It has been three years since Z was born so I feel I can share this all now. We had a lovely homebirth in our tub followed by a week of hanging out in or near bed with Z. I was excited to be nursing a little newborn baby again and really drinking in that sweet experience. I was a “seasoned breastfeeder” due to our own joys and challenges with A and S so I felt I “got it” this time around with Z.
I knew that the green streaks in his diapers about a week or so after he was born were a sign of baby Z not getting enough milk. He was born 9 pounds & 12 ounces and 22 inches long but after a check at the pediatrician we realized he had lost too much weight. I was blessed to know what to do…call my La Leche League friends and call and IBCLC right away. The IBCLC helped me with a starter Supplemental Nursing System (Lactation Aid) and I rented a hospital grade pump within a couple of days. And we were off on a new journey. That day I ran to the store and bought a baby scale for the house. That week I also called Early Intervention for an evaluation with an Occupational Therapist and Speech Pathologist be sure he didn’t have a feeding or swallowing issue. It seemed that he had a hard time nursing and then in turn, my supply dwindled too quickly for his large demand.
Here are just some of the supplies I used:
I logged nursing sessions, wet and poopy diapers, pumping sessions, bottle feeding sessions and kept track of Z’s weight and height. I logged them for MONTHS. I kept track of the herbs and medications I was taking with tally marks to be sure I remembered them. I made sure we had down time where I just focused on nursing too. I finally realized I was in it for the long haul and bought my own pump. I pumped 5-6 times a day after nursing or while Z was taking a bottle for 5 months solid. We were blessed with donated milk which I flash heated as a way to pasteurize it. A friend came by when I was at a low point (I’d gotten 1 oz out) with 4 ounces she pumped. Then in the mail came a shipment of over 50 ounces! Here is a shot of the day we decided to add artificial baby milk to Z’s daily feeding routine. I made sure we decided on a cap so that I could not overfill him and could keep working on my supply.
My main reason for this post is to show support for other moms who have needed to pump or hand express their milk. My experience has given me more empathy for moms and their choices and approaches to obstacles. I know what it is like to have someone not understand when I said I didn’t have enough milk or what it was really like to have to wash and store and heat bottles and pump parts.
I never wanted to lose sight of my goal of a healthy baby and of healthy attachment and bonding. I am happy to report that Z & I still have a wonderful nursing relationship and I have enough milk for nighttime snuggles and morning nuzzles. I am relieved we got through it and proud of myself too. I hope this brings some comfort to other families going through the challenges of pumping as well. We all get to create and “define our own success” to use the term Diana West has used.
I could write more but I’d really just like to make sure that moms have some terrific resources:
The two books that helped me most were The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milkby Diana West and Lisa Marasco and THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING 8th edition by La Leche League International. I have also heard from many working moms that the best book for employment outside the home is Nursing Mother, Working Mother, Revised Editionby Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins. Since my experience I have also found a great book entitled Balancing Breast and Bottle: Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals by Amy Peterson and Mindy Harmer.
Why reinvent the wheel when some great information already exists? Here are some links for some great on-line resources for you to enjoy: