Monday, October 29, 2012

The TRUTH About Nursing

No one really ever tells moms-to-be how hard and how much work breastfeeding is.  When I was pregnant and I went to a breastfeeding class, or talked to people about it, it was made to seem easy.  No packing bottles when you travel, no buying formula, I'm just a ready-made meal for the baby! 

That may be true, but it's a lot of time and a lot of work.  I mean, a girl can't even get a night off to have a few drinks.  Sure, I can pump and dump as well as the next person, but I still have to pump.  No breaks. Ever.

Getting started in the hospital was really difficult.  In my post about KK's birth, I wrote all about the massive bruising to my abdomen.  That meant that I couldn't hold her across my stomach as I needed to.  And I was high as a kite on morphine and whatever else they were running through my IV. 

All that combined meant that I couldn't really get Kylie positioned correctly to nurse.  Robert saved the day, as usual, and helped me get her latched on.  He's amazing.  He went to the breastfeeding class with me and knew all the right things to do.  Me and my morphine-brain wouldn't have been able to make it work without Robert!

Nursing takes time, a LOT of time.  In the beginning, KK was nursing every two hours.  Not two hours from when she got done the last time, two hours from when the STARTED nursing.  And she was taking an hour to nurse, so that meant that I maybe got an hour break in between. 

I got nothing done for the first month, at least.  I really had no clue how demanding it was going to be.  It was a bit of a shocker.  She seemed to be hungry all the time!  I was so tired and so badly wanted a break and a few hours of solid sleep.

Having people visit was an ordeal, especially if they didn't show up when they said they would.  I would start nursing 1.5 hours before I was expecting company, so that she would be fed and happy for about an hour while visiting.  When people would show up late, Kylie would be on the verge of being hungry again.  Many visits were cut short.  It was frustrating.

Then things started getting easier.  She started lasting longer between nursing sessions, I was able to position her correctly and my supply was amazing.  It still took her a while to nurse, but she was becoming more and more efficient, so we were not tied to hour sessions each time.

When I was preparing to go back to work, Robert and I started to bottle feed KK more often so she could get used to it.  She hadn't had a bottle much and she wasn't very good at taking it.  She's choke from the flow and cry and refuse the bottle.  We worked at it and by the time she started day care, she was handling it pretty well.

About two weeks before I headed back to work, Kylie started doubling the amount she was eating and I couldn't keep up with her.  She was having a growth spurt.  I started to supplement with formula and the rumors are true, once you do that, your supply takes a hit.  Between the formula and starting back to work, my supply dwindled.  Rather than getting 3-4 ounces each time I pumped, I was lucky to get an ounce total. Most times it was about a half an ounce total.

I was on the verge of quitting.  It was so frustrated.  I felt like a damn pack mule, traipsing around with my laptop bag, my purse and the oh-so-large pump bag all in tow while going from my office to Sam's home office and back, all day, every day.  And then to get so little milk after all that effort??  Are you kidding?

Robert introduced me to his friend's wife who is a lactation consultant here at Mercy Hospital.  I started on a combination of fenugreek, blessed thistle and reglan. I was taking a ridiculous amount of capsules each day.  Three pills, three times a day of EACH of the supplements and then another 4 reglan pills on top of that.  That's 22 pills a day, people.  I chew gummy multivitamins so I don't have to swallow pills. 

About three days in, my supply jumped up dramatically and I was back to getting 3-4 ounces in the mornings and 2-3 ounces in the afternoon.  Frickin' sweet, you guys.  I was amazed that my supply had recovered. 

Then the reglan took a hold of me and made me crazy.  It said right there on the bottle that it may cause depression and anxiety.  I saw that when I first started taking it and thought to myself, "No need to worry about that, I'm happier than I've ever been and nothing can get me down!"  Not true.  I was crying every day, so sad and hopeless feeling. It was awful!

I finally had a big melt-down on Friday night and caused a huge fight with Robert.  Well, a huge fight for us is raising our voices and then not talking for an hour.  After I calmed down I apologized and told him I think it's the reglan and I decided to quit taking it.  It's not worth how it's making me feel and act.  I don't want to feel sad and I know I have nothing to feel sad about.  It's got to be the reglan!

Over the weekend we had a pumpkin carving party at our house and I didn't pump nearly as much as I should have on Sunday.  This morning my supply is back to where it was BEFORE all of the supplements and reglan.  Sigh.

Robert and I talked and I've decided to go ahead and quit breastfeeding.  I feel really guilty and selfish for wanting to quit.  I know how good it is for her and for me, but I'm so tired.  There is no part of me that wants to take pills all day every day.  Sometimes I can't even get them all down.  I am tired of being tied to the pump too.  I even pumped in my car when my mom and I were at the War Eagle craft fair a couple weeks ago. 

Robert tells me he's really proud of me for doing it for 4 months.  I truly appreciate him being so supportive of me.  He's the best.  I had hoped to go for 6 months at least, so I'm disappointed in myself.  I just didn't know that it would be like it is.  I've got to get over being down on myself for quitting though.  I think it may just take a little time.

I'm not trying to be whiny or anything, I just wanted to write this post for any mothers-to-be out there who are thinking about breastfeeding.  I highly recommend it for the baby (she's not been sick once) and for the mom (I've lost 57lbs so far since having KK!), but I thought it would be helpful to have a perspective from someone who isn't sugar-coating the whole thing.  I wish someone had been brutally honest with me about it before I had Kylie. I still would have done it, but at least I would have known what to expect so it wasn't such a shocker.


  1. Breastfeeding is SUPER hard! If you had asked me, I would have told you it is not easy - at all. With Hayden, I tried for about 3-4 months. I wasn't pumping a lot but I tried. I kept trying. I got frustrated and depressed because I wasn't pumping enough. Hayden was basically starving and so cranky because of it. It was terrible. We started supplementing and I kept trying - it didn't work. Eventually I quit and I felt so much better afterwards! Hayden was happy and the pressure was off of me.

    With Harper, I tried for a day. Literally a day. It didn't work. I don't produce much milk - at all. This time, the decision was easy and the whole experience was easier because I didn't put the pressure on myself.

    Try not to feel like a failure. You did awesome! It will be all good!

  2. Thanks, Melissa! I wish I had asked you about it. I am starting to feel better now that the pressure is off me.