When the going gets tough

Breastfeeding is natural, so it ought to be easy … right?
Breastfeeding can pose its challenges, but mom Stacy Wolf says it makes for a happier, healthier baby. (For Spectrum Health Beat)
Breastfeeding can pose challenges, but mom Stacy Wolf says it makes for a happier, healthier baby. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Breastfeeding is natural, and we know it’s the best thing for your baby.

But does that always mean it’ll be easy? No!

It’s new not just for a first-time mom, but for baby, too—and it can be challenging for both. It can even be challenging for seasoned moms when their new babies run into trouble.

Instead of getting all his nutrition from the placenta and the umbilical cord, your newborn is suddenly forced to take a crash course in eating. He must learn how to do it while breathing and swallowing. He has to let you know when he’s hungry, and he has to let you know when he’s full.

Which brings us to the all-important question: Is it all worth it?

I recently talked to mom-of-three Stacy Wolf about her experiences with tandem breastfeeding, and we featured her responses in a Health Beat story.

This time, we asked Stacy to tell us why she believes breastfeeding is worth it.

Q: How old are your children and how long have you been breastfeeding?

I have a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old named Jada. May 14, it will be four years consecutively that I’ve been breastfeeding.

Q: Breastfeeding for Jada has been difficult. What struggles have you encountered?

It seems as though she relates eating with pain. We’re assuming she has silent reflux. She won’t nurse past a letdown, so it’s hard to keep my supply up. We also suspect she has a food intolerance, so I’ve gone on a strict diet to figure out what bothers her tummy. We’ve been trying many things to find out how to help her.

Q: Did Jada nurse well at first?

She seemed to nurse great at first. I had a fast letdown that would choke her until I started the mini pill. Then my supply dipped and she struggled to work for it.

Q: What was the indicator that told you she was struggling?

She would latch on, suck, suck, suck, pop off, repeat until she was frustrated or it hurt too much. Then she would cry and give up. Sometimes she would try to breastfeed every two hours up to eight hours before actually eating. She kept losing weight by doing this. I kept trying and was seeking help with her pediatrician.

Q: Did they check for tongue tie, since occasionally that is an issue?

She was checked for a tongue tie by two lactation consultants, her pediatrician and the oral therapist. All said that wasn’t the issue.

Q: Who did you see and what did you try to help Jada?

She saw a chiropractor, a speech therapist, two lactation consultants and an oral therapist. We brought her in for weekly weight checks and I tried everything to increase my supply. It was questioned if she had thrush or reflux, so she was prescribed thrush and reflux meds just to see if it would help.

I tried probiotics and eliminated eggs, soy, dairy and gluten from my diet. I also joined support groups for reflux and dairy-free breastfeeding. We are still trying to figure it out.

Q: What made you keep going with breastfeeding?

I know it’s best for her, and it’s free. With all the issues I just keep telling myself, “This too shall pass.” It’s been an extremely difficult journey, but as long as I have milk I’ll continue to nurse her.

Q: What insights would you like to share with moms facing breastfeeding challenges?

Don’t give up. You may regret (giving up), and it will eventually get better.

Q: What has seemed to be the most helpful?

So far, what I feel helps the most is having me on a reflux prescription that helps increase my milk supply.

Q: How is she now?

I take it one day at a time. I stopped her meds four days ago, and so far we’re doing OK. She goes through a few good days, then a few bad. I’m hoping we’re on the rise now.

Stacy said Jada is continuing to breastfeed. Please tell us about your own experiences in the comments below.

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