Milk Maid

I spend approximately all of my waking hours thinking about my boobs. That is only a slight exaggeration.

If Ansel isn’t attached to my boob, I’m thinking about when he should be attached to my boob next, or I’m pumping, or I’m drinking water so I am hydrated enough to make milk, or I’m eating some oatmeal or taking some fenugreek or . . . It’s really pretty consuming.

I’m sure this post seems a little out of left field, considering my recent ‘level up’ but I have come to realize that breastfeeding is the biggest mind fuck I’ve ever experienced. I feel 100% confident about it one moment, then in the depths of despair the next. There’s really no telling how it will go any given day.

So far, Ansel is continuing to grow appropriately, and have lots of wet and dirty diapers. He also continues to eat only my milk. This, all of it, is an accomplishment – and it is a situation I should be – and am! – grateful for, because other women would kill for all of those things. But the situation feels very precarious. Ansel is gaining, but still quite slowly. He nurses well, but has times when he seems frustrated at my breast and I, frankly, feel empty and like I’m not providing. The reality is, I just don’t quite trust my body.

On Tuesday, I went to a breastfeeding group at a local crunchy mama store/meet up space. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and – to be honest – I was expecting there to be a lot of lulu-lemon wearing yoga pants wealthy whole foods type moms there so I was anticipating not fitting in. Ansel and I went in, I got him naked and weighed him (he was 6lbs 9.8oz – up exactly an ounce from the day before at the pediatrician), then found a spot to sit in the huge crowd of folks, and started nursing.

There were so many mamas there. Some of them were definitely lululemon. Some of them were not. I sat next to two other women who were new to the group, one with an 8 day old baby, the other with a 3 weeker like me. Once everyone got settled, we went around the room and everyone mentioned what their primary concern was – from oversupply to under supply to poor latch to tongue tie. And lots of us cried when we talked about what was going on, or how scared we were that we weren’t able to feed our babies, or how alone we felt not knowing if we were normal. It was really, really wonderful.

And the lactation consultant, who is known across Denver as the boob whisperer/best LC ever talked to each of us in the context or the group and then also came around to us individually afterwards as well. Ansel transferred a little over an ounce during the feeding – which was a little disappointing. The LC said he’s gaining ok, but she wants to make sure we don’t ‘go off the rails’ – and with my PCOS dx, she recommended I get back on metformin to boost my supply a little, and start pumping 3 times a day after feeds to up my supply as well. And, of course, she told me to keep coming back to the group – for the support, to check Ansel’s weight, and to keep an eye on things.

I went back on Thursday (the group runs 4 times a week) and Ansel was up to 6lbs 12 oz – another ounce a day gain! He also transferred just barely under 2oz during this session! I also ran into two colleagues from another organization – one who was due just a few days before me. It was surprising, again, to hear the diversity of stories and struggles, and how deeply everyone was committed to making nursing work for them.

I called my midwife on Tuesday afternoon and got a script for metformin, which I started taking on wednesday. I also upped my pumping and instead of saving it in the freezer, we have been feeding it back to Ansel in the evening to help bump his gain up and also give La the chance to connect with him by giving him a bottle (this was a bit earlier than we wanted to start bottle feeding, but the LC recommended it and assured us it wouldn’t hurt anything) I’m trying to pump 3x/day after feeds or on the opposite breast when he only takes one (most common in the early morning or middle of the night) although there are days when I can’t get 3 in because he seems to be eating all the time.

I’m exhausted and a little bored with myself, but I also feel so so committed to making this work and feeding Ansel breast milk exclusively, if it is at all possible. The LC told me she was very impressed that we’d been able to not supplement at all given that he was both early and I had a c section, and that fact spoke well to our likely ability to keep going, especially with a little extra boost from the metformin and pumping. But the fear still hangs over my head . . .Last night, Ansel slept for 6 hours in a row. And I should have been so excited, right? Instead I was terrified about what that might mean for his weight and my milk. Fucking parenthood.

But damnit, he makes it all worth it (and I think he’s starting to get some chubby cheeks, maybe?)



19 thoughts on “Milk Maid

  1. What an amazing support group. Feeding our babies can be one of the most stressful things when it feels like it’s not working, and the most rewarding when it feels like it is. ❤
    Ansel looks like he's definitely starting to get milk cheeks, such a little cutey pie!

