While I was pregnant people would ask if I planned to breastfeed and I responded with a confident yes. Of course I would breastfeed, it’s the natural method of feeding and nurturing my baby. I decided to inform myself on the subject, and became aware of the amount of women that struggled to breastfeed and understandably resorted to formula feeding.
At the hospital we had lots of assistance from the nurses, including assistance expressing colostrum. Having nothing to compare the experience to, I thought that his latch seemed fine and professionals gave minor tips to improve it but also stated that he was latching well. He initially lost weight after birth, however I was told that this was perfectly normal.
After we left the hospital and settled into home life, Quinn only had minimal weight gain so we had frequent appointments with the maternal health care nurse. I started expressing breast milk to increase my supply and Quinn was often cluster feeding. He would fuss at the breast, particularly the right side and sometimes I wondered what I had done wrong. It is difficult not to take it personally when your baby does not seem satisfied during or after feeding. Still I persevered thinking that this was still quite possibly normal.
I had guidance from the maternal health care nurse. They helped create a better latch although still seemed happy with his latching overall. They suggested expressing breast milk after every feed and suggested feeding him a top up of formula. Formula was a last resort for me and I was adamant that I would do anything to make breastfeeding work. Eventually I tried formula feeding because I was willing to do anything for my baby. I felt so defeated on the few occasions where he was topped up by formula. I was saddened that I could not provide milk for him like I was supposed to, designed to.
When Quinn was two months old I saw a thorough and helpful maternal health care nurse. She referred me to a private lactaction consultant and advised me to go to my GP to get medication to increase my supply. After leaving the appointment I was hopeful, however was quite disheartened at hearing that Quinn was again falling in a very low weight gain range.
The lactaction consultant was exceptional. She diagnosed Quinn with a tongue and lip tie and recommended having them lasered. She also discussed other mouth issues that prevented him from having a good latch such as having a narrow pallet, something it seems that he inherited from me. She adjusted my dosage of Motilium, and advised me to buy fenugreek and other foods and drinks to help with my supply. The lactation cookies have certainly been a treat. The consultant also recommended the Spectra, a more effective pump, which has been my savior since I bought it. Within one week my supply had doubled. I was beyond grateful for her assistance. She reassured me that the issue was not because of my low supply but because of Quinn’s inability to latch and suck properly my supply had dwindled.
The next week we had Quinn’s lip and tongue tie lasered. It was quite a difficult experience, after the lasering we were required to complete mouth exercises on his wound at every feed. He would scream and fuss and it would break my heart. It was worth it in the end though because his sucking was slowly getting better. We also saw a Chiropractor to assist with his neck problems. The health professionals had picked up on him pulling his neck backwards and planking which we had been concerned about. I had also been recommended to see a Chiropractor as a complimentary therapy to having his lip and tongue ties released.
Although it has been quite overwhelming attending so many appointments, I have been so grateful for the assistance and support.
Because of working with the lactation consultant and a supportive team of professionals Quinn is now thriving and putting on more than the recommended weight each weigh in.
Throughout the nights of Quinn crying because he was hungry and cluster feeding, to the emotional devastation that he was not putting on enough weight, I could easily have resorted to formula feeding if it was not for the support I eventually received.
Mothers deserve societal support whether that be guidance or the general public not shying away from the subject. Feeding our babies is a beautiful and nurturing act that needs to be embraced.
To all women that feed their babies, whether that be by breast or formula, you are doing an amazing job!