Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baby Weight

Now I am not talking about the weight I gained while pregnant, I'm talking about Sadie's weight. It's normal for a newborn to lose some of their birth weight within their first few days of life. This is normally from a combination of all the sleeping they do to recover from their birth and waiting for mom's breastmilk to come in. Sadie was a healthy 8 pounds when she was born and by the time we left the hospital two days later she was down to an acceptable 7 pounds 7 ounces. Two days after that she was down to a not acceptable 6 pounds 14 ounces. Percent wise that is more than the 10% doctors are comfortable with a baby losing.

Our hospital offers a home nurse check with-in a few days after you go home, which we decided to take advantage of as first time parents. During this check we found out Sadie was down to 6 pounds 14 ounces. The nurse did a good job of freaking me out about this, so much so that I was certain we were going to have to take Sadie to the emergency room right then in there! However, my doctor is a little bit more laid back about these things, which is good, I freak out and she calms me down, it's a nice cycle. So, the nurse called my doctor and let her know what was happening to see what she wanted us to do. It just so happened that Saide's newborn appointment was the next day so my doctor said to be super strict about feeding her every two hours, even if she does not seem hungry or want to wake up. Have you ever tried waking up a four day old baby to eat when they don't want to? It's hard, but we did it. The next day when we took Sadie in she was up to 7 pounds 1 ounce, which is a substantial gain in 24 hours! My doctor told us to stick with the strict every two hour feedings for the next week and then bring her back in for a two week weight check. When I say every two hours that really means feed Sadie for at least 20 minutes and then an hour and 40 minutes later feed her again. It was a rough week. I don't think I would of made it with out Robert, he got up at night with me for almost every feeding. Even though he could not FEED Sadie he would do other stuff around the house or just sit and talk with me during those long nights.

The next week I took Sadie in for her two week weight check. Most doctors, books, etc say that a baby should of fully regained his/her birth weight by two weeks. Sadie was only up to 7 pounds 9 ounces. My doctor was still not worried because, even if she was a little underweight, Sadie looked great! She looked healthy, she was alert and did not seem like there was anything wrong with her. My doctor said to keep up with the two hour feedings for another week and bring her back in for another weight check.

Robert ended up coming home early the day of the next weight check, which I am so thankful for. Sadie had only gained an ounce. One ounce... in one week. Obviously something was not working and Robert and I felt it was time to look into other options for getting weight on our baby girl. My doctor still did not seem concerned about her lack of weight gain as Sadie was still looking so healthy. In fact it was Robert and I who brought up the question of supplementing. I honestly think if we had not asked our doctor would not of suggested it. Which I understand, some breastfeeding moms can be very offended when the mention of supplementing is brought up and, like I said, it's not like Sadie looked sick or unhealthy. But at that point it was killing me that my baby was not gaining weight like she should be and I needed to put aside my need/want to breastfeed exclusively for the well-being of my baby. My doctor was 100% on board with the supplementing and suggested we supplement starting in the evening and through the night two ounces after each time I breastfed. After that appointment we went and stood in front of the formula at Target trying to figure out what the hell we doing. Then we went home, I breastfed while Robert made a bottle. After I finished breastfeeding Robert fed Sadie her first bottle. She downed those two ounces so fast! It kind of killed me a little seeing that. Had I been starving my baby so much that she had to inhale two ounces of formula? I'll get to my side and emotions about this in a minute. We ended up supplementing her more during the day and evening than during the night. During the night she really did not want anything to do with the bottle. But during the day she would take the bottle after a breastfeeding just fine.

The next week was the big one month weight check. What if she was still not back up to her birth weight? I was so freaking nervous/scared for that weight check. The receptionist at the office even wished us luck when we walked in! It was an amazing appointment! Sadie was FINALLY back up to her birth weight! More than that she was above it at 8 pounds 6 ounces! Obviously the formula was working for us and we were going to stick with it.

