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Thread: Considering EPing - need feedback

  1. #1
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    Aug 2012
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    Default Considering EPing - need feedback

    Hi mamas,

    I'm considering exclusively pumping and need some feedback.

    Our story actually begins with my older child's extremely premature birth. He was born at 26 weeks and, after working very hard at breastfeeding, we found out that be was aspirating the minute amounts he was able to transfer into his lungs. It was recommended that we move to bottlefeeding, as his swallow was only safe with very thick liquids. So I pumped for him for 9 months and fed him my milk, thickened, in bottles.

    I remember finding out that he was aspirating. I was sitting next to his NICU isolated, holding him and crying and his precious nurse rubbed my arm and brought me kleenex. She knew I was heartbroken. Then, an hour or so later, he had his first thickened bottle. His nurse fed him to make sure he did okay with that thickness (and, frankly, I was so sad that I really didn't want any part of it). I just cried while she fed him. He drank that bottle down in no time. We'd worked for so many feedings, trying to get him to transfer more than a few milliliters and he took the bottle like he'd been doing it his whole life. I was so sad.

    Fast forward almost 4 years and now I'm nursing my almost 3-month old daughter and it's been one challenge after another. Currently we're dealing with her crying through many feedings everyday. She really only nurses peacefully while asleep. I don't know why. I'm working with a great IBCLC and a LLL leader friend, but so far we can't seem to figure it out. All I know is that my sweet baby cries when I move her into feeding position and I want to quit.

    If I knew I wouldn't regret it later, I'd just start pumping and giving her my milk in a bottle and be done with these struggles. But I'm scared of feeling the same disappointment and sadness I felt with my son...

    I guess I came on to ask if those of you who EP feel fulfilled with the closeness and bonding you have with your babies when bottlefeeding. I wish I could say I did with feeding my son his bottles, but our story didn't end there. Unfortunately, he began crying with every bottle and eventually became completely orally averse, was diagnosed as failure to thrive and had a feeding tube placed.

    So, you can see where my own aversion to my babies crying during feedings comes from...

    I feel like I'm so preoccupied with trying to figure out why she's crying that I'm missing out on enjoying her...

    Any feedback, things to think about, etc are appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    I am just figuring out breastfeeding myself so I don't have any helpful advice but I want to offer you hugs and support. My LO and I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding at first after a stay in the NICU and I wanted to quit many times. I DEFINITELY know that feeling of missing out on enjoying your baby because you're struggling with every feeding. I think all of us who have been there will tell you that they are so happy they stuck it out. Being chained to that pump is so hard. But I know the feeling of wondering when you should cut your losses and just find a solution that will allow you to relax and stop working so hard at fixing things. One thing that helped me was that I had a very experienced IBCLC who I felt like I could trust so completely, and I would have these very frank conversations with and just say, you know, I am not sure how much longer I can work on this, I need to know that based on your experience and given our issues, you really believe we can eventually get to a positive breastfeeding relationship. And she would say, I make no promises but I definitely believe this is doable for you. And she would point out the progress we were making and how HUGE it was, which I sometimes had a hard time seeing. I basically trusted her to tell me when there was nothing more she could do to help and decided that until that day came, I would keep working on it. That is all that kept me going and I'm really glad we did.
    Last edited by @llli*sprocket; September 17th, 2012 at 07:42 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    I think you'll hear from the EP'ing moms on the forum that they are sad that they had to EP, that it was a last resort for them, that they grieved not being able to brestfeed, and that it is a TON more work, in the long run, than breastfeeding. Personally, I would work VERY HARD to avoid having to EP. Even if I was only able to latch a few times a day, I would do that, rather than give up breastfeeding altogether.

    Three months is still really early. I am sorry you are having a tough time, but I absolutely think you should keep working at this. There is a good chance that if you persevere, you can work through your issues, and go on to have a long and satisfying breastfeeding relationship. As the PP said, you just take it day by day.

    I can see why your son's oral aversion would have you worried. Was there ever any explanation for that? Just curious: As an older child, does he have any sensory processing issues? Have you ever seen an occupational therapist? Will your baby nurse when she's sleepy? Sorry if you've shared these issues elsewhere, but oral aversions can be caused by sensory issues which may have a genetic component, which is why I'm asking. (However, they are also more common in premature babies, so that might have been his issue.) Some LCs also have special expertise with babies who fight the breast.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    Thank you so much for both of your responses. I had a long talk with our IBCLC tonight and feel somewhat better. I definitely would never decide to quit on a "bad" day...but there seems to be some relief in at least seeing it as an option.

