Breastfeeding: Third Time’s A Charm?

Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely?  I am not exclusively breastfeeding, but I am BESTfeeding.  Today, I’m going to share how things are different the third time around, and how they are the same.

It’s Different

First, we never got up to a 10% weight loss.  I think with Z, her initial weight loss was about 12% before she started gaining.  I chose to supplement J before she was even 24 hours old.  Now, this is different from conventional breastfeeding advice, but my problems are unconventional.  I started with the colostrum I expressed during pregnancy, and at 26 hours I began supplementing with 5mls of donated breastmilk.  Over the next few days she lost a little more weight, and by time she saw the doctor for the second time, at 5 days old she was already gaining.

Secondly, I was not as much of an emotional wreck, because we had a scale.  There was no guess-work, because I weight her every 12 hours, I knew exactly what we were working with.  There was no room for false hope “she seems happy, her diapers seem good” and there was no room for despair.

We had almost immediate treatment and diagnosis of traditional breastfeeding problems. I took J to see the chiropractor the morning after she was born.  She evaluated her mouth: posterior tongue tie, upper lip tie, and slightly askew palate.  I had J in to the doctor that afternoon to have a posterior tongue tie and upper lip tie clip (laser is out of our budget).

My milk came in faster this time, I want to say shortly after 72 hours, it was not that fast with my other two babies.

It’s harder now too, because I am tandem nursing.  It’s so sad to have to say “no” to C when he wants “bosom” and I need to save the milk for J.  There is another layer of jealousy for him, sadness for me and stress.  I had to mourn the change in our nursing relationship, and I did not expect that.  I knew it would be hard and confusing.  We had a night where we both cried and cried in his crib.

Finally, I chose a different path with supplementation and diet.  I was taking Alfalfa, Moringa, Goat’s Rue during pregnancy, and continued.  I discontinued prenatal vitamins and switched to regular because the amount of B6 in my prenatal may be too high for lactation.  I held off on my placenta pills until 3 weeks postpartum, to facilitate a better drop off of progesterone and hopefully establishing a better supply.  I continue to take liquid iron and fish oil.  After I had a prolactin test (which revealed nothing, because my results make no sense), I began taking domperidone at 90mg/day. I increased to 120mg while I waited for my shipment to arrive, it never did so I weaned off of it.  I hope to start again soon.

In regards to nutrition, I have limited dairy, soy, gluten, grains and sugar.  As I know all of these can trigger hormonal dysfunction for PCOS patients, this is wise.  Additionally, I have personal experience with noticing the ill effects of each of these groups on my body.

It’s The Same

My milk is not enough.  No amount of preparation, medical understanding or emotional preparedness can remove the sting.  It just can’t.  I mentioned that my milk came in earlier, and boy was that day a horrible disaster.  My hormones were absolutely off the charts, and the second night and third night after J was born, I was sure my husband would leave me because of my irrational behavior.  We had an argument over how I would supplement Jemma (bottle or SNS) only he thought I was considering NOT supplementing her.  It was raw and ugly.  I’m so thankful he stuck around, because it did get better after my milk came in.

I have to look for donor milk.  This is time consuming and there is nothing sadder than missing a post and seeing milk go to someone else.  Of course, I am glad another baby is getting it, but my baby isn’t.  It’s emotionally exhausting to search for milk, to explain your heartbreaking situation over and over again, and having to have many of those donors ask “are you drinking enough water?  did you try fenugreek?”  This women have EVERY RIGHT to ask questions about sharing their liquid gold, but it stings at the same time.

I have to make hard choices all the time, they might not seem hard to you, but they are for me.  Do I use the SNS or the bottle?  Do we go to the park?  I have to ask myself if I am emotionally equipped enough to nurse in public, with a 3 year old and a 2 year old and manage the SNS without my My Breastfriend.   Do I spend more time with my older kids and just use bottles? Maybe I should invest the time to cultivate a good breastfeeding relationship with J.

I have to make financial decisions.  Do I buy the domperidone (so expensive) and search for donor milk?  I know it’s cheaper just to buy formula.  Do I attempt to keep going with the at-breast feeds, or just switch to bottles? This is hard, and it’s just as hard the third time around.

Finally, it is the same because I have to choose between my breastfeeding relationship and my daughter’s needs and my financial success in my business.  With Z, I returned to work for 6 hour shifts.  With C, I took only 8 appointments a week and I returned home after each feeding to nurse him.  Both have their downsides.  It’s mentally easier for me to be at work and just be present.  It’s emotionally healthier for me to stay very connected to my babies, but my work suffers.  I can make more money in one six hour shift than I can in two 3 hour shifts.  I think I’ve made my decision, but it’s not easy.  Sacrificing my business even for a year, has consequences. With the birth of each child have have lost at least 1 client, so far permanently.

The Most Important Thing

I think I am very close to making enough milk, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get there.  However, this is the most emotionally healthy I have ever been in the early days of breastfeeding.  I can only hope it gets even better as she grows.  All of the preparation I did during pregnancy and early postpartum is paying off, not in ounces but in my happiness and well-being.

You have to be your own advocate ladies.  I had overwhelming support from my husband, doulas, mom, midwives, doctors and my Facebook group.  At the end of the day, each decision was mine.  I had to seek out what I needed.  Advocate for yourself.

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