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relactating
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November 2008
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Jessica [userpic]

Ok, so I guess this is my intro post.

Basically, as expected, I'm trying to relactate. My son is 7 weeks old and was getting a little breastmilk until he was 3 weeks old, when I ended up back in the hospital for three days and decided just to give up and let my milk dry up. Well, 3 weeks after that, after many nights of crying over it, I decided that I either needed to try to relactate or finally make peace with not breastfeeding. So I'm trying. I put the whole story behind the cut because it's kind of long.


I gave birth to a 9lb, 1oz boy on October 22, after a long labor that ended in a c-section. They brought him to me and showed me how to latch him a couple hours after the surgery, when I still assumed I would just breastfeed. At the time, they asked if it would be ok to give him formula if his blood sugars were low. His sugars were ok, so they didn't need to supplement him. Unfortunately, after that first feeding, I went into shock and ended up needing a blood transfusion. I was very very weak and very sore and I was not able to nurse him for the rest of the day, nor pump, so they started giving him formula (with our OK). It wasn't until 2 days later that I saw a hospital LC, who brought me a pump and told me I had to pump every 2-3 hours, 8 times a day, in order to establish a supply. She also showed me again how to hold him and latch him. I saw another LC the next day, who said all the same things. They told me to rent a hospital-grade pump, because the Avent iQ Duo I'd bought would burn out if I tried to use it so often.

I only pumped 8 times that one day. When I got home from the hospital the next day, I was so tired and weak and sore that it was easier to let his daddy hold him and feed him and everything than to even attempt to breastfeed. I ended up pumping only about 3 times per day, and I only tried latching him a few times because it hurt so much and I was so uncomfortable. I also found it very frustrating because he'd either fight me or fall asleep while I tried to feed him. He also got very fussy when we "topped him off" with formula after a bf-ing session or a bottle of breastmilk, and he didn't get fussy when he had only formula, so that was pretty discouraging.

Then, when he was 3 weeks old, when I was starting to feel better and was ready to try to breastfeed more, rather than less, I started bleeding really heavily and had to be rushed to the ER. I spent 3 more days in the hospital, where I didn't bf or pump, and my doctor and I decided I would just let the milk dry up and go to exclusively ff-ing.

I didn't realize how much that would upset me until I was crying myself to sleep every night about it.

Now he's 7 weeks old and I'm again recovered, so I'm going to try to relactate.

I think the main reason I failed the first time is that when I didn't/couldn't pump 8 times a day, I just felt horrible and didn't think about just letting him latch or trying other methods. I thought, well, if I'm not pumping 8 times a day or every 2 hours, like they told me to, then why bother? Plus, when I was only getting 2-3 ounces and he needed at least 4-6 per feeding, it was so much easier just to make up a bottle of formula and let my husband feed him, especially in the early days when I was so weak and sore. I probably should have arranged to see an LC back then, who could have told me that 2-3 ounces is nothing to sneeze at and to keep at it. And that if he were actually at the breast, he probably would have gotten more than what I was getting with the pump. Now I know all that, which is why I think I might be able to make this work.


So what I'm doing so far is taking fenugreek, trying to drink more water, and pumping as often as I feel like I can. I have an Avent iQ Duo electric pump and an Isis manual and I'm using both. I also am trying to let him comfort suck and/or feed at least once a day. His latch is fantastic and after only a few days of this, my nipples hurt a lot less and he's more cooperative.

I'm trying to find a way to schedule feedings and pumpings that I can stay sane, not feel lonely or bored, but still effectively bring back at least some milk. I'm hoping that it will be enough. I also work full time, which complicates things. Right now, I only get little drops with the manual, and almost nothing with the electric, but I'm pretty sure he gets more than that when he nurses because he'll suck for a long time without getting frustrated.

I also HATED washing the pump parts every time and I felt so isolated sitting there holding the flanges to my breasts. I couldn't do anything else while I pumped, and that was lonely and boring. That's why sometimes I like to use the electric pump with just one side at a time, or use the manual pump. Then I have a free hand to read or do a crossword puzzle or something so I'm not sitting there staring at the bottles. Also, I figure that until I actually start collecting enough EBM to feed to him, I don't really need to wash it every time, which helps the whole sanity thing.

I just don't know if it's enough. The schedule is something like this:
- Pump with the dual electric pump for 15 minutes when I wake up in the morning
- At work: Pump for 5 minutes on one side with the manual pump in the morning
- At lunch, go home and use the electric pump again for 15 minutes
- At work: 5 minutes on the other side with the manual pump in the afternoon
- After work, either pump with the electric pump for 15 minutes or let him comfort-suck for as long as I can, but at least 10 minutes per side. Do one or the other at least 2-3 times between coming home from work and going to bed

Do you think that's enough to at least be able to eventually give him one or two meals a day? I don't expect to be able to get to a point where he's getting 100% breastmilk, but something is better than nothing, right?

Comments

Hi there,

I just found this community and your situation is very similar to mine. How is everything going? Were you able to relactate?

Hi,

I wasn't successful, unfortunately. Mainly because I am working full time and could not pump 8 times a day every day and spend all that time with him nursing and everything that was necessary to really up my milk production.

I did let him comfort-suck on me about once an evening for a while. I was still producing a few drops and he enjoyed the flavor, but it was never even close to a meal. But I started HBC this month (combo pill) and even those few drops have dried up. He still likes to suck, but gets mad that no food comes out. Hehe.

But I do feel confident that with my (eventual) next child, I will know what to expect in terms of the early days of breastfeeding and I hope I will be able to breastfeed him or her when the time comes.

(Anonymous)

Jessica I can really identify with your experience, did the 3 hourly pumping and all that, dragging myself up to the hospital lactation room in the middle of the night, ugh, not a nice intro to motherhood. You really had a tough time, I can totally see why you gave up BF'g.

If you're getting a few drops of milk then that's really encouraging, my supply increased dramatically in the first 2 weeks. I did 3 hourly pumping during the day and once during her night feed. Is your son still waking in the night? This is a good time to pump accoring to the LCs, something to do with prolactin levels. I also found totally draining my breasts at each session seemed to increase the supply. Have you tried breast compression? You squeeze your boob quite far back from the nipple, close to your chest, I find it helps the let-down and is essential towards the end of a pumping session to drain the boob, plus to get all that good hindmilk. I usually start with the right boob, pump till flow is almost nothing, repeat with the left, go back and compress right breast, repeat with left and maybe repeat that again with each boob.

Fennel tea is supposed to help the let down and oats are supposed to help the supply. I find expressing is depressing also, I think it's a hormonal reaction, it hits me the instant I start pumping but wears off over the session.

It's hard to do this while working full-time. Maybe once your supply has increased a bit you could start each feed you're home for by having him latch on and suck, then top him up with EBM or formula, then pump to drain your boobs and it might give you more of a sense of achievement.

Best of luck, you're a very dedicated mother.

Deirdre.

(Anonymous)
relactating

Well I breastfeed my Son from birth 2 2halfmonths befor I gave him formula..I shouldnt have because it messed with his tummy made him constipated and fussy.. Soon I found my breastmilk was way down..I pumped every hour or so a little tell I relactated and stoped formula. I am so happy and thankful 2 be breastfeeding!