  2. I remember the non stop feeding days. I hear ya on it all. A month or so ago my little went from 20th percentile to 9th. The student doctor told me to start feeding him cereal or formula. I got all angry and firmly told her I would not be doing that. She said I had to come back to weigh him every week theb. Turns out he had a cold and within two weeks was passed the 20th percentile. While I pretended to be confident to the doctor I went home and panicked. I pumped exclusively for days just so I could count each ounce and compare on Google. I think the fact we don’t have a window to see our supply makes it easier to doubt ourselves.

    Sounds like you are perfectly normal and you are doing great!

  3. I think I’m going to find a local breastfeeding group also, although like you I’m concerned it’ll be full of quinoa eating mummies wearing genii pants.

    I may only be 3 days in but I’ve already come across the challenges of my milk coming in and swelling my boobs to a degree where things get blocked/sore. T is also fighting my boobs at times which I think is because my ducts are blocked. If T’s not that, it just hurts in general because the little munchkin takes a good latch but then sips backwards into my nipple.

    I’m always either planning T’s next feed or reading up on techniques, etc. on top of this I think I’m going to have to express to relieve the pain so now I’m have to plan his feeds around when I can express and visa versa.

    It’s all very stressful but we’ll get there in the end.

    Apologies for the lengthy comment – I’m just relieved to see someone in the same boat as me albeit ahead of me at the moment.

  4. I am so glad you had such a great and helpful experience with the support group and LC. The MT was early and slow gaining at first and I struggled to make enough milk, rode the BFing/new parenthood roller coaster and remember those bored yet anxiety-ridden days well. You are doing so well, honestly, and the efforts show – Ansel is getting adorably chubby cheeks and looks super blissed out in that photo. I hope you are feeling alright emotionally. Those first few weeks and months can be very challenging and were for me.

  5. You are doing amazing! It is a total mind fuck, I agree. But two years and I can tell you that I am glad we stuck it out. Very glad you are on metformin, that should help you. My favorite galactogogue is moringa. I bought a canister of it and added a tbs or two to baked goods with very quick results and no gas for wallace. With the weight checks, only compare the scale to itself. Ped to ped and lc group to lc group but not ped to lc group. They can be many ouncea different and make you think he has lost weight or not gained enough. You are doing great! Reach out if you need a pep talk.

  6. Sounds like you’re doing a great job Andie. I can’t even imagine how awesome it must’ve been to be surrounded by other breastfeeding mamas and babies. How are you healing from the section? I love the milk drunk photos of Ansel. Adorable.

  7. I exclusively pump for Kaimani because it just seemed to work best for him. We’ve never had to supplement but I can tell you he turned 5months yesterday & I still have issues finding the time to pump enough to keep up with his eating (he’s up to 7oz) & I’m a stay a home mom. Btw, babiesrus sells lactation cookies I would stock up on some, or there’s recipes online t make your own. When I need to boost my supply I drink tons of Gatorade!

  8. Way to stick with it!!! That group and LC sound amazing. He’s precious and looks like he’s not worried about a thing in the world! (Must be nice right?!) 😉

  9. Im glad you’re getting the support and early too. I’ve never been so emotional in my life as when I was trying to figure out my milk situation. It really does mess with you.

  10. I’m glad you found some support. I didn’t get the support I needed and stopped breastfeeding 2 weeks in, exclusively pumped for 3 months and finally ran out of frozen breastmilk at 6 months. I’m so glad you found a group like that – it’s wonderful!

  11. You’re doing great! I struggled with breastfeeding, both supply and the some of the extreme fervour around the act. It is so good for them and is good for us, and if you need or choose to supplement, that’s ok. There are so many good ways to nourish and bond with our babies. You can connect with a bottle and be totally checked out with the breast – it’s not a guaranteed bond to breastfeed. I found the pressure and the language around it stressful and unhelpful. Do it as long as it is working for you and when it no longer is, do something else. What you choose will be exactly right for you and your family.

  12. So true…every word. I’m right there with ya! Even when things are going well, it’s a big responsibility that seems to come with unavoidable worries. Thanks for writing that post. It helped to hear that I’m not alone. Keep up the good work!

  13. Get that ish Andie…it is not easy! I was pumping like 10 times a day, knowing damn well that I wasn’t getting any milk! Poor Callie nurse, pumps, hand expresses every 3 hours and 3 months later she only gets about 1oz per pump…it’s horrible. She refuses to stop though because at least they get SOME milk, but the struggle is real, and you know what is best for him, and he seems to be doing great, so keep on keeping on!

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