Many women had warned me that I might not be able to breastfeed. They told me their own stories about not having enough milk etc. I wasn't going to go into it with a defeatist attitude. I was going to give it my best no matter what. My sister had breastfed her children and never had a problem. I knew that my breasts had been preparing very early on. Almost my first symptom of pregnancy was that my breasts grew and felt tender.
The baby seemed to get a good latch right away. She was a natural! I couldn't believe the suction she had. The nurse called her a Dyson vacuum! None of the breastfeeding positions they showed me were comfortable. I didn't like the football position or cross cradle hold. There didn't seem to be a comfortable way to hold the baby to feed but I tried to follow instructions, cradling the baby's head with one hand, holding her body in with that arm and squeezing my breast with the other hand. I couldn't believe how much it hurt! I would have thought an innocent little baby would be gentle. She was a ravenous animal! My nipples were red, purple, black, scabbed and scarred. "She's giving you hickies!" one nurse said "That's why you have to make sure she's latched on properly, onto the breast, not just the nipple." I couldn't believe a newborn could be that strong or have that much power in her jaws. It felt like she had teeth and was going to chew my nipples off! By the looks of them, she nearly did!
My doctor had suggested I visit the Breastfeeding Clinic for tips. Every new Mom struggles with it. Apparently 90% of women find breastfeeding difficult in the beginning. Many are so discouraged that they give up. I was not giving up. I set up an appointment to see them the day after I got home from the hospital.
I had been anxious to leave the hospital because I didn't get a wink of sleep there (between the duelling screaming babies and the father in the next bed snoring all night). What I didn't know is that I wouldn't get much sleep when I got home either.
The next day I had my appointment at the breastfeeding clinic. I didn't know how hard it is to make an appointment with a newborn. I had her all ready, buckled into the carseat when I heard a gurgling sound, she began to cry and I knew that she had pooed. So I had to unbuckle, undress and change her and start all over again.
"Wow! You made it in good time!" they said when I came in five minutes late.
When she saw my nipples the woman at the clinic shook her head and said "You poor thing." She tried to show me how to get a good latch. After having the formula, just as I had feared, my baby rejected me. When I tried to bring her to my breast, she pushed me away. I was heartbroken. Now that the evil boob Nazis ("No boob for you!" -- if you're not a Seinfeld fan just ignore this, it won't make sense unless you've seen the soup Nazi episode) had given my baby formula, she wouldn't settle for me and my empty boobs. How can they call themselves a breastfeeding clinic when they deliberately sabotage you so that you can't breastfeed?! I was bitter. I was devestated.
I read the instructions. It mentioned that a hot shower may stimulate milk production. It said to relax and think of your baby. I finally got up the nerve to give it a go. It felt a little strange putting the rubber cone around my breast and turning the vacuum on. It made a little buzzing noise. It didn't hurt really, not the way the baby chewing on me did at least, it was just a bit uncomfortable. At first I was worried nothing was happening. I couldn't see any milk. But then, miraculously, I saw the container start to fill up with a strange yellow liquid. I managed to pump 50 ml from my breasts. I told my sister about it being yellow. She said that breast milk isn't pure white and plus this could be my transitional milk from colostrum to regular milk. I was just happy that I actually was producing milk. The baby lapped up every drop of my milk from the bottle. I was supplementing with the formula as per the feeding plan. She was still feeding from me, not rejecting me anymore.
When I went to the doctor she said that Michelle was doing very well. She had already regained her birth weight a week later (usually it takes 10-14 days). She was pink and healthy and strong and feeding well. Everything looked great. I returned to the clinic quite pleased to show them how well baby was doing (and that I didn't need to buy their $400 pump to make it happen.) Now she was only getting my milk and was still doing very well. They weighed her before and after feeding and said that she was getting at least 25 ml from each breast at a feeding.