When my Girly was about three weeks old she started to fuss a lot. Ok, a lot was an understatement! When she was awake, she was crying continuously. We tried everything – changing her diaper, her clothes, nursing her, making the house warmer / cooler, walking with her, rocking her, patting her, etc. Finally, my husband suggested we bring her to the pediatrician after a very long weekend of crying. My husband, Girly and I saw the doctor the following Monday morning. He checked over our Girly and said everything looked ok other than she had lost weight since we left the hospital a week earlier. We were in the hospital for almost two weeks when our Girly was born, but that will have to be another post. The pediatrician recommend that we see the Lactation Consultant (LC) at the local hospital. I called the LC while we were still at the doctor’s office and luckily, I was able to make an appointment for that afternoon.
When we met with the Lactation Consultant (LC) she asked how I knew Girly was nursing enough. All I could go by was how often and how long. As a new mom, I didn’t knowing how to tell she was actually eating. Instructors don’t cover that particular bit of information in the baby preparation classes. Girly would nurse for about 30-60 minutes every three or four hours at this point. This caused a red flag for the LC. She said 30-60 minutes was too long for one nursing session. It happened to be about time for Girly’s next nursing so the LC had me pump instead of nurse her to measure how much milk I had. I used one of the hospital grade pumps she had in her office and was only able to pump five cc of breast milk total from both breasts! Five cc is about 1 teaspoon. When I had pumped in the hospital because I was engorged, I was able to pump about 40 cc on one breast and 30 cc on the other every four hours! We asked the LC if the stress and lack of sleep from being in the hospital for two weeks could cause the milk supply to drop. We were told that as long as my milk had come in after the birth that the stress should not have affected my milk supply. Then she recommend that we give our Girly formula. I was devastated, hurt, and confused. My baby was hungry and I couldn’t feed her! I was suppose to be able to do at least that and now that was gone.
I was not willing to give up breastfeeding and feed our Girly formula. My goal was to make it to at least 12 months of breastfeeding. The LC recommended that I rent a hospital grade pump (the Medela Lactina) and pump every three to four hours around the clock to increase demand in hopes that the supply I had in the hospital would return. She also provided a list of supplements, foods, and, if necessary, medications that might help increase milk supply. My husband, Girly and I left the LC office and I just broke down right there in the hallway of the hospital. It was too much to handle. We left the hospital and went straight to the store to begrudgingly pick-up formula for our Girly and everything on the list of supplements (Fenugreek and More Milk Plus) and foods (Mother’s Milk tea, “hoppy” beer, and oatmeal).
Thankfully, my husband arranged to work from home for a week to help me. I started to nurse our Girly every three hours in the day time then every four at night. After I nursed her, either my husband or I would feed her a bottle of whatever breast milk I had from the previous pumping session and then a bottle of formula. Then I would pump for 15-20 minutes. After washing up the bottles and pump parts, I only had about 30-45 minutes before I had to start it all over again. I also started to take Fenugreek and the More Milk Plus supplements as directed on the bottles. I ate oatmeal for breakfast every morning and had half of a “hoppy” beer every evening with dinner.
I cried off and on. I felt like I was in mourning for the experience of breastfeeding my baby and that seemed to be slipping away…
To be continued in Part II