I am proud to say that I have not had to supplement Taylor's feedings with formula, and am confident it will stay that way. This was not so with my son. Early on, I was put in a position where I had to supplement his feedings.
Why the difference? Well, I am sure experience has a lot to do with it. I made a lot of mistakes the first go round so it only makes sense that I would improve somewhat.
With hindsight, I now see that my lack of preparation, knowledge and support all had a lot to do with how things played out. To get some perspective on my two very different experiences I will compare them in this journal. Perhaps my blunders will help prevent others from falling into the same booby traps.
Early days after the birth
My son was born in the hospital. The nurse encouraged me to breastfeed him immediately after he was born. Soon after, my perfectly healthy son was taken to the nursery to have who knows what done to him. When I did get him back I had issues getting him to latch on. The constant interruptions of guests and hospital staff did not help with this. My only chance at privacy was a curtain, and even with it up people still intruded on me. There was one sweet nurse who did help me get my son latched on, but her effort was thwarted when another nurse encouraged me to bring home the free formula incase things didn't work out. Not the kind of message you want to implant in a mom who is about to set sail on the breastfeeding journey alone. If anyone is wondering, I did end up using one of those bottles our first night home. I threw the rest out when I learned how supplementing would only sabotage my efforts.
My daughter was born at home. She rarely left my side following the birth. When she did, it was only to meet the family, and even then I could have her brought back to me when ever I deemed necessary. The midwife took her time helping me to get the breastfeeding relationship established. There were no unannounced interruptions. When loved ones did stop by, I was able to retreat to a different room if I required the privacy. This gave us the opportunity to work through the difficulties that the first couple of weeks present. There was no formula in the house to tempt me when the going got tough.
Bottles and pacifiers
Logan was given a pacifier before we even left the hospital. I had heard that there could be nipple confusion, but went along with it when the photographer used one to soothe him while snapping his picture. When it came time to use bottles I had no clue that the style of feeding from the breast is different than a bottle. My ignorance caused me to suffer consequences when his caretaker fed him like a formula fed baby. She mistook his need for affection for hunger which led her to over feed him. When he started solids at 4 months I introduced a faster flow nipple which only amplified the problem. He became accustomed to the larger feedings at a faster pace, and started to get frustrated during nursing sessions at home. Needless to say, our last months of nursing were not enjoyable for either of us.
With Taylor, I decided to forego a pacifier after talking with some of my friends about it on Facebook. I did some research on my own and learned that nipple confusion wasn't the only risk. The baby might eventually choose to suck a pacifier for comfort instead of the breast, which again, can compromise milk supply. We didn't use bottles until the week before I returned to work. After shopping around on Amazon, I decided to go with Breastflow bottles by The First Years. When I sensed that the caretaker was repeating the same feeding pattern with her, I sought out the advice from one of my groups. A member recommended that I print up a pamphlet created for caretakers explaining how a breastfed baby should be fed. The situation has improved since.
The pediatrician that we took Logan to as a baby encouraged us to schedule feedings, and space them out once he started solids. I didn't have anyone in my life that had experience with breastfeeding so I followed his advice. Only later on, when I joined a breastfeeding group, did I learn that scheduling feedings is associated with failure to thrive, and can compromise milk supply since less signals are being sent to the body.
This time, I have a posse of breastfeeding moms who are currently breastfeeding, or have been there before. The information I have learned from them has been invaluable! I also switched to a pediatrician who knows more about breastfed babies.
Logan slept in a bassinet by our bed for the first couple months. Once he grew out of the bassinet we transitioned him to the crib in his room. I was always fearful to bring him to bed with us since everyone had told us how dangerous it was. It wasn't until later on that I started learning about the benefits of co-sleeping. The ease of feeding at night helps keep supply up since mom is more rested and signals to make more milk are being sent to the body. Co-sleeping has also been associated with a lower incidence of SID's.
I decided to give co-sleeping a try with Taylor. To make it safe, Danny sleeps in Logan's room, and Taylor sleeps in the bed with me. I use a thin blanket and keep my pillow away from her. I make sure to tie back my hair whenever she is in the bed with me. The bonus...I get to wake up most mornings to my baby girl snuggled up against me!
Back to work
I knew I was going to return to work after I had Logan. Financially, we couldn't swing anything less than full time. I bought a high end pump thinking that would make me successful. I quickly found out that the process is a bit more complicated than that. My first couple weeks back to work went well. I was able to express enough milk for what he needed the following day. The problems started when the caretaker needed more than what I was pumping. I had no milk stored for situations like this, and didn't realize that over feeding could be a possibility. Not wanting to starve my baby I turned to formula. This led me to stress during pumping sessions, which only screwed with my body more. Stressed and tired, I got a series of colds back to back. Each time I would get sick I would produce less, which meant I relied on formula more. By the time Logan was 9 months old I could tell he was no longer wanting to breastfeed for reasons I listed earlier in the post. I tried my best to continue, but threw in the towel when I couldn't even pump an ounce. By 10 months he had fully transitioned to formula.
When I was pregnant with Taylor, I knew I didn't want to jump right into working full-time. If I was going to have any chance at pumping I would need to figure out a different arrangement. I looked at taking an extended leave, but after talking with my husband about it I worked up a plan with my supervisor to come back part-time. Less time working means more time nursing!
Once I knew I was going back, I immediately started pumping. By the time I returned to work I had 115+ ounces stored in the freezer!! Around this time, a friend shared a video with me showing how to maximize pumping output. After watching it, I realized that I had not been emptying my breasts completely. By simply using my hands after each session I am able to produce up to an ounce more.
Since returning to work a month ago, I am happy to report that my output is on the up instead of the other way around :-)
I learned the hard way that there is a lot of bad breastfeeding information out there. Formula has been the standard for so long that we have almost lost the art of such a natural act. I also learned that there are risks to intervening with a natural process, like breastfeeding. If it must be done then it helps to be educated on how to do it with the least amount of repercussions.