Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A big F you to Dr X

Now that it's been a year since little man was born and pretty soon we'll be giving birth to #2, I've been reflecting on the beginning days of parenthood. It was a scary, uncertain time trying to navigate this whole new world.

My biggest fear was breastfeeding. It's so hard to not know if your child is getting enough milk since you don't see it and can't measure it. The first pediatrician we went to pretty much preyed in that new mom fear of mine. From the second we walked in and Ethan was fussy, he was like if it's a feeding time, I guess you can feed him, I won't watch or anything. Maybe he was trying to make me feel more comfortable? But it just made me feel awkward. I wasn't worried that you'd "watch". I'm not doing something sexual, I'm feeding my child and you are a medical professional. 

Then he said he'd lost too much weight and wasn't getting enough milk and we should give him formula. Before I really had time to process, he'd come back in with a sample of formula ready to go. Being scared and worried I'd been starving my child, we of course gave it to him. He recommended we nurse every 2hrs (15min each side) plus supplement with one oz of formula after each feeding. 

The first thing I did after getting home was contact a lactation consultant and set up an appt. Then I went in our bedroom and cried. I felt like a failure and a horrible mom. Thank god my husband was able to calm me down and support me. 

The weekend of nursing went ok. I kept a log and tracked everything. But it was wearing on me to basically be non stop feeding based on the dr's schedule. By the time I was done with the 30min of nursing and then the bottle, I'd have about an hr before it was time to start again. And needless to say, Ethan wasn't big on nursing since he was probably being overfed at that point.

When I called to update on Monday, it was a horrible experience. I told the dr he was nursing and having enough wet diapers and I could see he was getting milk. He asked if I felt a letdown and I was like no, but I see the milk and can hear him swallowing. Then he said "you know it's not a big deal to switch to formula if you want to". Now I was angry. I'd made it clear I wanted to breastfeed, I told him I could see him getting milk, and he was well hydrated and yet he's basically trying to convince me to switch?!? Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against formula or those who choose to do it, but I wanted to BF. He said if I'm not feeling a let down, I'm not producing enough. Once again, I found myself in tears feeling like a failure.

At our next appt, Ethan gained about 2 lbs from his birth weight after a week. So I asked about stopping the supplementing and he still seemed against it. I had already started weaning him off it by only doing 1/2 the extra feedings. Thankfully at the LC appt, she weighed him before and after feeding and was able to tell he was definitely getting as much as he should and she said it was ok to stop the formula. So I stopped that day and went back the next week for a follow up weight where he was perfect.

He continued to grow and thrive just fine without the formula. He was exclusively BF (except that one week) for 6 months until we started baby led weaning. We still managed to make it to one year of BFing. He was slowly weaned starting around 9-10 months where it was down to mostly naps (he was always too busy to want to take a break to nurse any other time). Then on his birthday, he magically was just done. He hasn't tried or gone back since then.

While it was a crappy experience at the beginning and I feel like the supplementing not only hurt my supply, but also caused him to break out really bad that took about a month to go away, I'm somewhat happy that this happened. It made me more supportive of BFing and other moms who are struggling and it caused me to read just about everything I could on it. I swear I read all of my LC's site and all of I had tons of worry still, but reading those helped me realize I wasn't alone in my fears and learn what was "normal". It also taught me to trust my mommy instincts and not always just listen to what the dr says. If I had listened to him I would have thought that I "didn't make enough milk". I'm sure he didn't expect me to stick to it and really try. We quickly got a new pediatrician who was supportive of BFing and never went back to the first.

Now that I've gotten this vent out, hopefully I can get the mom guilt out of my head. I wanted to put this out there for anyone else that's had an un-supportive doctor or has struggled with BFing. Best thing I can recommend is to get a certified lactation consultant. It was worth every penny and then some. Mostly to give me the confidence that I was doing good, work on any latch issues, and see if there's anything that's making it harder. Then do research! Lots of research. It will prepare you for a response when well meaning people try to give you advice about how you feed them and it will give you the answers when you start questioning yourself.

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