During my pregnancy, I had done my research, gone to the classes and knew that I wanted to breastfeed. Everyone says "breast is best" and I wouldn't have to pay for formula (on top of the medical bills, diapers, child care expenses, etc.) so I was all about that decision. I knew I'd be pumping once back at work, so I got a breast pump free through my insurance (and I got the best pump I could, as close the medical grade as possible!) for when those days arrived.
All throughout my pregnancy, mothers in my life told me of their struggle to breastfeed. From infections, to latch problems and just not producing enough milk, I heard it all. While I took in these women's experiences, in the back of my mind I was determined to breastfeed and I just knew I could do it.
Now let's skip ahead to after Lazy Baby's birth. I met with the lactation nurse and she worked with me to get her latched. It hurt like Hell to which the nurse told me that because I am a red head, it's just going to hurt worse. Just days after she was born she had a very high bilirubin count (in other words, she had a mild case of jaundice). I had to pump because she was on a special UV blanket and I couldn't hold her to feed her. Also, she had to have at least 30mL of food and I wasn't pumping that, so they gave us some supplement to get her to poop out the bilirubin in her system. When we went home, they sent us with supplement for her until her test results came back with a lower bilirubin count. My milk never really came in much more.
I tried to breastfeed once her pediatrician told us that she was all good, plus the doctor told me that I was producing enough for Lazy Baby's need. Instead of adjusting to breastfeeding, I got an almost constantly screaming baby, bleeding nipples, and my sanity slowly draining from me. Mr. LL was doing his best to keep me from completely losing it, but I was miserable. I tried, I researched, I just knew that if I could figure out how to breastfeed better I'd nail it. After all, that's how I approach all my problems. Research, try new tactics and find the way that works! I could do that with breastfeeding, right? I started pumping again – to give my nipples a break and to see just how much I was producing. I was lucky to produce an ounce. This reality hit me hard, I was failing at motherhood's most primal task: feeding my baby.
I gave up on breastfeeding, because I needed to know that she was getting enough to eat. I would pump and then give her supplement till she was full. Now, Lazy Baby is just about 6 weeks old, and I still only pump about an ounce of breastmilk every time, sometimes I get two ounces. However, she eats 3-4 ounces at every feeding.
I scoured the internet almost daily trying to figure out how to increase my supply, but almost every resource I could find was for breastfeeding mothers who also pumped, and the advice didn't meet my needs. I've tried the lactation cookies, taking Fenugreek and Power Pumping (which is when you pump 10 minutes then wait 10 minutes, and repeat for an hour). On top of it all, I was still struggling with coming to terms with my body's inability to provide for my baby along with the added guilt of having medical professionals insisting that I should be able to do just that by now. It is hard enough to be a new mom and heal, not to mention the baby blues hit me hard those first couple of weeks. I didn't need the guilt trip.
I'm finally coming to terms with what my body can provide. I give her as much breast milk as I can at each feeding and then she gets formula. Do I still wish I could provide all she needs? Of course. However, the important thing is she is healthy and doesn't go hungry. I will continue to pump until she is six months or my supply dries out. I also keep reminding myself, with every bad pumping session (the ones where I only get half an ounce total) that I, myself, was never breastfed. I didn't get a drop of breastmilk and I survived just fine.
If you are struggling, just remember, you are not alone and from the women who are in my life, you aren't in the minority either.