My Truth About Breastfeeding, Part 2

If you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, you might remember how difficult breastfeeding was for me when I had B1. I planned with B2 to try to breastfeed, and if it didn’t work out, then it didn’t work out. B1 had formula, and he is doing wonderfully. I naively thought that the reason my milk never came in with B1 was because of circumstance, not necessarily something that had to do with me. He was born a few weeks early, and he also was under the phototherapy lights so I had to pump.

A few weeks prior to having B2 I was contacted by Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness, and honestly that email could not have come at a better time! While I definitely planned on attempting to breastfeed again, I hadn’t actually talked to anyone about how to go about things differently this time around. My only real plan was to make sure I had plenty of skin-to-skin time post-birth, something I didn’t do enough of with B1, and I wasn’t really aware of how great it is for baby and mom.

B2birth

Since I was able to do a Q&A with Acelleron’s Lactation Consultant I really started thinking about what I was going to do. When B2 finally arrived she was 10 pounds 1 oz, and there can be issues with having bigger babies. We did skin-to-skin, but after nursing for a bit the nurses needed to check her blood sugar, for babies that are larger they can not get enough milk and their blood sugar can dip or spike, and it is best to avoid that. Unfortunately, B2’s blood sugar did drop, and we gave her just a few mL’s of formula to avoid any complications. I was 100% on board with the nurses on this, my baby’s health is the most important thing.

After I was discharged from L&D I was moved to the Mom & Baby unit, and this is where the Lactation Consultant’s will visit you. With B1 I had a terrible LC, but great nurses who really helped me with nursing, and gave me tons of great advice. With B2, my initial nurse was not great, and not really around a ton, but the LC’s were awesome. After a long talk giving her my history she asked about any hormone deficiencies. Since I was diagnosed with PCOS after the miscarriage, I wasn’t aware I had it when B1 was born. The LC shared with me that most women with PCOS can’t exclusively breastfeed, because of the hormone deficiency your body just usually doesn’t create enough of a supply for the baby. While this was a bit of a relief, I wondered if I would be able to breastfeed B2 for any length of time.

I was again given a hospital grade pump to use in the hospital, and my insurance covered one for me to have at home, so I would pump after every nursing session, and I didn’t really get a ton of milk, and I hadn’t felt my milk come in either. On our second night B2 had to go in the photo therapy lights, since her jaundice levels were borderline and we wanted to avoid having to get re-admitted like we did with B1. This meant I only had 30 minutes to get her out of the lights, feed her, change her, and get her back in the lights every 3 hours. The nurses were super helpful, but it definitely felt like a time crunch. I ended up supplementing her with formula to make sure she would last the 3 hours. It was at this moment we realized that she needed more food than I could provide, she was eating almost an ounce at every feeding by the time we left the hospital.

acelleron

After we got home, I definitely had the baby blues, and the frustration with not being able to breastfeed well was getting to me. I ended up talking to Megan at Acelleron via email and the phone and she gave me tons of tips and advice. I think the most important thing she told me was that it’s okay to formula feed, it doesn’t make me any less of a great mom because I can’t exclusively breastfeed. As much as I knew in my heart that was true,  the martyr moms can be mean and really make you feel bad if you formula feed. It was nice to hear a LC say that it’s okay to formula feed, because my experience with the LC’s I had talked to previously, either didn’t help me at all with dealing with a low supply or they shamed me for using formula. Neither was a great feeling.

The best thing for me was trying a supplement called Motherlove more milk special blend. The blend included: goat’s rue herb, fenugreek seed, blessed thistle herb, nettle herb, and fennel seed. (I used the capsules not the liquid, because that’s what my Whole Foods carried, I have heard that the liquid can be more effective initially, but that the aftertaste is awful). I know that it is very expensive, and may not be affordable for some people, especially if you are buying formula to supplement as well. A few days after taking this I felt my milk come in, and while I wasn’t pumping a ton, sometimes only 1 oz, I was pumping more than when I had B1. B2 was also eating at the breast multiple times a day, and then I would supplement with formula.

motherlove

A few days after my initial talk with Megan, I went to Acelleron for a breastfeeding support group, and while it was a bit overwhelming that most people were suffering with over-supply issues, again Megan gave me great tips about pumping, and trying to make it easier on my daily life. With two kids it was hard to nurse, formula feed, pump, wash all the pump parts and entertain B1, especially since I had to do that cycle every 3-4 hours. It was overwhelming.

