After about a month, my uncertainty and frustration led me to a breastfeeding support group. The room was overflowing with women and their babies, each with a different breastfeeding issue to work through -- from problems with latching on to questions about diet. I got to air my feelings about being chained to the sofa, and gathered tips on how to make Isabella a more efficient eater.
I learned that I should let her drain the first breast completely before switching so she would receive more of the calorie-rich "hind" milk produced at the end of a feeding. And if I made Isabella open her mouth wider when she latched on, she could get more of my breast and pump the milk out more effectively. I also got to weigh her on a professional scale, exhaling with relief when I saw she had gained a few precious ounces.
In addition to my getting advice from the support group, Thom began to give Isabella one bottle of formula at night, at Kapp's suggestion. Ideally, we would have used pumped breast milk; still, this arrangement enabled me to get a luxurious three hours of sleep, and let Thom be involved with feeding Isabella.
Most lactation consultants frown on supplementing with formula and suggest it as a last resort. They warn that your milk supply will suffer. Also, the official recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association is to breastfeed exclusively for six months. But Kapp has seen her share of overwhelmed mothers: "One four-ounce bottle in a 24-hour period will not hurt your milk supply. In fact, the extra rest could help increase it and prevent you from giving up breastfeeding." It did just that for me.