Editor’s Note: Special thanks to The Maiden Metallurgist for generously allowing us to repost this piece. Please see the end of the post for additional resources.*
She is a little senile, well, maybe more than a little, so we tend to have the same conversations over and over and over again, and breastfeeding is one of her favorite topics with me. I can understand why, it is something that we can relate completely to one and other about despite our generational differences.
My grandma talls me, every time we talk, that she breastfed my mother for 4 months and my uncle for 8. She always apologizes for only breastfeeding my mom for 4 months, as if I’m somehow judging her and goes on to tell me that my mom bit her so she had to quit. Bear in mind that my mother is 60 years old (sorry for outing you mom), some sort of guilt has lingered with my grandma for 60 years over quitting breastfeeding at 4 months. I always tell her that I think it is great that she breastfed at all, I now know from personal experience that it can be natural and difficult at the same time.
I don’t think my grandma has anything at all to feel guilty about. We know how how good breastfeeding is for babies, but I also think it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship. Especially because it is such a time intensive undertaking. Breastfeeding is wonderful, probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done, but it also takes a degree of sacrifice and determination, if you are a working mom that is.
When I am home, nursing is so much easier than making a bottle. But work is another story; the time I sacrifice pumping, the worry I expend about my supply, the pain and soreness that a week of pumping leaves my nipples feeling. Despite all that Henry and I aren’t ready to give up.
I’ve talked about my struggle with low supply here, but to sum up, I was pretty desperate. Breastfeeding is very important to me, and I was struggling to produce enough milk when pumping to feed Henry. When I nursed him at home I never had a problem, but bodies respond differently to pumps than they do to babies, and I just couldn’t keep up pumping at work. We are lucky to have a bit of a cushion, a freezer with a decent stash of frozen milk, but I knew that by using that milk my supply would only get worse as my body learned that it didn’t to produce that milk.
I begun supplementing my diet with the galactagogues fenugreek and blessed thistle, drinking extra water, eating extra calories, I did power hours, nursing vacations, breast compressions, I tried a new pump, hand expression, even double pumping to trick my body into thinking it was feeding twins. Despite all of this I got to a point where I was lucky to pump 5 ounces all day (4 20 minute sessions). There was only one option I hand’t explored and that was prescription medication. I made an appointment with my OB and his LC, they agreed I was a good candidate for Domperidone. My doctor was nervous about potential side effects; it is not FDA approved nor does it have a very high success rate. But, like I said, I was desperate and willing to give it a try. Armed with my prescription I ordered it from Canada and now, after 4 weeks I am seeing an amazing improvement. I went from pumping 5 ounces a day to 15, still not enough to feed my boy when I’m gone, but a huge improvement, and I’ll take what I can get.
At this point I’m letting go of the worry. We can get to one year. Henry is still getting almost all of his nutrition from milk, and shows no signs of weaning, so although I planned to give up the pump at 1 year, we’ll keep going as long as we need to. But I refuse to obsess about it anymore, and use like that, we are back to having that mutually satisfying breastfeeding relationship.
The Maiden Metallurgist is a full time shift working mom in Chicago’s south suburbs.
*We salute all moms with supply issues. As always, Breastfeed, Chicago! encourages moms to talk with their health care provider and their IBCLC about ways to increase milk supply; we do not endorse any particular medications or treatments. “The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk” is an excellent resource for moms struggling with supply. Kellymom has several good suggestions, in addition to lowmilksupply.org.