Read the first part of this post here.
In desperation and panic, I began to pour over the internet for any thing else I could possibly do. I spoke to two licensed lactation consultants at two different hospitals, our pediatrician, my midwives, our Bradley Instructor, and two different La Leche League Leaders several times to make sure I understood what they told me. One of the La Leche League Leaders was fabulous. She said to me that there is a root cause of this somewhere, that a milk supply just doesn’t stop producing once it starts. That there had to be some fundamental issue with the process and would probably have to do with the baby’s latch on the breast. She said she would be happy to look at her latch for me when I came to the League’s meeting in a few weeks. I didn’t have a few weeks. I wanted, no, needed to get an answer for increasing my supply quickly or it might be gone.
Towards the end of this first week, I was fearful that I would lose my milk supply and began to think that I was going to have to take more drastic measures. I researched a drug named Domperidone that one of the Licensed Lactation Consultants I was working with recommended. She said she had seen it work for several moms in increasing their supply. But of course with anything that sounds to good to be true, it had a few catches. This drug’s intended use is for gastrointestinal tract issues and has a side effect of increasing milk supply because it increases your hormone prolactin. Also because it increases your hormones you would need to wean yourself from this drug once you gain your milk supply back. And the final catch is that it is not FDA approved for increasing lactation. What this means is you have to ask for a prescription from your medical professional for this drug and a compounding pharmacy would have to mix the dosage of the drug for you. And if all that wasn’t enough, this compounding process made the drug very expensive. All of this made me pause before filling my prescription and try another week of my nurse, pump, clean routine around the clock.
There was also one other option to consider, I could contact a breast milk bank either through my hospital or a non-for-profit and pay for pasteurized breast milk to give to my baby. I kept this in the back of my mind hoping that I wouldn’t have to get this far. I even considered briefly asking a new mom I know if she would pump a little extra for our Girly.
During this second week, I increased my Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk supplements. I found on KellyMom.com that I needed to be taking far more Fenugrreek supplements then the bottle prescribed. One of the side affects of taking this amount of the supplement was that your perspiration smells like maple syrup. Once I stated to smell sweet, I knew I was taking enough. I also started to expand my pumping sessions to 30-35 minutes to try to signal to my body that there needs to be more milk produced. With these two changes, I started to see a slight increase in my milk supply and was pumping about 10 cc (about 1/3 ounce) after nursing.
The same wonderful La Leche League Leader who was so kind to offer to look at my Girly’s latch also recommended that I upgrade to, at that time, the top of the line Medela pump, the Medela Symphony. This pump was more to rent from the hospital per month then the Lactina, but at this point I was willing to try everything. The Symphony pump was also softer to my sore nipples and it felt like it drew the milk faster and more effectively than the Lactina. And then more improvement by the end of the second week to 20 cc (about 1/2 ounce) after nursing.
The third week of the nurse, pump, clean routine every three to four hours was the breakthrough week. I was finally able to meet with the La Leche Leader to take a look at Girly’s latch. I learned that because I produced so much milk at first, my Girly learned that she really didn’t have to work very hard to get the milk, it pretty much just came and when it did it was forceful. So, she also developed a bad habit of pulling her tongue back up into her mouth to protect herself from choking. The La Leche Leader coached me on a few techniques that I would need to practice with my Girly to latch on properly and keep her tongue down. In my case, I would just tickle her chin and then use my pinky finger to lay her tongue down then offer the breast every time I nursed. After working with her for the remainder of the week and a little into the next she was able to latch on without it hurting my sore nipples and heard her swallow much more. I was also still taking the supplements at the increased level and still pumping at the increased times with the new pump. By the end of this week, I was able to pump nearly 30 – 40 cc (an ounce to 1-1/3 ounce). This was the level I was at when pumping at the hospital. All the hours of pumping, tears, cracked nipples, and research had paid off!
Over the next few weeks, I worked I weaning myself off of pumping all together by decreasing the time at each session. I would also go into the Lactation Consultants office each week to do a transfer weigh-in, where I would weigh our Girly before feeding her, nurse her and weigh her again. This is the most accurate way of measuring how much breast milk was transferred to the baby during nursing. This would help me understand if I needing to pump more or continue weaning the time back. Soon, my Girly was able to nurse enough and I was able to stop pumping all together!
Our Girly solely nursed until she was six months when we started to feed her some solids. She then self-weaned from day time nursing at 8-months and about 12-months from her night-time nursing. At 16-months she still asks to nurse in the mornings.
I am so proud of our new family!! Every member had to do their part in order to work through this issue and create a very nurturing and wonderful breastfeeding experience.