Breastfeeding: My experience with production issues.
Hey Dads and Moms,
This was an emotional topic for us when we had our baby boy and I wanted to share my experiences with that.
When we were getting ready for Makana we went to all the available classes that were provided through our healthcare provider and the local Babies R Us. All of the classes in one way shape or form addressed the fact that breastfeeding was the way to go. They talked about how beneficial it was for baby's development, how it created a strong bond between Mommy / Baby and finally how it can save money on formula. So we have it in our head how great it is etc etc but they never really talk about the other side of the discussion. I guess they are so into pushing breastfeeding they glaze over some of the issues that come with it. Mainly production issues or tongues ties that may affect latching, not only that but the emotional strain the mother can put on herself by not being able to give her baby the best food for them.
I would like to talk about this topic from a Dad's point of view and share my emotions and opinions about it. To set the tone my wife has PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), go ahead and "Google" that, I'll wait. In a nut shell it causes infertility issue and can affect the breast milk production process. We were dealing with infertility for 4 years and when we were finally able to conceive we wanted the best for our baby, so we went to all the classes and were sold on breastfeeding. When the big day came unfortunately we had many factors working against us. Makana was born 2 weeks ahead of his due date to prevent preeclampsia, so my wife's body wasn't ready to produce. He was also born with a tongue tie that made latching difficult.
After about a month of trying, we ended up going to a head/neck specialist to take care of the tongue tie. Unfortunately by that time he had become a lazy eater and didn't want to try latching or the latch wasn't great and it caused pain to my wife. He'd cry and cry and cry. The emotional strain I'd see my wife put herself through was heart breaking. She would express to me how she felt she wasn't doing enough for the baby by not being able to produce milk. And the way it works is your body doesn't produce milk unless the milk gets expressed.
As I watched my wife go through this all I could think of, was how helpless I felt. As men we want to fix problems, make them go away, make our loved one's pain go away but I couldn't. I wished the classes we went to addressed this issue more or maybe the OB would have prepared us better. Hopefully you or your spouse don't have to go through this but if you do here is some advice:
1.) Be there for her
It's going to be hard to watch but be there for her. You don't have to fix the issue as there is nothing you can do except be there. Don't go run and hide and be "out of sight out of mind". You guys are a team and she needs to know that you're going to stick it out 100%, good days or bad days.
2.) Explore all options together
Don't arbitrarily make decisions on going straight to formula or clipping a tongue tie. It seems like the easy solution but make sure you both consult with your doctor and agree on what is best for your situation. Again this goes back to the whole team thing. She's already going to be having a tough time and you don't want to add to the stress by making decisions that effect her without her input.
3.) Be patient
There are going to be more emotionally bad days than there are good ones. Well let me say plan for more emotionally bad days. Knowing that please be patient. Don't get mad or frustrated with the situation and trust me you will. Understand that it's not easy for you, her or the baby. So adding anger and more frustration to the situation is counter intuitive. If you need to take a break from it, do so. If you see her getting frustrated and angered, offer her a break, which is mostly whats going to happen because she'll be spending the most time with the baby.
I encourage going to as many "baby" classes you can get to but don't get so caught up in the "perfect" scenario. Especially if there are known medical factors that may change your situation. Our situation with breastfeeding is more common than you would think. Knowing that I would hope that the classes start to reflect that reality. Now there is a whole Mom side of this. Maybe I can get the Wicked Wahine to write about that. I'm not an expert, just a Dad sharing my experience. These are some things I hope will give Dads some insight in dealing with this.
If you have dealt with this and have more Dad tips please share in the comments below or contact me through the website. Till next time, be the best Dad (and Mom) you can be!!