Friday, June 2, 2017

Fed is Best (Breastfeeding Part 2)

Cecilia using my old baby bed sheet and swaddle
During our first few days home with our newborn baby girl I always had the question “What am I going to do next?” going on in my head. Our doctor said that she needed to be fed every two to three hours. That meant having to wake her up when it was time to feed her, which really didn’t make sense to me.

Being a first time mom I did everything the doctor told me without question. I thought it made more sense to feed the baby on demand because my baby girl seemed to prefer to just sleep. If I didn’t wake her up to feed she could actually sleep through the night, which meant more sleep for me too. But we learned later on that, because a baby’s stomach is very small (around the size of a ping pong ball), they digest very quickly and would need to feed frequently
in order to gain weight. So I said goodbye to sleep to make sure my newborn had enough to eat. But our feeding schedule was not so simple. I think it was one of the most difficult situations I had to endure as a mom. For one, I had to awaken a peacefully sleeping baby. I initially tried to just put her to the breast (as suggested by the elders), but she really didn’t seem to care whether I fed her or not and would not latch. So my husband and I tried different means of waking her up: tickling her cheek, tickling her back, calling out her name… Eventually, she would latch and drink, but would fall back to sleep within two minutes. We would repeat this process for about 30 minutes to an hour until she would refuse to latch and just sleep. Then when my alarm rings after two hours we do it all over again. I was worried that she was not eating anything and was told by other moms not to worry because they really don’t need to eat much.
"I would rather sleep than eat."

We reached a point wherein she would finally wake up for a feeding. But before latching, she would cry at the top of her lungs that we were worried about waking the neighbors. After crying non-stop for about 15 minutes (which felt more like forever), she would finally settle down, latch, and start sucking. And because she had spent so much of her awake time crying, around five minutes into drinking her milk, she would fall asleep. Which meant we had to awaken her again to latch from the other breast as well. This probably went on for two nights, until finally, her pediatrician said that she was probably not getting enough to eat and was very hungry, plus she had not pooped in 4 days. Just to relieve her hunger and to let the intense crying stop, our pedia suggested supplementing with formula milk* because she had also already lost 15% of her birth weight, 5% more than allowable weight loss.

Feeding, success!
I will be very honest and admit that I felt very sad and inadequate, not to mention that I was surviving on barely any sleep and was increasingly tired by the day. I wanted my baby to be purely breast fed so I felt like a failure at that moment. But I also wanted her to be happy, healthy and well fed. So I would reluctantly feed her an ounce of formula with a dropper (to avoid nipple confusion) just so she could immediately feel the milk in her mouth and have something occupying her stomach, then I would proceed to breast feed her. This immediately stopped the crying and at the same time she would latch on to me even longer and on both sides. And on day six, she pooped! My husband and I have never been so happy and excited to see poop.

Eventually, my baby girl would latch on to me first and drink on either side. And because we had established that she could latch on very well already, our doctor gave us the go signal to give her the ounce of formula via bottle if she was still hungry.

So mommies, please don’t feel bad about giving your baby formula milk. Breast milk has a hundred and one benefits that we would love for our babies to have and is really the way to go. But due to unforeseen circumstances, a fed baby is always best!

*We used S-26 HA Gold

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