I was devastated at Kaia’s doctor’s appointment today when we found out that she still wasn’t gaining weight. I was so upset that I started crying and immediately just thought something was wrong with my breast milk. My breast milk is poisoning my baby! I thought in my head. What the hell was wrong?
The RN/lactation consultant suspected that there were one of two problems that needed to be pinpointed: either I had low milk supply or the baby had a weak suck. Weak suck would mean poor milk transfer, which means that she wasn’t getting enough to eat, which would also mean that not enough milk was getting removed from my breasts to signal to my body to produce more milk. So it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. As a result, she strongly suggested we give her a higher fat formula as a supplement and start a triple feed plan: Every three hours, I would nurse her, then Chris would bottle feed her my expressed milk or formula, and then I would pump for 20 minutes. I get two nursing breaks and two pumping breaks, but this was definitely an intensive feeding plan. The idea behind this is 1) to get the baby eating and gaining enough weight to be on track, and 2) to get my breasts stimulated enough to produce enough milk for baby to consume.
It’s a plan I had no idea existed before, but it was stressful and so disappointing to hear that we needed to do this, at least until her next appointment a few days after Christmas. I thought about how intense and agonizing this would be if I didn’t have Chris or a night nurse or really any support, and how isolated I would feel. I always knew breastfeeding would be a journey, but I had no idea that it would be this time-intensive and completely out of my control. I always thought that if she latched properly, then it would all go well. I mean, that’s what all the breastfeeding articles and the breastfeeding class I took emphasized. No one told me about poor milk transfer or a weak suck and how that could be a potential problem, so I felt completely unprepared for this and thrown off guard. Why was I not aware of this before with all my research?? And I felt enraged thinking about this lack of emphasis as we left the doctor’s office. This is postpartum life. This is an introduction to motherhood for me.