November 7, 2005

Got Milk?

Since going back to work.... I've been waging a battle...... the breast pump battle.

Many of my friends are what you might call breastfeeding fanatics. Yes, I agree -- breast milk is the best for babies, there is no denying it -- but.... it's not always as easy as people make it out to be. To begin with and in the interest of full-disclosure, I am one of those people. When I was pregnant I kept reading about women who had trouble breastfeeding their babies..... I couldn't help thinking to myself... Well for God's sake how hard could it be? You pull out your boob, baby latches on and then you switch sides.... it's not rocket-science people.

Well, my gal-pal Cape Buffalo tried to set me straight -- she shared with me the challenges she encountered when Baby Buffalo was first born and how she almost gave up -- she got support & encouragement from some experienced Moms and success..... so, I started to think that maybe some people have trouble.... but I certainly wouldn't be one of them.

Then the 'lil Dubya was born.... premature.... whisked away to another hospital..... I was heavily medicated.... with the kind of drugs that you can't breastfeed if you are taking. Once I was off the meds and discharged from the hospital, I was introduced to the medieval torture device known as the breast pump. The 'lil Dubya was in the hospital and was going to be there for a while.... he was not tolerating (a.k.a. was throwing up 3/4 of every feeding) all of the formulas they tried.... he was losing weight by the day..... so I started to pump (OUCH!).... and success, he didn't throw up the breastmilk. Every three hours 'round the clock I would pump into these tiny little plastic bottles..... freeze them and then deliver them to the hospital -- the nurses would then feed him the milk through a tube.

When the 'lil Dubya got stronger, I was able to try nursing him directly -- yeah, now comes the easy part, right? Wrong! First of all, that hurt more than the damn pump and then the 'lil Dubya only liked the left side.... try to give him the right side and he'd scream like he was being beaten. How is this freakin' possible? The nurses claimed it wasn't all that uncommon, suggesting the "football hold" or some other unnatural position. Good God, when does this get better?

For weeks I would feed him with the left side, go pump the right side and then give him that through a bottle.... are you kidding me? Like Cape Buffalo, I wanted to give up -- but how could I? he didn't tolerate the formula.... I have to persevere -- he needs this. After a while, I managed to get him to take the right side..... and for a while all was good.

Well, now I'm back at work..... I know lots of new Moms go back to work.... I know lots of new Moms pump at the office, but..... it's not as easy as it sounds. First of all, there are several new mothers in my office -- so we are all in competition to use "the room" (my office has a glass door) -- so trying to schedule time in "the room" between meetings and in coordination with these other women.... not so simple. Additionally, I can't keep up with his demand! Yes, I pump three times a day at the office, but still can't get enough to supply him. So, I started pumping in the middle of the night -- setting an alarm clock for 1 am.... that worked for a couple of weeks, 'til his demand went up and my supply didn't. The lactation consultant suggested eating oatmeal, cutting out caffeine, increasing fluids..... so, yeah, I've become super regular, totally exhausted and I pee constantly -- but it's for my little baby, if it works how can I complain? Well, no luck.... production has not increased!

I went to the Health Food Store.... they suggested Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, Goat's Rue, Fennel.... I actually found (and tried) a product called "More Milk Plus" -- I only wish I was kidding.

There was also the suggestion of a "mother's milk tea" -- yeah, well it tastes like ass, but I tried it anyway.... and by the way, all of these products offer warnings about your urine beginning to smell like maple syrup -- yep, it does..... yet still no luck increasing production.

All I have to say is UGH!


Kara said...

oh man- good luck! are you guys on rice cereal yet?

Susan said...

I could have written most of this post. My first son was premature, did a stint in the NICU, and had TERRIBLE reflux. And to top it off, he never learned to latch on, so I wound up pumping for four and a half months. Then, despite all my efforts (that tea absolutely tastes like ass) my body said, 'This sucks!' and there was no more milk. And I felt guilty for every drop of formula I put in that kid.

Baby #2 also wouldn't latch on, but he was a big full-term horse, so I bailed. And life was good (well, as good as it can be with two kids).

So what's my point? I've got nothing, but I feel your pain. Good luck with this.

Matthew said...

My wife takes Fenugreek, which I imagine is the herbal form of this stuff because she smells like maple syrup. She's smells so good, I could lick her.

Hey, we're trying to breastfeed two at once over here! We'll try anything (and we have - so don't worry about it).

Good luck!

trillwing said...

Eeeeek! I have a ten-week-old who nurses for 30-45 minutes at a stretch, every 2-3 hours, and it's been incredibly painful for me the entire time. I can't imagine what we would do if I couldn't give him a couple bottles of formula each day. Ouch! My sympathies to you!

Kim said...

I haven't read all the posts in your blog so if there was one that said you got the supply boost you needed, I missed it.

I'm BFAR (breast feeding after reduction) so supply is a real challenge for me too. I tried lots of things but the Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle worked best. I took 15 Fenugreek a day (5 capsules 3x) and 12 Blessed Thistle a day (4 caps 3x). Yeah, I smelled like a goat but once the supply ramped up I was able to stop without seeing a decrease.

Another thing I did that worked well was to pump for 10 minutes after as many feedings as possible, PAYING NO ATTENTION TO WHAT WAS IN THE BOTTLE WHEN I FINISHED. You aren't pumping for's just to trick your body into thinking you had twins.

I did have to add formula during huge growth spurts, especially the one in August that lasted three weeks. That's the way it goes. I cried a little at first but got over it. The kid never blinked.

He is 7.5 months old and I feel like we finally hit our stride about a month ago. I really hope you found a solution that works for you and the small dubya.

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