Friday, August 13, 2010

The Ups & Downs of Breastfeeding

Any mother who chooses to breastfeed will tell you it's not always easy. And I think knowing that helps when you're first starting out so you don't feel like a failure.

Shaylin's first few days were difficult because she just couldn't figure out how to latch on. This is a common problem in the beginning. While I was in the hospital there wasn't a lactation consultant on duty. So I was getting tips from whatever nurse that was there. That can get very confusing after a while. Sometimes Shaylin would get it & I could get her to nurse for as much as 20 minutes, but most of it was very frustrating.

Two days after coming home I saw a lactation consultant. It was a very long visit but I finally got to see Shaylin actually eat. This was a day after my milk came in. The LC gave me a nipple shield to help Shaylin with latching on & it really did the trick. I went home afterwards & nursed her as if we never had a problem. It was wonderful!

Things were going fine till Shaylin was around 9 weeks old I believe & I got sick fast. Body aches, high fever. I looked up my symptoms & knew it was mastitis. Since it was a late I had to go to a Care Now clinic rather than seeing my own doctor. But this doctor was actually really good & determined I didn't yet have mastitis but I was on the verge of it. He said that what was likely causing it was that I was still using the shield 100% with nursing. It was keeping my milk from fully coming down so it was blocking up. So the next day I had to start weaning Shaylin off the shield. It was difficult at first but within a week she figured out how to latch on without it & once again things were going well.

Now in the last couple months I've seen a drop in my supply. The hardest feeding is the last one. Shaylin will fuss & cry which I think is because the milk is coming down fast enough for her. I'd have to look on my calendar but it likely started around the time I was putting in 20+ miles a week. I try to make up for those calories I burn but on those long run days where I burn over 1000 calories I just can't eat that much.

A friend told me of a tea that has fenugreek in it so I've been drinking that & it's really helped. It seems that on most days I can just drink it twice a day & be just fine.

But I'm noticing another pattern. See, I was one of those unlucky mothers who's cycles came back early. Like exactly 6 weeks post-partum. Yeah, I was not happy about that. And lately I've been noticing that when it's "that time of the month" for a few days my supply suffers even more, despite drinking my tea. But then once it passes everything is back to normal & Shaylin nurses just fine.

So for this next time around I plan to be ready for it. The few days prior I'm going to drink extra tea, at least 3 times a day. I'll eat oatmeal everyday & really make sure to drink lots of water (which I do anyway because of running). And we'll see if this helps.

Being able to breastfeed is very important to me & I really want to make it to 1 year. It's extra special for me because at one time I didn't think I'd ever get to do it. Had we adopted I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. I know I would still find ways to bond with my baby. There are others ways than just breastfeeding.

But it's such a special time for me when it's just us. I love how her little hands reach up & touch my face. I love how she'll suddenly stop eating to look at me & give me a big grin. These are memories that are so precious to me. So even if I can't make it to 1 year I have these memories that will last a lifetime.

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