Breastfeeding Almost Didn’t Work Out For Us

When Murphy (aka Pickle) was born, he was 7lb 8oz of pure magic. I knew I wanted to breastfeed before he was born, and nothing was going to get in my way! I had heard of people having breastfeeding struggles, but I had read everything there was to read! There was no way it could happen to me, right?

WRONG! I had no clue I had low milk supply until our 2 week check up and Pickle was 6lb 3oz!! WHAT THE HECK?! He had lost so much weight. I beat myself up so much, and I was devastated!! I thought so low of myself. My poor baby was literally starving to death.

He cried all the time unless he was at my breast. That was normal though, right? New borns nurse constantly!! At LEAST every 2 hours. How was I supposed to know he wasn’t gaining weight?!

I had read about what letdown feels like, but I never felt anything. That’s okay though! Some people never feel a letdown.

There were no signs that I saw (or felt), to indicate that there was an issue. I very quickly found out that there was a major issue.

When he was first born, we seemingly didn’t have any issues. Everyone checked him for tongue and lip ties. Someone mentioned that he had a tongue tie, but immediately after a different person said he didn’t. I didn’t know any difference. Besides, what’s a tongue tie? When we were breastfeeding in the hospital, everyone said we looked great! Although it really hurt. Now, from the research I had done, I know it shouldn’t hurt. Everyone in the hospital kept telling me some pain is normal and it will get better.

Breastfeeding in the hospital

I much later find out, that I suffer from vasospasms. When breastfeeding, the tip of my nipple would go blanch white because there was no more blood flow there. Then when he would unlatch, all the blood flow would return and it would be burning pain!

At the hospital, they gave us a sheet of paper indicating how many wet diapers a new born should have. If I recall correctly, it’s at least 1 wet diaper for every day of life. So day 1, 1 wet diaper. Day 2, 2 wet diapers. Day 3, 3 wet diapers and so on. Well, every day I was counting his wet diapers like a crazy person. It just didn’t seem right that he was nursing NON STOP, and I felt like there were barley any diapers. It was very frustrating and I was obsessing over it.

At a hospital close to my house (not where Murphy was born), they have a free breastfeeding support group every Monday at 10am. Murphy was 2 weeks old, and I decided to go to this group because I was hating breastfeeding. It was so hard and not enjoyable, but I was so determined!! This was also the same day of our 2 week check up.

At this support group, you weigh your baby naked, then nurse them! You then weigh them again after they eat one breast to see how much they’ve drank. You weigh them again after the other breast to get a total amount of milk transferred!

This was when I first found out that Murphy was BARELY getting ANY milk. I was DEVASTATED. I cried hysterically for about 10 minutes while Murphy screamed. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in a room surrounded by supportive women, and I had never felt so alone in my life. I was drowning in tears.

Luckily the registered nurse who ran the group, had extremely intense mom hugs. She hugged me so tight. She instantly started breaking up the next few days. My first goal was to get to his doctors appointment and figure out if he needed to be hospitalized (fear of possible dehydration). She told me that Murphy definitely needed to see an ENT for tongue tie. Then she told me about “SNS tube feeding”. That is a supplemental nursing system.

SNS tube feeding is INTENSE and hard. You take a syringe, and fill it with either breastmilk or formula. You then latch your baby to your breast, and slip in a tube into the baby’s mouth. That tube is attached to the syringe filled with milk. The baby thinks they’re just nursing. The benefit to that is, having baby latched, will help increase your supply! We chose to use formula in the syringe since I legitimately had low supply and had no breastmilk of my own, to put in the syringe.

SNS tube feeding

Let me stop right there for a second.
Low supply
A lot of women think that they have low supply for various reasons.
Your newborn baby is going to eat ALL THE TIME. Close to every 1.5-2 hours. So don’t listen to anyone when they say, “but your baby just ate, they can’t be hungry again.” But they are. That’s okay. FEED YOUR BABY. Just because your breasts don’t “feel full”, that doesn’t mean you have low supply! Your breasts start to feel softer. That’s okay, once milk regulates, things change. It’s okay if your breasts never leak. Or all of a sudden, baby is nursing like crazy. It could be a growth spurt. However, if you ever have any doubts, go see your doctor or your pediatrician!!!


Correcting Tongue Ties and Increasing Milk Supply

Hind sight, I wish we had gone to the pediatrician sooner. But luckily we went when we did, and we found out that Murphy wasn’t getting enough milk. Now, he was getting enough to stay hydrated. They did a blood draw to make sure we didn’t have to go to the hospital. The pediatrician also noticed Murphy had a tongue tie and recommended the local ENT.

A few days later we have an appointment at our local ENT. I have mixed feelings about him. He clearly didn’t understand the importance of correcting the tongue tie. He told us that Murphy had a high palette, and correcting the tie wouldn’t fix anything. I’m so grateful that he corrected it anyways, because it literally saved our breastfeeding relationship.

I even had an international board certified lactation consultant come to my house to help in any way possible! She was wonderful, and informed me of a medication that is helpful for some with increasing supply. She also told me about 1,000mg of fenugreek daily. I asked her about all the stories I had read about fenugreek LOWERING supply. Turns out, most people don’t take the right dose. It isn’t that its lowering your supply, it’s just not increasing your supply

BUT none of this was going to stop me from breastfeeding. At this point I had to supplement because Murphy needed to put on the LBs. However, I ONLY used the SNS tube because I wanted to keep him at the breast as much as possible to help increase my supply. I was worried that if we gave him a bottle, even just one, it would impact our breastfeeding relationship.

I was feeding him every 2 hours (literally EVERY 2 HOURS) and then pumping for 20min afterwards every time. Every. Time. Then I had to clean the pump parts, and the syringe and the tube. That was leaving me with about 40 minutes to an hour before the cycle started again. I had to take reglan for a week (a prescription from my Dr that could cause severe depression but increase milk), 1,000mg of fenugreek, lactation teas, and lactation cookies. I was also drinking all the water in the world (100oz minimum every day)!!

In the beginning I was only pumping drops of breastmilk. DROPS! There were moments I wanted to give up because I never thought my supply would increase. But I stuck with it, and thank God I did because after 5 1/2 weeks we were exclusively breastfeeding. Thanksgiving Day was the first time we didn’t supplement anything and just breastfed and we haven’t looked back!! It was absolutely the greatest day ever!!!

Thanksgiving Day!

Then January 15 at approximately 4 in the morning, Murphy only ate on one side and then went back to seep. I had to pump because my other breast was going to explode. Now, I know you produce the most in the middle of the night, but this is the most I’ve ever pumped!! Murphy turned 13 weeks the next day and I could not have been happier. I almost cried. All of our hard work paid off.

The first time I pumped and could see our progress

Also I should add we found out late in the game that he had a tongue tie. It was 2 weeks postpartum. Most people find out within the first few days, but for whatever reason, there seemed to be some confusion as to whether or not Murphy had tongue tie.

I cannot thank my AMAZING husband Kevin enough for his support through all this. There is no way I could of done this without him. There were so many times he’d do all the prep work and all the cleaning so I could catch every extra minute of sleep. I truly have the greatest husband in the world

Worth all the struggles. I was so determined to breastfeed and I did (and still do).

Random side note:
During those 5 weeks of chaos and stress, Murphy and I were sleeping in the living room so Kevin could sleep since he was going to work. During those 5 weeks, the hallmark channel was playing Christmas movies. Thank God for those movies, because it kept me awake while trying to feed Murphy. Every time I watch a Christmas movie, I think of what we went through.

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