Breastfeeding – it’s one topic I haven’t discussed here on my blog. Not because it’s controversial, but because it’s a little out of place now that my breastfeeding days are sadly past. You can bet I would have been blogging about it, had my youngest daughter not weaned last year before I started blogging.
I had to post about it, because as I was cleaning out my digital photos on my computer, I came across a beautiful picture (well if you disregard the not so great hair) I’d long forgotten about and because I just had recently retold my story on another breastfeeding mother’s blog.
There was a comment left on Ph.D. In Parenting’s blog post about when to give up on breastfeeding. Kelly commented,
What I’d like to see is some acknowledgment that for the women who struggled for so long that they did so because succeeding at breastfeeding was important to them, to their identify as mothers, to their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t just so that their babies would receive breastmilk.
I just was momentarily transported back 7 years to when I struggled to breastfeed my firstborn daughter. I had everything go wrong – poor latch, cracked nipples, mastitis, undetected thrush, low milk supply. Breastfeeding meant everything to me for the reasons Kelly stated. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend why I was given a baby I couldn’t feed with my body. I visited IBCLCs,a suck/swallowing specialist, La Leche League, scoured kellymom.com, and Jack Newman’s site for any shred of advice. I pumped, used finger feeding, SNS (well, attempted to anyway, but occasionally I just wanted to throw the damn thing across the room because the tube fell out of her mouth or leaked when it was in her mouth more often than not), I poured my heart out to the mothers on two attachment parenting message boards. I was the first woman in 2 generations on both sides to breastfeed, so of course, I had no help and no sympathy from my own mother and mother in law. They just couldn’t empathize or help.
I remember being terrified to change her diapers, afraid I’d find the uric acid crystals (the “red brick” dust), and when I did, I was devastated. I could not believe my body let me down and could have starved my baby. But I would not give up.
I had read once on a breastfeeding support website board that mother’s milk was like liquid gold, and even if I could only provide one teaspoon of it a day to my baby, it would still do my baby some good. While it would not make my baby grow, it would still provide valuable antibodies, just in a concentrated way. I clung to that idea. I was able to keep my baby to the breast for 4 months, and I pumped for 2 more. Most days I only brought home barely 3 ounces of milk a day when I pumped at work, but I faithfully brought that home. As little as that was, it was something I could give her. No matter how much formula I had to give her, I still gave everything I could. It connected me to her when I had to be at work (a medical genetics laboratory at a private university hospital).
Still, there were many days I felt incredible rage about it – the way I felt cheated out of a wonderful experience and the fact my babies got cheated out of my milk.
In talking to a friend recently about it… I know why I had a lot of bad feelings around breastfeeding as a low supply mom. I felt “defective”. No matter how my husband or any website tried to make me feel okay about it, the bottom line was that many times I was reminded that I was defective and no matter how much I wanted it to work, it just wouldn’t.
There’s no way to get past that…except to put some distance between me and breastfeeding. I couldn’t feel better about my “failure” until I was no longer reminded daily that I couldn’t do it.
With my second child, things were better (and I once read a study that said you produce 33% more milk with each subsquent baby, but I can’t find the reference), but not much. I lasted 7 months on the breast with that daughter, but had to give it up when pumping at work was becoming a problem for my boss (also a woman).
With my third child (who was conceived on the day my husband had a vasectomy scheduled but that got canceled – she was truly an unexpected joy) I had problems again. I was tired, bone tired, but at least I was a stay at home mom. I was tired of the struggle, tired of the devastating feelings of inadequacy with breastfeeding. At two weeks, I was planning on giving up and started supplementing more. At three weeks, I read something inspirational (don’t remember what now) and changed my mind. I dug in my heels and decided I was going to make it work. My goal was to make it to a year, though I thought in the back of my mind I could always give it up if I wanted to. This time I tried herbs with very little success (even domperidone didn’t help that much). I read Mother Food: A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Foods and Herbs. I made barley water and ate tons of oatmeal. I drank one India Pale Ale every afternoon. I made sure I slept. I pumped after every feeding. I gave myself permission to quit, if I felt like it. But I didn’t. Something kept driving me forward.
