Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Mother's Intuition

FINALLY, after 13 weeks of breastfeeding we have figured out the problem. Scarlett was diagnosed with a weak suck/ disorganized suck after visiting with a speech pathologist. I finally got an appointment with one after basically begging and pleading with the doctor. I was getting so frustrated. It seemed like no one but the craniosacral therapist and one lactation consultant believed me when I told them there was something wrong with her suck. When Scarlett was 8 weeks old, the lactation consultant at WIC referred me to a lactation consultant in Fargo who she said had more experience and could refer me to the right people. However, I ended up seeing the lactation nurse who told me to just shove her on harder. I tried and tried to get her further on the breast but it seemed like she just kept coming off. I knew she was still tongue thrusting and wasn't sucking in properly. The craniosacral therapy helped a little bit and her suck improved slightly (my nipples were no longer bleeding). However, most of the time it still hurt and I was doubtful she was getting a whole lot. When I went up to the breastfeeding support group in Fargo she was taking in only about 2 -2 1/2 ounces in 30 - 40 minutes. No wonder she wanted to feed all the time! But the lactation nurses just kept telling me my nipples were probably still just sore because I was a first time mom! I mean seriously no one should still be having sore nipples at 12 weeks.

So, in order to help her learn to suck correctly we have to do specific mouth exercises with her 3x a day. I also feed her 15min on each breast and then if she still seems hungry give her 1 - 1.5 ounces in a specific bottle called a Haberman by Medela. This bottle has a special slit which only opens when the baby sucks, thus rewarding baby's sucks. It is better than a standard bottle which just drips milk out. The speech pathologist said we want to give her as many opportunities to be successful as possible. I have been slightly leery of me giving her the special bottle, but I have for the past few days and she seems to still want to the breast. So hopefully she doesn't start to prefer the bottle! Then after giving her the bottle I pump for 10-15min. It is a long and exhausting process. Plus many times after I give her the bottle she still wants to comfort suck, so I pump then put her back on the breast to comfort suck. Somedays all I do is pump and breastfeed.

I am hoping that Scarlett and I will be happily breastfeeding soon without the bottle. The speech pathologist said sometimes it can take around 6 weeks for things to get better, but most see results in around 2-4 weeks. So we will see.

This journey into breastfeeding has been a difficult one for me. Scarlett is a very hard baby to nurse! She pulls on and off constantly, is very fussy at the breast (even when my breast is very full so I know it is not because of that), and is constantly distracted by things in the room. So why do I keep going you ask? Why don't I just give up? Wouldn't it just be easier to use formula? Why don't you consider pumping full time? These are all questions I get asked frequently by well meaning friends and family who know I am struggling. And I tell them and will continue to tell them that I will keep going because I know that it is what is best for my daughter. I love her so much and will not supplement with formula unless absolutely necessary. I would even go as far as buying breastmilk if I couldn't make my own. And as far as pumping goes, if it comes down to that I will do it but I would rather breastfeed. I was not blessed with a large milk supply (possibly due to her not sucking correctly) and I would need to pump alot to give her enough milk. So I keep going and will continue to keep going until I no longer can.

Also, finally finding out that Scarlett has a weak/disorganized suck has helped me to become more confident as a parent. I know my daughter and I knew something was wrong. Hopefully in the future I will learn not to distrust my intuition as a mother and will fight for something to be done sooner than I did this time.


  1. I tried to post a comment when you first published this, but I must have had computer issues because it wouldn't let me!
    What I wanted to say was that YOU know your baby best! I am sorry that it took me as long as it did to more fully trust my own mother's intuition. Good for you that you discovered this on your first, even if it took a few months! You are a great mama!!!

  2. Wow! I am in awe of you! My second child had tongue-tie and nursing was extremely painful for more than 6 weeks. I was so ready to throw in the towel, especially because of my chronic low-supply problems, but then, one day, it finally stopped hurting. I can't imagine going 13 weeks or more in that much pain!
    Have things gotten better?