Baby’s got milk…only just

So you know how I’ve been feeding my baby all day long? And how, despite that she’s barely gained weight? Well, it turns out my squirt envy wasn’t so unfounded after all. I shouldn’t have brushed off my concerns as the unfounded worries of a first-time breastfeeder.

Yes, some women don’t feel the let-down (when milk starts squirting out) and don’t have a sense of fullness. But these can also be signs that there’s not much there. A visit from a lactation consultant confirmed what I’d thought from week one. I’ve got a low milk supply.

The latch that ten, maybe twelve people thought was fine, upon closer reflection, isn’t. The baby seems to have trouble holding it in place. She may have a tongue tie. We’ll know on Wednesday after our trip to the postnatal ward. Otherwise it’s something to do with me and I’ve got a postnatal checkup on Wednesday too. Hopefully that will be the day of answers.

The lactation consultant sat with us on Friday morning to observe a feed. She showed me how to detect the swallows and my heart broke. I couldn’t believe my baby was working so hard for so little. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed all this time.

We worked on positions and she taught me to do breast compressions: basically how to squeeze the milk into her mouth. Because there’s so little there, the flow is really slow.

Seeing her actually get at the milk was—I could have cried.

I dread to think what would have happened if I’d just taken the GP’s “sage” advice of eating butter to “improve the quality” of my milk “because that’s what breastmilk is made of” after having suggested that I don’t have any milk, which makes me wonder how she thinks my baby is alive.

So the plan of action is to pump like a mofo – clearing me out every two to three hours round the clock – so the body gets the message to send more milk. The ideal would be to feed the baby and then pump but other than night time (when she doesn’t want to nurse at all) there is still no such thing as “between feeds” with this baby. She lives on the breast. That’s not just because she’s hungry but also because she really is a sucky baby. But for whatever reason she’s not clearing me out.

So, the lactation consultant advised that I give her bottles of expressed milk so I can get on with the pumping to build up my supply. Especially since so far it’s taking an hour to get an ounce or two at the moment. But I’m thinking, will she actually nap so I can pump, then? Thankfully my bro is around this week so he may well have a go at babywearing so she can sleep and I can get on with milking myself like a cow.

Short of that, the only thing I can think of is a dummy. I said I didn’t mind them but now that it comes to it, the thought of giving my baby a bit of cold silicone or whatever they’re made of makes me a little sad, if I’m honest. But, to be sure, we’ll still be doing lots of breastfeeding so she remembers the breast.

And, as if this is a test of motherhood, I’ve also come down with the cold, which incidentally isn’t great for supply. Ick.

But on the bright side, the baby did three poos today as opposed to one every three days. Heaven shines on us. Poo is very exciting.

Also, feeding like this means I’ve got to really concentrate on listening to her swallows, looking at her reactions and squeezing her some more, which means that I feel for the first time like we’re seriously bonding.

She’s rejected the cradle and cross cradle holds for now and loves the clutch but it’s the laid back that really brings us closer.

I lie back and she lies on me, her legs splayed across mine and her eyes looking up at me with what I’m pretty sure is love. I look down at her, drinking her in and willing myself to pass her some more liquid love.

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  • Sounds incredibly tough. All power to you for keeping it up and getting good advice. Hoping you have a good weekend with your brother.

    One thing about nighttime, it’s my understanding that feeds then boost the supply, something to do with hormone levels, so will you be pumping at night as well? Hugs, love and strength to you.

    • Thanks. Feeding and pumping at night. After another chat this morning we’re going try to feed then pump unless she’s really not getting anywhere – if the flow’s at all slow she’s just not getting anything. As it turned out she had lots of night feeding because she wouldn’t settle after the bottle!

  • Ah tough. I think one of the worst things about the breastfeeding lobby is the way they make it sound easy for everyone, so you doubt yourself if it seems difficult. If I hadn’t had my awesome midwives I probably would have given up on day four. Power to you for finding someone to help. I also found useful in terms of general breastfeeding knowledge.

    • Yes it’s such a useful website. The trouble is putting it all into practice with the sleep deprivation common to this time and a fever to boot. I know what you mean though. I have to keep actively fighting the feeling that I’m failing somehow because this is supposed to be “so natural”.

  • Aw you poor sod Adele. It sounds like you’ll have to make your house into a small dairy farm for the baby, but at least Liam is down. He can hold the baby and you can sleep/pump!

    I still don’t think downing chunks of butter would have helped, maybe towards an up in cholesterol!

    Hoping you get some real time for you this week coming!!

    (who knew that even with big baps it doesn’t necessarily mean lots of milk?)

  • This post has made me cry. I know you’re having problems and all, but it’s that last line that so describes breastfeeding for me. I didn’t realise how much I missed it until now. That said, I never fully made friends with the breast pump, even when I had a blocked duct and it was the only thing that “emptied it”. Good luck for tomorrow!

  • Good on you for persisting and getting the help you need – Kelly Mom and the working cow (I think) have some great tips on getting more out when you express (tips for massage to stimulate let down and tricks around the compressions)

    Also they have some suggestions for natural galactogues (? spelling) which can help stimulate supply (best tip is eat flapjacks, oats are good!)

    Keep on persisting in getting the tongue tie looked at 

    If you’re not keen on a dummy we found a finger helped (and then they got used to the idea of sucking theirs when they got bigger) – gave a bit of a boob break

    Take care and you are doing a great job, don’t forget that

    • Thanks. I’m living on Kelly Mom at the moment! Turned out she had tongue-tie. It’s been fixed and now we just have to get the supply back up because even though she’s swallowing more, she’s still not getting much. 

Further reading

Showing up as myself

[image description: Adele and her youngest child sit in the greenhouse, looking at the camera] You may have noticed that I’ve changed this website’s name and URL to my own: Adele Jarrett-Kerr. When I started this blog nine years ago, it...