Saturday, March 05, 2011

La Leche League

Warning: If you are someone who does not care about issues related to breastfeeding a baby, you should move on for today.  You know, like to or or something.

But if you ARE interested in feeding a baby, then this is the place for you!  You are probably the same person who likes my cloth diaper posts.

My oh my, did you ever think you would one day be someone who would read, with true interest, about someone else's baby's diapers?

Welcome to motherhood.  I'm glad you're here with me!

I believe in breastfeeding.  It is healthy, it is neat, it is convenient, it is cozy, it is sweet.  It is wonderful.  It makes me feel strong, powerful and loving to give my baby the sustenance she needs for life from my own body.  I felt that same way when I was pregnant.  But, just like being pregnant, breastfeeding is hard.  Still wonderful, but hard.  Harder than I thought, for sure.

Sweet Pea took to breastfeeding like a champ right out of the box.  Or, er, belly.  I was very, very thankful that we didn't have latch issues to battle.  She did drop a significant amount of weight at the hospital, so much so that they wanted me to supplement her with bottles.  I declined, choosing to give her an extra day or so for my milk to come in all the way.  She she was premature, she had to go back for a weight check the day after we got home anyway.  At that check, her weight that plateaued, so the doctor said it was fine to avoid formula.

Fast forward a few weeks.  Besides a some soreness, remedied by amazing silicone pads (you were brilliant in that suggestion, Mama M!), everything went fine.  I thought I was in the clear. 

Then I ended up in the ER for my gall bladder deciding to flip its lid.  Then that gall bladder had to be removed.  I battled a cold, a bout of mastitis, several pretty stressful life events, a trip away, the stomach flu and another cold.  Meanwhile, I haven't been able to gain any weight.  Oh right, and I have Celiac Disease.

Whew!  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Needless to say, so is my body.  And thus, my milk supply been a major struggle.

Now, before I go any further, I want to say that my baby is truly a great nurser.  She is comforted by it and enjoys it.  If she were not that way, there would be no way I would be able to committed to continuing to try to feed her and keep up my production.  I also want to say that if any of my mama friends who struggled with nursing are reading this, I don't want you to go back to sad memories or feel discouraged.  I just want my other mama friends to see a list of what's been working and not working for me.

And I want to have a record of everything I tried for my baby.  See what I did for you, grown-up Sweet Pea!?  You better not ever move away and leave me after everything I've done for you!

So, at first I tried pumping.  I had to pump and dump when I was taking medication from the surgery and when I was away in January, and I tried pumping to increase supply.  I HATE pumping.  It is boring and uncomfortable and awkward and makes me feel like I should start mooing.  Oh, and I feel like it does nothing but utterly exhaust me, like my body is screaming, "Hey you!  Back off!  We can't even keep up with the baby around here, let alone make more!  Leave off!"

I talked to my mama and to my friends to see what to do next.  They helped me come up with a great list.  They were amazingly helpful!

Next, I increased my water intake even more.  I only drink water, watered-down juice, and weak herbal tea.  That's it.  No dice.

Next, I added oatmeal.  I eat at least a cup of oatmeal every day.  Oatmeal is supposed to be gluten-free, but some Celiacs are sensitive to it, me included.  The oatmeal helped, but it also made me feel sick.

I started adding more naps.  Who knew napping could get exhausting?

Onto supplements.  I tried Mother's Milk tea.  Nada.  It tasted ok, but not good, and I could hardly get down one cup, let alone the needed three cups a day.  I'm now taking fenugreek, and it does seem to be helping.

Meanwhile, Sweet Pea has gotten so frustrated at times that she turns into a crazy little half-baby-lamb-half-baby-monster when she's not getting enough to eat.  Have you ever watched a little lamb nursing in a field and thought, "Sheesh!  Poor mama ewe!"  Um, that is my child.  She literally claws at me, head-butts me, pinches and kicks before just plain wailing.  It's had me almost in tears, and I almost gave up a couple of weeks ago.  Thankfully, she doesn't do that all the time!  Needless to say, bottles of formula have been a life-saver for those times. 

Quite a few people had recommended that I try calling La Leche League to speak with a consultant to see if she had any other ideas.  Honestly, I kept avoiding it because I felt like I'd been working so hard at this and I was afraid I would told I was doing something "wrong" or that I would feel somehow judged for supplementing with formula or not already knowing all the answers.  Funny how my mind works, sometimes!

Negatory, my mama friends!  The local consultant I talked to was a dear.  She was so kind, so encouraging that I choked up a few times.  I felt like a super-star mama for trying so hard and for sticking to it through a lot of challenges.  She helped me feel like I could relax, that a couple of bottles a day are fine and yay my baby is still getting 2/3 of her nutrition from me!

She suggested upping the fenugreek even more (3 capsules 2-3 times a day instead of 2) and said to watch that my baby doesn't get too much solid food now that we've started solids.  She even told me I could relax on drinking so much water, since my fluids are coming all in the form of water or watery juice.  She said 10 cups a day max is fine.  That was a relief, because I am starting to feel like an addict-fish whose drug of choice is water.  Or watery juice. 

I recognize that didn't make any sense.  Maybe I should switch to a metaphors. 

I am also increasing my calories, which means I am not limiting the amount of cheese I eat in a day.  It's like living a dream-world full of cheese.  I've often thought that cheese gets shafted when it comes to people's favorite food lists.  Seriously, what would you do without cheese?  Not be happy, that's for sure.

All of that to say, call La Leche League if you need some fresh ideas!  It was free, it was helpful, it was encouraging.  Mostly, it was encouraging.  Shouldn't all of our mama-to-mama talks be as such?  I'm really lucky that I have so many sweet mama friends in my life to help so much.  Blessed, actually.  Very blessed.  

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