Earlier on, around when Luke was 4-5 weeks old, I posted about our breast feeding woes. I haven't really given a full update since then, so I thought I would lay out some truths about breast feeding and pumping.
I never assumed that nursing would be easy by any means. I actually prepared myself for it be difficult. I just assumed that I would have a tough time producing, and knew it was going to be painful.
In the hospital, once Luke became more awake and alert,it came fairly easy for us. I had to use a nipple shield, but he seemed to latch pretty well. Early on he was a every 2 hour eater, but breast babies do have to eat more often usually. After about 2 days home my milk came in, which is as uncomfortable as they say, beach balls sitting on my chest! I right away overproduced and had to pump for comfort.
Around one week old Luke just was insatiable. Literally eating every 1 or so. We couldn't get any sleep. Everytime I nursed, he would fall asleep then put him down, and he was awake screaming, ready to be fed again. So one night we decided to give him a bottle of pumped milk after nursing and he slept for 4 hours, which was magical! I didn't really fret over giving him a bottle that early because I knew he would be taking a bottle when I went back to work. And I had seen plenty of NICU babies be able to switch back and forth.
So we went through a period of nursing then bottle, which was time consuming, but he never seemed to get full from just nursing. I called the lactation consultant and she came out and watched us nurse and me pump. Gave is some great pointers and shortly we were able to wean off the bottle feedings for the most part.
But around week 2-3, we started to experience extreme fussiness and difficulty at the breast while nursing. He would be able to drink for awhile then pull off coughing and gasping, and the rest of the feeding would be miserable with a lot of latching on and pulling off. And it usually ended with him and I both crying. And mind you at this point he is still eating every 2-3. My NICU brain finally kicks in and I recognize that is reflux. We start him on Zantac and do reflux precautions. It doesn't really help tons and feedings are still very miserable. Around 3-4 weeks his spitting up increases so we start adding cereal to some bottles. At this point we are back to doing bottles after most nursing. We still struggled with the reflux during bottle feeding but it was more tolerable and it wasn't my boob that was being tortured.
After much thought, guilt, prayer, and conversations with Sour and friends, I decided to take 24 hours to only pump and bottle feed. Those 24 were the least stressful of all the days since we got home. So I did another 24, and Luke was just tolerating feeds so much better. So sometime between 5-6 weeks I decided to pump exclusively. That's been about 7 weeks ago, and pumping is going great! I have blessedly not struggled with supply yet, and its been very easy to squeeze it into work.
Every now and then I like to try to fondly remember nursing, but our sweet bonding moments really were few and far between. Please let me know if you have any questions about breast feeding or pumping. I am pro breast feeding and will try again with the next one, but this has been a great decision for Luke, Sour, and I.
Sorry for the length, I just really wanted mommies, future and present, to know that there is no right way, and every baby and momma are different. So don't let people or self guilt sway you one way or another.
Now for pictures of my freezer stash! I am very proud!