I never thought I would breastfeed. I never thought it would be a bonding experience for me. Like most things before motherhood I had lots of thoughts about what I would and would not do, and they all went out the window once the baby was born.
Once I decided to try breastfeeding I thought it would be the most natural thing in the world, and be super simple. After all, aren’t we told our whole lives that as women our bodies are meant to grow, birth, and then nourish babies? There was nothing “easy” about breastfeeding for me. Although I ended up loving it, I had to do WORK to make it WORK.
My son latched beautifully right after birth. He nursed well the whole time, and I had no idea there were problems. We went to his first pediatrician appointment and he had lost more weight than they wished so the doctor had me start pumping for 20 minutes after every feeding to try and get my supply to come in. He had us come back in two days, and again weight loss. This time he had me nurse my baby, then give him two ounces of formula, and then pump for 10-20 minutes afterwards. It was exhausting, but I wanted to be able to breastfeed so I kept going. I also added in Fenugreek supplements. I would take four 610mg capsules three times a day. (Some people see an increase with fenugreek, some don’t, some see a decrease. Always talk to your lactation consultant.) The fenugreek gave me about a 2 ounce boost when I would pump, and it also left me smelling like a bottle of maple syrup( common side effect is your sweat, urine, and milk can smell like maple syrup while taking this supplement.)
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I became tired of taking that many pills a day so I was referred to a tincture by a company called Motherlove. I tried their More Milk Plus tincture. It has fenugreek seed, blessed thistle herb, nettle leaf, and fennel seed. It was SO much better than taking so many pills a day, and when I would pump during the night while my son slept I was getting 5-6 ounces at a time which was HUGE for me.
At about the ten week mark my son began refusing the bottle all together. After talking to his doctor, and seeing how much weight he was gaining I was given the go ahead to cut out formula all together. He nursed until he was 15 months old, and I couldn’t have been happier! It was A LOT of work, but it was an incredibly special experience.
Two years later my daughter was born, and I hoped for a much easier nursing journey. After latching perfectly during her first feeding she refused the breast after that. Myself, and my lactation consultant, tried every trick in the book, but she wasn’t having any of it! I quickly realized that if I was going to give her any breast milk I would have to pump. So I pumped every three hours, even through the night, and I would only be able to pump about half an ounce to an ounce each time. It was defeating. We obviously had to supplement from the get go with her, and she was definitely drinking more formula than breast milk. I again took fenugreek with her and also added in this essential oil blend:
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Once I started the essential oils blend I was able to get about an ounce from each breast per pump session. I felt completely defeated during this time. I felt guilty that I couldn’t produce enough milk pumping and she was getting more formula, I felt exhausted from not sleeping enough, I was starting to feel the effects of postpartum depression, I felt sad that she had no desire to breastfeed. Around six months my monthly cycle returned, and the small milk supply I had vanished and that was the end of our breast milk journey.
If I could give any advice to new moms it is this: try as long, and as hard as you want, but when all your joy is starting to be replaced with feelings of failure and guilt try to step away from it. There is a huge societal pressure right now to breastfeed, and while breast milk is amazing, your mental health and well being is more important to your children. If we are ever lucky enough to have a third baby I will definitely try to breastfeed again, but I have made a promise to myself to stop the minute that I start feeling inadequate as a woman, and mother. I can almost assure you that at the end of our lives our children will be more likely to thank us for being present parents, happy parents, and involved parents rather than thanking us for breastfeeding them.
(Always consult your doctor and lactation consultant before starting any supplements. This is just what worked for me.)
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