This is very long, but here is my breastfeeding journey so far:
I breastfed my son easily and with no problem until he was 16 months old and self weaned when I was 4 months pregnant with my daughter.
When my daughter was born she breastfed straightaway and everything seemed to be going well. I noticed in hospital something strange about her top lip, but when I asked the midwives to check her latch (I didn't specifically ask about her top lip) they said it was fine and because she was sucking hard they said she had a good latch.
My milk came in 2 days after she was born and I again asked the visiting midwife to check her latch and was again told it was fine particularly as she had gained a heap of weight. She regained her birth weight by 8 days old so I never thought there was anything to worry about. By 4 weeks she had stacked on 500g and weighed 4.6kg.
She has always been a good sleeper doing a 5-7 hour stretch each night. So she had only ever had one or two quick feeds overnight. She also always seemed to be an efficient feeder like my son, only spending 3-5 minutes at the breast and only taking one side per time. Because my son was the same I never thought anything was wrong.
My daughter got a cold at 5 weeks old and had to go to hospital with bronchiolitis. She was weighed then and I noticed that she hadn't put on any weight. I asked the doctor about it and they said due to her being ill and the scales being different not to worry about it.
When my daughter was 6 weeks of age I bought my own scales as I started getting paranoid. I decided to weigh her weekly on my own set so that it was the same set of scales and I could see how she was doing. At 7 weeks old she hadn't gained any weight still. My friends and the internet tried to reassure me it was because she had been sick and probably didn't want to feed much.
When she was 8 weeks old I took her to the doctor as she had not been gaining weight and was still 4.6kg. She also became very unsettled screaming for most of the day. I was told it was normal for babies to become unsettled from 6-8 weeks and to weigh her every time she got vaccinated. She was booked into have her vaccinations at 10 weeks which ended up being cancelled because she was sick.
Every feed started becoming a battle with her latching on, then unlatching after a couple of seconds, constantly arching her back in pain. She became very windy and often was in discomfort of her belly needing to pass wind.
At 9 weeks I knew something was wrong with her. I posted in various parenting forums and asked my DIG what it could be. They told me about tongue tie, reflux, colic, kidney problems, all these things I wrote down so I could rule them out with medical professionals.
Over the course of the week I booked another appointment with the same GP (he specialises in paediatrics) plus booked appointments with another 2 GPs there, plus an appointment with a LC and a GP who specialised in breastfeeding and my CHN.
The GPs at the centre kept dismissing me and telling me nothing was wrong. None of them seemed to care that my daughter was screaming all day and hadn't put on weight. I was told some babies just gain weight slowly. I kept arguing and telling them she has not put on any weight and asking for a referral to a paediatrician but no one would give me any.
The GP who specialised in paediatrics said that he wouldn't give me a referral until he was satisfied that we had ruled out all the obvious things. He wanted me to give her a thickner to rule out reflux, I told him I was reluctant to give it to her because she already seems to have a sensitive tummy, with her always having wind and being in discomfort but he told me to try it, see what happens and come back in a week.
I was at my wit's end. I needed help now! Not to wait and see if things got worst. Every day was a nightmare with her screaming from dawn until dusk, I could barely cope.
Another GP told me he wouldn't give me a referral to the paediatrician because he hadn't observant anything was wrong. Also the one and only time my daughter decided to breastfeed at an appointment and so he believed there was nothing wrong with her feeding. There were 2 student doctors with him and they were trying to give me more advice than he did. The other GP told me to go and see the GP who specialised in paediatrics because he only worked part time.
It didn't help that of course my daughter never cried or made a peep during her appointments. In fact, she was quite happy and content and giggly. So again, because of her seemingly happy disposition, they all thought I was neurotic.
My CHN was lovely but kind of useless. They are a very tick and flick kind of place. I specifically asked her about tongue tie and she said know it was not likely to be tongue tie because she fed well at birth. I asked her should I be concerned about my daughter's screaming and lack of weight gain and was told no because she looked healthy and alert. She offered to call me in a few weeks to see how I was going. She gave me the number for the council run LC.
I rang for 3 days straight leaving about a dozen messages, pleading with her to ring me back. I never received a call.
The morning I was meant to see the special breastfeeding doctor, she cancelled because she was sick. I was gutted. I was so amped up to see her and had been telling myself to make it through the next few days of screaming until she could help. It wasn't her fault for being sick but I remember feeling irrationally angry at her. I couldn't even finish the conversation with the receptionist, I just burst into tears and hung up. I felt like the universe was against me and every time I tried to reach out for hep an obstacle arose.
