Breastfeeding successes

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Breastfeeding successes
18
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 4:44pm
I know there are many of you BTDTs who have been successful at breastfeeding, despite setbacks and frustrations. For those of you who were successful, what kept you from giving up? What set you up for success? Was it preparation beforehand? Good support? Sheer determination? A genius baby with a fabulous latch? I ask because out of all of the family and friends I have who have tried to breastfeed, NONE of them made it more than a month. It's really important to me to breastfeed, but it's discouraging when so many try and then quit. I just had another friend give up after two weeks, so I'm just wondering: What's the key to success?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2008
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 6:05pm

Personally, I think the key is having a great support system, and a good LC as a back up for any problems that might come up. I think in my case, sheer stubbornness was also a big factor.

I didn't really have a typical breastfeeding experience--in many ways it was a worst case scenario, but we made it through, and I'm still BFing after 13 months. Evan was born via cesarean after a pile of complications forced us to induce. The hospital's policy was to take babies to the nursery for 1-2 hours for an exam/bath/etc following surgery, and not planning on a c section, we didn't realize we could say no and keep him with me. When they finally brought Evan back to me, I tried to nurse right away and he did latch on, but fell asleep pretty quickly after. By that night he was refusing to nurse.

The LC at the hospital had very few suggestions (I remember her putting sugar water on my nipple to get him to latch on, which worked only once), and when we went home, despite the fact that Evan still wasn't nursing and had lost enough weight to make his once tight bracelets slip off his ankle and wrists, she just handed me a bunch of formula samples and told me not to worry. The first night was pure hell. Evan wouldn't latch and screamed constantly from hunger. He seemed to shrink right before our eyes.

Fortunately, I knew of a Midwifery/mother support center with a 24 hour LC service-which we called. The LC told me to pump and feed him with an eye dropper, set up an appointment the next morning, and even called later that night to check on us. By the time we got to the appointment and weighed Evan, he was 7lbs 7 ounces-19 ounces lighter than his birth weight.

Our LC determined that he had "flow confusion" - I think my body hadn't realized it was supposed to produce milk yet because it too a full week before my milk came in. Our LC told us that if we used a bottle, it would pretty much be all over (with our specific situation). She gave us an SNS (supplemental nutrition system-which we used to finger feed him pumped breastmilk). I started attending a bfing support group at the center weekly-it was run by an LC, and was a godsend.

Evan gained his weight back really slowly (I think he got back to his birth weight at 5 weeks) , and at around 4 weeks finally decided to latch on again, but not for a full feeding. I continued to pump and finger feed him pretty much until 6 weeks, until he finally would nurser for almost a full feeding. I bought a scale and weighed him before and after each feeding and topped him off with the SNS if he'd had less than 2.5 ounces nursing. By 7-8 weeks, we were able to introduce a bottle of breastmilk (DH fed him with it, not me), and by around 2.5 months old, we put the sns away.

Anyway, sorry for being so longwinded. Our experience was by no means the norm--but I wanted to share to show you that it is possible, even when it looks like it isn't. The best advice I can give is to not depend on the LC at the hospital exclusively-Have a back up plan just in case. Not all of them know what they're doing, and it really doesn't affect them if you continue BFing or go to formula. (I'm not suggesting that all hospital LCs are bad-I know that there are plenty of great ones out there) Find an LC outside of the hospital as a back up. See if there are any BF support groups in your area. You will meet other moms with babies around the same age who are going through the same things, and being around other moms who are successfully breastfeeding will help you to stick with it.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2006
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 7:03pm
I was determined to breastfeed and wasn't going to let anything get in my way. The first month or so BF is hard. My 4th trimester/PP symptoms remind me of 1st trimester symptoms. My nipples get tender and I get nausea when my milk lets down. I went to a breast feeding class while pregnant and it was great only in that it was taught by the LC at the hospital and she is wonderful. It was also great to meet her before you flashing her and she's holding your boob and your baby to teach you to latch:) She's still my favorite LC this time around. Gideon had a good latch, but tried to give Dyson a run for their money in the "never looses suction." He ended up with pacifier after the first night of turning my nipple purple and DH's finger purple. Even though his suction was crazy and we had to work on getting him a deep latch, I found that breast feeding is relaxing for me. Once BF was established and I was back to work and pumping, even though at times I hated pumping, I hated cleaning bottles more, so I knew that if I quit breast feeding we'd have more bottles.
This time around, I have the same symptoms of nipple tenderness and nausea, but Z we had to work on latch a little more. I didn't have to use a nipple shield (only did for a few feedings with Gideon to pull out my nipple), but as the LC told me "even though I was a breastfeeding BTDT, baby wasn't so we had to teach him." We worked on his latch and he will BF for at least a year.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2003
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 7:14pm

Determination. And willing to accept what was before me.

