Disclosure :: This post is part of a series for World Breastfeeding Week and is sponsored by Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
The Other Side of Breastfeeding Issues
Consider the following my tale of why you should just take it easy in the beginning. There’s absolutely zero reason to freak out the first week or so.
You see, I’ve always heard of women having a low milk supply. I actually know very few women who nursed, but the ones who did were worried about their supply.
Which led to me to behavior that would make me and the baby suffer that first month of life.
I know babies eat hardly any real amount of milk that first few weeks of life, but something in me was already in freak out mode and needed to “not have a low supply.” I also thought I needed to start a freezer stash for when I went back to work. That was also dumb.
Right out of the gate before my colostrum was even done, I was popping fenugreek and pumping. Power pumping.
I’d nurse and pump, getting hardly anything every time. Something in my postpartum mind wanted 8 ounces, even after feeding that week old baby. He was no where near needing that many ounces at a time anyway. I was torturing myself for nothing.
By week 6, it had really gotten out of hand. Since I manipulated my supply so much that first month my body must have thought I was feeding a litter. I actually thought I was doing great … the baby just wasn’t doing so hot with it.
Every time I fed him, he would cough and sputter because of my aggressive let down. The side he wasn’t nursing on was either shooting across the room or I was using a burp cloth to catch all the wasted milk.
Then within 30 minutes of nursing, he would projectile vomit tons of milk.
My mother, who lived no where near me, would assure me over the phone that I was overreacting. I was just thinking a tiny bit of spit up was substantially more. It, in fact, wasn’t; no I had overfed him to the point that he was vomiting.
It all came to a head when I kept waking up with insanely engorged breasts, and he wasn’t able to empty them. I ended up with a plugged duct and a fever to go along with it.
I called the doctors office looking for advice about what to do and go no where. The nurse acted like I had three heads.
My husband reached out to a friend, and that day I was in touch with a lactation consultant. Once I told her my habits (pumping, fenugreek, spewing milk) and how the baby was doing, she had a solution in no time. By following her advice to basically back off of what I was doing, we corrected in issue in a few days.
By the end of the week, I felt better and the baby wasn’t projectile vomiting breast milk.
Lesson learned, take it easy until your supply actually comes in. Drink tons of water and just nurse the baby.
Much later in my breastfeeding journey, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, and power pumping had a place in my life to help maintain my supply at work.
This time around (I’m currently 6 months pregnant with our second), I’ll be taking it much easier and not worrying about pumping or supplements one bit. The low supply fear is sometimes just plain unjustified and causes more issues than it’s worth. That first month, I’ll just be cuddling a fresh baby and nursing as needed … and that awful pump won’t come out of the closet until it’s needed for work.