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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Breastfeeding Is A Bitch!

I just received a card from my BFF that reminded me that being a mom is the toughest job you could ever have. And, while I have only been doing it for a couple of weeks, I can see why.

And that reason, at the moment, is breastfeeding!

It has been the most difficult part of the last couple of weeks, with many highs and lows. I am trying my best and taking every bit of advice I have been given, but I also need to maintain my sanity and figure out my Plan B (or I think we are at Plan C now) in case this just doesn’t work out. Some days I think I spill more tears onto the baby than milk into her at this point!

Unfortunately, the breastfeeding problems didn’t end with the lactation consultant at the hospital. We tried everything she suggested, but when the nurse came to do a home visit a few days later we were still struggling and supplementing with formula to keep her weight up. Baby girl had a bad latch and my milk production was just not enough, but at least I finally had milk coming in after 5 days of persistence!

So, first the nurse suggested we try using a nipple shield in order to resolve the latch problem. Baby girl took to it quite quickly because she was already used to bottles and this simulates a bottle using your own breast. By having her actually breastfeed instead of just pumping every 3 hours like clockwork (yes, even in the middle of the night), my body should have, in theory, responded to her needs and produce more milk as she grows and demands it. In addition to the shield, 2 herbal remedies were suggested to me; Fenugreek and blessed thistle. Unfortunately due to my thyroid issues I cannot take the Fenugreek, but DH went out to get the Blessed Thistle the same day even though I had read that taking one without the other wasn’t very effective (now proven, keep reading).

Over the next few days I definitely saw improvement using Blessed Thistle. She was “breastfeeding” at least 8 out of 10 feeds a day, I was pumping in between feedings but not constantly, and the quantity of milk had gone up too! In fact, I had nearly quadrupled my supply! When we went for a follow-up with the nurse and a second weighing, the nurse had me breastfeed in front of her and said it was a great improvement and to keep it up. She even told me to stop pumping and let the baby do the work.

So my body decided to do the complete opposite.

Within days of that appointment my supply had gone right back down. I feel it was because she just wasn’t drinking enough and my body responded by naturally making less milk, meeting her demand. While she took to the shield quickly, it was (and still is) hard seeing her cry and scream half the time you try and breastfeed her because she knows she just isn’t going to get what she needs from you. Not to mention the amount of work she has to put in just to get her meal… it even exhausts me watching her! Also, since the beginning, one boob produces ample and the other barely a thing for some reason. This certainly doesn’t help matters and I think she has learned to hate my left boob because of it, screaming each time I put her on that side.

I was waiting for the nurse to call me for another follow-up appointment to ask to see their doctor instead because there is a medication that helps if the herbs fail and I wanted the prescription. For whatever reason, they didn’t call when they were supposed to and my supply was decreasing even more. Finally when I did manage to speak to a nurse 4 days later she gave me the runaround saying it was impossible my supply had decreased, I was fine when they saw me, the doctor is really busy and probably can’t see me, etc… really?! This is the HELP we are offered in this damn province?

As soon as I got off the phone with the nurse, beyond pissed off, I called my OB’s office and left a message with one of their nurses explaining the trouble I had been having. A couple of hours later, my OB was calling the prescription in to the pharmacy for me without even seeing me! I have been on the medication for 3 days now and have seen a mild increase in supply, but definitely an improvement. They say to give it a good week to work, but we are considering our options anyhow just in case.

Plan A was to breastfeed exclusively, no bottles. Plan B was to pump and give her bottles if she couldn’t fix her latch early on. Now, Plan C is to be realistic and realize that this breastfeeding thing might not work out and we may have no choice but to use formula only – and that’s ok! If we have to go with Plan C, we have decided to buy the Baby Brezza to make our lives simpler as well. It’s like the Tassimo/Keurig of bottle making and is as simple as a press of a button. To be honest, I kind of want to buy one anyhow because they are kind of cool!

So now we wait. I will stay on the medication for a couple of weeks and hope to see an improvement. I see my OB at the end of the month and, if I make it that long, I will discuss my options with her to see if she has any other ideas before making the switch completely. I am still hoping for some form of Plan A or B, but if Plan C comes into effect I just hope the Baby Brezza will still be on sale after the holidays!