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For the past two weeks, I have struggled with breastfeeding. My newborn, Ieuan, still refuses to take my boob into his mouth without a nipple shield.
We talk. How much warmer and accommodating and nurturing it would be.
He isn't listening.
His aversion to actual nipple is wreaking havoc on my supply, which was already low. Our routine at the moment is as follows. Him: feeding with nipple shield. Me: topping him up with formula/expressed milk. Me: pumping to boost supply.
This is a very roundabout way to remove milk from my breast. Three methods? I am dying of boredom. Goodbye cruel world. I loved you so.
True, my breasts hurt. And, I did have a nasty infection. But, if I stop breastfeeding - and, I'll be honest, it is a serious consideration – it will be because expressing is one step too far for me.
I hate expressing to a pump. You don't bond with a pump. It doesn't nuzzle against your skin. It doesn't play against your breast with adorable miniature fingers.
It is a machine and it feels like one. I can't build up any enthusiasm about it. And, I definitely can't build up enthusiasm about it at 3 AM, when I should routinely wake up to use it to increase my flow, but I don't. At 3 AM, if Ieuan's up, he gets fed whatever is left over, formula or breastmilk, in a bottle and then we both go back to sleep. (Ah sleep - I remember you well...)
But, what if I had been taught hand expressing instead? A study from the University of California, San Francisco, suggests that mothers of babies with difficulties latching on, who are taught hand expression, go on to breastfeed for longer: 97% still breastfed two months later compared to 72% of women who used pumps.
Comfort seems to have been an important factor in this, physical and emotional. "Mothers in the hand expression group reported feeling more comfortable expressing milk with others present than mothers in the breast pump group, and they tended to feel more comfortable nursing with others present, as well. According to the researchers, feeling awkward or embarrassed in the presence of others might be a barrier to continued successful breastfeeding."
I'm not easily embarrassed, but now and with my first daughter, I feel distinctly uncomfortable having people watch me pump to a machine. I don't mind publicly breastfeeding, but publicly machine pumping? No way.
This study rings true for me. But, what of you?
You can read more from Stacie at Mama Lewis and the Amazing Adventures of the Half-Brained Baby.
Photo: Flickr (planet_oleary 2009)
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.