I am happy to say that I made it one whole year exclusively breastfeeding my daughter, but that year certainly wasn’t without struggles. We persevered through an oversupply, mastitis (twice), nipple shields, a non-breastfeeding friendly pediatrician, acid reflux, misdiagnosed (and wrongly medicated) colic, tongue and lip ties, and slow weight gain!
Since my daughter started out in the NICU, I spent the first two weeks of her life attached to a hospital grade pump which led to a painful oversupply and mastitis. Then, because my daughter was so used to being bottle-fed her breastmilk, I had to use a nipple shield for the first several months.
I am convinced a man created those dang pieces of plastic–while they are great in the grand scheme of things (some babies really need them in order to nurse), they are a huge pain in the butt! Oh how I loathed when my daughter would knock those off during the middle of the night, dumping milk everywhere!
Unfortunately, our first pediatrician didn’t help the situation at all–because my daughter was low birth weight and a slow gainer, she was convinced that I wasn’t producing enough. She told me to pump even more often, take fenugreek, and supplement. Then, when my daughter became inconsolable, she insisted she had colic and put her on medication.
Instead of blindly listening to that pediatrician, I sought help from lactation consultants at a breastfeeding support group. We quickly figured out that my daughter didn’t have colic (just as I suspected); instead, the fenugreek was actually upsetting her tummy! After a few weighted feeds, we established that I certainly didn’t have a low supply, either!
Because that pediatrician was so unsupportive, we found a new pediatrician who at first sight of my daughter said “She is the picture of health! I can tell by looking at your husband that she is just going to be long and skinny.” She wasn’t concerned that my daughter wasn’t even registering on the growth chart. She told us that as long as our daughter continued to gain weight, she didn’t care where she ranked (or didn’t rank) on the growth chart! It was such a relief to finally have support from our pediatrician!
With a lot of patience, we were even able to kick the nipple shield to the curb! Then, once my daughter had her lip and tongue ties revised, it was smooth sailing from there.
…or so I thought.
Unfortunately, the mom guilt and worry didn’t go away. Every comment about my daughter being “so little,” or “she just needs a little meat on her bones” cut me to the core. I was worried that I was doing her a disservice by breastfeeding her, especially when I would see my friends with their chubby babies (both breastfed and formula fed). I can’t tell you how many times I thought about supplementing or switching to formula, but my support system gave me the encouragement I needed to continue.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I was relieved to see that my daughter didn’t immediately pack on a ton of weight when we started her on food. If she had quickly chunked up, I would have been overwhelmed with guilt thinking that I had been starving her. But, just as the pediatrician expected, her weight gain continued at a slow and steady pace. Our girl just enjoyed hanging out at the bottom of the growth chart! Someday, she will appreciate her fast metabolism!
Looking back now, I’m so glad I didn’t give up on breastfeeding when the going got tough. I knew my breastmilk would give my daughter valuable antibodies to keep her healthy and it did just that! My daughter was a tiny picture of health–she stayed cold and virus free until we all caught a bad cold when she was around 11 months old. Surprisingly, she recovered from her cold in a few days while it took the rest of us two weeks to recover!
I know everyone loves to gush over fat baby rolls and double (or even triple) chins, but my skinny little princess is the apple of my eye. Plus, as an added bonus, we get a lot of use out of her clothes since she grows so slowly!
Did you have skinny or chubby babies?
Did you have breastfeeding issues or trouble finding the right formula?
How did you handle the stress and/or mom guilt?