I am now two months post-partum, I am still nursing B2, it is mostly in the mornings and evenings, this is mostly due to school  and fall activities starting back up for B1, and the sheer lack of time, I pump when I can, but it is not as often. I am still taking the supplement, but I do feel like our time of nursing is going to come to an end sooner rather than later, and I am okay with that. I did the best I could for me and B2.

The biggest piece of advice I learned from breastfeeding this time around was that there are great LC’s out there, it just might take some time to find them. If you are in the Greater Boston/North Shore area I 100% recommend Acelleron, Megan was amazing!

 

Did you ever attend a breastfeeding support group?

I’m back (and she’s here)!

I finally feel like I am above water now, at least most of the time. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that B2 finally arrived. Two days before her due date, and on B1’s birthday. It’s kinda crazy that we have two kids, with the exact same birthday, and not only the same day mere hours apart.

B2birth

Ever since I had a biophysical ultrasound, and she was measuring 2 weeks ahead, I was nervous. Sure enough she was born at 10 pounds 1 ounce, naturally. I have had two pregnancies that were awful almost the whole time, but my laboring and actual delivery were pretty great, I mean as great as they can be, I was birthing a baby after all.

Life with two kids has been interesting. There are some great ups, B1 thinks that she was absolutely the best birthday present ever, and adores her. He also gets frustrated when he can’t be as loud (and crash cars all around the house) whenever he wants now, and has definitely noticed that the change is because of B2’s arrival.

B2

As I wrote in an earlier post, breastfeeding was something I hoped to be successful at this time around, and while it hasn’t been a home run, it has been much better than last time, and I have a post coming up with all that information, as well as some tips and recipes.

I think I’ve found my groove and I am back to a more regular blogging schedule!

Tell me something interesting about your summer!

Lactation Support Groups & a Giveaway

If there is one piece of advice that I could give any mom is that nothing ever goes as planned, ever. If it did, I would’ve already had B2, I fully anticipated she would be a June baby based on my conversations with my OB, but June came and went and she is still in utero. With B1 the plan was always to breastfeed, but with some medical complications post birth and the fact that after 2 weeks of trying my milk still hadn’t come in, I ended up not breastfeeding. It was such a hard decision, mixed with the post-partum hormones, and the guilt that I felt for not feeling good enough to provide for my baby, I hibernated. The only lactation consultant I saw basically told me to give up, it was an extremely difficult decision for me but at the end of the day, I needed to provide nutrients for my baby and if I couldn’t do that then I was going to find an alternate solution.

Third Trimester

More than ready for baby girl :)

With B2 I plan on trying the breastfeeding route again, I will be more willing to see a (different) lactation consultant immediately for help and pray that my milk comes in this time. Fortunately for me I was contacted by the team at Acelleron in North Andover, MA. Not only can you order medical products (like breast pumps, etc…) through them, they also offer many pre and post-partum services for moms. Things like fitness classes, doula services, new mom support groups, and lactation support groups. Since I didn’t go to one when B1 was born, I sent Megan at Acelleron a list of questions that I had about lactation support groups. I know I personally am very intimidated to go to any type of new class whether it be fitness, education, or something like lactation, my type A personality doesn’t like the unknown.

For the benefit of you and I, I posted our Q&A session below, and at the bottom is the info to enter the giveaway that Acelleron and I are having!

1. What is the benefit from attending a lactation support group?

There are so many great benefits! First, it is a great time to connect with other new moms! You get to see that your relationship and struggles are very common and you are not the only one going through them at 3 am. Second, you get professional advice and opinions by someone who is trained and educated in the field of lactation support. There are so many myths and bad advice out there surrounding breastfeeding. This is a great time to come in and get your questions answered by someone with professional and personal expertise.

2. When should mom start attending a lactation support group?

As soon as they can get out of the house! They can even come to a group while they are pregnant. I have had moms come with 3 day olds and moms come in with 12 month olds. It’s never too late or too early to join us.

3. How long should I attend the lactation support group for? How long does the average mom stay in the support group?

It totally depends of the kind of support mom is looking for. Moms are welcome to drop in once to get their questions answered, or come every week for their whole maternity leave. It is great when moms come for a few weeks and really build a bond with other moms. We are all about community and supporting each other, so it is great to watch that happen. On average, people stay in the group for 3-4 months.

4. Do moms actively breastfeed during the support group?

Yes. There are moms nursing throughout the meeting. It also gives me a chance to check positioning and latch.

5. When would a mom need a private session instead of being part of the group?

Moms would need a private session for a few different reason. If a baby is not gaining weight appropriately, lots of pain or bleeding on mom’s nipple, mom needs help creating a plan for going back to work. I always suggest starting out with the support group and then deciding from there, unless it is a more emergent situation.