Because I stayed at home, I could keep my daughter to the breast any time I wanted. By then I had a nice reclining couch, and was on it most of the day with my baby in the early months. I had bought a Maya wrap sling and used that to NIP everywhere I went (even the County Fair and NIPed while watching the piglets nurse). One great thing by doing all this was that I did manage to almost exclusively give breastmilk. It wasn’t until about 10 months that I introduced solids.
There were a few very nervous weight checks, but my daughter was doing all right. When I got to 11 months, I rejoiced, but I planned on hanging up the horns. I returned the pump and let nature take it’s course. I figured, if I was going to dry up, I could eke out a few more weeks and then by 12 months it would be over. I stopped the herbs and the domperidone. I waited. I was ready to let go. At 12 months, she was on 2 meals of solids a day. I figured if I needed to supplement, it would be with cow’s milk, not formula.
And then, something amazing happened. 12 months came and went and I didn’t dry up. My daughter not only didn’t stop nursing, but she nursed even more. She wanted no part of cow’s milk either (I really did try). So I continued to nurse her as long as she wanted, free of the worries about weight checks. I still waited for my milk to dry up. At 13 months, I started to realize she gulped and choked at times. I was shocked. I do not know where the milk came from. I realized then that it was nursing as it was meant to be, blissful and care-free. I cried – I reached not only reached the goal I set out for myself, I reached the place where it actually worked as nature intended.
At that moment, I realized I wasn’t going to stop until she stopped. I breastfed on cue whenever she wanted until she was mostly ready to give it up. When my husband occasionally asked when I’d stop nursing, I kept telling my him I’d wean next month. My daughter weaned (with a little gentle nudging) when she was 3 years, 1 month old. It was a remarkable thing for me and I’m so glad I didn’t give up at 2 weeks. What I would have missed!
I would never, ever in a million years tell another woman to give up. I would however tell her to do what her heart told her she had to do and I would support her either way. And I have (my SIL and my younger sister had breastfed their babies – my SIL gave it 2 months, my sister made it to 11 months – I’m proud of both of them).
This is me (at 36) nursing my youngest when she was 18 months old while I was studying for the one class I had the energy to sign up for (I’d already gotten my undergrad degree in biotechnology – this class was just to get my feet wet after being out of school for so long). Wanna know what I was studying that day? Human Development Through the Lifespan. Pretty neat, huh? My littlest was always begging to sit in my lap when I was studying, so I figured I’d give her something to do to occupy her while I took notes. I managed to take care of her needs and still get an A in the class.
You’d think this was pretty ironic too if you knew me before I got married. I had a plan: never getting married, having a string of affairs, and definitely never having kids. Who knew back then what the future was going to hold? I certainly didn’t, but I’m very pleased with the way my goals had changed over the years.
I’m updating to include the link of one of the most helpful and comforting breastfeeding issues website:
MOBI (Mothers Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues) International
What a beautiful story — I got choked up reading it. I so admire you for persevering through all the difficulties because of your desire to give your girls the best. I’m breastfeeding an almost 2-year-old and it’s always fun to hear from another mother who’s nursed so long. Thank you so much for sharing this, and what a great picture!
Thank you. I wish my hair wasn’t so crazy, and my then toddler looks so tired in that shot. But…it’s one of the very few I have of her nursing past infancy and the others are really a little too revealing.
I figure this was a great mother’s day post!
Congratulations to making it to 2 years. That’s quite remarkable!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Wonderful story. Great photo! I remember those days: no sleep because nursing baby wants to keep you up all night, trying to study and nurse nurse nurse nurse nurse…
Well done, Mama. And Happy Mom’s Day!
Thanks Jennavieve. I was kind of nervous about posting it, because I am kind of a reserved person in general, but it really did mean a lot to me that I was able to overcome the challenges I faced and had a wonderful conclusion to my breastfeeding experiences. And the timing was wonderful that it coincided with Mother’s Day (I really didn’t intend it to be a Mother’s Day post, but it did happen to be Mother’s Day (in the wee hours) when I posted it.
