Thought all that boobie talk was behind us? No way – I just had to start the new year with an update on my progress!
It’s no surprise that it was a very important goal of mine to breastfeed my son. Having chosen the formula route the first time, I wanted to do everything in my power to give breastfeeding my best effort. (Check out chronicles of my initial attempts – and success – here.)
Well, almost 8 months in, I’m happy to say that Reid is still a boob man: on 100% breastmilk and a happy, healthy baby. But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.
Just over a month ago, three things happened simultaneously: Reid began solids, started to teethe profusely and stopped sleeping through the night. As a result, I was stressed out and incredibly over-tired – and within days, my breastmilk supply went from abundant to barely there. Previously, I was able to pump 3-4 ounces between feedings in under 10 minutes; you can imagine my surprise when barely 1/2 an ounce trickled through the pump after 15-20 minutes. I freaked out – did this mean my milk was drying up prematurely? Was Reid getting enough to eat? Was it time to wean to formula? His diapers, once heavy and soaked, became light and barely wet. Oh no.
So I pulled out the formula and mixed him a bottle. Coaxing him in my arms, I slowly brought the bottle to his mouth while I hummed a lullaby. He greedily took the nipple in his mouth (he is accustomed to drinking expressed breastmilk) but after just half a sip, pulled away and frowned at me in confusion.
“Go ahead,” I encouraged. “Try it, you may like it!” After one, two more sips, he angrily let out a growl. And within seconds, I witnessed a tantrum like no other. Swinging his head to and fro, crying, screaming – even batting the bottle away with his hands – he looked at me accusingly.
“What the hell’s wrong with your boob, woman?” he seemed to be demanding. Ugh.
I suspected I had waited too long to introduce formula – his window of being reasonable and accepting of manufactured milk had long since passed. Panicked, I worried about the best way to go about satisfying his needs. My breasts stilled seemed utterly deflated and I knew my supply would not meet his demand in the long run. What to do, what to do, what to do.
Then I remembered that help was available. Denise! I thought. I’ll see Denise! She was the sole person responsible for helping me succeed at breastfeeding in the first place, and, thankfully, most regional clinics do not set a limit on the time that you have to seek assistance. So I called Peel Public Health and sure enough, was able to bring my then 7-month old in for a visit.
Words cannot describe how happy I am that I followed up. First, I had the reassurance of seeing a qualified lactation consultant – someone who understands how breastfeeding evolves past the first couple of weeks. Second, I was able to ask as many questions as I wanted, and Denise did her absolute best to alleviate my concerns and provide an explanation for my “perceived” drop in supply. And finally, Reid was weighed and cuddled, and I was reassured that he was doing just fine.
Now I say “perceived” drop in supply because it turns out my body was just adjusting to Reid’s changing needs. Since he’s quite the solids enthusiast, he naturally had less need for breastmilk. His teething also curbed his appetite, and at 7 months, he seemed more interested in the outside world – again, making his feedings shorter and less frequent. So I simply increased my water intake, stopped stressing about my supply, and took naps whenever possible to catch up on sleep. And like magic – two weeks later, my supply is back up again to what it once was! You can bet I’ve been freezing all that excess milk – in fact, I put aside one 4 oz pack every day so I’ll be able to take longer breaks from him in the new year.
I suppose the moral of my story is that it is NEVER too late to seek breastfeeding support. If Reid had taken to formula, I may have weaned him early for fear that my supply was low or that I had dried up prematurely. The truth is, it was just a normal variation that was easily overcome. That is not to say that I won’t try to wean him onto formula again – breastfeeding must be enjoyed by both mother and baby to work, but for now, I’m happy to keep him on the boob and use expressed milk when necessary.
Eternal thanks once again to Peel Public Health, and, of course, Denise (I ♥ You!) – and to all the mamas out there, may your children (breast and/or bottle fed) enjoy a healthy and happy 2011!
Lena, I'm so glad that you were able to continue breastfeeding and that everything turned out fine. I also want to thank you for the kind way you mention moms who bottle-feed. I really appreciate that you can be so positive about breastfeeding, and also *not* negative about formula. When there seems to be a lot of lashing out from one side to another, it is great to read a post that doesn't do anything of the sort. Thanks! (And yay again for your success!)
Hey, go you! I'm glad it all worked out.I had some good help from a lactation consultant at my local hospital too.
I am glad you received some great help! I wouldn't have been able to nurse both my babes if it weren't for the drop in breastfeeding clinic at Toronto East General. Those women are soo amazing! Even when I moved from the city I would still drive over an hour for their advice. I live in Durham region now and breastfeeding help is hard to come by.
Congratulations that you're still going strong! It sounds to me like you're a milk machine! I was never able to pump that much! Yep, things definitely slow down when food is introduced. That way, you wean slowly and have no pain. Good luck as you continue…I hope you make it as long as you want!
Thank you so much for sharing your story, and highlighting that there are people out there to help.I think your approach to breastfeeding (that breast is best, but formula is not the devil) is refreshing. So many people are all or nothing on the subject.As a mom who as stuggled to get breastfeeding going with my son, it is great to see another mom who is still at it at 8 months (we are almost at 6!)
@dannyscotland – There's one thing I know about bottle fed babies: they're smart, beautiful, healthy and are full of vitality. Moms need to stick together; we're all doing the best for our children!@nicolthepickle – thanks for the support!@Chloe – Good to know! I'll certainly let my friends in Toronto know about the drop in clinic. It's amazing that most mamas just don't realize help is out there.@~she~ – Yup, I'm definitely a milk machine, ha ha!@Katie A – Congrats on your breastfeeding success! And as I mentioned to dannyscotland, I have no problem with any mother's decision to nourish her child, regardless if it's breast or bottle :)
Good for you for sticking with it Charlene! I must say, that is the cutest little pic I've ever seen!
Hey Lena – I was wondering when your next addition of "Two Boobs" was going to be posted… I love hearing about your experience. I fed all 3 of my babes "boobie milk" and DEFINITELY (spelled correctly) had my ups & downs – I went to the breast feeding clinic every 2 weeks for a "weigh in" & consultation.Stick with it, sister. It's such a special experience – even during the rough patches – My middle boy REFUSED a bottle up until 10 months – I owned every nipple & bottle on the market & he wouldn't even take a sip out of one of them… Talk about weaning…Now, when are you going to post another "GONG Show" story… I need a good laugh… xx
@Shauna – thank you so much darling! He's sick right now – it breaks my heart!@Leslie – thank you SO much for your support! And I'm so proud of you for successfully breastfeeding all 3 babes! You're awesome :)Um, I'm hoping there won't be any more Gong Shows for a while, if you know what I mean, ha ha!
Great story Lena! I am fortunate that I have had no problems breastfeeding my son. He's 15 months old and is still breastfeeding. I delivered David at Toronto East General (as Chloe mentioned previously) and they do have a wonderful breastfeeding drop in centre. After I delivered David, the women who run the clinic came by to check on me and David and to offer their help if I needed it. So nice. I'm glad to hear that you got the support you needed to continue to breastfeed. It feels so good when you get the help and support you need. :-)
Great update Lena! If it weren't for your posts and your great praises for Denise, I think I might have given up on breastfeeding early on, but we are 3 1/2 months in and still going strong! p.s. Love the picture! sooo cute!