During my pregnancy, I read two books on breastfeeding, plus all the sections in the many pregnancy and baby books I've read. I took a class about breastfeeding. I spent countless hours researching different breastfeeding issues online, and I asked lots of questions of my friends who have gone through it. And I bought all the supplies I would need. I was prepared. But I wasn't prepared for the one issue I didn't expect: no milk! Here we are, one week after giving birth, and I don't really think my milk has "come in". Engorgement? Hasn't happened. People talk about having super huge full and hard breasts. Yeah, not so much. I'm still soft and floppy.
It all started so well. I had a c-section, so hubs took the baby back to our room without me while my doc was sewing me up. One of my concerns about having a c-section was being able to nurse quickly - within that magical one hour window after birth. So I was happy to get back to my room pretty quickly - within about 20 minutes after birth. But then the nurse told me to wait to nurse until the lactation consultant came to help me with my first feeding. I consented for about 10 minutes, and then I insisted on feeding my baby - she was my baby, I was going to try myself! Why did I have to wait? And it was a success. Baby Alex latched on immediately, and she suckled like a champ. I think we had about a 30 minute session that first time, about 15 minutes each side. I was so proud.
For the next couple days, everything was looking so good. The nurses wanted to see one poop in the first 24 hours - we gave them 7! She was latching great, and we were feeding every 2 hours. Alex was born Tuesday evening, and on Thursday I had a friend come by and visit, and she asked how everything was going, and I responded that it's much easier than I thought it would be - everything's great! How wrong I was.
That night at our 1:00 am feeding, Alex took one boob just fine. But she wouldn't take the other - she absolutely refused. But I just chalked it up to being full or sleepy or something - no big deal. Then at the next feeding at 3:00 am, she refused both boobs. I struggled for an hour and a half by myself, and finally the nurse stopped by, hearing the crying. She would have been a great drug dealer. The night before, she convinced me that Alex needed to suck a lot, and perhaps we should try a pacifier to calm Alex between feedings. It didn't occur to me that she was fussy between feedings because she was hungry! Of course Alex loved the pacifier, and so I thought it was a success, even though it went against what I had read about breastfeeding and nipple confusion. Well then Thursday night she said that Alex was refusing to nurse because I didn't have any milk to entice her as my milk had not yet come in, and now she was confused by the pacifier, and she didn't want to latch on anymore. So then she convinced me that I needed a nipple shield to help her latch - something I had seen cause much difficulty with a couple of my friends. So with the help of a nipple shield and a bit of sugar water sprayed on the nipple shield to entice her, Alex finally latched at around 4:30 am after crying since 3:00. But then about an hour later, she was fussy again, and wouldn't latch even with the nipple shield, and my drug dealer nurse convinced me that Alex was hungry, and was refusing to latch because nothing was coming out. Finally through tears, I agreed to give her formula as I felt like I was starving my baby. For the first time in days, I saw my baby swallow and voraciously drink. She was finally full.
On Friday, we met with the pediatrician before leaving the hospital, and she said we should do the following: Every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, I should nurse Alex for 10-15 minutes on each side, then pump for 15 minutes. While I pump, I should feed Alex 1-2 ounces of formula, as much as she'll take. This should help increase my milk production as I'm telling my body that the nursing isn't enough by the use of the pump. The whole process takes about 1 1/2 hours when you include bottle and pump set up and washing, and then we get 1 1/2 hours off to sleep or for me to eat. Repeat - 8+ times per day. Needless to say, I'm exhausted.
I can see improvement over the weekend. I went from barely getting a drip of milk in my 15 minute pumping session to getting enough to almost cover the bottom of the pump bottles. But it's pitiful. We went to the pediatrician yesterday, and she asked how much I was getting. It's not even measurable - you could tell she wasn't that impressed. And so then we went to the vitamin store, and I loaded up on fenugreek and blessed thistle - herbs that are supposed to help with production.
I'm once again disappointed by my body. My baby is doing her part - she has a great suck, and that was part of the reason why the pediatrician said she wasn't worried about me supplementing - as her suck is so strong, she should be able to go from breast to bottle easily. And this has proven true. I have even been able to wean her off the nipple shield in the last couple days, so that is a success. And my nipples went from sore to not too bad. Another success and evidence of a good latch. But my body is not cooperating. It's been a week, and everything I've read says that my milk should be "in" by now. Yes I have some milk, but I don't think this is what they're talking about when they say milk should be in. People have been having babies for thousands of years, and this should all be natural, right? But I can't help but think that if this was in the time before formula, my baby would not be thriving and I would be starving my baby. But then again, I wouldn't have a baby at all if it weren't for science, right? Once again, my body refuses to do what it was designed to do, and I'm forcing it to behave, or at least hoping it will.