Friday, March 22, 2013

Breastfeeding: Low Supply Update

As mentioned on this post, I had a scare two months into breastfeeding. I know breastfeeding is not the end of the world but once you've set your mind on something and have set goals and then you realize you're about to fail or have failed well lets just say that it is not the greatest of feelings.

I spoke with two lactation consultants. One LC had advice me to try and relax. Not to stress too much because that will for sure affect my supply. She gave me words of encouragement, told me about her experience with breastfeeding her four kids, and to listen to my body. She recommended that I pump before feeding AJ. At first I was a bit hesitant about it. I thought, if I pump first for ten minutes how will AJ have a full feeding? Well as I already knew, a baby's suction is stronger than any pump. So by pumping first two things will happen. One, I will get the max amount of milk to freeze and two AJ will completely empty out my breast indicating them that we need more production which will then increase my overall supply. Make sense? She also told me to breastfeed in the most comfortable position. The side lying position. That way I'm comfortable, the baby is comfortable, and my body is fully relaxed. While feeding she recommended I listen to soft music, watch television, or even read a book. I used the side lying position a lot even before noticing the decrease in supply so that was easy to continue. Watching TV was also part of my routine as well as putting in some minutes of blogging. Finding time to blog was hard enough already so adding a few sentences at every feeding was the way to go.

My other LC started me on some herbs that would help me increase my supply. I started them about two weeks ago. One is the Fenugreek capsule of 620mg which I was suppose to take three capsule three times a day. However, I'm not that great with pill taking and the most I took was 6 capsule 2x a day but it would mostly be just the 3 daily whenever I remembered. The other herb is Mothers Milk Tea just one cup a day, this taste amazing! I take it with honey and I think I'm going to continue it until I stop breastfeeding. In addition she wanted me to eat almonds, oats, lots of small meals throughout the day, and drink plenty of fluids. Eating small meals is definitely the hardest part because I forget. Seriously, I get so caught up in cleaning, cooking, school work, and napping that before I know it half the day has gone by and I only had breakfast. This LC also recommended I take warm baths, do compressions on my breast before feeding or pumping, and add a warm compress to them to stimulate a faster milk flow.

The only side effects I've notice from this is a distinct smell, similar to that of the Fenugreek coming from my underarm (yuck!), a stronger odor from AJ's bm, more gassy from both of us, and AJ being more fussy and uncomfortable and it seems like he's getting worse with each passing day. My poor baby. I think all of this have to do with the Fenugreek so I don't want to continue for the full year like I hear many women do. I don't want my body to depend on this in order to produce breast milk so now that I feel my supply is where it needs to be I plan on weening from it by taking it every other day then every 3rd day and so on until I no longer take it. I do plan on continuing the tea, I like the flavor and pumping 3-4x a day.

There are a few factors that could have affected my supply. Stress about returning to work, not eating or drinking enough, having a few drink over the weekend before I notice the drop in supply, and my birth control pills. Since I had started going to the gym earlier that week I even thought that exercising played a role but now I don't think so that much. These are the things that I can pinpoint to but can't officially say caused it. It could have been just one or a combination of things and we will never know what really did it. Either way the birth control pill is out the door and I'm going back to the rhythm method since it worked for me so well before.

After speaking with both LC I followed the first one's recommendation and tried to pump at least three times per day and fed faithfully at three hours or less no matter where I was. Within a few days I saw some change. I went from pumping .5-1 ounce from each breast to pumping two ounces and then three ounces from each. We were back on track. Before all of this happened I was able to pump up to 7 ounces combined when I didn't feed AJ and 4-5 ounces after feeding him. I've been pumping first thing in the morning, at some point in the afternoon/evening, and before bedtime. Now, at 2 week after taking the herbal capsule and tea, I've also seen an increase. A big one at that. I've been pumping 7-8 ounces. Yes!!! And in just the first week I was able to freeze a total of 60 ounces broken down to 5 ounce per storage bag. My goal was to have 80oz before returning to work and by the looks of it with a week to go I'll probably have double of that saved. You have no idea how much happiness that brings to my life. I've been taking breastfeeding very seriously :)

This was about an hour after I fed AJ, 5.5oz

I was also told by a LC at my job when I went to visit and pick up my schedule that a good way to increase my supply was to feed from one breast while pumping the other at the same time then switching baby and pump. She said I was doing good by pumping first thing in the morning and before bed that that for sure will increase my supply. I felt so much better after hearing from all three of them. There are so many ways to maintain and increase milk supply that I'm confident I'll be able to make it to the first year. Now, I don't want to get ahead of my self so my short term goal is to do at least six months. After the six months then we can continue to nine and eventually twelve months.

The most important piece of advice to remember is that breastfeeding is a "on demand" job. The more you feed the more you'll produce. And as long as you are feeding on demand or pumping at least 7-8 times a day and maintaining a balanced diet you shouldn't see any decrease or "dry out" like some say. Staying positive and keeping your goals clear is also something to keep in mind because if you are constantly saying you can't do it or you have a negative mind believe me you will dry you out for sure. At the end of the day your brain is making all the connections and getting distracted can affect you in the end. So, stay focus and positive.

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