I feel at such a loss and overwhelmed over this whole breastfeeding thing and need some help and guidance.
My baby girl was born via emergency c-section 2 weeks early and weight 5lb5oz at birth. I wasn't allowed to have skin to skin right away as she was whisked away to be cleaned and poked and prodded. I didn't get to see her until 2 hours after birth at which point we attempted breastfeeding. My left nipple is inverted and my right is flat but bigger than the left.
Breastfeeding was a struggle from the get-go and I saw three different LCs at the hospital before I left. Each one helped me out and feeding her was a little bit better each time but it's still a huge struggle. I was taught the football hold because of my c-section incisions. I was given a nipple shield to use during feeding and shells to wear the rest of the time and told to pump at every other feeding. Because of her small size they told me to wake her every 2 hours to feed her, which I did. Towards the middle of her second week, she started sleeping for 4 hours at a stretch and would not be roused awake. Even when I tried waking her up at 2-3 hours she would just fall asleep the second her head was by my breast so I just began letting her sleep and having her tell me when she was hungry.
I tried on demand feeding but her cues weren't great. She would sleep, then as soon as she woke up she would start crying (a hunger cry I would assume) so I would change her diaper right away (as she never cries with a soiled diaper so I always have to check when she wakes up) and then breastfeed her. I hated the nipple shield so I tried it once in the middle of the night without it and she was able to latch so I decided to give it up.
The struggle we were having then was she refused to stay latched. I would put the nipple in her mouth, she would suck once, push it away with her hand while pulling her head back, start crying and then open her mouth again to indicate hunger. This would happen for a long time until she finally latched or I gave up in frustration. And sometimes when feeding she would also fall asleep in the middle which was when I would say "all done" and put her to sleep. Some of those feedings didn't take very long either...at the shortest 4 minutes and the longest 13 minutes. But I was concerned she wasn't eating enough so I called a private LC who does house calls.
After her evaluation she told me to use the nipple shield for 5 mins in the beginning and then latch her off the shield and onto my nipple. She also told me to "wake" her in the middle of feedings by doing baby crunches and not to just take her falling asleep as her being done because she wasn't at such short feedings. I did get reassurance she was eating though because she had gained weight since her last weight at the pediatricians.
Our feedings were going slightly better but still not great. We had less problems with her latching off continuously (except for an hour battle yesterday with both of us in tears...) and she seemed to be feeding for 20 or more minutes at a stretch but usually 15 minutes. She still was sleeping 4 hours at night and sometimes 3 during the day which the LC said was fine and not to wake her just to feed. She also is having a ton of wet diapers and pooping a lot too so that was another sign she was eating well.
So I tried doing the shield in the beginning and then switching to the bare nipple. It worked a couple of times. But for the most part, as soon as I took it off and gave her my nipple she would just leave it in her mouth and fall asleep even though she was sucking on the shield. So now I try just the bare nipple first to see if she will take it and most times she will. The other problem I am having now is she stops sucking and I feel like she doesn't/can't get into a rhythm. I have to do either compressions with my thumb or gently nudge her under her chin (which is what the LC told me to do) to get her going again. Other times I will put the bare nipple in her mouth and she just stares at me and doesn't do anything. But usually she doesn't have her eyes open once she gets going, she will suck with her eyes closed but she is awake.
Yesterday I also noticed that when my nipple came out of her mouth, it looked flattened. I have very large areolas and very large breasts (was a 38/40 DD before and haven't been measured since but assume it has gone up at least 2 cup sizes because they look mammoth) and I cannot really see how much of the areola she has in her mouth because when I try to lift the breast to check it usually moves in her mouth and I don't get an accurate view. So now I am convinced she isn't latched correctly. However, I do not have pain, just the initial latch but after that it's fine.
Another weird thing she does is sometimes she will breathe very loudly with the nipple in her mouth without sucking and will let out a wheeze. Does that mean I am suffocating her or is that normal? It just sounds scary.
Last night she actually fed on the right breast for almost 30 minutes. As soon as I picked her up and was about to lay her down on the changing table to change her diaper she spit up and it came out her nose and mouth. I got so scared! She has spit up a couple of times before, not really sure what triggers it as the feedings weren't long then, and the pediatrician assured me that spitting up was normal but it makes me feel so bad as I spent all that time feeding her and now it's gone to waste.
Yesterday we had our follow-up phone call and the LC also told me to not to sleep with my shells in as they could cause blocked ducts depending on how I slept. I tried it last night and when it was feeding time, even with the shield, I was in A LOT of pain! My nipples also looked like they went back to "normal" (ie. before I started wearing the shells to draw them out). So I ended up putting them back in.
Thank you to anybody that can help me out or offer any guidance because I am getting to a point where I dread feedings and that is not what I should be feeling. I should be bonding. I love her so very much and only want what's best (which is breastfeeding) and really don't want to give up but with all the problems we are having I am not able to enjoy my time with her. As it is all she does is sleep and eat. She has very few awake moments during the day when she's not feeding so I get no play time with her. Sometimes I will lay her on my chest after a feeding just to have some time bonding.