Beautiful story & what a great photo — so sleepy!
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you. I love how relaxed the nursing made her (well both of us really). It was neat the way that worked.
What a sweet story – you brought a tear to my eye!
What a nice story. I am nursing my almost 23 month old and sometimes need encouraging to keep going and let her self-wean. This story is just the encouragement I needed today.
Ashley. I’m glad you are encouraged by my post.
Honestly, I thought I was ready by 3 years, but she still was not quite (she probably would have continued indefinitely), hence the gentle nudging towards weaning. About 6 months later after weaning, I really started missing our nursing sessions, out of the blue. I briefly regretted weaning even then, but soon realized we could bond in other ways too and we have.
Oh, no. I just showed this picture to my daughter (the one who’s in the picture), and she’s 4 now. I told her what she was doing in the picture, and all of a sudden she started to cry. I haven’t been able to figure out why. She was pretty saddened by it, though. I don’t know what it was except that perhaps she really wasn’t ready to wean and she remembers having to stop and not feeling good about the end of the nursing relationship.
I don’t know, I feel badly now for ending it when she wasn’t ready. I didn’t have any idea she might have profoundly sad feelings associated with our nursing relationship. I can tell you she loved to “nurt” and loved the comfort she got from it. I think if I did know she’d feel such deep sadness after weaning, I would have continued until she was ready to let go. I wish I could just know why she got upset after looking at the picture.
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I love this. Your story is identical to mine, except I have 2 boys. The SNS, pumping, working on getting every single ounce…the whole 9 yards.
My 2nd is now 6 months and only nursing to sleep, so I am in the process of weighing my choices for where to go from here. It is nice to know I am not alone in this. And thank you for commenting, too, on the importance to motherhood identity. This is what is forgotten so many times (maybe not understood?).
Beautiful post. Thank you.
I’m glad you found comfort in this. I know it’s heartbreaking. I still look back and feel I wish I could have done better with my first two.
But it’s better than not having tried and struggled at all. I look at my two oldest and see how they are blossoming now, despite the fact that they had a lot of formula as infants.
They are bright, and kind, and healthy and I did what I could to feed them from my own body. I’ve forgiven myself for what I couldn’t do.
I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to try. I’m grateful that each time it got a little better and that third time helped restore my broken heart about not fully breastfeeding the first two.
Good luck, whatever you decide. Do what you can for as long as you can, and if you feel the need to let go of it, it will be okay.
You know, and this reminds me of something. I’m going to edit this post to add two yahoo groups I found very helpful.
Thanks again. I took great comfort in MOBI and the Breastfeeding Grief groups with my first son. For some unknown reason, this time is different and I feel compelled to carve out a niche for myself and others in this position.
On good days I feel productive and strong. On bad days I feel sorry for myself, like a casualty of war on both sides (formula and breastfeeding), defeated and full of rage. Fortunately, there are more good days than bad days, and I try to think of the bad days as motivation for the good ones (although I also wish they weren’t there at all).
There are some bright lights along the way (like you) and for them I am very grateful and hope that others find their way, too. I wish I could change the world and make everyone more conscious of mothers stuck in the middle, not by their own choice.
Anyways, deep thoughts for a Monday afternoon. I am off to pick peas and make mudpies with my oldest. Hope all is well with you.
Gayle – I know the rage you are talking about. It reminded me of my own and I added to this post.
I think, for me, the rage came into play because I was constantly reminded with baby #1 and baby #2, that I was defective. My husband tried to tell me it was okay, but I knew that it wasn’t.
I was angry that it worked well for other moms, and I was angry that I wanted it so much and it had to be so hard for me. I was even angry about those who had an overabundance of milk that had their own issues to deal with. I felt that with proper management, those could be more easily remedied than trying to make more milk to begin with.
I still don’t know any woman in real life who has had as much trouble making milk as I did. It was really, incredibly isolating and the guilt and pain was often unbearable.
