Shortly after i wrote my last update, i made a call into the Lactation Consultant’s office. She set me up for an appointment for that Friday (so now, last Friday, which was 4 days ago) at 9am. She told me that since i didn’t have insurance, they’d give me the discounted rate of $150, and that i could make “payments”, so i didn’t have to pay it all at once.
That Friday morning, i was up at 4am. The baby was up by 6am. I had everything ready to go, fed us both breakfast, loaded up the car with our stuff and the GPS, and off we went. It was about a 30 minute ride, and i didn’t have any idea where i was going. I left so early, i was sitting in the parking lot 30 minutes EARLY. I made my way into the building at about a quarter to 9, and the receptionist was very nice. Chatted with me, complimented my “adorable older baby” and made me a cup of tea. She got me settled in “the pink room”, which was lovely. It had pink walls, and floral furniture. I sat, rocking the baby in my lap, and ended up waiting until almost 10 after 9 for my LC, Regina.
When we finally sat down to start, i took out all of my paperwork. I had all the baby’s weights written down, and even notes i had taken in the last 7 months. I was well prepared to tell her my entire story, but unfortunately, due to time, she hurried me through most of it. I was a LITTLE disappointed with that, because most of my issues stem from our BEGINNING problems, not problems i’m having now. I’m not having any issues now that i haven’t had since the beginning. It’s only NOW that i’m attempting to really fix them. As we made our way through discussing his weights, and i explained to her about how whenever we supplemented with formula, his weight gain was perfect, but when i attempted to breastfeed only, he lost weight, i started to cry. I told her how i felt, that the pediatrician’s office made me feel like i didn’t FEED my child. I almost felt that they accused me of starving him on purpose. We discussed his nursing, his weights, my pumping, and my supply.
Then she wanted to watch us nurse. Of course, she weighed him first. Then we settled in, it had been about 3 hours since his last bottle, and about 4 hours since i had pumped or nursed. He latched on perfectly the first time, nestled into my arms, and nursed. Her first comment was how good his latch was. (That right there made me HAPPY. I’d always wondered just how good his latch was, if it was good at all) Then she commented on how SWEET he was when he was nursing. How happy he was. He knew exactly what to do. He stroked me, looked up at me, played with my hair, touched my face, and even used his hand to squeeze the breast where i was squeezing. She commented on the fact that i DO use my hands to help the milk along while he nurses. She watched and listened to see if he did indeed suck and swallow. And he did — for a few minutes. That’s where the issues come in. He doesn’t do it for very long, before he switches over to comfort nursing. So we switched sides, so she could see if he did the same to the other side, and he did. Again, he nursed very sweetly for a few minutes, before he becomes disinterested and just kinda suckles, but no real sucking and swallowing. So, she commented, he knows WHAT to do, and he DOES do it, but not for very long. She took him at this point to weigh him, and he had taken in 1 ounce. So it confirmed that he DOES indeed eat, just not very much. And not enough to get to the hindmilk at all. While weighing him, we talked vitamins and supplements. I told her of the Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, the Mother’s Milk tea, the oatmeal, lactation cookies… She again, commented that i knew a LOT, and was already far more advanced than most that come into her office. I told her, i have been researching this for 7 MONTHS, there’s not a lot that i HAVEN’T tried.
She commented that my supply most likely IS low, that she’d consider me to have a “half supply”. Which, she thinks, was caused by the doctors. (Of course, i knew this) When he was born early, jaundiced, underweight, and sleepy — and they wanted me to nurse FIRST and then offer supplemental bottles, that’s what did us in. By allowing the baby to nurse first, he was STARVING, but was taught ultimately by me, that if he hung on a bit longer, he’d get the bottle, he’d be fed, and all would be well. He was never taught to work for his milk. Which in turn, never regulated my supply. He was never used to build up my supply, so it basically got to half, regulated itself there, and never got up to where it needed to be. Thanks, doctors.
