Friday, December 5, 2014

Breastfeeding Supply Mayhem

 I always said I'd give breastfeeding a try from the start of my very first pregnancy. I tried with baby 1 with no such success thanks to an early induction, a 'late term preemie' sucky latcher and lazy eater, and a supply that tanked because of such. I tried again with baby 2 who was full term and a fantastic eater, unfortunately too fantastic. Again my supply was no where near enough to keep up with his hunger so I pumped for 6 weeks and saved my milk for his rice cereal later down the road. When I got pregnant for the third time I vowed that I would try yet again, perhaps third time was the charm. Well with the wee dude currently 9 weeks old it has been an immense struggle.

Dude #3 has been the best and most successful breastfeeder of them all but we are struggling and I'm not sure how long we will be able to keep it up. He latched immediately after birth and pretty much hasn't left my boob since. Eating a bazillion times a day, aka 19-22x a day on average OYE! I had no qualms with this for the first few weeks knowing he needed to establish my supply so all day and night the kid nursed which was/is more than a challenge to take care of the other two kiddos let alone do ANYTHING for myself. At his 2 week appointment he'd already gained a POUND over his birth weight and I was so encouraged, yay things were actually working for dude 3! Well he continued to eat a million times a day and so I decided to hit up the lactation consultant when he was a month old to see if we could get the feedings down. I also found out at this time that his weight had fallen off and he'd only gained a few ounces in 2 weeks. Her thought was that he wasn't transferring the milk appropriately, he was "creasing" my nipples which meant he was doing a lot of work without a lot of reward so the nipple shield was our fix. I dread the nipple shield by the way, it's a pain in the butt and I was really wondering how in the world I was going to add the nipple shield to the chaos of nursing in public every time we went out, as if the dumb nursing cover wasn't hard enough to wrangle. But I was determined to make it work so we went with it. At the same time she told me to start supplementing formula if he needed it and was still hungry after I nursed him on both sides for 40 minutes.

A week later weight was back up yay! After the nipple shield we have corrected his sucking to efficiently empty the boobs but clearly supply is still an issue because he needs anywhere from 1 to 10 oz of formula every day to stay happy despite continuing to breastfeed 18ish times a day. I have been determined ever since to cut out the formula which means my supply needs to increase since he's obviously not getting enough from me. This has led me to try everything known to man to boost my milk supply...

My Milk Supply Toolbox so far- things I've tried/am trying
  • The lactation consultant
  • Weekly breastfeeding classes/ weigh ins
  • Placenta encapsulation- yep actually did this, more on that in another post
  • Brewers yeast
  • Lactation Cookies
  • Increased water/fluids
  • More Milk Plus- a tincture with Fenugreek, Nettle and other herbs to boost supply including Goats Rue which stimulates mammary tissue in those who've had breast surgery
  • Power Pumping (this was a major fail and made things worse actually)
  • Special milk increasing tea concocted by an herbologist for me that includes fenugreek, red raspberry leaf, catnip, nettle, cinnamon, and various other herbs
  • Marshmallow root, also brewed as a tea to beef up the content of my milk to help with weight gain
  • Basil, same as above
  • Acupuncture
  • Metoclopromide (Reglan)- a prescription medication that has been used as a galactagogue (it also gave me post partum depression with baby 1 but I tried it again this time hoping for the best. Turns out after 2 days I had to stop the med because it was doing the same thing again.)

So I've pretty much tried everything there is to try. It surely isn't for lack of effort that we're having problems. Dude still eats at least 15x a day and gets formula and I'm starting to realize that I may need to just be ok with that. I hate it though, I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel completely disappointed and feel like a failure as a woman and mom. I'm not sure why my body just won't cooperate but for whatever reason it doesn't seem to be. This is my frustration too when I hear other moms so insistent on condemning the formula feeders, they couldn't possibly understand my effort and struggle and still judge and put down moms who are unable to exclusively breastfeed. For people like me it isn't a choice and it sucks, I wish there were more understanding in the mommy world about this. 

My other main contention with "giving up" whatever that may mean at this point is that I notice a major difference in the dude's demeanor depending on how much formula he's had. The other two boys had colic and major GI issues, they were on hypoallergenic formula for a year and it was awful. This little dude hasn't had ANY of that, no stomach issues or gas or fussiness that is out of control UNTIL he has a lot of formula. That kills me. Because I know that the breastmilk doesn't do this yet I can't give him enough so I HAVE to give him something that makes him feel horrible.

Not sure where this road will lead, I'm continuing to try, I'm determined to fight as hard as possible to keep boob feeding the kid. If my body will let me. If anyone has any other magical cures or ideas I'm more than willing to try! And for any other mommas out there struggling, know you're not alone.

:::::UPDATE::::: I gave this my ALL and I mean my ALL for 5 months. Up until that time I was supplementing with formula at every feeding and the dude was eating around 18x a day including nursing all night long. I would side-lie nurse him all night long, while he laid in the crook of my arm and I flipped him from side to side, ALLLLLLLL night for 5 months. It sounds insane to even write that now. My god. No wonder I didn't sleep. And no wonder at now just shy of a year old the dude STILL EATS EVERY 2-3 hours all night and sleeps in our bed. Still.

You read that right. He'll be one in 2 days and he still eats every 2-3 hours at night in our bed. The side-lying ruined his sleep training, literally. It's not possible. Believe me I tried, I keep trying.

At 5 months I woke up and went to latch Baby C and after about 20 seconds he started wailing, he was irked because NOTHING was coming out. Not a drop. And that was literally the end of the nursing because my body flat out quit overnight. I didn't have an ounce of engorgement, couldn't pump a drop, it was over. So he's lived on formula ever since and at the end of the day I am proud of myself for making it this far and mad at myself for working so hard to end up with the same result and guilt ridden for wishing I was more selfish and took care of myself and taught my kid better sleep habits rather than forcing the issue.

Such is motherhood.... a dichotomy of emotions....

The dude is healthy happy and none the wiser!

Fellow mommies out there, give yourself a break and a pat on the back, whatever you're doing whatever happens at the end of the day you're doing your best. Your kid will be fine, they will thrive because of your love for them no matter what version of sustenance they receive. Keep up the good hard work!!!

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