My hospital has some amazing patient services for new mother’s and their babies. My hospital is considered “baby friendly” which sounds so silly as shouldn’t all hospitals be baby friendly? What this actually means is that they encourage breast feeding, don’t provide formula or pacifiers, practice rooming in and not baby in nursery, and they have a mother/baby assessment center where all the prenatal and postpartum classes take place along with you meeting with a lactation consultant two days after discharge and then again if you need it.
My first meeting with a lactation consultant went well. They observe you nursing and provide feedback to help you. They also assess your new little one to make sure they are healthy. They changed the size of *nipple shield that I was using to help Monkey latch better and also to ensure that my nipple was not having additional damage (it was bruised and bleeding due to the first shield being slightly too small). She advised me not to time my feedings and to let her feed on one side until she detaches herself. She told me to always offer the second side, even if she doesn’t eat from it. I had been timing her feeds and switching after 15 minutes, which I now know could have caused issues with her receiving too much foremilk and not much hindmilk.
At around week five I decided that I wanted to start pumping and storing milk. I had occasionally pumped so that my husband could give her an ounce or two in a bottle (just to get her used to a bottle and to let him get to help feed her). So I started to pump both sides after each feeding for 10 to 15 minutes. Within a few days Monkey started to get more fussy (to read all about her issues click here) and had green poop, more gas, what looked like stringy white mucous in her poop, and always seemed hungry. I started to do some research (La Leche League) and it sounded like I had a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. I quickly realized that by pumping after she fed I was telling my body that she was eating more and, therefore, increasing my foremilk. So she would get the amount of foremilk that a baby eating more than her would need.
The LLLI suggested block nursing, or nursing from each side back to back (for example – nurse on the right side exclusively, then at the next feeding which occurs within four hours) feed again on you right side. Next feeding start by feeding on the left.
I started block nursing on Friday and by Monday she was much better. I went to meet with a Lactation Consultant that Monday morning to get some feedback.
She weighed Monkey and told me that she was not gaining enough weight she said that she should have gained at least 4oz a week (when I later did the math she been). She observed me feeding her and stated that she may have to remain using the nipple shield for the entire time that I fed her. She suggested taking off the shield mid feed and seeing if she would latch. After feeding her, Monkey was again weighed to gauge how much she had eaten. The consultant was apparently thrown by my use of cloth diapers and did not know how to weigh her so after a ton of back and forth she concluded that she had only eaten an ounce… not enough for a six week old.
I left feeling like a terrible mother who was not feeding her baby not nearly enough! My only solace was that she was meeting her mile stones, was gaining weight, and had plenty of wet/dirty diapers.
I ended up taking Monkey to the doctor that Friday due to a rash appearing (see here for that drama) and she was weighed at that time. Her doctor said that she was remaining in the 5% for children her age. He did not appear concerned about her weight, which was a relief.
But it did make me realize that everything is subjective and nothing is a constant. As a parent, I can’t get upset when I am doing my best… even though I will!
She is still doing well and gaining, although she is still skinny!
*Nipple shields are used to aid a mother in feeding. Some women have short or flat nipples and a shield can help a little one latch correctly. Also, if a little one has a small mouth and has. Hard time latching or has been bottle fed, a shield can aid in them latching. Consult a lataction consultant for proper fit and usage.