When you are a new parent, of course, you’ll think that your baby is cute. You may even think that your baby is the cutest baby on earth, and who could blame you? Every day of my baby‘s life, she gets a little bit older, bigger, and is constantly changing. Every day, I marvel over how cute and sweet she is, and all I want to do is eat her little face. Her face is taking shape, her skin tone is morphing, and she is slowly developing little rolls in her neck. Her cheeks have filled out so that they are super pinch-able. But one thing that doesn’t seem to be changing that the pediatrician and my mom friends around me have encouraged me about is her suck. Most of them were optimistic, and they said that as the baby got older, she would also get stronger. This would mean that her sucking would likely also become stronger. And while she does have some good days on my breast, other days, it’s just as though she is just as weak and lazy on the boob as she was in the first couple of weeks of her life. Sometimes, it honestly just feels like she is licking my nipple, and I am not sure that achieves anything. Who even knows if that counts as “nipple stimulation“ to help my milk supply? I told Chris this, and he said that this was simply foreplay on my breast, and this was not a good use of time for anyone!
A friend suggested that I look into a nipple shield, as nipple shields are supposed to help babies with a weak suck, as it is evidence-based from babies in the NICU, most of whom are premature. The idea is that the babies do not have as much bucal fat in their mouths to be able to properly suck because they are so small, so they need something firmer like a nipple shield to grip their mouths on. My Cleo LC also suggested that I look into this, as well. I was even further encouraged by this when I read a promising story by someone who posted in the breastfeeding group on Reddit, who said that she had a baby who also had poor milk transfer and a weak suck. By using a nipple shield on and off while nursing up until week 13, she was able to get her baby to transfer enough milk so that baby started rejecting all of her bottles that were offered after nursing because she was full. Throughout this period, she maintained her milk supply by pumping milk around the clock, similar to what I have been doing. The crappy thing about the story though, is that she had to go back to work at that point, so she just had to continue pumping milk (this stupid fucking country). But she was still able to nurse her baby successfully in the evenings until her baby was full.
Well, I spent the five dollars it cost to get a fitted nipple shield for my nipples, and I tried using the nipple shield on and off on one breast while nursing my baby for about two weeks. In the beginning, it actually seems like it was working. She was sucking harder, and when she switched to the other breast, she actually seemed like she was working harder to suck the milk out. But then, there were other sessions when it seemed like it just stressed her out too much, and she would start fighting with the nipple shield. It upset me to see her so stressed, and I didn’t want to make every nursing session this stressful, even if I only used a nipple shield on one breast. And on and off, to make things worse, she was just as lazy as she was before I introduced the nipple shield. So in the end, after about 2 1/2 weeks, I gave up on the nipple shield. Granted, I only spent about five dollars on the nipple shield, so I didn’t feel that bad about it. I still just really wanted nursing to work, and after using the nipple shield as a last ditch effort, I finally accepted the fact that this is not going to be part of our path forward in nourishing my baby. Pumping was going to be how I would continue to primarily feed her. At least, as long as my sanity was intact, I would continue doing this. My goal is to get to a minimum six months of her diet mostly being breastmilk. Ideally, I would still be providing some breastmilk until she is one year old. And honestly, I also rationalize this because of the co-pay I paid for my Spectra S1 pump, as well as the new portable pump I just bought, the Baby Buddha, along with the Legendairy milk cups that make it a wearable pump. Well, can you blame me? I’m trying to get the biggest ROI possible out of my investments. And these are all investments in my baby’s health, so I don’t think that there is anything bad about this decision or goal.