Monday, March 22, 2010

Lactation Frustration, Part 3: So Over It

I am so over it. The breastfeeding.

I am one week out from going back to work, and my supply has ALREADY tanked. I think it has something to do with the 12-week postpartum hormone realignment -- the same phenomenon that is causing my hair to fall out in clumps in the shower. That, and the fact that the Chicklette is sleeping through the night every night (I know, boo hoo) and I've decided that getting up once in the middle of the night to pump is enough, thankyouverymuch.

Every feeding involves an unhappy baby pulling painfully at my nipples. Every pumping is an exercise in frustration -- I'm lucky now if I get 2 ounces per pump, which means it takes me 3 pumpings to get one bottle feeding (she's now eating 5-6 ounces per feed -- probably because by the time she gets the bottle in the afternoon/evening she's hungry after a day on my loser boobs).

Nothing I've done has helped bump my supply. I've taken the herbs, eaten the oatmeal, and drank (drunken?) the gallons of water. I've increased the number of feedings/pumping sessions. And it's not working. I'm tired. And my boobs are hurting almost as much as they did in the beginning.

And I'm going back to work next week. Which everyone assures me will not help matters. I feel like my attempts to increase my supply are futile, since the work I'm doing will probably get undone once I return to my crazy job which will almost certainly involve me missing pumpings.

We've started giving the Chicklette a bottle of formula at night, just to get her used to it. She cried and fussed the first couple of times. It broke my heart. Now she's fine. But it feels like we're on a spiral towards the inevitable.

On the one hand, I feel great. I'm so looking forward to being done with breastfeeding.

On the other hand, I feel AWFUL. Guilty. If I were a good mother, I'd stick with it and do whatever it takes! (This coming from a formula-fed baby, married to another formula-fed baby, surrounded by friends who at least partly formula-fed their perfectly happy/healthy kids.)

And on the third hand (let's pretend I have one), I feel like a total asshat complaining about the feeding issues, since the Chicklette has been, as of late, the most low-key, agreeable, happy baby I can imagine. She sleeps through the night. She doesn't cry unless she's hungry or tired. She travels well. She smiles and laughs and is generally just fun to be around.

But I don't think I can feed her by myself anymore. Which is sad.

And happy.



Mush said...

Breastfeeding is very hard for most people I think, and even harder if you are having supply issues. If Chicklette is happy, gaining weight and sleeping through the night, this would suggest she is getting enough sustenance.

The pumping is a pain in more ways than one. Have you tried hand expressing? I found this worked 10 times better for me than any pump I tried. Do you pump while looking at pic or holding a blanket that smells of Chicklette? That may help a bit.

Well done you for sticking it out for so long, considering you have to get up and pump in the night too! That's crazy!

Don't do your head in about it, you have given her the best start possible and formula isn't so bad, is it?

Love B&P said...

With both of my boys, I went through every possible problem with the exception of an abscess (and with my second, I was on the verge of one). I KNOW exactly how frustrating it is to be at the point you're at. I tried EVERYTHING to increase my supply and I bawled like a baby when I finally had to supplement. The feelings of guilt are horrible - especially when you're thinking about giving up. A good friend of mine once told me [and this was on constant replay in my head when I weaned] - it's not how you nourish your baby, it's that you nourish your baby. You need to do whatever makes you the best mother and wife possible - and you need to take care of yourself as well. It will all work out... take care!

Anonymous said...

I am in awe of you for getting up to pump in the middle of the night at all--I could never face that. I had supply issues right from the start, I took medication and I pumped five times a day for over a month before I finally admitted to myself that I was never going to have enough milk.

I then relaxed about it, embraced supplementation and continued breastfeeding my son (in an ever diminishing ratio) until he was six months old--at which point he was really over having to put in the effort to get my piddling produce. And yes, giving up on breastfeeding was embarrassingly wonderful.

I have plenty of regrets. If I get the chance to do this over, I know I'll probably try to do the exclusive breastfeeding thing again. And I really wish I could have that rosy mother/child breastfeeding experience that the successful nursers get. But letting go of 'should' and just enjoying what worked for the two of us meant we were both far happier.

Elle said...

Thanks for reminding me that the grass is always greener. I somehow managed to win the milk-supply lottery, but I have a kid who won't take a bottle and is currently getting up every hour and a half at night.

So I'm pretty much drooling with envy over your sleepy little Chicklette. Like, crazy envious here.

And like kernogirl said, kudos to you for doing what you've done. It's enough. More than enough.