The next day I rang them back and remade the appointment for the week later. When I saw the LC and special breastfeeding doctor my daughter refused to latch on. The LC and special breastfeeding doctor were excellent but couldn't really give me any specific advice to do with feeding. They weren't convinced it was a feeding problem at that stage as my daughter was having wet nappies and seemed to feed quite often.
I bought a breast pump and started pumping to boost supply in case it was because she was hungry, it would take me literally 4 x 1 hour sessions to get 30mls, not even enough for anything. I really didn't think it was hunger though but didn't see the harm in trying to boost my supply.
Feeding her was still difficult. She wouldn't latch on for more than a minute at a time and then would become beyond hysterical.
I rang 6 paediatricians to see if anyone would see me. Most of them said they wouldn't make an appointment without seeing a referral first, another one said they won't see me because I hadn't birthed with them. Then one receptionist said she will tentatively book me in once I explained the situation and told me she was horrified noone cared that my daughter hadn't gained any weight.
I felt so much pressure to formula feed. I even bought a tin at one point but then put it away. I was so confused about what was going on with her. She had good skin, bright eyes, was very awake (as the screaming suggested) had plenty of wet nappies a day, so she couldn't have been hungry could she? Also no one seem to think it was hunger or that anything was wrong.
My "attachment parenting friends" all said nothing was wrong with her. That some babies are slow gainers and that she didn't need formula, my "mainstream friends" all told me to just formula feed as it was easier. My friends all meant well and wanted what was best for me and my daughter but I found the conflicting reassurances even more confusing.
On my birthday I managed to track down my old GP who gave me a referral to the paediatrician for the appointment that was in 3 weeks time. I was so glad to have found my old GP. It was the best birthday present ever!
Out of absolute desperation two nights later when she was around 11 weeks old after another day of unrelentless screaming, I gave her some formula. I cried when I prepared the bottle, feeling like I was a failure and not knowing what was wrong with her. I was scared she was seriously ill. I didn't think she was hungry because she seemed to feed well, was alert, had good skin etc but I will never forget her little face as I started putting the teat to her mouth. I will never forget her little eyes and mouth look so desperate at the prospect of food being dangled in front of her. Her little lips rooted around, desperate for that teat and then she guzzled the bottle down and fell asleep. I was onto something.
I started offering her top ups but within a few days she was preferring bottle to boob. However, the formula wasn't good for her. It made her poo really horrible and thick and she would scream in agony every time she passed a bowel movement. I knew I did not want to continue formula feeding her if that was the affect it was going to have on her. She stopped screaming during the day and was much happier except when she needed to pass a stool and then the blood curdling screaming would begin again.
So I knew I had to work harder on my supply so that I could at least express more milk for her so that maybe I could give her bottles of EBM instead of formula. I bought fenugreek and blessed thistle and my friend made me lactation cookies to take. I also bought a different tin of formula to see if that would help her poor belly....it didn't.
At one point I tried to get my son (who was nearly 2 years old at the time) to relatch, thinking that he could boost my supply. It looked promising, I put him in the cradle position (the only feeding position he ever fed in) and presented my breast to him, his mouth was wide open but as it came time to latch on he got all shy and didn't know what to do so licked my nipple and giggled. He had lost his suckling reflex.
I stopped going out as it all got too much. I lost my confidence to bring her out in public with all the screaming and I didn't know how to settle her. I had never experienced this before. My son was always happy with boob. Boob solved every problem, but with my daughter nothing settled her. How could I take her out?
I felt so depressed and isolated and lonely. It was a tough time in our marriage. My daughter had always been a good sleeper but then suddenly became a crap sleeper (still a thousand times better than my son though!) waking frequently and screaming snd unsettled at night.
My favourite author once wrote "Madness, is not being able to communicate with others" and that's how I felt, like I was slipping into a blurred alternate reality. Everyone was telling me she was fine but I was living something that was not fine. I questioned my skills and ability as a parent because i felt like I was seeing something that wasn't there.
I ended up calling a private LC come out to see if we could salvage our breastfeeding relationship. I was hesitant about ringing because the consult was going to cost $150. My husband's job was unstable and his hours had been cut. $150 was a dent out of our budget. Was it going to be worth it or was I throwing precious money down the toilet?
She was worth every cent. The LC was an angel, an absolute lifesaver. She was so kind and compassionate and reassuring. She watched me feed my daughter and said that her top lip isn't flanging. I told her, it has never flanged. She checked my daughter's mouth and noticed she had an Upper Lip Tie. She told me the clicking sound was her losing suction and her poor little jaw was working so hard to get the milk. She told me that Because of her poor latch, my daughter wasn't stimulating the breast and that's why my supply was low. Every feed was exhausting for her and she wasnt getting enough milk. I asked her why my daughter had managed to put on weight in the first 4 weeks and the LC explained that it would have been because of the oversupply that happens when the milk comes in.
