Tomorrow marks an important day for me. Baby T turns 6 months old, but more importantly it means I have been breastfeeding him for 6 months and achieved my goal. In some of my other posts I have eluded to the battle I have had with this. When I was pregnant I did realise that not everyone could breastfeed and although it was my preference, I had the attitude that if it didn't work out, then I would be ok with formula feeding. I wish I had realised it's not as black and white as that.
It's easy to look back now and see why I struggled. My labour was difficult and I had about 6 hours sleep in the following 3 days. My body was exhausted and hadn't had enough rest to make the hormones needed to bring in my milk. Baby T latched on perfectly after delivery or so I had been told. Most mums I speak to tell of their frustration in the variance in care and opinion received by midwives in hospital. I was told (and I quote) that I had "textbook tits". The main midwife who saw to me said everything was perfect and she wished she could parade my tits around the ward to show the other nurses how perfectly shaped the nipples were and how easy it made it for him to latch on. Every feed my attachment was checked and I was told all was great.
On day 5 when my milk hadn't come in I was put on a breast pump and excited to get 5-10mls out but still told as I left hospital not to worry too much as it has been known to take up to 2 weeks for some women and that if it didn't come in I wasn't a failure. In the meantime Baby T was started on formula top ups in the hospital nursery as he wouldn't sleep for more than 30mins (it had been like that since day 1) unless fed.
So I bought a breast pump, had a follow up visit from the hospital midwife (only to be told that despite my text book tits, Baby T in fact was not latching on properly), attended a day clinic back at the hospital, visited the council lactation consultant, rang the Australian Breast Feeding Association (ABA) hotline, Googled everything under the sun on how to boost supply or how to improve let down, tried to treat him for wind (as I was told this could be a problem), gave him a dummy, took away his dummy, tried nursing where it was quiet and dark, tried nursing in the bath, nursed frequently, nursed infrequently, expressed only, took Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, drank lots of water, got plenty of rest, made lactation cookies, drank beer (the brewers yeast is meant to help, abstained from drinking beer (alcohol might reduce supply)... you name it, I tried it.
The ABA tell you that under no circumstances should you top the baby up with formula as this will only reduce your supply. But if I didn't, the poor little man would not sleep. So this went on for about 3 months with me sitting at the breast pump for half an hour after almost every feed and feeling bad for giving in to formula. I felt embarrassed giving him formula in public (even at buying it). Every second day, it was so tough I would just tell myself one more week....
I felt so exhausted but was determined to make it work. Then I find out from my Mum she had the same difficulty with both me and my brother, didn't have the information available I did and only made it to 12 weeks. The more I read, and spoke to people, the more common I found this problem is. I surprised myself with how determined I was to succeed. I knew that despite being told by quite a few people that "some people just don't make enough", that if I was making some (about a third of his milk intake) then there MUST be a way to make more.
Then a girlfriend told me about Domperidone (Motilium) an anti nausea medication that has the side effect of milk production. I have been taking this for 3 months now and Baby T is almost exclusively breast fed now. The improvement was immediate. The tingly feeling of your milk coming in that I was asked about constantly in the hospital finally arrived!
Whilst there are so many places women can go to for support with breastfeeding, it has been so frustrating that the level of information and advice is so varied and often conflicting. No wonder so many people give up.
We are told that an added benefit of breastfeeding is the convenience and inexpense. For me this hasn't been the case, I have spent close to $1000 on breast pump hire (and purchase), bottles, teats, supplements and prescription medication and sterilised (on the stove top) what would equate to hundreds of bottles and pump accessories. Of course I wouldn't change all this, but I do hope if we have another baby it's much easier second time around.
I could write on and on about this, as I have only touched the surface of my experience. I intend to keep going until Baby T is 1.
Would love to hear of other's experiences.
Would love to hear of other's experiences.