With the NICU team on standby, my beautiful son was welcomed into the world four weeks early.  Much to the doctors’ surprise after a suspected placental abruption, he was ‘perfectly fine.’  He didn’t need to spend any time in the NICU and had no health problems… except that he would not suck, let alone latch.

I had always planned on breastfeeding him, but my naivety led me to dismiss the need to attend a prenatal breastfeeding class.  So here I was, with a very sleepy newborn who had no desire to nurse, and very little knowledge of the tools that I could use to assist in breastfeeding.

I was fortunate to give birth in a hospital with lactation consultants that made a point of visiting me several times throughout the day.  I learned about nipple shields, pumps, and suck training (sticking my pinky into his mouth and syringe feeding him every time I felt him suck).  All of these assistive technologies, while helpful, were very discouraging for a first time mother who came to the hospital with the notion that breastfeeding would be natural and easy.

My son with his empty bag of milk after a suck-training session.
My son with his empty bag of milk after a suck-training session
Within the first few weeks that we were home from the hospital, my son grew stronger and no longer needed to be syringe fed.  With the help of an amazing lactation consultant, I was able to get him to latch with a nipple shield but the EXCRUCIATING pain I felt every time he did, made me slowly decrease our nursing sessions and increase the hours I spent connected to a pump every day.
 
By the time he was two months old, I had given up on nursing all together and was exclusively pumping and bottle feeding.  While I wasn’t happy that nursing didn’t work out for us, I was determined to continue to provide my son with breastmilk, so I kept hooking up to the pump every two hours to keep up my supply.  And just as the pump/bottle feed schedule became routine for us, the maternity leave vacation that my very naive pregnant self booked arrived.
One of our late night pumping/bottle feeding sessions
One of our late night pumping/bottle feeding sessions

If you’ve read my post about our breastfeeding story on my blog, you know that this trip was my breaking point.  After days of pumping in airports and rental cars, and struggling to help my son latch onto the nipple shield, I broke down in tears in Portland’s International Rose Garden, and ditched the shield.  I used a sandwich hold to shove as much nipple into my son’s mouth as possible and held his head in place.  He wiggled against me, trying to break free from this strange ‘bottle,’ but after a few minutes he began to suck.  His latch made my toes-curl from pain, but it was the most beautiful, hope-filled pain I have ever felt.

My son and I on our trip to Oregon
My son and I on our trip to Oregon

It took a few more weeks of craniosacral therapy, a tongue tie revision, and lactation consultations, but I was finally able to have the breastfeeding relationship that I had always dreamed of… and I one hundred percent attribute that to my countless hours of pumping and his exclusive bottle feeding.  When I first started bottle feeding, I felt like a failure.  I felt like I was weak for not being able to persevere through the pain.  Now looking back, I was doing what was best for my sanity, while still providing for my son.  Had I not taken that extended break from nursing, I might not have been able to keep my supply up long enough for my son’s mouth to grow so that he could open it wide enough to latch to my breast.

While I now exclusively nurse, and am so grateful to be able to do so, I have immense respect for all the women out there that selflessly pump day and night to nourish their babies.

Breastfeeding
 
We would love to hear from you! Do you exclusively nurse, bottle feed, or do a combination of both?

Be sure to join us in our social media accounts to be up to date with the progress of our project!

And… Don’t forget to share your brelfies using our HT #BreastfeedingWorld 

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Amber Castro

Lifestyle Blogger at On Life & Leche
I'm currently a stay-at-home mom to my son who was born in January of 2015.I have my degree in Anthropology and spent the two years before my son was born teaching. After months of struggling with nursing, I was finally able to have the beautiful breastfeeding relationship I dreamed of.These struggles helped me find my passion for helping other mothers in their breastfeeding journeys and guided me to study to become a lactation counselor.

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1 Comment on How a Bottle Saved My Breastfeeding Relationship

  1. Lauren Lewis
    August 28, 2015 at 8:31 AM (2 years ago)

    Kudos to you!!! I think every breastfeeding mother has a love/hate relationship with the pump, I think you’re amazing for not giving up!

    Reply

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