Anyway…yes, deep thoughts for a Monday afternoon. I hope you are enjoying the picking of the peas and making mudpies with your oldest son.
Peace to you!
Hi Casey – I had those same feelings about women with oversupply. Had to bite my tongue many a time to not say “I wish I had your problems.” Even more frustrating when you know they have a good supply and don’t want to breastfeed.
Do you mind if I pick your brain for something that I’m having a hard time resolving? I feel like I want to be part of the breastfeeding community, but every time I hear about the “risks” of formula, comparisons of formula and smoking, etc., I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut.
Like you said, it is something that you are reminded of daily… I know that in time I will be able to be more objective, but now is when I could use the support. I’m just not handling hearing that message very well when I would so rather be able to 100% breastfeed.
Thanks so much,
You are right, Gayle. That is a tough one. How did I handle it? It was very difficult at times, and usually worse when I was sleep deprived.
Certain message boards topics I had to avoid when I wasn’t feeling up to it. But sometimes I would actually go on to support those who were like me and struggled as much as I did. I felt it helped me to share my struggles to help others cope. Mothering.com has a breastfeeding challenges forum and I hung out there at times, offered my perspective, but I did have to avoid the lactivism forum and the child-led weaning forums because it was too difficult to hear some of the passionate beliefs sometimes.
But at some point, I had come to realize this:
We are exposed to a lot of toxins every day of our lives. In the foods we consume, in the air we breathe in the water we drink. There is natural radioactivity in some of the soils around the world (I learned that in my radioactivity safety class I took at work years ago). We can’t escape it. I know a mother who have breastfed for the first year and a half of her babies life, and now feeds the child McDonald’s.
Either I surrender to the fact I give my child an imperfect replacement, or I let her die because of my principles.
I did find relief the first two times when I let go. As much as it grieved me to do so, it wasn’t long after I let go that I felt I made the right decision for myself.
I stopped crucifying myself for something I could not do. I did the absolute best job I could and I knew that weaker women would have given up much sooner.
Seeing it from my perspective now…my children are wonderful, smart, healthy (no respiratory problems, no obesity problems, no diabetes, etc), helps to feel confident everything turned out okay.
And yet…my nephew, fully on breastmilk for 2 months now, most likely has asthma. Not because of formula, but because he had reflux issues too and also his MOTHER had asthma too. He’s got nebulizer treatments and while it’s sad to see, I never had that to worry about with my kids, not even the two that were mostly formula fed.
So, just because you are breastfeeding completely, doesn’t prevent all health issues. Genetics plays a part too.
Go easy on yourself mama. Realize YOU HAVE done an AMAZING job not giving up sooner and have given your son your very best efforts. That’s all any of us can be expected to do.
But realize…if you need to let go…it’s okay to let go. Give yourself permission to do so if you need to. It’s okay to cry about it, and feel resentful. And then you can forgive yourself and move on.
Peace to you and good luck.
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Do you think that breastfeeding didn’t work for your first two children because you had to go back to work? I’m fortunate in that I work out of my home and I scaled back to part-time during her first year, so I was able to nurse exclusively without any problems. Yes, I know some women pump at work, but pumping’s not the same thing as having the baby at the breast (I know because I got a pump to store milk if I had to go out and needed a baby-sitter to give it to my daughter; honestly, pumping is a pain). So I think the key is to always be around the baby. But of course if you’re working out of the home it’s usually not possible.
Emilia – I stayed home with them for three months before I returned to work, so I would have had the same initial issues with my firstborn.
The first three months of nursing are hormone driven…I have long suspected a hormone problem, and now, actually have a thyroid problem that gives evidence that I might have had it back then.
I would have had to supplement anyway due to those hormone problems that caused under-supply.
But after three months, it is supply and demand driven. And yes, I DO believe that having to work contributed to the failure of breastfeeding to be feasibly maintained.
I think I failed to mention in the post that my husband was laid off for a year, so there was no choice but for me to go back to my genetics laboratory and continue to work while he stayed at home to watch our daughter and look for a job. He got laid off one month before 9/11. The economy was a wreck back then and no one was hiring either.
