This post is part of the Breastfeeding blog hop hosted by The Slacker Mom , Happiness redefined and The Gnomes Mom . This week someone must have been picking up my vibes I was sending out in to the blogosphere for this week's hop to be about supply issues. Thankfully Erin was hearing me and this weeks topic is low supply.
I didn't post in last week's hop, although I did read. The topic was bumps in the road. I had already posted a couple of weeks ago about the ONLY problem we have had in the journey so far. How ironic then that on Saturday afternoon I came down with Gastroenteritis, and we would hit our biggest hurdle yet. Benjamin and Noah had both succumbed already, it was obvious it was only a matter of time before I got sick too.
Honestly, although I detest vomiting and regard it as my own personal hell, I have been far worse when I have had Gastroenteritis in the past. The last 4 years on the trot in the winter I have had it. Last year at 32 weeks pregnant I was hospitalised and had 4 litres of fluid dripped in to me:/
So it came as a total shock to me that Sunday morning I would wake up, feeling very empty. Benjamin had slept for a 7 hour stretch, then a 4 hour stretch and had had a minimal comfort feed to get back to sleep. (very unusual for him, but being poorly I excused him) I had expected that I would be rather uncomfortable and engorged as is usually the case when Ben doesn't feed much through the night.
Throughout the rest of the day and in to Monday Benjamin became very distressed when feeding, and it became obvious to me that being ill had seriously affected my supply. I had hardly any left. I started to pump in between feeds, but I wasn't even getting an ounce out. I know that how much you get out when you pump is not an indicator of supply, but added to Benjamin's fussiness, the fact that my let down had gone from 25 seconds in to 3-4 minutes (15 on the pump) and the way I was feeling, I knew we were heading for trouble.
I have to admit to panicking. I spent hours online searching for threads on breastfeeding community boards to see if anyone had had similar after an illness and how they recovered. A friend of mine had similar happen to her after she had the same tummy bug, and assured me that once I was re hydrated my supply would return.
On Monday I walked in to town and brought some Fenugreek, as I had read that helps with supply. The tablets were huge! I gagged each time I tried to swallow one. They smelt awful, and even worse, in the middle of the night when I had a most awful night sweat, I smelt like maple syrup! Ben seemed to get more fussy as I took the Fenugreek, maybe what milk I had left tasted different to him?
On Tuesday I spoke to a breastfeeding buddy, who advised I stop pumping as it would just make me sore if I was getting nothing out. This concerned me as by now Benjamin was not latching on for more than 10 seconds. I was emotionally distraught as I am not ready to stop feeding Ben, and the fact that it may be a forced issue due to illness grated even more. I spoke to my Mum who told me to give him formula. I think I was very short with her on more than one occasion regarding this, as I didn't want him to have formula. I felt we had gotten this far in without it, why now? Mum was telling me he needed to eat, obviously he was hungry, and distressed. I walked back to town and brought 4 packs of pre-made formula. I tried him with it he spat it out. I sobbed.
On Wednesday morning I called the Dr surgery to ask for an appointment. The breast feeding buddy had told me about a drug you can get prescribed that boosts supply, and she thought maybe I should ask the Dr for some. I felt I had tried the "natural" way - frequent nursing/drinking/eating/pumping/herbs, and it just wasn't happening like people had told me it would, so I was hopeful that the Dr could help us get back on track.
I explained the situation to the Dr. This is how some of the conversation went that followed.
Dr " how long did you want to keep breastfeeding for?"
Me "until it is mutually agreeable between me and Ben to stop" (looks at me as if I'm some "radical breast feeding hippy" mum who will be feeding my child aged 8)
Dr "I'm reluctant to prescribe the drug, there is no evidence it does work"
Dr " maybe this is your bodies way of saying it's time to stop"
Me - speechless!!
I actually thought, right then, that's it, game over. She isn't going to help. I ALMOST accepted what she was saying. Why? Because I have an issue with authority. I can never stand up for myself in situations with professionals such as Dr's. But then I thought, wait, it's Benjamin I'm standing up for! He is a breastfed baby. It's what he knows, it's what we enjoy. It's what is best for him.
I was just gobsmacked! That an NHS professional, who is supposed to promote breastfeeding as per government and WHO guidelines is telling me that because I vomited 3 times, and my body is not quite up to par, it is time for me to stop feeding my baby.
Dr " He's 10 months just put him on normal milk"
Again, Gobsmacked! Just what is "normal milk" for a 10 month old? Yes, breast milk that's right.
The Dr did then say if I wanted the drug she would reluctantly give it me. So I said I would take a prescription "in case", and if in a couple of days it hadn't worked, and my milk supply didn't come back then yes, I would concede that maybe it was time to move on, but I wanted to do EVERYTHING in my power to get back on track before I gave up. In my head I'm thinking, no chance lady, that drug is being taken the second I get home.
So I am now taking Domperidone (an anti sickness drug with a side effect of producing breast milk, in both men and women! Great for nursing Mums, not so much for the body builder that can't stop puking:) 4 times a day, and still offering frequent nursing sessions. Again I took to the Internet to seek out women who had used this to see what my chances of success were. To my absolute delight I found lots of success stories, including two from personal friends.
I was expecting it to take a good 3 days to kick in, so imagine my absolute delight when I woke this morning to full, heavy milk filled boobies! I am feeling my let down reflex again, not as quick as the 30 seconds in that it used to be, but in less than a minute. Benjamin is a different baby today. He is way more chilled out, not fussing during nursing, bedtime was easy like it was only a week ago. Mummy is also incredibly happy.
I am going to keep up with the Domperidone for a couple of weeks just to ensure that my supply doesn't drop off again, which will mean a trip back for another prescription to the anti breastfeeding Dr:(
My advice if you are having supply issues; first off relax. Something I wish I had done. Stress will hinder your supply more. Listen to your body and your instincts if you think there is a problem, go for help. Don't let unhelpful people try to change your mind. If you are determined to keep nursing, stay strong, keep baby close, lots of skin to skin contact, offer the boob frequently. Look after yourself by making sure you are resting - if you can, have a nursing vacation and just stay in bed and nurse for 24 hours (unfortunately with a 3 year old this wasn't an option for me), make sure you are eating and drinking enough. But most importantly listen to baby and trust your instincts.
I KNEW I was not giving up nursing unless I HAD to. Even though people around you probably are offering advice with your best interests at heart, listen to yours and make the decision that is best for you and your family.