October 2, 2008

The much dreaded topic

Oh, this is a dreaded topic but it's such a major part of the first year of a babies life so I have to mention it. Breastfeeding definitely has it's ups and downs and you go through many challenges along the way. At times, it's almost been more than I can handle but I'm glad I continue to stick with it.

Unfortunately, I was never able to build up a good supply of milk. This makes breastfeeding that much more challenging. Basically, I was only able to build up enough to keep Lola fed. She's always been a big eater. I continue to struggle with supply issues. Once I went back to work and was pumping the majority of the time, it became merely impossible for me to feed Lo breastmilk 100% of the time. I finally decided that it's ok to supplement some formula (organic). We keep it to a minimum but once I made this decision, this made life a lot easier.

Now, I mentioned work and pumping. This is a challenge in it's own self. First of all, it's VERY hard to set aside 30 minutes two times a day. Well, it really ends up being more than that once you factor in cleaning all the bottles, etc. I had initially tried 3X a day to keep my supply up but that just wasn't going to work...I felt like I was pumping all day and getting no work done. Oh to make matters worse...Um...well...my employer sticks me in a supply closet to pump. Seriously, A SUPPLY CLOSET! So, I've now made it my little home away from home or I guess I should say office away from office. I have my book I'm reading in there, some Time magazines, People magazines, paper towels, water supply, etc. It's kind of cozy now. Here's a lovely pick of my room.

I bet you thought I was joking when I said supply room...nope...it's literally a little closet. So, this is where I spend a hour of my day every day. Pretty pitiful...huh!!!

I have my reasons for posting this blog today. I've been very stressed and depressed about breastfeeding this week as my supply has drastically gone down. I woke up this morning and discovered I had started my period (first one in 18 months). For those of you who don't know...you don't have a period while breastfeeding. I forget how much I HATE the menstrual cycle. The great news is it explains my supply issues this week. I thought I was drying up but that's not the case. Here's what I found:

"The return of menstruation does not mean the end of breastfeeding. The milk does not sour or "go bad" when you are having a period. The milk is no less nutritious when you are menstruating than when you are not. Some women do notice a temporary drop in milk supply in the days just prior to a period and for a few days into one. This is due to hormonal fluctuations. Once the period begins and hormone levels begin to return to normal, the milk supply will boost back up again. Most babies can compensate well for this temporary drop in supply with more frequent nursing".

What a relief!!!!!

My words of encouragement: Get past 6 weeks and it gets a little easier...get past 3 months and it gets even more easy (supply has steadied, no more leaking, can actually sleep without a bra on at night, etc)....if you can get past 6 months, it's all smooth sailing from there. Always tell yourself "You can do it!!! I know this sounds cheesy but it has helped me get through. Here are my tips:

  • Read "Baby Wise" and any other material on breast-feeding.
  • Medela pump (http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/)- I love it! They are expensive so I recommend borrowing or buying one from a friend. You just have to replace the tubing which you can get at a lactation center. If you decide to buy a new one, go with the new version Freestyle pump (http://www.medelafreestyle.com/).
  • Talk to other mothers and ask for advice. This is one of the reasons why I loved Itsy Bitsy yoga and post-natal yoga. It was a great opportunities to talk to other mothers.
  • Drink lots of water. I've never felt so desperate for water until I started breastfeeding...it's very strange the extreme craving you have.
  • Vitamins to take - pre-natal, Fishoil/DHA, fenugreek (helps build your supply). There are also great herbal teas out there that can help with supply that you can get at Whole Foods. You can also take Blessed Thistle and Alfalfa.
  • Don't be afraid to supplement formula. If you're stressing over your supply, that will only make matters worse and you won't be able to produce. If needed, take pressure off of yourself. You only can do what you can do.
  • Great website to use when you have questions: http://www.breastfeed-essentials.com/supply.html.

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