I am so interested to learn what “gentle nudging” techniques you used to encourage weaning at age 3? I am there, too, and am at a loss! Like you said, I think my child might nurse right up until adulthood if not gently encouraged to wean 🙂 Just kidding, but I’m sure you know what I mean.
Here’s a few tips, though I’m sure you have tried some of these things.
1. Don’t offer. For me this was a toughie, since it was the EASIEST thing to do when my daughter cried. I admit I over-offered sometimes. It was especially hard since I knew that was the last baby I was going to nurse.
2. Distract the child with other fun things. If you are home a lot when nursing happens, go out more.
3. Offer alternative drinks and healthy snacks.
4. Postpone – “not now, but later…”
5. It’s okay to limit where and when nursing happens. Be kind but firm about it.
6. Shorten nursing sessions. Tell child you’ll nurse through a song/story and when the song/story is over, so is nursing.
7. Replace nursing sessions with reading and singing songs to your child. Sometimes it’s just the closeness they require.
8. Just be with the child when they cry, and tell him/her you understand. It is hard to let go of the closeness and security nursing brings. Hugs, lots of hugs. It will help both of you.
9. Use your best judgment. If they are getting hysterical…then don’t refuse. Also, don’t wean during stressful times. Or during winter when you are stuck indoors.
I just stumbled upon this blog. It made me cry reading it. I’m currently struggling to provided enough breast milk for my 4 month old girl. I hate the thought of having to give formula to her and I feel guilty for not being able to breastfeed her exclusively. Even though I’m doing my best I, too, feel defective.
Thank you for sharing. At least I don’t feel so alone.
I’m so glad you feel less alone.
I wish I could give you a hug…I know how tough it is. I hope you check out the resources and find some help.
Good Luck and Happy Holidays.
I am reading this post much later but I stumbled upon this while desperately seeking some sort of solution for my low milk supply. Your story sounds so similar to my experience. The way I felt and how people just didn’t understand. I have tried all the things you said you tried. I took my baby to the hospital every few days to get weight checks desperate for better news, but it never came. I had to supplement with formula and still do but I have not given up on nursing. My son is now 4 months old and I continue to pump at work. I also work at a hospital so we have a lactation room with pumps supplied. I refuse to give up and I hope to continue at least until he is 12 months. I am starting domperidone soon after a bad experience with reglan. I would never recommend reglan to any mother! I had a horrible experience with reglan and I have been very nervous about taking any other medications to increase my milk supply, but after months of trying to decide what to do I ordered domperidone and I am checking the mail everyday anxiously waiting for it to come. I hope I have some success with it because I have tried everything even the SNS which was awful! I did power pumps and pumped every hour of the day some days. I just wanted to thank you for your story because I haven’t found another mother who could relate to me or understand my struggle. I hope one day I will have success like you finally did. I am glad all your hard work and perseverance paid off!
Hugs. I know your struggle and determination.
Just a word of note. Some mothers just don’t produce well with a pump. It may really have not much to do with YOU per se…just that your body can’t be tricked into thinking plastic breast horns are baby’s mouth. And…if you think about it…if you are at work all day in a busy place like a hospital, how much time do you really get to think about your baby?
I wanted to share that Hilary Jacobsen’s got a website called Nutritional Mentoring
for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers and Families ( http://www.mother-food.com/ ) and through there you can find her blog. Good information.
Oh, and as a side note…including in her book Mother Food, is the note that one India Pale Ale alcoholic beverage will help with relaxation and milk production (because of the high amount of hops and the b-vitamins in brewers yeast). I would take no more than one….because trace amounts of alcohol will get into the breastmilk, but it does help.
I will try to find the book and post the recipe for barley water too….
Oh, and yes, Reglan is nasty. Besides increasing the risk of maternal depression, it can cause Tardive Dyskinesia if taken for longer than three months.
