My Personal Struggle with Breastfeeding
My image of what kind of mother I wanted to be always included breastfeeding. I always thought that as long as I worked at it, it would be okay. It never crossed my mind that my baby boy wouldn’t be able to feed from my breast, or that I would struggle to produce even an ounce of milk. On the second day postpartum, Ayden got flagged for low blood sugar in the hospital and we began supplementation. I immediately felt like a failure.
In addition to feeling like a failure, I felt extremely alone. I searched for resources to make me feel less alone and I found out that I am one of many, just as you might be. It was comforting to know that I was not alone. When I left the hospital I was producing maybe 2 ml a pumping session, pumping every 2-3 hours. My son would get so upset when I tried to put him on breast, and quickly gave up on trying to feed him from the breast. However, I would give him every drop of the milk I produced with a syringe before giving him his bottle of formula. And still I found myself emotionally struggling to deal with the challenges of breastfeeding.
About once a week I would break down and cry my heart out, what to give up on even trying. At times it honestly felt pointless, to put in all that work and have drops to show for it. My husband was incredibly supportive. I never felt pressured to continue pumping or to give up, but every time he helped me realize giving up would not make me feel any better.
So after about 8 weeks of struggling, I contacted a local lactation consultant who came to my home! All the research I had done online, had not been as helpful as I had thought. I learned that one of the supplements I was taking, fenugreek, was actually hurting my supply. I was shocked, I hadn’t been getting results so I had just been upping my doses of fenugreek and blessed thistle… Over all I had a pretty poor start to breastfeeding.
I learned that the main source of my breastfeeding challenges was my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). My PCOS was and is effecting my prolactin levels, in addition to having insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) due to PCOS’ affects on my development during puberty. She had many suggestions on how I could do better, I started taking domperidone (for prolactin) and taking goat’s rue (for IGT). I got almost immediate improvement from her suggestions!
I went from 1-2 ml a day, to making 11 ml a day. 6 weeks in, I am now making an ounce a day! 12 weeks in I am now making almost 2 ounces a day. I still struggling with remembering to take all of my supplements and getting myself to pump 8 times a day. But I don’t struggle as much with my emotions around my challenges. I have the ability to text my lactation consultant whenever I have a question or concern and she is my perfect little milk cheerleader. She reminds me all the time that I am amazing, that every little bit counts and whatever I can do is just right!
Please don’t feel alone. And please don’t blame yourself. In this crazy world of motherhood, we can’t afford to put ourselves or each other down. We are amazing and our best, IS ENOUGH!
Keep a look out for my upcoming post on breastfeeding tips and advice!