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Thread: My Breastfeeding Story (really long)

  1. #1

    Default My Breastfeeding Story (really long)

    Hi- I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I wanted to put it somewhere because when I was struggling to breastfeed my son I spent a lot of time searching for success stories from moms who'd been in similar situations.

    I developed preeclampsia/HELLP syndrome when my son was 32 weeks gestation and when my liver began to rupture he had to be delivered by emergency c-section. I did not meet him for 2 days because I was in such bad shape and needed blood transfusions, platelets, plasma and I was not able to go to the NICU. While I was in recovery, before I even met my son, my milk came in which is probably the only thing my body did right during this whole ordeal. I breastfed my older son for a year and the nurses thought that might be why my milk came in easily.

    My son spent 4 weeks in the NICU and I pumped around the clock the entire time- at least 8 times a day but it took awhile before I could even put him on my breast let alone attempt to breastfeed. Not much happened during these attempts- his mouth was too small and I could often only get to the hospital once a day for a few hours plus I just found it extremely uncomfortable to try to nurse at the NICU in their hard upright chairs. In hindsight my NICU really prioritized breastmilk and pumping but I did not find them very helpful in trying to breastfeed.

    I brought my son home when he was 38 weeks gestation and was really excited to start breastfeeding but attempts at home were unsuccessful. At first I was not concerned- I had read that preemies often just 'get it' around the time of their due date but as we got closer to his due date and then passed it I started to get frustrated. I was lucky that my social worker at the hospital recommended me for Visiting Nurse Services because the rest of the NICU staff did not think it was necessary that I receive these services as a second-time mom. I found an IBLC through VNS who made house visits and saved us a ton of money as her services were covered by insurance. At her first visit she helped him latch- it was amazing but it didn't seem like he was swallowing. After a few more visits it seemed like we were headed in the right direction and when we did a weighted feeding, he gained 2 ounces after 10 minutes. I got the go-ahead to start to replace bottle feedings with nursing.

    After 2 days of really pushing breastfeeding, I woke up and felt right away that my supply had dropped. My breasts no longer felt engorged and I could barely pump any milk. I stopped breastfeeding and went back to exclusive pumping to try to build my supply back up. It never returned to its previous levels but I got close. The only issue was that while I had been able to pump and empty my breasts in about 10 minutes- it was now taking closer to 40 minutes or longer. I even developed mastitis once because it became so hard to empty my breasts. I could not figure out what happened. Later I realized that he was not really able to extract milk, but with breast compressions and my oversupply, the weighted feeding looked good and masked the real problem. After my supply plummeted, we didn't have very much success breastfeeding.

    I cried a lot during this time period and really felt that not being able to breastfeed was contributing to postpartum depression. I was not opposed to supplementing with formula, but I was really craving the closeness and convenience that breastfeeding allows for. I felt like being able to breastfeed would make up for my traumatic birth but eventually I came to peace with the fact that it may not happen.

    At this point I looked into domperidone to try to bring my supply back to where it was, using an SNS, cranio-sacral therapy... I got second opinions from other LC's and spoke with a 'breastfeeding doctor'. The entire time I thought the problem was that he had a bottle preference and that my drop in supply had played a contributing role.

    We started to make some progress at the first morning feed- when I was most engorged- but as the day went on we moved towards bottles. These morning nursing sessions would sometimes last an hour so I knew it still was not going great. When he was 5 weeks adjusted he ended up being hospitalized for RSV and spent 8 days in the PICU. Again we went back to exclusive pumping and bottle feeding. I really started to hate pumping as I felt like I could never really leave the house but I was encouraged to keep it up for another few weeks until cold season was over. As a preemie, he was more susceptible to everything. I had originally given myself 6 weeks past his due date of pumping to keep my supply up and after that I would throw in the towel. But then after his hospital stay, I decided to pump for a few more weeks to help his immune system.

    When he got out of the hospital we resumed our morning nursing sessions and I had my LC come one last time. She was adamant that I could just push towards breastfeeding by continuing to offer the breast but I still didn't feel like it was quite right and I insisted she come for one more visit. She did a weighted feeding and found out that he was getting 2 ounces in about an hour- and that's when she said we should probably make sure there wasn't something structurally wrong with him as she felt that he should have gotten it by now.

    I ended up getting a referral to an ENT who specializes in breastfeeding but I was skeptical going in- he had already been evaluated by LC's in the hospital, my pediatrician and the IBLC and all did not think he had a tongue tie. I had decided going into the appointment that this would be the end- if there wasn't something structurally wrong with him I would start weaning off the pump. When we met with the ENT I started telling her my long breastfeeding struggle. She interrupted me, put one finger in his mouth and explained that due to his head shape, his palate was extremely high and he would never have been able to breastfeed. It had nothing to do with my terrible birth or his NICU stay. I had never heard of this! She offered to clip his tongue and upper lip to help him open his mouth wider but warned that it may not see the immediate change that most moms with tongue-tied babies see. My husband and I really struggled with this decision because he'd already been through so much but in the end she told us she wouldn't normally do this procedure on older babies but it seemed like he had everything else going for him and it couldn't hurt to try so we agreed to the procedure. At first I noticed no difference but by the second day I could really HEAR him nursing... something I had never heard before with him. It was amazing. By day three we were exclusively breastfeeding. I couldn't believe it. I felt incredible- and I was amazed at how much free time I had once we moved to breastfeeding. It was great.

    Unfortunately after 3 days of exclusive breastfeeding, I noticed one night that my breasts started to feel full after a feeding and the following day I noticed him getting fussier after feeds and started supplementing again. A week after the frenectomy we were almost back where we started- pumping and bottle feeding exclusively. I had read that it was possible for the tongue tie to grow back so I made another appointment... sure enough! His frenulum had grown back within a week and half. She said it was more common with older babies although still unusual. She re-clipped him and this time it was even worse than the first. I decided that if it grew back again I would not come back and instead really worked on the tongue exercises we had been taught.

    We are now three weeks past his second frenectomy and are almost exclusively breastfeeding now. I pumped exclusively for 3.5 months and am so relieved that we were able to transition so easily. I am extremely grateful for all the help I received from so many different people including from this forum- just reading other people's stories kept me going. I do wish my LC had been a little more proactive early on to make sure there weren't any underlying issues- I spent a lot of time just waiting for him to get bigger and stronger- and in the end a 5 minute procedure completely changed his ability to breastfeed.
    Last edited by @llli*yellowcat; February 25th, 2016 at 09:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: My Breastfeeding Story (really long)

    Thank you for sharing your story! This is just the sort of thing that moms need to see more of. When you're struggling, you look everywhere for someone whose experience is like yours. You're hoping to see someone who made it through to the other side.

    Kudos, mama!

    And... FWIW, I think you can forgive your body for not "doing everything right". Your body did the best it could for you and your baby, which is amazing under the circumstances. I really wish that medical science could figure out better ways to help women with pre-e/HELLP. Then you could just take a pill or something, and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy without feeling like your body let you down.

  3. #3

    Default Re: My Breastfeeding Story (really long)

    Thanx for sharing your story

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