Domperidone is NOT without its risks, though. Supposedly if taken intravenously, it can cause cardiac problems. They say the pill form doesn’t…but when I was on it, I was having more of an increase in irregular heartbeats. Now, it COULD be because I think I was also taking fenugreek at the time…or I was just having anxiety attacks. But it happened enough that I went on a 24 hour ekg monitor.
The herb Fenugreek has been used with some success with some mothers. Though if you take fenugreek, it WILL lower your blood sugar levels, so you could become hypoglycemic, so you have to watch out for that and eat more frequently.
Best wishes. I know it can be done. Even partial breastfeeding is better than none.
Thank you for your advice. When I was out on maternity leave I rarely pumped and always nursed him on demand however, I was given some bad advice from a lactation consultant. She told me that I needed to supplement when my milk wasn’t in at the hospital only 2 days after I had him and made me feel like I was starving him. Then I stopped supplementing when my milk came in. I was producing around 2 ounces every 2-3 hours. At 2 weeks he wasn’t back to his birth weight and once again she told me I needed to supplement and not to nurse every 2 hours (for an hour each time) like he wanted because she said I needed more sleep to produce enough milk. She also gave me the nipple shield and didn’t tell me to gradually try to nurse without it. So we kept the shield on every time he nursed for over a month! It wasn’t until after all that when I had the time to do some research on my own that I realized all the mistakes we had made. By then I think it was just too late so my milk never increased. I drank mothers milk tea, took over 45 supplements a day (including fenugreek), I power pumped, pumped after nursing and pumped every hour of the day some days. I ate oatmeal, cream of wheat, nuts, yogurt and drank a lot of water. I never tried beer because I was afraid of the alcohol passing into my milk, but I did take brewers yeast. I wanted to try barley water but never did. I guess I was just discouraged that nothing was working. I stayed at 2 ounces just like I had been when he was 2 weeks old and I started supplementing because I was afraid I wasn’t feeding him enough. I have never increased beyond 2 ounces and sometimes I get less. I started reglan but it scared me. I blinked a lot and couldn’t stop. I felt like I was on a whole different planet. You are the first person who has mentioned domperidone causing heart problems for you. i couldn’t find anyone who went through that personally. I’m hoping it could help me some, but I will definitely watch out for any heart issues.
Just so you know, pumping 2 oz of milk every two hours is quite TYPICAL for a pumping session. Actually, quite GOOD in some cases.
What is normal when it comes to pumping output and changes in pumping output?
Most moms who are nursing full-time are able to pump around 1/2 to 2 ounces total (for both breasts) per pumping session. Moms who pump more milk per session may have an oversupply of milk, or may respond better than average to the pump, or may have been able to increase pump output with practice. Many moms think that they should be able to pump 4-8 ounces per pumping session, but even 4 ounces is an unusually large pumping output.
It is quite normal to need to pump 2-3 times to get enough milk for one feeding for baby (remember that the pump cannot get as much milk as a baby who nurses effectively).
Many moms are able to pump more milk per session when they are separated from baby. Milk pumped when you are nursing full-time is “extra” milk — over and beyond what baby needs. Don’t get discouraged if you are trying to build up a freezer stash when nursing full time and don’t get much milk per pumping session — this is perfectly normal and expected.
That being said, I had a close friend who could pump 4 oz on a HAND PUMP. I cried a lot because I could barely get two with a hospital grade pump.
I can’t blame the domperidone. I could have just been having anxiety attacks. I was also having difficulty breathing. It was summertime. I was extremely hot. I actually went to urgent care, got a nebulizer treatment, then got a Asthma inhaler – though I’d NEVER been asthmatic in my life. I think it was the stress of it all…or maybe an allergy to the fenugreek (I think it’s in the ragweed family?). I don’t know. I DO know I didn’t have any problems after I went off it.