DS was tongue tied at birth, and after him loosing a ton of weight in the hospital despite me pumping colostrum and feeding him via syringe we finally had to break down and feed him formula via syringe (because my milk didn't come in until around day 7)... but I kept pumping and supplementing when I could... around week 2 he got the hang of it. We did supplement w/ soy formula once I went back to work, but he nursed morning and night while I pumped at work till he was 12 months old.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2006
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 9:22pm

I'm going on five and a half weeks breastfeeding and so far everything has been going great. Things I think have contributed to my success at it (so far) are:
1) Having a med free birth, which meant Ben was really alert and his first breastfeed went well.
2) Really good support from my midwife. When we took him home from the hospital (on the same day he was born) I was not having any luck getting him to latch. The midwife came over to our house that night and helped me learn to latch him and tricks to get him to stay awake to eat long enough, such as taking his clothes off and tickling him. (We only had to do this for the first few days).
3) Great support from DH. For the first couple days, breastfeeding Ben was a two person job. DH would help us get a good latch and help me keep him awake to feed. He's also been great about getting me snacks and drinks while I'm feeding him, and entertaining him for periods when he's not eating so I can rest, etc.
4) Learning to feed him laying down, which makes middle-of-the-night feedings so much easier.
5) Confidence that he's getting enough from me. Understanding that he sometimes need to eat all the time (ie if he wants to eat again right after I've fed him, it's just because he wants/needs more, not because there's a supply problem). A really good book for that is called Breastfeeding Made Simple. It explains what's normal in the first week, so you can feel confident that you're feeding your baby well.

Having said all that, I do think that I've had some luck, as well, because he's seemed to have a good latch from very early on. I also know people who have had trouble with breastfeeding and have either needed a lot of determination to continue or decided to switch to formula. FWIW, I'll pass on one thing that a friend told me was key to her success (and she breastfed her twins for 11 months)...that was, if you ever have to supplement with formula due to low supply, ensure the baby feeds fully from both breasts before giving them any supplement they need to "top them off."

Lastly, I've always heard that if you make it to six weeks, then you should be good to go for the long haul. I also just tried to remind myself that it's always a lot of work to feed a baby around the clock, so switching to formula wouldn't really make my life easier - it would add the complication of formula to buy, bottles to sterilize, etc, etc.


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Avatar for berry81
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-27-2008
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 9:36pm

For me, it was a great support system - and by that I mean being surrounded by people (or at least a DH!) who supports and believes in BFing and its benefits and knows that in order to BF successfully, mama needs to be taken care of - meals need to be made (and possibly FED to mama :), her water bottle needs to be constantly refilled, dishes need to be done, laundry needs to be washed -- all so that mama can focus on BFing baby. In the first weeks, that is pretty much all you do, and in order for you to stay sane (and eat!), you need support.

Also -- and I hope I'm not sounding judgmental (I'm totally not judging others, this is just me!!!) -- I just never doubted that it would work. I just knew it would. I knew it would work and so in my mind, there was no other option besides BFing. It was going to work. I knew it would not be easy at first, but it would work; we would figure it out. I would do *anything* to get it to work because I didn't see formula as an option. I trusted in my body and in my motivation/determination to work to make it work. Now. That being said, I had an extremely great experience and was not faced with many of the complications other mamas are faced with. Every situation is different! But yeah, when I think back on it, there was just no other option... I remember thinking even in the first 24 hours when Eliza had only latched on two times total and the nurses were freaking out (oh, yeah, try not to let the nurses freak you out, they can do that and it's sooo not helpful), "this will work - *of course* it will work, we will figure this out". And we did!

Oh, and a good LC - use her help frequently while in the hospital (and after you are discharged, as well!) - do not hesitate to call her each and every time you attempt BFing if you can't get baby to latch by yourself. I had trouble at first (you really do have to learn and it's hard to do so before baby is here!), so I would page/call her (and one nurse who was almost as good as the LC) *every time* we attempted, even in the middle of the night.

I wish you all the best, Erin! I can't believe you are 30 weeks already!!!




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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-09-2006
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 9:57pm

Great Questions Erin!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-23-2003
Sat, 07-03-2010 - 4:25am

Well we had a somewhat rough start. Teddy was readmitted to the hospital for jaundice and stayed there for 5 days and during that time he was given an infusion which made him a lazy nurser, my milk also didn't come in until day 5. So when we got home my body wasn't producing enough milk and Teddy wasn't drinking well enough.

Having my midwife (who is also a LC) come and give me tips was a great help.(basically I pumped for 2 minutes before he latched so he immediately got the fatty hindmilk, and pumped for 10 minutes after he was done to boost my supply- I only had to do it 1 day until my supply and Teddy caught up!)

However I am one of the lucky ones who has a baby with a natural great latch- I can just stick him anywhere near my boob and he does the right thing LOL. It also never hurt me at all the only big transition was getting used to having to feed the baby so often and being pretty much the only one who can do it. But after a few weeks that wasn't an issue either.

