper hydration then they may appear yellow, malnourished, and lethargic.
4 | Weight loss + poor weight gain
If your baby isn’t consuming enough breast milk, they will have difficulty gaining weight or even loss weight as Jaxson did.
5 | Fussiness + sleeping at the breast
Jaxson was either fussy, frustrated, or sleeping at the breast. He was working so hard to nurse that he was exhausting himself.
Please read: As I mentioned before please see a proper healthcare professional if you suspect your child is having feeding difficulties.
My Final Thoughts About Our Struggles with Breastfeeding
Remember, only you can decide what is best for your baby and for you. Don’t let anyone make you feel unworthy because you couldn’t breastfeed your baby. FED IS BEST.
My baby thrived on formula and if I had to go back I would do it all over again.
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