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Breastfeeding – 11 weeks in

I don’t think I have ever had to work so hard at something in my entire life. Breastfeeding looks so easy. It’s supposed to be so natural. Utter bullshit. Some women are lucky and it is easy for them. I am not one of those women. A lot of women say they hate breastfeeding. I don’t really understand that, despite it being hard for me I really love it. The closeness and cuddling I get to enjoy with my daughter is priceless and I am certain it is something I will sorely miss when our breastfeeding journey comes to an end.

I have been fortunate not to have any “technical” issues. We have a good latch and PrincessIce transfers milk well. That means that I haven’t had cracked or bleeding nipples and relatively little discomfort after 6 weeks of breastfeeding, but it has not prevented the one thorn I have in my side. Weight gain.

PrincessIce’s weight gain has been a constant worry for me. She gains, but so very slowly. She gains the bare minimum. There is no such thing as “weak milk” and I have already taken Eglynol to increase my supply to ensure it isn’t that. I’ve seen more than one Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I’ve taken her for many weigh ins to monitor her weight. We’ve ruled out reflux. She just continues to gain slowly, but she gains. Every time I used to go and weigh her I would end up in tears wanting to quit breastfeeding. Feeling responsible for the “problem”. After all, I am her only source of food/nutrition. There is nobody else to blame. I feed her CONSTANTLY. If her eyes are open she has a breast in her mouth. I could not possibly feed her more or more often. It takes up absolutely all of my time and we are inseparable. It can be incredibly frustrating sometimes and that is where the perseverance comes in. I keep being told it gets better and I am clinging to that thought. At some point my life will resemble normality and I won’t have a baby permanently attached to my chest. Right now I don’t have anything more important to do than care for my daughter. I am still often tempted to just take the easy way out and put her on formula, but I have promised myself never to quit on my worst day and not all days are bad. Formula feeding has some benefits, but they are all for me and not for her. That would be selfish.

At the last La Leche League meeting I had a lightbulb moment. Another mother had her almost one year old son there. He looks about 5 or 6 months old. She had the same problem. Her baby just gained slowly, but he gained. He is a happy little baby. He didn’t look at all starved or malnourished (neither does PrincessIce mind you) and she said “You get big babies and small babies. We just have small babies. As long as they are happy and gaining, why worry?”. She is still exclusively breastfeeding. Hearing it from someone who has been through the same just made me feel so much better. That is what is so wonderful about LLL and why I try to attend every meeting. The added advantage is that babies that grow slowly don’t grow out of their nappies or clothes so quickly and that saves the parents money 🙂

I want to exclusively breastfeed for as long as I possibly can and plan to express when I return to work. If things don’t work out very well then I’d like to do mixed feeding where she will get formula during the day and I would feed her at night, during the night and in the morning. One day at a time, one never ending feed at a time. I can do this.

If only I could stick to a diet like I have stuck to this!