Interestingly she also told me at I had my daughter positioned incorrectly and I was feeding her like a toddler! It's funny how I had completely forgotten how to breastfeed a newborn even though I hadn't done it that long ago with my son.
The LC gave me the details of a paediatric dentist to sort the ULT out and I made an appointment for a week's time (earliest I could get). the LC also said that she thought my daughter had reflux as she exhibited those signs. My daughter started rejecting the breast completely and we were lucky to have 2 breastfeeds in a 24 hour period. I was devastated. I wanted her to hang on until she could get the ULT fixed. It was all ending too soon.
People kept asking me why I would spend $550 on a procedure that might not even do anything when I could just bottle feed her instead. They didn't get it. How could I feed her something that was so bad for her poor tummy and caused her agony when I had perfectly good milk to give her? I had to keep trying because breast milk was the best thing for her particularly as she didn't tolerate the formula well at all. If the formula hadn't caused here so much grief I may have been happier to concede defeat earlier.
Finally my poor daughter's appointment came and she was being swaddled and held down while they lasered a posterior tongue tie and her ULT. Her first bottle feed after the procedure was awful. There was blood everywhere something that wasn't supposed to happen. She looked like dracula with blood gushing down her chin but it didn't seem to cause her distress.
So I did the exercises the LC sent me to try and help her latch. She still refused to breastfeed so I kept offering top ups. Around this time I was becoming used to the idea that my daughter was comp fed. I fed her a bottle in public and didn't die of shame. I hated pumping as it seemed to be such a waste of time when I got no milk and couldn't even top her up with the EBM. I decided that if I couldn't get her back to being full time breastfed by the end of November, I was just going to switch her to formula as I was utterly miserable pumping around the clock. I borrowed my friend's manual pump so could try to reduce the time pumping by using the electric on one boob and using the manual one at the same time on the other and then switching.
I remember feeling so angry. Angry at the useless doctors who dismissed me and now our breastfeeding relationship was failing. If they had listened to me and bothered to check her they would have seen something was wrong. Of course they don't care when I can just stick her on formula but they had no idea how much pain the formula caused my daughter.
Finally the paediatrician appointment came when she was 13 weeks old. He was such a nice man, someone destined to work with children. We weighed my daughter and she had put on about 600 grams in the 2 weeks I had been supplementing her. He gave me medication for her reflux and told me to switch to a HA formula. He also gave me motillium for my supply. I told him how I was ready to give up as it was all too bloody hard but he asked me to not give up on breastfeeding until the end of November like I had said was my goal. I told him she pretty much rejects the breast and only feeds twice a day but he said not to give up and because he was so kind and charming I agreed LOL.
The motillium started working pretty much within a few days. I was pumping 50 to 100mls in one session! Around this time someone kindly lent me a SNS so that I could use that to supplement. My LC said it might not work because she's refusing to latch on and at first it wasn't any good as my daughter was soooooo distressed whenever a boob came near her as she had such negative associations with it.
I can't remember when because all the days had blurred into each other, but somehow a couple of weeks ago things started turning around. The days were pleasant and less stressful. I tried the SNS again and it was terrific. I used it to replace one bottle feed a day. I was so excited that it was working! I took a photo and it is one of my favourite breastfeeding photos.
All the things I was doing to boost supply started to work. I started having enough milk to supplement most of her feeds with EBM instead of formula and she stopped screaming when pooing! Her poos were yellow and seedy instead of pale and like toothpaste. IT WAS NORMAL BREASTFED BABY POO!!!! OMG!!!
The next child I have I will be getting the LC to come to the hospital or Birth Centre in the immediate days after birth. I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn't made that appointment with my LC. Would we all be miserable? Would my daughter still be screaming? Would my marriage have ended? No doubt I wouldn't have been breastfeeding if it wasn't for the LC picking up the ULT and PTT. I wouldn't have given up but somehow my daughter, my darling little daughter did it. She came back from rejecting the breast to saving breast feeding.
We were lucky in the end. Not everyone is able to breastfeed, not through their own failings or lack of effort, but because there are 2 people involved to make it happen. But we do our best as parents and I feel I did that for my daughter. I had to keep trying, because that's what parents do, provide every opportunity possible in order for our children to thrive and in this case my daughter was able to utilize those opportunities.
Edited by Sheerveil, 24 November 2013 - 03:44 PM.