Honestly I think it was easy for me to stick with it because it was so easy after the initial hurdles. I don't know that I would have continued if I constantly got infections, or Teddy never latched well, or Teddy didn't get much faster after a few weeks. Teddy was so difficult in the first weeks that feeding him needed to be easy and breastfeeding was the easier choice:)Now that it works I will do it until it isn't working for us anymore but I think it will be easy to make it to 1+ years:D

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2008
Sat, 07-03-2010 - 6:17am

I think what most people have said - determination. You have to really WANT to make it through the hard time. That being said, some people don't have a hard time BFing and it comes naturally for both baby and mum! A good support is also important, maybe start looking for a LC or a support group now.
Here's my story: When Teddy was born, as soon as they'd stitched me up (c-section) the midwives put him on and he nursed for 2 hours straight. Teddy didn't have any problem whatsoever but I think I didn't get him to latch on properly, as very soon my nipples became sore and started to bleed. I thought perhaps this was "normal" and kept going. By day 5, I had big scabs on both nipples and nursing hurt so much I was nearly in tears every time. We saw a LC that evening and she was shocked I had been nursing like this. She gave me a breastpump and recommended to pump from the worse looking side, and nurse on the other (she showed me how to latch him on better).
The next few weeks were so hard. I discovered there was a "Breastfeeding Clinic", an open group with specially trained midwives and LCs, so I went there all the time. The first time I showed my boobs, the ladies couldn't believe I'd beenn nursing at all and had not given up. The scabs had come off and there was literally only raw, red flesh on my nipples. They told me to stop BFing immediately, only pump, and see the Dr to get antibiotics and treatment. I ended up taking antibiotics for 5 weeks, and using plasters designed for serious burns on my nipples. Very slowly they healed and after 4 weeks of exclusively pumping and bottlefeeding Teddy, I started latching him on again, only on one side to start with. Very slowly I replaced more and more bottlefeeds with breastfeeds. It was only at about 8 weeks postpartum that my nipples had fully healed up again and I was finally able to get rid of that wretched pump! We then continued to BF without problems up until hist 1st birthday and a little beyond, when I weaned him off.

I think the main thing was though that I was really determined to BF, I really wanted to make this work. Partly because I felt like such a failure for not having given birth properly, so this was my way of making it up... partly because I do feel strongly about it and couldn't imagine FFing him.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Sat, 07-03-2010 - 9:21pm

Hm, when I started reading your post I thought you'd already had your baby and were having trouble. But, your LO isn't here yet, so you have a chance to get ahead of the game. So, while being realistic and realizing BFing is hard is great, I don't think it's bad to hope it'll go well.

I was super proactive about learning about BFing ahead of time. The #1 piece of useful advice I got was *always break a bad latch*. So many stories of breastfeeding going badly start with it being hard, and letting them nurse with a bad latch, and then having it all spiral. I highly recommend the My Brest Friend pillow which is great for keeping the baby near your breast without tiring your arms. And then just keep trying until you find a good latch (it may be sore, but it shouldn't *hurt*). It's tempting to let them nurse once they're finally on, even though it hurts. It's like a mother-sacrifice thing, but it'll backfire. Seriously, it took 30-40 minutes to get some of those early latches to be good, and it was insanely frustrating, and awful to pop him off when he finally started getting something, but it wasn't right. But, he and I both learned, and the worst I had was a week of soreness and one slightly cracked nipple.

I also had a doula to help me, and my hospital had LCs coming in every 8 hours. I also had the number for two independent LCs if I needed them. If you are having trouble getting a good latch, ask for help ASAP. And if you're not comfortable with the person helping you, get someone else. *Ask for help early*.

The other thing I focus on what having tons of water and juice and oatmeal.

So, that's my 2 cents. Someone else mentioned learning to nurse lying down, which is great, but I wasn't able to do hat until Patrick was older, no matter how hard I tried, so I think it depends on how you and your baby are physically configured :)

Best wishes,

~Lorien





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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008
Sun, 07-04-2010 - 1:04am

Great topic!


I'm a combination of all of the above. Like some of the others, I had sheer determination to make BFing work, even though I didn't necessarily have the support of my family to do it long-term, but DH is totally on board with it.


DH and I took a Bradley class and our teacher gave everyone a copy of this book. It saved my life that first month! Now I recommend it to everyone I know.


http://www.amazon.com/Breastfeeding-Made-Simple-Natural-ebook/dp/B002BSGXQ4


Most importantly, do not give up! It will be painful in the beginning (Lansinoh was my friend!) but the rewards are so great once you and baby get the hang of BFing. I was fortunate that Selin had no latch issues and aside from being sore, I didn't have any adverse physical side effects.


Also, one thing no one has mentioned...check out your local La Leche League! I brought Selin to my first meeting when she was 5 weeks old and I still go regularly. Even though BFing is well established for us now, I still learn something useful at every meeting. For example, last week, the main topic for the meeting was Introducing Solids and Extended BFing. At every meeting, there is an open floor to discuss whatever is on your mind and it doesn't necessarily have to do with BFing. The annual membership for my group is $35 but they have yet to ask for any money because they know money is tight for DH and I right now. My group also has outings and playdates throughout the month. http://www.llli.org/WebUS.html


GL!!


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