My blurred, probably bloodshot eyes flip open to the not so soothing sound of my phone's alarm. Did I mention this practice repeats itself every 3 hours? To me it didn't sound that bad in theory, but the actual practice is hard. Have I lost my ever loving mind you might ask. But my cute, newborn son needs to eat. If the schedule isn't hard enough, I've learned that producing milk out of my mammary glands is a lot harder than I had first thought.
As a first time mom, I knew things were not going to necessarily be easy, but I figured nature would take it's course and work itself out. Kind of the "build them and it will come" mentality I learned from Field of Dreams. However in last few weeks, I've felt like an utter failure when it comes to feeding our son.
Now I've rationalized that failure by trying to pinpoint the source of breastmilk failure. I've found many possible reasons I'm not producing enough milk but no smoking gun. I've learned that I have many factors that make it more challenging for me to make enough milk. Some of them are that I had a c-section, Trey came at 37 weeks, he was small at birth, and he has not been able to latch, etc. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but it has felt like everything has been working against my quest to successfully breastfeed.
Like all good, college educated mom's I began to obsessively read blogs, Pinterest, and watched YouTube videos to try to find solutions for my breastmilk shortage. I've discovered different herbs, supplements and equipment to try. In the last several weeks I've been Amazon priming all sorts of milk producing aids. I'm sure the delivery driver is tired!
My son is 6 weeks old and over the last 2 weeks I've had a dramatic decrease in my milk output. In addition to challenges I had at birth, we've had a traumatic experience that has made baby stay in the PICU. Staying in the hospital has dramatically increased my stress and decreased my milk.
If I felt like a failure before, this experience put me into hyperdrive. Since he's been in the ICU there is not a lot myself or my husband can do but pray and wait. Providing Trey with breastmilk is about the only thing I can do to help and with the big cut in my milk supply, more and more formula supplementation has been required.
My research mind has not been still so I've dug deeper into searching for solutions. I've found some new websites and resources specifically for women with low milk supply. I also started tracing back to what I was doing currently vs what I had been doing at home to figure out what I could change.
I realized that many of the techniques I had been doing at home had been abandoned while staying in the hospital. I started to incorporate back what I had been doing; I restarted taking Fenugreek supplements, pumping every 3-4 hours round the clock (I had been sleeping at night since the nurses have been caring for Trey) and drinking Mother's milk tea. Along with my previous methods, I also tried a few new techniques like, warm packs while pumping, replacing the standard breast pump parts with after market parts, and pre/post-expression of milk.
I'm happy to report that all of this hard work has paid off in the last few days. My milk supply has come back up to the highest numbers I had seen before this hospital stint. Although I'm still fighting with myself to not feel like a failure for almost losing my milk supply, I'm thankful that research mind kicked in to help me systematically review what had been working before. I'm going to continue to tweak and play around with my new gadgets and potions to see if I can get my milliliters up to where I can get to an oversupply.