Wow I had no clue that you had to pump that many times to get enough milk! I used a hospital grade pump and still got 2 ounces as well, but now I use an older pump and get the same amount without having to pay each month to rent the hospital pump. My best friend only pumped and she pumped with the same older pump and she got 12 ounces each time! It’s so unfair! And she only pumped 3 weeks! I would do anything to have milk like that! I’m getting kind of worried about the domperidone now. I actually had tachycardia when I was pregnant where I had to wear an event monitor for 24 hours. I haven’t had any more issues though and it was just sinus tach so I was fine. I was just getting up to 170 bpm at work when I would work the floor. I will definitely keep track of it when I try the domperidone now! How long did you stay on the domperidone and how much were you taking? Did it help you any? I don’t know if it will help me considering everything I have done so far, but I hope it will.
I think I had taken it for 3-4 months. I can’t quite remember. I believe I was taking the full dosage for a while 30 mg 3x a day, but when I was running out, I decreased the amount. The sad thing is…I don’t know that it really increased my milk production all that much. I think the IPA did more than anything….I know that sounds weird, but really, i think relaxing is the best thing for making milk.
I don’t want to dissuade you from trying the dom. It works for a lot of moms. I didn’t notice any big improvement.
Seems like the moms who want to the most, have the most difficulties, and those that just don’t care one way or the other, get blessed with tons of milk (that’s my own personal opinion, NOT scientifically backed up).
I started getting really nervous when my heart started well…fluttering…I guess I’d call it. Maybe it was stress, maybe it was the combination of the medicine and the fenugreek. At any rate, I think I got to about 11 months when I stopped it all except the IPA. I returned the pump, and expected to be dry by 12 months and was totally blown out of the water when she was sometimes choking on the milk. It’s as if removing ALL the expectations and the struggle and pressure and it didn’t matter anymore, things worked. It felt like a small miracle. I actually think it was.
And she STILL remembers nursing (she’s 6 now). I try not to bring it up because she misses it and will usually cry. Weaning her was the hardest thing ever because she loved it so much.
As far as oversupply goes….sometimes that has it’s own struggles. In fact, a child with a mother who has an oversupply will have lots of colic and digestive issues (too much foremilk, not enough hindmilk) and needs to be managed well otherwise it could lead to weight gain issues (child’s eating but not getting the fat) breast rejection and eventually undersupply issues.
I didn’t ask, do you pump only? Or does your baby nurse too?
I am aggravated on your behalf that your hospital messed up your breastfeeding advice. I don’t quite blame the hospital staff for supplementing (first rule of thumb – FEED the infant because dehydration is a bad thing), but if they need to, to do so only by either cup feeding or syringe feeding or SNS. I don’t believe supplementing in the hospital is inherently terrible, just HOW is the problem.
And yeah, a nipple shield can KILL a breastfeeding relationship. I wonder why they just gave you one from the get-go. I never used one…but I slathered on lots of lansinoh. It helps prevent problems.
Oh…and just for future…I have never tried it with my kids, but I should have…craniosacral helps with some breastfeeding issues. ( http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/craniosacral.htm ) I wish I could have used it for my oldest, who required a forceps delivery because I was too exhausted and she was kind of big (8 lbs 8 oz) sick to push her out (I was nauseous from 2 hours of pushing on a stomach full of food).
That’s interesting about the craniosacral. I am actually a massage therapist too but I’ve never learned craniosacral but I know a coworker that did. I think I might try the craniosacral. I was going to buy the IPA last night when I was out at the store but I couldn’t find it. Do they only sale it at certain stores? I had a friend who told me that when her son had to have surgery her milk dried up and she drank a beer, a quart or orange juice and water and just nursed all day and her milk came back! She had tried pumping while he was in the hospital but she couldn’t get a drop and had completely dried up!
