Breastfeeding Failures and Success

May 23, 2009

Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding Readers!

This blog isn’t intended to be solely about breastfeeding. But it is important to me, and I want to talk about it.

Other moms have written about their breastfeeding experiences as well. Read about them here:

When I was pregnant, I didn’t know that almost every mom should physically be able to breastfeed. I was asked if I planned to breastfeed, and it wasn’t even a question for me. I said as long as both of us were willing and able, I would be breastfeeding. And I only said it like that because the one friend of mine who has a baby wasn’t able to breastfeed. I just thought breastfeeding was natural and was the right way to feed a baby. Plus I wanted the bonding time. During our prenatal class, the instructor was listing off the benefits of breastfeeding, including cost (aka FREE) and ease (aka you don’t need to haul bottles around or sterilize or any of that). To me, that was 2 perfectly good reasons to breastfeed, beyond the fact that I just wanted to.

Well, when Penny was born, I had a pretty bad hemorrhage. I didn’t get to feed her right away because the doctors were busy fixing me up. Apparently my lips were blue, and I actually had to tell Court to go get pictures of Penny. I didn’t even get to hold her until almost an hour after she was born, nevermind feed her. After they eventually got me over to the maternity ward and settled into the bed, they pretty much thrust Penny at me and said “FEED!” That was the start of my problems…

To make a 1789 word story a heck of a lot shorter, over the course of about a month, I had at least 6 different nurses and lactation consultants tell me that my latch was fine, even though I was still in alot of pain.

I signed out books from the library and bought some from Chapters. Reading one of them, a light bulb goes on. When holding your baby in the cross-cradle position, your middle finger should be on their jaw on the bottom side, your hand around the base of their skull and your thumb just under their ear on the top side. Well geez! If someone had said to put my middle finger on Penny’s jaw I bet half of these problems could have been eliminated!

At a follow-up appointment at The Alex Community Health Centre, I tell the doctor about the jaw thing and how it made a world of difference for us. Still not perfect, but I can feel improvement. I get talking to her about positioning and using the breastfeeding pillow. Apparently most moms using the pillow rely on it too much. They actually use it to hold up the baby, rather than using it to support their arms which should be holding baby. That’s exactly what I was doing! My other failing was that I thought you couldn’t move your breast around to help feed the baby, as in move the baby over to where my nipple is, not move the nipple to where baby is. So I was moving Penny so far over to the side that her chin would end up near her chest. BAD! Over the course of the next week, every appointment I had, every book I read, even the videos I watched on YouTube, helped! Each one had one more tidbit that helped perfect what was going on. It still wasn’t perfect, but we could manage. I could feed Penny without being in too much pain, and she could get enough to eat and was gaining weight again. It took almost 3 weeks to get back to her birthweight (the norm is 2 weeks).

After a couple of weeks of not-perfect, but not-too-painful feeding, I got so frustrated with feeding Penny one morning that I just got up and fed her without hunting down my breastfeeding pillow. I just plopped down on the couch with her in the cradle position. And everything clicked into place! Jackpot! I couldn’t feed her with the breastfeeding pillow without having problems. Now that I know that, everything’s gone so much better!

We still have a bit of trouble with Penny squirming and flailing while she’s eating, and I’ve wanted to get into the clinic to ask about that. Last week, I finally attempted to feed Penny while lying down in bed at night. I was so tired that night! I’m sure we don’t have the position perfect, but we found a spot that works for us. And it’s totally hands-off for me (I might put a hand behind her just to keep her from rolling backwards away from me). I immediately noticed a difference with her. Where she’d kick and squirm before, she mostly lies quietly and feeds. Where she’d feed for 10 seconds, pop off, look around, then try feeding again – she latches on and stays there for almost the full feed. She sounds like she’s sucking and swallowing better, and she seems more content while feeding. I’ve now applied this idea to feeding her during the day too. I hold her up on the breastfeeding pillow again, but I don’t use my arms to try and hold her at all. I let her lay how she wants and feed how she wants. It really seems to be working for us!

I was also concerned about weight gain. Penny had her 4-month immunizations last week, and the nurses mentioned that she’s “on the lean side.” She is 24.5″ long and 12 lbs. Birthweight was 7 lbs 14 oz. But on last week’s Carnival I read about increasing my milk supply naturally. What I’ve taken from that is to use good fats for my extra calories – cream in my coffee, olive oil where I can. Between that, and letting Penny feed how she wants so, I think her weight is going to get back on track. I still have an appointment at the clinic on Monday, but I think everything is falling into place. (See the update to the weight gain issue here)

I’m glad breastfeeding is really working out now. I enjoy my bonding time with Penny, and I didn’t realize I would enjoy breastfeeding her this much. I think I’d be rather sad to have this connection and experience taken away from us.

This post naturally follows


  1. Good for you for sticking with it and getting the help you needed! We were lucky and had a relatively easy start, but Zoe was little (5 pounds) so they made us supplement right away, using a finger feeder. I’m so thankful that our nurses were awesome and did whatever they could to help us out. I hope it continues to go well.

  2. What a wonderful story!! I’m so glad that you were able to figure everything out. I had a really hard time getting started with my son too – and I am also glad that I stuck with it!!

  3. I’m so glad that your persistence has gotten you where you want to be. It can be so hard when you don’t have the support you need to make it.

  4. Thanks for such an excellent post! Really enjoyed it. :)

  5. I saw your link in the email about the Carnival (because I did a post, too). Our experiences sound a lot alike. I hope you’re able to stick with it. Great job so far!

  6. I am so glad you and Penny were able to work it out. Successful breastfeeding is different for every mom, but I can tell you and Penny will reach whatever goals you set for yourselves. Congrats again!

  7. It’s great that you’re finding what works for you. That’s really the key. Every mom and baby pair is different, and so each one has to determine what positions and so on work best for them.

  8. Thanks for writing,I really enjoyed your newest post.I think you should post more frequently,you obviously have talent for blogging!

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