    To answer the oral aversion question, his oral aversion grew from lots of different places. First, his gag reflex has always been very sensitive. I think likely because of how long he was ventilated after birth. Second, I think the thickened bottles themselves were aversive to him (even though they protected his lungs). Babies aren't made to drink honey-thick liquids. Especially a teeny baby with an already sensitive gag reflex. So, all together, he had a tough road. Unfortunately, the feeding tube didn't help matters, as he never tolerated tube feedings very well. He began having terrible reflux and vomited several times a day. This went on way too long until we found a gastroenterologist who is passionate about getting kids off of feeding tubes. I'm happy to report that he hasn't needed his since January and should have it removed after this cold/flu season passes.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    Oh, and yes, he gets OT and does have some residual (mild) sensory issues, but not SPD specifically. Likely all related to his prematurity.

    My daughter does nurse well asleep. And the occasional awake feeding is good, too. Plus, before the last few weeks, she didn't fuss at all during nursing.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*3kidsmama View Post
    My daughter does nurse well asleep. And the occasional awake feeding is good, too. Plus, before the last few weeks, she didn't fuss at all during nursing.
    Whew! These are all REALLY GOOD signs that she can and will nurse well. So the fussiness is recent? I assume you have had her checked out for an ear infection, sore throat, or other bug that could be causing feedings to be painful for her?

    I'm glad to hear you son is doing so well. That is such a hard road. We have lots of moms of kids with sensory issues here. My 3 yo has a speech delay and some sensory issues not quite amounting to SPD (at this point) as well.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*3kidsmama View Post
    And the occasional awake feeding is good, too. Plus, before the last few weeks, she didn't fuss at all during nursing.
    These are good signs!! You have other kids so you know this already but I've been so amazed at how much they change from week to week at this age. You just never know when they are going to turn some corner over around an issue that was causing you both so much grief before. Maybe just promise yourself that you'll keep trying X more weeks and see where you're at.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    Um, NO. I was NOT happier. I did NOT feel more closely bonded. In fact, that stupid bottle and the 1000+ hours I spent at the pump detracted from my relationship with that baby. I HATED those special feeder. He had to have them. He was unable to nurse. We had no choice. But I KNEW what BFing is like, and I mourned, to this day, what I knew he was missing.

    Yes, I always hold him for a bottle. He is cuddled, but the constant, oh, I need to pump (because you have to pump 120 minutes out of every 24 hours, 8 times a day on average) really cut into things. He would be asleep, and I had to put him down to pump, which woke him up. Or we would be playing, and I had to think about pumping. Again. Or I wanted to take my kids somewhere, but I had to pump, or figure our where to pump, or whatever. It literally ran our lives for over a year, until I dropped to 2 times a day (a mere 4 oz), and it was horrific.

    If I had a baby who could nurse but was fussing, I'd find any other way to keep going. I too had a baby who cried and screamed at every feeding for months. We kept going.

    EPing is not a cure-all. And for a mom of several kids, it's a fast way to shorten your nursing relationship.

    I guarantee 99% of mothers who start EPing later regret it, and most all pump way shorter than they would have breastfed.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    Thanks again for your feedback.

    Ideally, I could relax about the fussiness (while doing what is in my control to help) and just let it go and enjoy her in the meantime. But I feel like I obsess over her eating. If she was fussy and didn't nurse well several times in a row, I start to get really anxious and worried that she'll get dehydrated or not gain enough weight. I know this is all PTSD from my son's experience (I'm actually seeing a therapist to help me with that), but it's so hard to not be anxious. And to just see her as a normal, healthy baby who's working out breastfeeding with me...not a baby on the verge of failing to thrive.

    But, like I said, we've got a great IBCLC helping us and my husband is fully supportive of us working this out. He knows how badly I want breastfeeding to be successful and is our cheerleader on rough days when he gets home from work and my eyes are nearly swollen shut from crying.

    Thankful for this board of experienced mamas!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Considering EPing - need feedback

    Of course you're worried about her eating enough. That's your job!! And totally understandable that your worry would be amplified a huge amount after the experience you had with your son. You're in between a rock and a hard place, aren't you? You can't quit because you're afraid of those feelings of disappointment and letting down yourself and your baby if you give up (and being tied to the pump is another HUGE burden, trust me) and you can't go on because this is not sustainable and you are overcome with worry. I have been there!! Try to focus on those objective measures of adequate intake: outputs & weight gain. Try to let your LC and ped shoulder some of the burden of worrying about her thriving or not. Trust them to let you know when to be concerned. If all is fine in those departments, then you're free to keep doing what you've been doing, right? So, you do that for as long as you can stand it, and then you give it another day. And another day. One day at a time, mama!! Hang in there!

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