Didn't realize you're a law firm associate. So am I (or rather, I was). We probably went to law school together, for all we know. :)

ana said...

I am glad you posted this, because I've been going nuts wondering what happened to my supply--i've been googling but couldn't find anything specifically about 12 week hormone changes. I've only been pumping and bottle feeding--we had major unresolvable latching issues. It was going beautifully, and the freezer was bursting forth with frozen meals for one. But lately my supply just tanked, to 2/3 of what it was. The hormone thing makes sense, I'm also losing loads of hair and actually got my period (!?)
With that, and monkey going through a growth spurt and upping from 24 oz a day to >30 now, (no he does NOT sleep through the night, but instead of waking up once, is back to waking up 2-3 times now, SO HUNGRY!) I have been quickly depleting my freezer stores. Going back to work tomorrow is sure not going to help.
I told my husband (just as a way to say it out loud so I could think of it as a formal plan, instead of dithering about it), that unless the supply REALLY picks up, we will start introducing formula next week. Once I am pumping less than half of his daily intake, i may stop. for good. as in full time formula. aargh. so guilty i can barely type this...

K said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. Sounds like everything is wonderful and completely normal. I have 2 assvices for you if you want them. They're not from me, they are from someone in the know (aka superdoc) who says to mix the formula with whatever breast milk you have and continue taking the prenatals. Like I said, it's assvice, do with it what you will.

leahjane8 said...

If I had to go back to work, I would not keep breastfeeding either. And I would probably feel guilty about it too. I'm having supply issues too (I didn't know about this 12 week thing, but maybe its affecting me too) and my pediatrician told me to not feel bad AT ALL if I needed to supplement with formula. We just gotta do whatever works and whatever gets us through the day. I was formula fed too and I think I turned out alright.

But I am jealous about the sleeping through the night. Very, very jealous. : )

SS said...

you've done great. Honestly, with a high powered job I sometimes wonder how pumping could actually happen! I just pumped with baby #1 and never got enough supply. With number 2, I only breastfed for the first 3 weeks or so, and then introduced one or two pumping session a day around then, and so I was breastfeeding 6-7 times a day until about 5 weeks I think? And weaning at that time was hard because I had so much milk. I never thought I'd be in that position and it made weaning difficult (mastitis and plugged duct) and drawn out an exhausting. Seems like we all have our issues. Just be careful weaning as I beleive it played a large role in my post partum anxiety. You have done so great getting this far along. I also go back on Monday- can't believe our kids were born on the same day and we're going back the same day! What are you doing about child care?

Michele said...

It's hard and I still have my moments of guilt, but I just tell myself that I did the best I could and that the kids are healthy- even if it is on formula. Hubs and I are both formula babies (and I'm a preemie too), and we are fine, so I keep just counting my blessings.

But it is hard...


EC said...

I so get those mixed feelings about the wind down to possibly stopping BF, I'm feeling exactly the same myself with the stress and the reflux (I'm almost totally expressing and giving thickened EBM to manage this anyway) and the sore nipples from the pumping and the night feeding which doesn't go as well as it should because of all the bottles and of course, the teeth it only makes sense to switch for my own sanity but at the same time it makes me feel selfish and unworthy as a mum.

Whatever you decide, you're doing what's best for your bub, making sure that she gets all the nutrition she needs and that's all that counts.

EC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I also had trouble making enough milk for my babies. It's so frustrating to spend all your time trying to make more milk. I've heard there is a medication called domperidone that can really help milk supplies. I believe that it has to be ordered from Canada. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Just remind yourself that you are doing all you can - which you are! If you're not physically capable of feeding her any more, you can't. Focus instead on your lovely happy healthy baby who is lucky enough to live in a time when you can offer her what she needs from another source if she needs it. After all, that's really what being a good mum is all about - meeting her needs whatever way you can. You're doing great.

tomi said...

What the PPs have said are true, you have done really great.

As for milk supply, I guess sometimes nothing else can be done and sometimes the supply just finishes sooner than others - I'll be completely dry if I wasn't taking medication for it.

The end of the day, what matters is a happy healthy baby, and chicklette seems to be just that.

*hugs) :)

Brice Barnes said...

Do NOT feel bad or guilty! I know exactly what you are talking about, I am starting formula with my son mostly because of me...I have just had it with breastfeeding. I am done! Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, you are doing a great job...just think about how long you made it through breastfeeding, there are plenty of people who don't even try!