Breastfeeding Success Story: Ashley from Osage Nation WIC

Breastfeeding Success Story: Ashley from Osage Nation WIC“My oldest son was born after I was induced, then had an emergency C-section. He was 9 lbs 11 oz. I had planned to breastfeed, but it was hard to find a good position in the hospital that didn’t make my incision hurt. I found using a breastfeeding pillow helped tremendously. He was a terrible sleeper, and while he would latch fine, after a few weeks he would only eat for a couple minutes at a time, before pulling off and screaming.

By the time he was 2 months old, I found out he had silent reflux (so his throat was raw, but he didn’t actually puke). He also had thrush. The meds didn’t help much, and I dreaded nursing him because every time he popped off it was incredibly painful. I couldn’t figure out why pumping hurt so much, so I started giving him a bottle of formula when I couldn’t stand it.

When he was 3 months, it still wasn’t better, and we kept passing thrush back and forth. I also started working, which was extra stressful since he would only sleep for 30 minutes at a time. There was no place at work to pump, and pumping still hurt terribly, so he got formula while I was at work, too.

When he turned 4 months, I decided I was done. I was sick of it hurting so much, and sick of being angry that he was hungry. I had talked to a nurse from the health department that was supposed to help with breastfeeding a few times, but she didn’t even realize he had thrush so our visits weren’t very helpful.

My second son was born almost 3 years later, after another emergency c section. I had attempted a VBAC, but there were complications. His placenta started to detach. He was 9 lbs 5 oz. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try to breastfeed, since the first time it had hurt so much. I decided I would try, but I wasn’t going to feel bad if it didn’t work out. He had low sugars in the hospital, and needed a small amount of formula before my milk came in. He also had to have phototherapy because of his high bilirubin levels, so we couldn’t do skin to skin.

When we got home, it hurt a little to latch him, but he was getting plenty of milk. His pediatrician showed me how to encourage him to latch deeper, and to re-latch him if he slipped off a bit, so he would learn to stay on right. By two weeks, he was doing it perfectly.

Breastfeeding Success Story: Ashley from Osage Nation WICA few months in, he was puking 6-8 times a day, but acting perfectly happy about it. I eventually cut eggs and caffeine from my diet and it stopped. I was able to eat eggs again when he was around 11 months old. He refused bottles anytime I tried to give him one, so it was easier to cut my diet than pump every time I drank a soda. I bought a better pump, and figured out that it didn’t hurt if I used a bigger size flange and lanolin before pumping. I ended up donating any milk I’d pumped, though, since he wouldn’t drink it.

I got pregnant with my third son unexpectedly, when my second was only 18 months. He was still nursing. It was uncomfortable to continue nursing, but it was less work than fighting him to go to sleep, so we kept at it. I went into labor a month early, and he was born 8 lbs 1 oz, after another cesarean.

He had a lot of trouble breathing, so was sent to the NICU. I asked the hospital for a pump. I didn’t get any milk out for 3 days, despite waking up every 2 hours to pump. I had attempted to nurse him on the second day, but he was too tired. If he wouldn’t eat, he would have to stay in the hospital, so he was fed formula both through a bottle, and whatever wasn’t eaten was given through a feeding tube. He was in there 6 days.

When he was released, he only got bottles for another week, because he had a tongue tie and couldn’t nurse well. After pumping, I’d let my 2 year old nurse afterwards to help the milk supply establish. Once his tongue tie was fixed, he would nurse okay. Then he got strep, because my toddler had it and I didn’t think to wash in between them. He got over it fast, but seemed to have troubles breathing while nursing, and would puke. I knew it wasn’t a food sensitivity, because he could drink the same milk from a bottle and be fine.

I was soon diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, because I couldn’t sleep. I had to repeatedly check to see if the baby was breathing, to the point that I was barely sleeping at all. I talked to the WIC peer counselor, a lactation consultant at the hospital, the pediatrician, and finally was referred to an ENT who put a scope through his nose and down his throat. She said he had laryngomalacia, a birth defect that causes noisy breathing because of a floppy voice box. Since he was gaining weight, they would not do surgery to correct it. So he was taking in a lot of air while nursing, which upset his tummy. It was also painful a lot of the time.

I decided to pump for a while. It was summer break though, and I also had a 2 year old and 5 year old. I couldn’t keep up with the unpacking (we just moved when he was 6 weeks) cleaning, cooking, and older kids, pump, and still sleep. My PPD was getting worse. He was 2 months old. I had frozen milk, but the baby wouldn’t drink it alone because I also have high lipase enzyme in my milk. I knew it needed heated prior to freezing, but I guess I hadn’t heated it enough. So, I mixed it half and half with formula. He drank it. I decided to pump when I had time only, which wasn’t even every day, and nurse him once a day. I also offered to nurse my 2 year old more often so that hopefully I wouldn’t lose my milk.

The ENT said that the baby would outgrow the laryngomalacia eventually. It stopped hurting as much when he was about 3.5-4 months, so I’ve been working on increasing my supply back up.

He’s 5 months now, and only gets a bottle 2-3 times a week. He is teaching me about defining our own success, because I don’t know if I will nurse him as long as my middle son has, who is now 2.5. If it wasn’t for nursing his older brother for as long though, I wouldn’t still be able to nurse the baby. It’s nice not having to wash bottles, or carry around formula in the diaper bag. You can’t forget it if it’s attached to you. With 2 in diapers, I also like not having to worry about buying formula. It’s convenient, free, and works for us.”

Ashley from Osage Nation WIC