Normalize Breastfeeding

Monday, May 20, 2019

I've had very expensive advice from my OBGYN, the baby's pediatrician, and the lactation consultants at the best hospital for newborns and Mother's in Southern California. I've also had free advice from Google, friends, and family. What I haven't had is the ability to let it sink in that my milk is not going to fully come in and I feel like I'm in denial.

Since he was born, for twenty three days now, I've pumped every three hours. My entire life has revolved around my pumping schedule. In the middle of the night when I should be breastfeeding my baby back to sleep I'm pumping and his amazing father is bottle feeding him.

I am getting milk. Each time I pump I get between a half ounce and one ounce. During the first week I barely got 5 ml per pump and I felt like each drop was a gift I would give to my baby.

"Even if he is on formula the few drops I can provide him will help to nourish him in ways only breastmilk can" -I thought.

I kept pumping hoping that with each pump my body would spring into action and my milk collection bottles would runneth over. When in reality I've been able to produce only a measly amount and that makes me wonder if it's worth it.

When it comes to actually breastfeeding latching on is not the problem the baby is good at that. The issue is that he gets frustrated because the milk comes so slowly and he gives up. I understand the feeling as I sit for the first five mintues of every pumping session without a drop of milk in the bottle wondering if this is the time I won't produce any milk... if the last pump will be the last pump.

If this post seems scattered it's because I'm crying as I type it. I so desperately wanted to nourish my son in a way only I can. I was never told that milk production would be a problem. Sure, we've all heard that some baby's have a hard time latching on but not once did I think about which formula I would feed my baby. I never imagined a formula container mocking me with a line of text that reads "breastmilk is best for babies" as I pumped 8 painful times through the day and night to produce one 4 oz bottle.

I wish breastfeeding was a topic more people talked about openly. I wish it wasn't this dirty thing mother's needed to hide or go into the bathroom to do. It's a beautiful way mother's can nourish their babies, in fact science confirms it's the best way. But society keeps it in the shadows as if it's taboo.

My lactation consultant told me on my third day of dry pumping that over 30% of women with PCOS will only produce 10% of what their baby will eat daily, if you didn't already know I have PCOS. She said mothers without PCOS rarely have this problem. She told me that if my milk didn't fully come in by day 14 she would stop trying.

I can't stop. As terrible as it feels to know Romulus gets only 1/6 of his daily food through breastmilk it would feel even worse to give up and give him only formula. I plan to keep pumping until I can no longer produce any milk.

This has been an unexpected, emotionally draining experience for me. I'm devastated that I can't force my body to produce as it should for my son. He is eating, gaining weight, and is all around very healthy... which is the goal so we're doing something right.

I had to write this out to share my experience, to let you all know what I'm going through, and to hopefully further a conversation that should not be kept in the shadows.

Yes I'm taking supplements to boost production and drinking mothers milk tea. I'm also drinking two gallons of water a day, eating oatmeal, and everything else I've been advised to do. Romulus' pediatrician did say often with second children mothers produce milk more effortlessly because their bodies know what to do... but that doesn't really help Romulus. I also thought about using donated breastmilk but that costs $20 per 4 oz... If we're struggling to budget for formula cans at the cost of $26 then the donated milk is clearly not an option.

We will be fine. Romulus will not go hungry. I will get through these feelings of self pity. Ultimately we will take this experience and use it to help others because that's what we do.

p.s. the second photo above was when Romulus was two days old and the hospital advised us to feed formula through a syringe and tube while he latched on. This only lasted for a few days as he demanded too much formula to fast to continue using this method.


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