Now for a little bit of back tracking with my thoughts. I think my milk took longer than the normal three to four days the books and classes say to come in. I think I was closer to five days which is why Sadie's weight was so low during the home nurse check. I do not think any of this is/was due to problem with Sadie's ability to latch or breastfeed, I do not believe we have ever had any problems in that area other than when she is not getting milk towards the end of a feeding. It never hurt, other than the initial latch which was more uncomfortable than hurt, during feeding. She always looked like she had a great latch. She would come away with "milk mouth" after a feeding once my milk came in, so I knew she was getting milk.

I honestly think I had, and still have, low milk production. I tried everything to increase my production; drinking tons of water, making sure I was eating all the time, pumping after every feeding. The only thing I could not do was stop myself from worrying. I have read that how relaxed, or not relaxed, you are can change milk production. But how was I supposed to relax while my baby was not gaining weight!? It was a very hard for me once we started supplementing. On one hand I was so happy that my baby was gaining weight and growing like she should be. On the other hand I was beating myself up. Looking back at the weeks before I could now see the times when she would was crying as hunger cries and there was nothing I could do, I felt like I had been starving my baby. That is a terrible, terrible feeling I do not wish on any one. Even once we started supplementing I could see the times during the afternoon towards the end of a feeding when she would stop getting milk and she would start getting frustrated and bang her head against my breast grunting and crying, my baby was hungry and there was nothing I could physically do about it. But as soon as we gave her a bottle she would gurgle a little sigh of contentment. It's a tough situation to go through and I just kept wondering if I had somehow brought it on myself. I say that because breastfeeding is really, really hard mentally. It's hard feeling like all you are is a milk machine. It was hard feeling like I could not hold my baby without her rooting for a breast.

I have since come to terms with it all because all that really matters is that my baby is healthy and getting enough to eat, whether it comes from me or from a bottle does not matter. In fact there are times when I prefer bottle feeding over breastfeeding it is more convenient for public feedings. I always feel uncomfortable whipping my boob out in public and I hate those nursing covers, I'm constantly having to adjust it and it gets hot under it so when Sadie gets done she is all sweaty! However breastfeeding does not require the packing up of bottles or formula before leaving the house all the equipment is always with you! It also sucks when Sadie has gotten to that so hungry point and the boob isn't working for her and I have to put her down while she is crying to make and warm a bottle. Speaking of warming a bottle, I would highly recommend a bottle warmer. When we first started with the formula we tried to give it to Sadie with cold water straight from our fridge. She did not enjoy that. Think about it though, she was used to breastmilk which is naturally warm so why would she be ok drinking this cold stuff now? For the first few days we just ran the bottle under hot water, but that took FOREVER and we were wasting tons of water. The bottle warmer takes like 2 minutes and uses around 10ml of water. I can use those 2 minutes to soothe Sadie and get her calmed down so she is not gulping the bottle down and then spitting it up 5 minutes later.

My only concern is that my milk production is going to stay low. So far I have not seen much of an increase as her appetite has increased. I also worry about how things will work once I go back to work and she starts daycare (which is next week, eeekkk!!). Will I be able to pump enough during the day to last her through daycare feedings? Will I have to send formula bottles with her too? I know I will figure it all out, I just hate the not knowing how yet. I also hope that I can keep up with the pumping at work. I work in a very small office and even though I have my own office that I can close the door to there still is not much privacy. Plus my pump is pretty loud so for at least two 15-20 minute sessions a day I will not be able to answer the phone or take calls from clients, not sure how that is going to go over with the boss. But like I said, I will figure it all out as it comes.

I guess my whole point of this insanely long post is that while breastfeeding is best for babies it might not be all that is best for you and your family. I am still going to stick with the breastfeeding as long as I can because I am aware of the benefits it has for Sadie but if that ends up not working out and being best for us I am not going to beat myself up over it. Yes, I will be sad and disappointed but I will deal with that and move on with enjoying my healthy baby girl.


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