The first weeks of life with your baby can – no WILL – hold some of the most rewarding and the most challenging moments of your life.
The question for today is what the heck do you do to help build your supply if you’ve encountered breastfeeding issues?
First thing to know is that you need to build and then protect your milk supply. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand relationship. In the most basic terms, baby (or pump) demands milk on the regular, body learns to supply milk on the regular. If you don’t stimulate the breasts at a rate equal to baby’s need, then your body doesn’t know what baby’s need is.
Let me repeat: It’s very important that you build and maintain your supply, no matter what – this includes NICU mamas!
I know exactly what it feels like to face this supply/demand issue with a baby who regularly refused to latch. So, what did I do?
I attempted to latch her every 2-3 hours around the clock. If she latched, GREAT! And when she wouldn’t latch within 30-45 minutes, I’d pump while my husband fed her the last milk I pumped. Don’t forget, she didn’t want anything in her mouth, so he had a hard time, too, the poor guy. And what did this look like? Complete, utter exhaustion for both me and my husband.
But! And PLEASE pay attention to this! It was only through perseverance that we were able to make it through the other side still nursing. There were many, many times I wanted to quit trying and either just exclusively pump or hang up the pump altogether and either use donor milk or formula. Sitting on the couch with the pump motor mocking me while my husband struggled to get milk into our daughter’s belly was one of my lowest points. But then I’d remember how hard I’d worked to become a mother in the first place, how hard I worked to push her out (hello, emergency cesarean after pushing for HOURZZZZZZ), and how hard I’d worked to bring in my mature milk and build my supply, and I’d keep on going.
We did this around the clock for three weeks, and I spoke with an IBCLC nearly everyday (I saw her once a week at minimum). Eventually, with lots of troubleshooting, practice, and PATIENCE, we left the angry-baby-pass-off-and-pump routine behind.
This experience inspired me to become a certified lactation counselor.
If you’re having issues with breastfeeding at any stage, please ask for help. You don’t need to go through this without support and guidance. Please contact a IBCLC, and LLL Leader, or CLC such as myself. Help is closeby, you just have to ask for it. Don’t wait. Nursing 8-12 times a day adds up quickly – waiting even over the weekend means you’ll be nursing (or attempting to do so) close to 50 times before you make that call.
If you’re in the Tallahassee area, I can be reached at Leslee@BoldBirth.org.
Info from KellyMom.com: Establishing and Maintaining Milk Supply when Baby is Not Breastfeeding