Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Breastfeeding after C-Section: A Difficult Journey

I thought it was going to be easy.  Of course being a first time mom I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Cesarean section wasn't planned (if you'd like, read why I had a c-section here), and recovery took longer than I thought.

I was all for breastfeeding because it's best for the baby, and of course it would give us a big break from our budget since it meant not buying formula.  I read numerous books about breastfeeding to get myself prepared.  I didn't think breastfeeding was going to be that hard.  I mean, our ancestors had no choice but to breastfeed since there were no such thing as formula.

After I had the unplanned c-section I SPECIFICALLY told the nurse DO NOT give him ANY bottles or pacifiers because I plan on exclusively breastfeeding.  Good thing the hospital was very supportive of breastfeeding.  They listened and brought my baby over to feed for the first time.  It went surprisingly well, he didn't have any problems latching on - he was such a champ!

I've heard plenty of stories about babies having difficulty latching on and the mother ends up giving up.  I felt so lucky not having that problem.  At the hospital, all he wanted to do was sleep so I was feeding him about every 2 1/2 -3 hours.  Despite the fact that I was recovering from a major surgery this was WAY easier than I thought.............NOT!  Everything changed the day we came home.

He was awake every 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  He would be on a breast for 10-15 mins, making it 20-30 mins per feeding. Then he would be awake again in about 45 mins.  At some point he wouldn't go back to sleep for 5 straight hours.  I was getting NO sleep.  He was driving me near edge into insanity.  I was literally running around top half naked all day because he was on the boob 24/7.  I knew that for a newborn baby to sleep, he needed to be full and happy.  Obviously my baby wasn't satisfied enough to stay asleep.  I was so exhausted from the surgery and my body was going through so much stress trying to recover that I wasn't producing much milk.  It also didn't help that he weighed over 10 lbs at birth.  He felt like a ton every time I had to carry him.

I tried everything to increase my supply - I tried pumping in between feeding, warm compress, I even stopped my pain meds - nothing seemed to work.  Pumping in between actually made it worse because it caused me to get less rest.  Some days I cried because I just didn't know what to do.  I just thought I was an inadequate mother.  I doubted myself and didn't know if I can go on breastfeeding.  I could've taken the easy route and supplement with formula but I didn't want to.  I am not the gray area type of person.  Either I was going to breastfeed or I wasn't going to.

My husband was very supportive throughout this whole process.  One time I fell asleep and stayed asleep for about 4 hours.  I woke up surprised because I thought something happened to my baby and he didn't wake up.  I saw my husband watching TV next to him and said, "Just go back to sleep and get some rest, he's fine."  I said, "What do you mean?  He hasn't been fed for more than 4 hours!" "I fed him some formula so you can stay sane."  I was FURIOUS!  My #1 supporter had turned against me.  I told him how am I supposed to build my milk supply if I skipped a feeding...and I went on.

After a brief argument, he talked some sense into me.  How am I supposed to be a good mother if I'm just miserable, in pain and getting no sleep whatsoever?  I decided to get back on my pain meds, my husband went to buy extra formula just in case I wanted to supplement.  Just the thought of having a back up plan and not putting this all on myself actually eased my mind and relaxed me more.  I was a happier person.  I felt more determined.

Ever since that incident I never supplemented.  My milk supply was up and maintaining at around 3 1/2 months.  Yes, I was very very much sleep deprived but I put up with it for 3 1/2 months.  Breastfeeding was the hardest thing that I've ever done to this day.  My son was EXCLUSIVELY breastfed until he was 6 months old, and up until 1 year old.  I am so happy knowing that I provided the best thing in the world for him.  My son is now a wonderful, healthy, thriving, active 2 year old toddler.

If you are pregnant and planning to breastfeed, make sure you have people that are supportive around you.  I don't know what I would've done without my husband beside me.

Read: My 10 lb 1 oz Baby

-Nerdy Mom

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