Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nipple Confusion

Raising Z reminded me that I wanted to write about this ... her mention of the milk truck made me smile :)

So here's an interesting dilemma ...
CJV was bottle-fed exclusively for the first 5 weeks.  I pumped around-the-clock, and she ate every three hours ... that's 8 times a day ... regardless if she was sleeping or not.  Yes, I woke her up to eat.  All of this stemmed from the fact that she was slow-to-grow in utero, was induced at 36 weeks, and weighed about 4 and a half pounds at birth (about the 3rd percentile).

I offered the breast - but she would wear herself out trying to get anything.  I was so concerned that she would never be able to nurse.  I worried that I would have to pump and feed for months ... or as long as my sanity could take.  I heard all about "nipple confusion" from the lactation specialist who provided all kinds of statistics and research about the difficulties of transitioning from bottle-fed to nursing.  I was fretting, for sure. 

At the same time, I felt good about how Charlotte was being fed because she needed - desperately - to gain weight.  She did not need to burn extra calories trying to nurse.  She needed to quickly suck down those 1 to 2 ounces and fall right back to sleep.  She had so much growing to do!

Once she proved that she was making adequate weight gains, I was given the okay from my doctor to alternate bottle feeds and nursing sessions ... effectively cutting my time on the pump in half ... phew!  In the back of my mind, I continued to worry about "nipple confusion" but pressed forward on my quest to breast feed my baby girl (and get rid of that stupid pump).

Surprise.  Surprise.  She made the transition seamlessly ... from every other feeding to exclusive nursing within about a week's time.  It was such a relief.  I marveled at her ability to latch-suck-and-swallow like an old pro.  Like she'd been doing this all her life :)

Remember that dilemma I mentioned ... here it is ...
About two weeks after this transition took place ... near the end of January, I was scouting preschools for next year.  (Because apparently you have to make a decision 9 months before your now two year old - will be three year old in 6 months - even goes to preschool!)  The scouting mission included several open houses and various tours and what-not.  Thankfully I was able to schedule most of this pandemonium for Mondays when CPV is home to provide a little daddy daycare.  On one such Monday, I pumped - for the first time in 10 days - and left a bottle for Charlotte ... just in case I didn't make it home in time.

Well, I did make it home in time, but I decided that it would be good for daddy to give her a bottle.  I stayed far away - so she couldn't see or smell me - and watched as the confusion unfolded.  My baby girl, who had taken 8 bottles a day for 5 weeks - that's almost 350 bottles, could not figure out how to drink from that darn bottle!  She sputtered and chocked and seemed completely disoriented.  I encouraged CPV to stick with it, but after about five minutes they were both soaked and frustrated.  

As I made my way across the room, Charlotte strained her eyes and head as far to the left as possible ... apparently, she could sense me coming.  When we did finally make eye contact - my baby girl and I - there was such a look of relief on her face.  I couldn't help but smile and scoop her up and put her to my breast.  That's where she's happiest, and I am totally fine with that ... for now :)


stb said...

It's not a bad problem to have - enjoy :-)

Ali said...

I have a 5 1/2 month old who is in "daycare" if you could call it that because I am blessed that my mom watches her (and her brother and his cousins, she's a saint) but my little one WILL NOT take a bottle! She does the same thing that CJV does. The only way my mom can get her to take any breastmilk is by the "shooter spoon", a spoon meant to be filled with baby food so you never have to dip the spoon in a bowl..... She will gobble down however much you throw at her with this little wonder spoon.
But isn't nice to know how much she needs you!

Raising Z said...

That is crazy! I can't believe that after 5 weeks of exclusive bottle feeding she forgot what to do!?! I guess the fact is they know what they prefer and are shocked when we wouldn't provide that warm and wonderful experience :) Well I am glad I am not alone....we will have to brainstorm tricks to get out once and a while. I might look into that spoon :) Enjoy the preschool process....I felt like I was looking for colleges when I did it last year!

Deb said...

I was also paranoid about nipple confusion and SHOCKED when we started offering bottles just before I was due back at work that she'd refuse them. I would even leave the house and return to hear her screaming. Sure enough, she drank my expressed milk just fine at daycare and went back to the breast fine when I got home. All that freaking out for the wrong problem. Glad your girl is growing and eating well!

Deann said...

Isn't it funny ... this whole world of breast-feeding!

Last Fri Todd and I got a night out thanks to a dear friend and I happened to have one bag of milk left from earlier pumping, so I advised my friend she could try it if she felt J needed it. But I wasn't sure how it would go, since he's barely taken a bottle.

Guess she did give it to him and he sucked the whole thing down!

Haven't tried since ... but good to know he'll take it if he really needs it! :)

Epiphius said...

Yeah! You've done such a great job working for her!!

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