So, she decided the best plan would be to see if we could increase my supply at the same time as weaning off the supplements (formula), and she thinks it could be done. It would go something like this: (she gave me an awesome handout on weaning from supplement) For every feed, offer a “pre-feed” of a couple ounces of breastmilk/formula. (i’m using breastmilk as the pre-feed) Immediately after the pre-feed, nurse. Offer both sides, more than once if necessary. Use hands towards the end of nursing to try to increase flow, to keep him nursing. When the nutritive sucking STOPS, switch immediately. Towards the end, when he’s done, stop nursing. (Allow comfort nursing if time allows, by all means, it doesn’t have to stop) After the nursing, if he’s still uneasy and seems hungry, top-off with another ounce or two. If the topping off was all he needed, at the NEXT feed, increase the pre-feed to attempt to avoid the topping off. If NO topping off was needed, at the next feed DECREASE the pre-feed. Ultimately, this will decrease all top-offs, and start to decrease pre-feeds until none are needed and his is primarily nursing. AFTER feeds, try to hand express if the time is there. And between feeds, if can find time, pump, using hands.
She also got me a bag of Goat’s Rue loose tea, which is one of the only things i HAVEN’T tried at all yet. She said something about the Goat’s Rue doing something different than the Fenugreek and the others do. That’s the plan, now to execute it. Yesterday was the first full day we were able to really focus solely on nursing ALL DAY. I only had to top off ONE time yesterday, and i did 2 ounce pre-feeds with breastmilk all day long, and then LOTS of nursing, along with him having 3 solid meals. He did great all morning, even took 2 naps, but by late afternoon, he was fussy and irritable, not nursing well at ALL, and acting like he was still hungry. That’s when i ended up offering 2 ounces of formula after a feed, after which he seemed better. He was really tired later in the day, and was actually napping around dinner time. When he woke up, he took his dinner, then had a bath, and we did a 2 ounce pre-feed around 6:30/7, and he fell asleep on my lap, and was out until about 9, when we went to bed. He nursed to sleep, and slept all night until about 6 this morning. I got up at 5am today, and pumped, and only got ~2.5 ounces. So my pre-feed fridge stash is LOW, and i actually took a 5 ounce bag of milk out of the freezer to help out with today. Unfortunately, i don’t have much in the freezer either, so unless i can pump more, my pre-feed stash WILL run out. I’m not pumping enough each day to keep it up, especially with only finding time to pump 3x a day or less, and only averaging an ounce or so per pump. I’m hopeful about everything, and trying my best to REALLY follow the plan.
But it just takes me back to when i had tried to wean from formula early on, and all i did was make him hungry end up causing him to lose weight. I never knew that the reason he was an incredibly FUSSY baby, was because he was always hungry. And i see that behavior now, mostly late in the day. When he’s NOT nursing well, and he wants more and more but i just don’t have it. I know it’s normal to feel not as full late in the day, but that causes him to not want to nurse at all. And how will i increase my supply during that time if he won’t even TRY to nurse? *sigh*
The LC also helped me work on hand expressing. She was able to hand express quite a bit from me! She commented on how the milk IS THERE, and i seem to make foremilk very quickly, but even she had a hard time getting to express any hindmilk at all. She didn’t know if i was just making milk quickly enough that we weren’t able to express it fast enough to get to the hindmilk, or if we’re having a problem getting to the hindmilk, and maybe he’s having the same problem… he never gets the fattier milk. But now that i’m home, i’m having a hard time hand expressing ANYTHING, and definitely not as much as she was able to! I try to relax, not pay to much attention, try to get it to flow for me, and i just can’t. I know that the hand expressing is critical in this process, both to get milk out for pre-feeds, and to keep expressing to help increase supply.
That’s where we stand as of today. Comments are welcome. 🙂 I have great support, and i’m hoping i can DO this. I’m trying to entertain him between feeds today to actually let me MAKE some milk, so that he can come BACK and nurse, and not spend ALL DAY at the breast. I need to establish “feeds”, and not just let him hang out there ALL DAY LONG but never actually FEED, which is the behavior that he has always had towards nursing. This has become a 24 HOUR constant thing, and i’m having no time for ANYTHING else. My house is a disaster, there’s tons of laundry to do, i didn’t even have time to cook dinner yesterday. I have my permanent spot on the couch, and that’s where we stay ALL DAY LONG. But if i can make this work, it’s WORTH IT. He’ll be 8 months in 8 days, and we’re getting SO CLOSE to making it to one year.
I just KNOW we can do it.