To answer your question about pumping, I nurse and pump but I try to nurse as much as possible. I only pump when I have to, like when I am working or have to be away from my son. As far as the nipple shield goes, I used it because he had trouble latching at first, not because my nipples were sore. I actually had no problems with soreness until I started pumping so often and then they were bleeding. As soon as I realized the shield could be part of our problem with low milk supply I took it off. It wasn’t easy because he was used to nursing with it. He cried a lot at first and didn’t know how to latch, but he got it eventually. Things were a lot easier after I got rid of the shield. I didn’t have to always put it on every time before he nursed. It was such a relief because that thing was such a pain! It would get milk in it that would leak out the bottom too! I would be so angry! I became a lot more relaxed after we got rid of the shield. I could bond more with Oliver. By that time we were over a month into breastfeeding though and I think it was a lot harder to increase at that point. I think after I did some power pumping I increased some (maybe a little less than an ounce) but not much. It was a lot of work just to get that much milk and I didn’t know if it was worth it. It was hard trying to pump that often with a newborn baby and my husband back at work.
I feel like the hospital really let me down as far as lactation info goes. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and no one even came to see me from lactation until I had been there for over 24 hours. I just knew I wanted to breastfeed but I needed help. Our hospital just changed over to a new computer system so everyone was in training and they didn’t have anyone on the floor to come and see me. I also didn’t get a pump so Oliver wasn’t able to latch and I couldn’t pump. I didn’t bring my pump because I was told not to beacuse the hospital would supply one. I kept trying with him by myself though. I was really upset that no one helped me at all. I felt like they didn’t really support breast feeding all that much which is a shame. I think they told me to supplement too soon and they never even recommended the SNS. It wasn’t until later when I spoke with a nursery nurse who works in lactation PRN that I even was told about the SNS. She was so knowledgeable and I just wish I had seen her sooner. She saw formula as a last resort and I think that is the way it should be! She also told me that she has a daughter (who had a breast reduction) who she worked with and her daughter was able to exclusively breast feed up to 4 months! She has been talking to me about going on domperidone, but doesn’t know anyone personally who has taken it. I just can’t give up yet. I don’t want to even if I get less than what I have now. It’s such a close bond. What you said about it not just being about the baby receiving breast milk is so true and I just can’t find anyone who understands that. My mom never breastfed any of her babies and never had the desire to either. Everyone just keeps saying he’s healthy or that formula is so close to breast milk anyway. My coworkers who have babies keep asking me why I am still trying. They think I am crazy to work so hard for so little, but it is so much more than that. Breastfeeding has been the most awesome thing to me, problems or no problems. I’ve never felt such a closeness like I do when I am nursing my son. I have never felt so much love. I’ve never felt so needed. It makes me feel sad when women decide not to nurse. I do agree with what you said about women who don’t care about breastfeeding usually get the most milk! It is so unfair! Thank you for all your advice and support. You don’t know what it means to me to have someone understand what I am going through.
Oh my, you are a tenacious woman! I hope your perseverance paid off.
By the third child…it did. I breastfed her for 3 years. It was great. I like your website by the way.
I know this is ~3 years later, but I too had issues with my DD, all except the mastitis. I ended up pumping for 21 months and stopped pumping a month before her second b-day. I was ~20 weeks pregnant and was barely pumping a few drops. With Reglan I was able to up my pumping output from ~15 oz/day to 32 oz/day. At the moment I am trying a more natural approach: started goat’s rue, am taking nettle, red rasberry leaf, alfalfa, marshmallow root, and will be starting barley water this weekend. I’m due in ~1.5 months and hope that this time around things are a bit better. I too read Hilary Jacobsen’s book in addition to Diana West’s “The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk” and while these books and MOBI offer you encouragement and tell you anything that you give to your baby is wonderful, I cannot help feel as you did. You truly hit the nail on the head with that on. Thank you.
I’m glad you found some reassurance here.
I don’t have the resource anymore, but I have read that with each subsequent pregnancy, you make about 33% more than the previous one. I don’t know why this is…but I did find more milk with each subsequent child.
Best wishes with your new baby when he/she comes.
I really needed this. I’m at 5 months, week 3 and terrified that I’m drying up. Goal was a year but your story of 3 yrs is heartwarming. There are days when I just don’t feel like pumping, taking herbs, making lactation cookies…just want to nurse as nature intended. So thanks…I’m going to try and hang in there. I’m I can make it a year I can bypass bottles, formula, and washing a bunch of extra dishes. I don’t frown upon it, I just don’t feel like extra work.