Momversation Monday: Pumping, etc.

So far, the transition to motherhood has been fairly easy. I sort of knew what to expect (being really close to my sister and brother as well as my five nieces) and I was the most fearful about sleep deprivation but so far, Zoe is a pretty good sleeper. I realize this can change whenever and when she starts teething (which I think is coming soon) we might go through another rough patch.

If you aren’t interested in knowing about my milk supply or pumping situation, please stop back later this week and I’ll have a tasty recipe for you.

Something I wasn’t at all prepared for was the dip in my milk supply when Zoe started sleeping longer stretches and again when I returned to work. Everyone is different, so if new moms are reading please realize you may never experience any of these issues. I’m actually proud of myself for being as on top of the situation as I was and continue to be, because it isn’t really my style. While I’m impatient, I’m also lazy when it comes to doctor/health stuff and usually let my body figure things out. I noticed (more intuition than anything) I was pumping less and less at my regular evening pump session that I was using to build a freezer supply when I returned to work. I had read that a lot of times it can take a few weeks for your body to get used to the transition from nursing exclusively to pumping and nursing, so I wanted to be prepared and less stressed.

I called the lactation consultants and went through what was going on and my concerns and they recommended that I start drinking mother’s milk tea and taking the herbal supplement Fenugreek. (Side note: A side effect from the herb is smelling like syrup…not kidding) I had read about the supplement already but waited until I had spoken with my local lactation consultant before taking the supplements. Most women noticed a dramatic increase in their milk supply within 48 hours, I noticed a slight increase but nothing to write home about.

Once I returned to work and we were still tracking home much she ate versus how much I pumped, my intuitions were confirmed (and fears made reality) I wasn’t producing with the pump what I needed in order to sustain her. It is an awful, helpless feeling not being able to produce enough to feed your beautiful baby but I tried to stay relaxed about the situation and hope that things would figure themselves out with a little bit of time.

At this time, the lactation consultant also recommended I try an additional herbal supplement called Mother’s milk. This is a blend, that I found at Whole foods (or can be found on iHerb as well). I also emailed a fellow blogger who also struggled with her supply levels and blogged about it. I can’t thank Heather enough for her helpful emails which walked me through everything she tried. Without her, I would never have known that there were prescriptions available to try that have helped some women increase their supply.

The first month back to work, I drank tea religiously and took my supplements daily. I did my very best to pump at the same times every day (2-3 during the day, once at night) and my supply was still decreasing. I remember coming home one evening after forgetting my pump parts (I should have been dying) to my starving daughter and I wasn’t able to let down and hadn’t produced enough to feed her. I cried and then feed her a bottle for the first time. The freezer stock was gone, so we started supplementing with formula. I wasn’t at all against using formula but I did want to continue nursing for as long as possible, I wanted to see what other options the lactation consultant would recommend.

After one full month of trying everything the lactation consultant had recommended, I called back to see what other options I had. I also mentioned that I had heard prescriptions might be an options and that I wanted more information. Can I just say, I haven’t met a lactation consultant that I didn’t want to hug? They are so warm, understanding, encouraging, helpful and knowledgeable. Love them. Right away, they discussed the prescription as a viable option given my health history and I started almost immediately.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been taking the medication for just shy of a month and it has made all the difference. I don’t like being on the drug….or its side effects (so drowsy and weird dreams and gas) but it has double my milk supply easily, so I’ll take it. We still have to supplement a meal here and there with formula but it is much less than a month ago. I’m hoping I won’t be the small percentage that will need to continue taking the prescription once I’ve gone through this course of “treatment” but we will see.

If you have additional questions please feel free to email me at leanneehughes at gmail dot com.

I know this post isn’t typical but Heather’s post and support (and the lactation consultants) helped me through this rough patch and if this post can provide knowledge or support to another person, then I would consider it a success.

New mom (who plan to return to work) recommendations
– Start pumping early (I started week 3)
– Build up a freezer supply early on, so you have stock and peace of mind.
– Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…it matters.
– Utilize a lactation consultant if you have ANY questions. (big or small, that’s what they are there for)
– Pump at the same times each day when you’ve returned
– Relax, don’t stress if you noticed a dip in your supply when you return. This is common and typically balances out once your body adjusts to the new norm.
– Try and pump every 3 hours during your work day. (I can never do this due to meetings but I try)
– Once your baby is sleeping longer stretches, pump in the evening before bed.

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