If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw my post that went into a small bit of detail about my breastfeeding journey so far. However; I wanted to give you all a bit more detail about what’s been going on.
My plan from the very beginning has been to breastfeed. It was important to me, so I did as much reading as one can do ahead of time to prepare me for it. Of course, nothing can really prepare you for it when its actually here.
The day after Easton was born in the hospital, a lactation consultant came by and I asked her all the questions at the time, but my milk hadn’t come in yet so I wasn’t quite sure entirely what to ask. It wasn’t until 3 days after we got home that my milk finally came in and I felt like I was actually giving him something.
At first things seemed to be going fine. I started breastfeeding to the best of my ability and things seemed fine, but as the days progressed he just was always hungry. I figured it was cluster feeding so I just kept trying to feed him to the best of my ability. I would spend 3 hours at a time on the couch with him just continuing to nurse him as he needed. I called the lactation consultant from the hospital and spoke with her a while about what I’d be experiencing. She didn’t seem to be too concerned, told me to feed on demand (which I was already doing), and if I wanted to go ahead and start pumping to help increasing my supply.
At our first appointment (2 days after delivery) he had dropped from 7 lbs 5 oz to 6 lbs 14 oz. It wasn’t too concerning and my pediatrician just had me come back in a few days to recheck. At the next checkup he had dropped weight again to 6 lbs 10 oz. I was starting to get discouraged, while I knew a drop from birth weight was normal I just couldn’t seem to get him to gain even with our power nursing sessions.
My pediatrician was really encouraging and just aid to keep it up and it will come. To save a long story, Easton did not get back to birth week until 3 weeks postpartum, which still isn’t bad but I just had this nagging feeling like something wasn’t right with my milk supply.
I read all the books, websites, forums, and talked to many people to get ideas on how to increase my supply. Over the last month I have:
- Increased my water intake
- Increased my calorie intake
- Pumped after every feeding
- Pumped in between feedings
- Took Fenugreek and Brewer’s Yeast
- Ate oatmeal (lots of oatmeal)
- Drank Mother’s Milk Tea
If there was something out there saying it worked, then chances are I tried it. There were a few times that I really thought my milk supply was increasing and I was still getting 1-2 oz when pumping after nursing (which I read was normal). The amount I was pumping wasn’t increasing and my sweet boy was still screaming from hunger after eating.
I was beyond frustrated and felt like such a failure. It was making our feedings hard and I felt like I couldn’t provide for my boy. I spoke with the lactation consultant several times and our pediatrician and both were very supportive and suggested if need be it’s completely okay to supplement with pumped breast milk or formula.
I started with pumped breast milk, but even with the 1-2 oz I could get out it still didn’t seem enough for our growing boy. I wanted it to work I did but it just wasn’t. It left both me and Easton exhausted. A couple days later my husband suggested it was best we try to supplement with formula. I didn’t want to give up breastfeeding just because I couldn’t provide the entire amount he needed so after talking with my doctor’s we decided to breastfeed, feed pump breastmilk, and then if he was still hungry he got formula.
I try to think of it as the best of both worlds. I’d say about 80% of his intake is breastmilk. That’s about all I can provide for him between breastfeeding and pumping. Most of his formula is given at the end of the day, and occasionally after a feeding during the day until he’s full. Of course, it wasn’t what I had imagined at first but I’ve learned that sometimes our mental health is just as important. Trying to continually stress myself out figuring out what was wrong and having an unhappy baby wasn’t getting myself or him anywhere.
I’m still trying to focus on my water intake, taking in enough calories (even more so as I begin running), pumping, and taking my supplements to help. Some days are better than others and while I’m not sure why I can’t provide what he needs fully but feeling badly or guilty for it also isn’t helping. I do what I can, supplement when I need to, and at the end of the day I know I am doing the best that I can.
The downside to formula is that we haven’t one yet that doesn’t hurt his stomach. He’s having trouble going to the bathroom which makes an extremely fussy baby and tired mama. We will get there and are continuing to see what will work best for him.
At the end of the day, my baby is fed and is happy. I work hard to give him the most I can in terms of breastmilk and supplement when needed. This works for us and unless I can find another way to increase my supply I’m OK with that right now.
I don’t share my story for any other reason than if someone is reading and they feel like they’ve failed – you haven’t! Do what you can, do what you need, and enjoy every moment with your precious baby!