02 May 2012

our ups and downs with breastfeeding: part 2

This is the second part of a series. You can read the first part here.

The first few sleep-deprived weeks were rough, but then it started to fall into place. So much so that I even had a semi-epiphany about how very cool it was that my body was producing everything my baby needed to live!

Well, apparently, I thought this too soon. My baby had finally regained her birth weight a few days after her 2-week checkup (a bit late, but I was happy about it). I got another weight check at the 4 week mark just to make sure, and she had lost almost 10 ounces! I was freaking out at the clinic. The family practice doctor she was seeing (whom I hadn't been fond of since the 2-week check) immediately said to supplement with formula. I asked him about using my freezer stash of breast milk to supplement, and he just stared at me blankly. I called the Lactation Consultant in tears that night and refused to give her formula just yet. We gave her some extra pumped milk that night. I also decided to switch her back to the Pediatric clinic (we get to choose here, and I'm quite grateful for that).

I went in the next day to do a weight check with the LC, and Cora had gained a few ounces back. I was advised to pump for the next 24 hours and feed her bottles so that we could assess if my supply was too low. I did that, and yeah, it was on the low side. The LC had me supplement her with an ounce of formula and/or expressed milk after each feeding while I started taking an herbal supplement called fenugreek to boost my supply. The fenugreek was amazing and worked within a few days! We weight-checked her again a few times that week, and she was doing much better.

This all is the reason I never got a picture when she was 4 weeks old, which means I also didn't get a one-month picture. The day she turned a month old, all I did was nurse her and cry. I don't think I even realized what day it was. Sleep deprivation can really do a number on your emotions, especially when you're still combating some baby blues.

I think it was that same day that was the first Sunday of Lent. I sat in the pew at church (nursing her, probably) and decided then and there that I was gonna tough this out until Easter. I made a pact with myself and later announced it to my husband that if by Easter I was still in tears every other day because of breastfeeding, I would stop.

Why was I so determined? I know breastmilk is "best for baby," but formula has come a long way. I was formula-fed myself, and I never get sick, and I don't think it has affected me in any terrible way. B was breastfed for six months and has suffered allergies all his life. Breast milk is not the be-all end-all that some of the books would have you believe, obviously. (And it's beyond genetics for me, as my sister never gets sick either and she was adopted.)

But for me, it probably comes back to one thing. MONEY. This is how my mind works. Feeding my baby is free. It's also really nice to always have food for my baby wherever I go. One of my other reasons was that if I could master it with the first child, I figured the subsequent ones will be much easier. I had noticed among friends and acquaintances that it was very hard for them to breastfeed a second child if they had formula-fed the first. Those first few weeks of nursing are so hard that if you're comfortable with the alternative, it is really really appealing to switch!!

If you haven't guessed yet, I made it to Easter! And weeks beyond now. I actually had almost forgot about that pact with myself by the time Easter rolled around, but I was talking to someone about the low supply issue and it came back to me. I was able to sorta wean myself off of taking Fenugreek a week before that, and it seems like my body is doing what it's supposed to now. Hooray for womanhood, right?

Well, I did get a plugged duct during our road trip, but that worked itself out really easily, so I'm gonna call that a non-issue for now. A non-issue that I hope doesn't happen again.


  1. I'm glad it worked out for you! No one tells you (or told me, anyway) that it can be so stressful- I just thought it was a simple, automatic thing, but it's a lot different once you're actually doing it!

  2. Glad things worked out the way you wanted! Also glad to hear you have kept an open mind about the whole thing. It's so hard to deal with the "Boob Nazis" when you're on the other side of the coin. I get so frustrated because people don't even know my reasons for NOT breastfeeding, they just assume I'm ok with "poisoning" my child. And, for the record, he's just fine! :-) Keep up the good work, Mama....you know your baby best and the best way to take care of her is to follow your instincts....and find a doctor who shares your opinions! ;-)

    1. Yeah, I actually share your feelings about the lactivists. I'm usually sad when one of my friends give up on breastfeeding if they try (I wish I could just sit next to them 24/7 through those first few weeks), but if someone doesn't want to do it from the start, then that's fine with me! Your kid looks pretty healthy in his pictures :)

  3. My number one reason for breastfeeding is Money too! (I think it's an incredible bond that you can have with your children as well ... if it works for you and your family.) I never thought that I would enjoy the experience so much but you definitely have to get used to it and fight through the troubles.