As mentioned in my breastfeeding hopes & fears post I had great hopes of feeding Aria by breast and by expressing my milk into a bottle for when we were out and about. Aria is now over three weeks old, so, the question is, how are we getting on?
Unfortunately Aria was a very lazy newborn, it would take her quite a while to latch onto the breast, when she did she would fall asleep after a couple of minutes suckling. She wasn't getting what she needed which became obvious following her first weigh in at four days old, her weight had dropped by 12.3%, which is quite worrying, especially when her starting weight was only 5lbs 11.5oz. The Midwife explained that in the first week they expect a loss, but the safety zone is between 5 - 8%.
As a result of falling quite a way outside of the safety zone we were put onto 'plan 2'. Plan 2 is simply continuing as you are but introducing two bottles of 70ml formula into the daily routine, this is where the small Cow & Gate bottles mentioned in my bump & beyond essentials post came in handy. Aria was weighed again on day five and thankfully after just one day on the new plan she had gained 60g, followed by a further 50g on day six.
While I was giving Aria these bottles breastfeeding was becoming increasingly more frustrating for us both. I think the ease of the bottles made Aria frustrated at having to work for my breast milk. She simply started to refuse to latch on. After one night of Aria attempting to latch for two hours and failing, her crying and me crying I decided that enough was enough, breastfeeding was not good for either of us.
I still wanted Aria to have my milk but I could not cope with the stress that we were both facing. I made the decision to express my milk and feed it to Aria by bottle. This way she is still getting all of the benefits of breastfeeding (bar the bonding experience which I really don't think we were getting!) without the stress.
Expressing is tough, thankfully my Medela electric pump* makes it a little easier. If expressing exclusively it is advised that you express eight times a day (both breasts), and importantly, you express during the middle of the night. I attempt to pump after every feed, though when I am busy and or tired the pumping does tend to get neglected and I don't produce enough milk for the daily feeds which has resulted in Aria drinking a lot more formula than before.
At Aria's most recent weigh in when she was twenty one days she weighed an amazing 6lb 12oz, this made me so proud and really shows that what we are doing works for us, I now know that I made the right decision.
No one tells you just how difficult breastfeeding is, not only is it difficult but it is very emotionally draining. While being very draining during those early days when Aria did latch on and feed properly it was very emotionally rewarding. There is something so satisfying about looking down at your newborn baby happily feeding on your breast, I spent many a feed watching Aria and feeling super proud of my body and everything that it has achieved.
My breastfeeding essentials are patience, an electric pump and breast pads because you will leak milk!