Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Baby Feeding Attempts

The first few days after Ethan’s birth were a bit of a blur. We were in the hospital from Monday morning through Thursday evening, partially because I was having so much pain from the surgery and wasn’t walking as easily as they wanted, but mainly because Ethan wasn’t doing so hot. Like a lot of “early” babies, he doesn’t quite have the feeding reflexes down yet. He had a really hard time opening up his mouth at first; he would just clench his gums together until forced to open them. Then, he would arch his tongue up to the roof of his mouth, which makes feeding basically impossible. Breastfeeding was definitely not working… the nurses would end up taking him to the nursery to feed him, giving him formula using a variety of methods (through a tube taped to the fingertip, by cup, by bottle, etc.).

It was the most stressful scenario I could imagine; trying to feed the baby while nurses are basically forcing his head onto me in an attempt to get him to latch; knowing I wasn’t able to give him sustenance; hearing every day that he was losing too much weight and appeared to be getting dehydrated; and all while trying to recover from the surgery. It was too much! Joel and I were both stressing out, and trying our best not to take it out on each other. I felt like I had already missed out on labor and delivery, and now it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed, either. Both of us were getting tired of trying with no results, and just wanted him to get food inside him, even if it meant we would be using formula and bottles from this day forward. It didn’t matter, as long as he was getting what he needed to be healthy.

But, a week later, he seems to be doing much better. We went to several appointments with the lactation nurses at the breastfeeding consultation center near Memorial, and he’s starting to get the hang of feeding. It helps that my milk finally came in, and he has an easier time with that than with the colostrum. I’ve also been using the Medela double-pump that we rented from the hospital, in order to build up milk for use in those middle of the night feedings. We feed him from me first, then from stored milk, and then as a last resort have Enfamil formula in case we need it. For now, he appears to be starting to gain weight, finally—at his doctor appointment on Tuesday 12/23, he had gone up to 6.9 lb—so apparently we’re on the right track!

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