After a really exhausting, tiring, make-you-go-to-bed-crying weekend I feel really good about where I stand right now on breastfeeding. It’s as if the girls and I have made a pact or called a truce of sorts…I gave a little and they met me halfway. And it couldn’t have happened any sooner, because as you know from this post I was literally on my last leg with this whole breastfeeding saga.
I vented to my husband and I felt a little better. He reminded me that I was only doing this because it was MY CHOICE to do so. That no one else was pressuring me to continue, and that I could choose to stop at any time. And he’s right. While he’s supportive of my choices/decisions, he couldn’t care less whether we feed Jax breast milk or formula. He knows that Jax will be healthy either way, so as he put it so simply “If it’s causing you this much stress, then stop.”
But I’m not a quitter. That’s just not me. At the same time though, I knew that I was doing all that I could do – there was nothing more for me to give because I’d given it all already – and if I didn’t see some improvement for all of my efforts, then I knew that I would quickly lose the drive to continue.
Lucky for me, the girls didn’t let me down. After the most stressful weekend ever they are rebounding with flying colors and producing amazing “come back” results for me and Jax. You know that I’ve got numbers for you, so here they are:
(Comparisons made between last week and this week)
I’m seeing a 48% increase in overall daily production.
I’m now able to produce an amount that is equal to what I need to send to day care each day. (Note: that is producing, not storing. I’m only able to store just over half of what I send to day care each day…so there’s still room for improvement!)
My per-pump-session amount is more consistent day-to-day and steadily increasing each day.
To say that I’m thrilled with the progress that I’ve made would be the understatement of the year, especially when made following this past weekend. I wish that I could pinpoint what “turned the tide” so to speak, but I’ve been doing SO many things to increase my milk production that I can’t say with any degree of certainty which one (or combination) did the trick. I can share with you what I have been doing though, in case this might help someone else.
Drink plenty of fluids – no caffeine, no carbonated beverages and LOTS of water. I do cheat and have one glass of normal tea each day, so I am taking in a small amount of caffeine but I figure one glass isn't gonna ruin anything. I’ve also taken to drinking a cup of the Mother’s Milk tea each day, maybe two per day. On a personal note, the stuff tastes awful. But somewhere someone told me to mix it half and half with apple juice. It’s not great, but it’s 1 million times better that way!
Pump regularly and pump often – right now I’m staying on a two hour time schedule for pumping when I’m away from Jax. When I’m at home, he’s allowed to eat as often as he needs to eat, but typically that’s every 2.5 to 3 hours. We’ll talk more about letting him feed in a minute…
Eat. Eat. Eat. I’m taking in what feels like 10,000 calories each day just to give my body the raw material that it needs to make breast milk. And I’m trying to make sure that most of it is healthy – you know, good choices for snacking and eating - not all of it can be chocolate, pizza and ice cream. Believe me, if my body isn’t getting enough calories, it lets me know with some intense hunger pains. So I feed the machine frequently – I snack on something every hour at work. I eat oatmeal once a day – this is an old wives tale, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. There’s some debate about not using the instant type, but that’s what I use and my results are going the right direction so I’m not sure if it really matters.
Vitamins/Supplements – I still take my pre-natal vitamin daily. I started taking my Iron supplement pills again toward the end of last week and for now I’m taking three of those each day. I anticipate dropping back down to one per day once my milk supply is back to where it used to be. I also take Fenugreek pills (per doctor’s instructions) three pills three times a day every OTHER day. I read somewhere that some people can build up a tolerance to Fenugreek, and once I paid attention to my progress (thank goodness for my chart-making anal self!) I could definitely see spikes of improvement when I started the pills and then it slowly tapered off. Since this past weekend, I’ve taken to using them every other day, and it seems to work better for me.
That’s it. You know, typed out like that it doesn’t seem like all that much. But it’s a lot in reality. There are meals that I take 6-7 pills on certain days with some meals, so it seems like a lot on those days.
The only other thing that I did differently this past weekend was to let Jax feed from me. The weekend before, I was trying to build up my “supply” of milk in my freezer for day care, so I fed him formula all weekend and just pumped at his feeding times. Both my doctor and his pediatrician kept emphasizing to me the importance of letting him cluster feed from me…but of course, I thought that I knew better. So what if they have a fancy schmancy medical degree backing up their argument? I had Sandy-logic backing up my theory…but maybe this one time Sandy-logic let me down. I pushed through it all weekend long, the crying (his and mine), the fussiness of him not wanting to “work” to get his meal, and the tiredness that comes from having someone attached to a part of your body every time you turn around. And maybe those doctors knew what they were talking about after all…I saw an immediate increase on Saturday and then again on Sunday.
So now, I’m trying to do two or three feedings each day (the work days are hard to do this on) and I’ll continue with the breastfeeding only schedule on the weekends. While at work, I’m still pumping every two hours, but I could probably go two and a half or three hours, if I needed to. I don’t want to push it so soon though, so at least for this week I’m sticking with what’s worked in the past.
And you know what? It’s not as bad being Bessie the milk cow when you’re actually able to produce a decent amount of milk! It’s like seeing my progress makes it all worth it…