Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tales from Breastfeeding #3

This post, and the posts that follow on this topic have been a long time coming.

I wouldn't describe myself as preachy or judgmental, rather passionate.
I just want to help others when it comes to information I'm knowledgeable about. 
For instance, when I walk into Buy Buy Baby, I usually end up giving my two cents, aka assvice, to people hemming and hawing over strollers and car seats, or wondering which breast pump makes sense.  
I also will point out tried and true products.

So, when it came to breastfeeding I was really gung ho. 
I was given this book as as gift by my cousin who is a lactation consultant.  

  

This is the updated version and can be purchased on Amazon. 

Although I didn't get through it all by the time I gave birth to Moshe, I took in every detail.  
This book explains the whole physiology behind breastfeeding and how it's a lot more than just feed your baby every 2-3 hours.  

Anyway, I'll provide my top tips and info in another post but for now the point is, I kinda considered myself an expert.
I nursed Moshe until 13 months when we planned fertility treatments.
I nursed Dovy until he was 23 months, and I only stopped because I was due with Hannah a month later.

From the get go I attended a breastfeeding support group at the local hospital I delivered the boys at when I was free from obligations.  
When I would ask questions, eventually the lactation consultant would look at me and say, "Aaryn, you could teach this class.  You know exactly what to do."  

I was pretty quick to jump to conclusions when people would willy nilly pronounce they didn't produce enough milk to feed their baby.
I would start spewing information I had read in this book long ago.

Well, breastfeeding my third go around failed-miserably.  

This baby was my first real maternity leave.  
6 weeks-which is not even close to being long enough, but it was the only option.
For 6 weeks I was home with Hannah.  Nursing was going swell.
I was a little behind with pumping, but, the most important thing to know about breastfeeding is that it's all about supply and demand.  You demand it, your body should supply it.
So I wasn't too worried-I would pump in the car thanks to this mommy's helper.

  

This hands free pumping bra is an absolute life saver!  
Being a mommy is all about multitasking.
 I would pump twice at work, and that should be fine for the relatively short time I was away.  
But I never produced what I produced with the boys.  
A couple weeks in, I had gone through my freezer stash and it was a daily struggle to pump just enough for the next day.  Heck I lost all hope for extra.  Eventually, I even stopped putting it into bags in the freezer, admitting I was never going to have a stash this time.  

Pretty soon even my pumping sessions from work weren't enough.  
Now, another basic breastfeeding/pumping fact is that nothing is better than an actual baby nursing.
The baby is able to empty the breast better than the pump.  
Therefore, what I was pumping at work didn't necessarily mean that was all I was producing, it just meant I wasn't able to get as much out with the pump. 
So at first, I admitted Hannah would need some formula while I was away at work. 
I would exclusively nurse her when I was home and on the weekends because I figured she'd be more effective at emptying the breast and she'd therefore get what she needed.

I didn't go down without a fight.

I met with the lactation consultant and we discussed a few things.  
It was a reality check.
I have three kids, work full time, run a house and have a pretty absent husband.
It's possible I'm just mentally/emotionally unable to handle this challenge.  
It's funny-this is like that saying what you eat in private, you wear in public.
I can try to convince myself, or others of anything-but the fact that my body wouldn't produce the milk needed-even though I was demanding it, speaks for itself.  
Maybe that was the culprit.  

But there's one more option.  
According to my lactation consultant the number one cause of decreased milk supply is bed rest.  Now, I know I wasn't on bed rest but the point is that your body reacts to the challenges it faces.  
I had a rather traumatic and eventful pregnancy.
I underwent stressful IVIG treatments weekly.
As an aside, I also realized there's no info on the effects of IVIG on breastfeeding that I've seen. 
Bottom line, it is what it is.

I started taking blessed thistle and feneugreek-3 pills of each, 3 times a day. 
That's a total of 18 pills a day.
 I also added in Mothers Milk tea twice a day. 
As well as increasing my liquids to a goal of 100 oz a day.  
Basically, you should always have to pee.  

I'll be honest-this was a hard regimen to keep up because I hate taking pills.
I tend to gag, and taking six at a time just wasn't working.  

Eventually, exclusively nursing her stopped working because my baby girl loves to eat! 
I was having to offer her a bottle of formula after every nursing session.  

Two kids ago, I would have been beating myself up for having to give her formula. 
The third kid has caused me to relax and enjoy the ride.  

So you know what I did?
I put on a dress and left my pump at home.  
Truthfully, I never felt freer.

Would I have chosen it to work out this way?
Heck no!
I want the calorie burn of nursing. I want to eat those extra Weight Watcher points!
But in the end, all of my pumping sessions during the day would result with a total of 3 oz. 
About half a feed's worth.
It just became so glaringly obvious that the effort was just not worth it anymore.  

For now, Hannah loves her bottle.
And I love wearing dresses. 

   

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Baby's Only Organic, the formula Hannah loves and we know is best for her!

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  2. Before I got to the end of your post I wondered if the treatments during pregnancy factored into it. Perhaps one day there will be more information on that but oh well if not. The fact is everyone is at peace with this decision and she's not starving! It's so easy to judge a mom for something we know nothing about. I hope this post helps others to see that there are very real reasons why someone chooses to bottle-feed rather than breastfeed.

    My story is kind of the opposite. I formula fed my first two and then I was able to breastfeed my youngest three. I struggled and bawled and had a hell of a time with my first baby. The day I stopped fighting and gave her a bottle was the FIRST time we had both been at peace for a feeding. It was a sigh of relief. I looked at her, she looked at me. She drank her bottle slowly and I snuggled a baby who, for the first time, wasn't screaming in distress during mealtime. I dried my tears and we did bottles. I had no engorgement when we stopped trying to breastfeed; that's how much she was getting (a whole lotta nothing!).

    I love your no-guilt message. Moms need to be confident in the choices they make for their little ones and families - so long as everyone is fed and loved and not neglected then you're doing alright in my book!

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