My little man is now almost 11 weeks old, so I guess 2 and half months. Woah! He is already 14 lbs and 6 oz and 24.5″ long at his 2 month check up (a week and a half ago). Growing like a weed. Around 7 weeks, I felt like we FINALLY got the whole breastfeed thing down.
Leon is skeptical of the swing
That said, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’d like to discuss all the challenges I’ve had along the way. I am glad I am able to BF Leon, but I also glad that if I couldn’t/wanted to stop, there are very good alternatives out there. While I agree that formula makers can be very aggressive, thank goodness our babies don’t have to eat straight up cow’s milk, or weird rice gruel that my ma said her mom fed her babies when she had a supply problem.
1) BF hurts, even when you’re doing it right. Why do so many resources (La Leche Leage, lactation consultants, online resources, etc.) say that it’s not supposed to hurt if it’s done correctly? Newborns have teeny tiny mouths and crap motor control. The first 6-8 weeks generally sucks. This is why so many women give up before 3 months. It’s bad. But breastfeeding advocates telling moms that “it stops hurts after the first week” or “if it hurts, there’s a problem and get it addressed,” doesn’t help. I finally found a lactation consultant who told me, based on our phone consultation, that nothing was wrong, other than Leon being just 6 weeks old and needing to grow a bigger mouth. I’ve had consultants and leaders tell me I should consider cranio-facial therapy, occupational therapy, etc. If I followed their advice, I’d be in a money hole, with boobs that still hurt. If BF is that complicated that I needed to take my infant to get occupational therapy, maybe the approach is wrong (and not him?) That said, some causes of pain are real and should be addressed.
2) Unforseen problems: That said, I’m glad I got some information/education in those early La Leche League meetings. I made friends with one of the members, whose son had a tongue tie. No one in the hospital told me that Leon had a tongue tie, but when I noticed his heart shaped tongue a few days postpartum, I knew who to call. We were able to go to one of the most trusted pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat specialists in the city (who takes union-y insurance. Yeay!) and got Leon’s tongue tie clipped. It was evidently pretty severe and would have led to speech difficulties. And guess what- my 10 day old found his voice after that and it’s been non-stop squawking and cooing since then. The pain didn’t get better right away, but I am glad to know that one structure cause of breastfeeding problems was addressed.
3) Cup over-runeth: My mom, my grandmothers, my sis-in-law (OK, not a blood relations, but still) all had supply problems and had to supplement and wean earlier than they wanted to. So I assumed I might, too. I stocked up on galactagogues like oats, after bringing Little Man back from the hospital. Well, I guess I am not my mother’s daughter in this way. I had (and continue to have) way too much milk. Probably created by the fact that Leon like to suck early and often. (more on this later). I squirt, I stain, I leak, I flow. Leon pulls away and gets a face full of human dairy spray. I’ve daydreamed and then looked down to a shirt sopping wet. This led to a not so awesome experience with mastitis.
4) Reflux-y: Poor Leon has pretty bad baby reflux, or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Sad face. He doesn’t act too upset about it most of the time, but he does spit up A LOT (like 2-4 ozes sometime. Like a whole feeding’s worth). He seems to be in a lot of pain at night though, which has contributed to such memorable moments as last night, when he refused to sleep between 11 PM and 5:30 AM. (He was fussing, crying, sometimes screaming, and was clearly in pain. This is not just dramatics for the sake it). Since he gains weight well and is generally good natured, the docs aren’t so worried, but I became convinced that I could change my diet and make it better. I’ve gone dairy free (which did nothing), and went back on dairy because I was starving. But now I’ve pulled out the big guns: Dr. Sears’ Elimination diet. I started Sunday afternoon. I plan to do this for the full 2 weeks, and slowly add in more low allergenic foods (broccoli, bananas, avocados, some beans, etc.) Wish me luck. [And so far, there is no evidence that Leon is fairing better on this diet, but it’s too early to tell. And no, there is no clinical research demonstrating the efficacy of this diet. Edited: But there is scientific research that reflux can be related to early food allergies, passed through a mother’s diet, especially dairy proteins. But I feel so bad for him during his crying/screaming fits. His face is all frowny and sad. I am stubborn enough to try this once).
That said, I’m pleased to have been able to BF Leon thus far, and pleased that he is growing and thriving!