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.
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.
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.
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?