6. What would you say to a mom that could not breast feed her first child but wants to try to breastfeed a second child?

Every pregnancy is different and every child is different! The best thing to do is educate yourself. Learn from what happened the first time around, and find a support system that will help you get breastfeeding started early on.

7. Are there foods or a diet that boosts breast milk supply?

Some moms will report a boost in their supply when they eat things like oatmeal, lactation cookies, coconut water and Gatorade. It is all really anecdotal as there is no research that proves any foods can increase supply.

8. What can a mom do to encourage better milk production or for her milk to come in?

The best advice is to breastfeed the baby early and often! As the baby suckles it tells your body to make more milk. It is all about supply and demand. The more the baby nurses, the more milk your body will make. In those first few days the baby does not need a lot of milk to fill up their tiny tummy. They need to be at the breast at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. This will help encourage your supply.

9. What would you tell a mom who’s milk has not come in more than one week post-partum?

If your milk has not come in after more than one week post-partum mom should be working directly with a lactation professional. Milk usually comes in around day 3 for a vaginal birth and can take up to 5 days to come in for a c-section.

10. For moms that don’t want to exclusively breast feed, when is it best to introduce a bottle?

The best time to introduce a bottle is around 3-4 weeks. If you wait much longer it might be harder. If you do it too soon it could have some negative effects. When deciding to introduce a bottle make sure to do some research on Paced Bottle Feeding. You can find some great video’s on YouTube. This method helps simulate a breastfeeding type experience and will help the baby easily transition between bottle and breast.

Megan O’Neill is the Director of Lactation Support at Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness in North Andover, MA, which provides the resources and supportive community parents need to become empowered in the process of growing their family. Megan has over three years of breastfeeding experience with her two little boys and holds her Certification in Lactation Counseling and is also certified by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Procedure. She holds a weekly free drop-in breastfeeding support group on Wednesdays from 11:30-12:30pm: http://acelleron.com/maternal/support/lactation-lounge/ or you can email her at: moneill@acelleron.com. More info about Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness can be found at: http://acelleron.com/maternal/, Facebook or Twitter.

 

Acelleron is offering to giveaway a Simple Wishes hands free bra to one lucky reader. This giveaway ends Friday, July 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST

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Did you attend a lactation support group? What was the best thing about it?

The truth about breastfeeding, well MY truth.

Warning: Lots of info about ladies parts, again. Stop here if you don’t want to read about that.

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I have always wanted to breastfeed my babies, I know it’s what best for them, and frankly it seems a little easier. Getting up in the middle of the night, waiting to warm a bottle with a crying little one, no thanks.

However, I knew that it might not be possible. My mom struggled with breastfeeding my sisters and I was just given formula. My sister breastfed for a little while but didn’t produce enough milk and moved to formula.

The first few days, while in the hospital, Baby B was able to latch well at first and seemed to be getting enough milk. Then we started struggling, he wasn’t latching or staying latched.

Unfortunately since B didn’t latch well there was some cracking and bleeding of my nipples. It was painful and made it hard for B, but we worked through it.

First night at home and B couldn’t eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. I knew right away their was something wrong with my baby. I called the pediatrician and we were seen immediately. B had jaundice and needed to be re-admitted to the hospital’s pediatric unit. I, of course, was still all hormonal and started sobbing in the pediatricians office.

After a day and night in the photo-therapy lights, B was cleared to go home. During our time in the hospital I met with a lactation consultant, and she took one look at the feeding area, and was shocked.

Because of our rough night, and constant trying to feed, my nipples were cracked and bleeding and in immense pain. She recommended a pump and supplementing with formula, if I wasn’t pumping enough (1-1.5 oz) every 3 hours. I was pumping 10-15 mL and supplementing, and B made a great turn around, we were discharged the next day.

At home we continued the pump and formula supplement cycle. Unfortunately I was never able to pump more than an ounce at a time, and he is currently eating 4 ounces at a time.

We’ve been home for over 7 weeks and my supply is actually decreasing, and B’s appetite is increasing. I am feeding him 1-2 ounces of breast milk a day and everything else is formula.

Some days I feel like a failure, I couldn’t supply my baby with enough food to live off of. I know there is nothing else I could do, but sometimes that doesn’t help.

I knew breastfeeding physically wouldn’t be easy, but I didn’t know how hard it would be mentally.

That being said I have found some great products to aide with pumping and bottle feeding, I will review them in another post.

Today’s Question: Did you struggle with breastfeeding? How did you handle those struggles?