I'm a new dad posting on behalf of my wife and our brand new baby girl (11 days old today!). We've had all kinds of issues related to breastfeeding and tried a lot of things.. my wife is at her wit's end and has declared that she will give up in a few days if things don't look up and just exclusively use formula. She gets so upset about it I can't really argue that point with her, so I am turning to you all for help.
Here comes the long story..
When our girl was first born, she seemed to have a bit of a shallow latch and maybe a weak suck. It caused my wife some pain and discomfort and more than one nurse commented that the baby didn't have enough of the areola in her mouth. The hospital's lactation consultant confirmed this, and we tried different things to improve the latch while in the hospital. She continued to make lots of wet diapers so we figured she was getting enough, either way.
When we were discharged it was noted that our baby was jaundiced and the bilirubins were climbing. Our first peds appt was the next day, and it turned out the bilirubin level was 19.3 (our docs wanted to admit for phototherapy at 20.0). Also, she hadn't had a wet diaper for 6-8 hours prior to that appt. We were instructed to begin supplementing with formula via a syringe to help keep her hydrated, and while this was laborious and slow, it seemed to help somewhat. The next day we were seen by our pediatrician and the bilirubin only modestly improved. At this point we were told to start with formula via a bottle to more aggressively hydrate and bring the bilirubin levels down. We were told to give, minimum, 2 oz every 3 hours. That first night, she took the formula as if she was starving and slept like a champ!
This strategy worked for the jaundice. Wet diapers were more frequent, skin seemed less yellow, and bilirubin plummeted to 14 within 2 days. We were ecstatic! But now the problem was the breastfeeding.
During this ordeal, my wife felt that her breasts engorged one morning (maybe day 5 postpartum?) and that her milk was ready to come in. However, that day we discovered, of all things, BED BUGS in our bedroom (which is where our baby's crib is as well). Total nightmare situation. Exterminator and landlord were called, we evacuated to a hotel (with my parents who were in town at the time), and stayed there for the night. Given the commotion and everything, my wife didn't have any time to pump or breastfeed until very late that night, which went poorly. Baby still seems to latch poorly, suck weakly, give up after a few minutes and cry out of frustration ... or just pass out at the breast after only a few minutes. Because of all this, my wife feels that she "missed her window" to establish breastfeeding and now it's just an uphill battle.
The next day, we hired an IBCLC who came highly recommended to help us out. She told us to rent a hospital grade pump (we did) and pump 10 times a day (my wife usually can do 9-10/day). She's already been drinking Mother's Milk tea, drinking lots of water and fluids, and doing skin to skin. So far it's been 5 days since we got the hospital grade pump, and my wife can generate about 2 oz of breastmilk every 2 pumps or so. She's very frustrated by the small amount (even though she knows that pump output does not necessarily equal milk production), exhausted by the constant cleaning and strict pumping schedule, and upset that the baby doesn't seem to take the breast and much prefers the bottle.
The best we can figure is that the baby is having nipple confusion, prefers the bottle because it's easier to suck, and fails at the breast because 1) she doesn't latch enough of the areola, and 2) my wife's milk production is still not up to par to provide enough milk for the baby. We tried a nipple shield because we heard that could help. We are using an SNS but it still seems like she's sucking weakly and doing just enough to drink from the SNS. We know she can generate a very strong suck because when we give her my fingertip to calm her, she goes to town on it (and my finger yields NO milk!).
The big problem right now, in my opinion, is that my wife is losing faith and motivation (I know it's very early! only day 11!). I read here all the time that moms stick with difficult breastfeeding and eventually it comes around and works out for most people. But my wife is almost totally burnt out on this already and is ready to throw in the towel, even though our lactation consultant remains very positive and optimistic. My biggest plea is that I need help keeping her motivated. She just got some reglan from her doc to try to help milk production, but as I understand it, that takes a week or so to exert effect? She may quit before then!
Please help me keep hope alive! Thanks in advance. Thanks for reading my novel.