Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What Happens when Nursing Isn't Easy?

My husband and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our 2nd child, Addyson.  In fact, if I don't go into labor sometime in the next week, I'd be surprised!  I just have that feeling, you know?  She's coming soon, I can just tell. 

This blog post is about to get pretty personal.  I'm hesitant to put some of this out there for the whole world to see, but then again, I want other women to know they aren't alone in their struggle to nurse. 

Even before I was even pregnant with my first, I knew I wanted to nurse, which is kind of strange given my family.  My mom didn't nurse, my sister has always thought it is just strange and kind of weird.  So I am not sure how or why I was born with the feeling like I needed to nurse.  I just knew that's what I wanted for me and my babies.  To each their own! 

Unfortunately, this natural, miraculous wonder of nursing wasn't at all natural to me and definitely not wonderful!  I am anatomically challenged to start.  I didn't know I was though, I mean, how would you?  Let's just say that things that should go out typically, were going more in.  That and things are just big around here.  Like they always say, things are bigger in Texas!  Ha!  So I thought I would have to use shields to be able to nurse from the get go.  We had all sorts of latching issues and my milk didn't come in quite as fast as my little Caden seemed to want it to!  He was a smaller baby too, 6 pounds, 14 ounces.  I know that's not really all that small, but I wonder if it played into the issues or not.  Things hurt.  A lot.  I was hormonal and frustrated and decided that I would just pump.  Well, exclusively pumping is not a walk in the park.  If you aren't pumping, then you are giving the baby the bottle.  And if you aren't doing one of those two things you are washing said pump accessories all the while you are supposed to be drinking a ton of water and eating a healthy diet.  Let's just say that the water and food went by the wayside and I was hardly producing any milk at all, leaving me to resent pumping and trying to nurture my baby this way.  I slipped into a terribly depressed state.  I was so frustrated that, in my mind, I had failed as a woman and mother.  Not to mention I was TIRED and HORMONAL!!!    I continued like this for about 2 and a half months and finally stopped when I returned to work. 

So, that's my story.  I guess I could just go into this second newborn phase accepting that formula is what we will do and that's fine.  However, something in me just says, no, that's not okay for me.  I really want to give this a try again.  Now, I am going in with my eyes, my doctor's eyes, and my poor husband's eyes wide open and know that this may not work.  I just have a hard time believing that.  I mean, if this were centuries ago, I would HAVE to do this.  Otherwise my babies would die.  It's supposed to work, right?  So here is my arsenal of weapons for the fight.

Supple Cups
I did a ton of research about things that go in that should go out.  I found these really neat things that use suction to draw things out.  You can find them HERE

You can use them with shells like THESE.  I started doing this at about 3 or 4 months and I have seen great improvements.


I did get one of THESE again just in case, but I am hoping not to use it since the Supple Cups did such a good job!

Plain Old Nutrition
I have stocked the house with lots of high protein snacks.  I have a special water cup I bought that's nice and pretty that I plan on draining each nursing session.  I realize this is probably the most important part of production.

Lactation Cookies
These are loaded with oats, flaxseed and brewer's yeast.  All things that are supposed to help with milk supply.  I have posted the recipe/tutorial HERE!

Fenugreek Caplets
I have heard great things about these supplements and I will begin taking these now since I am just about a week and a half away from Addyson's arrival.  You can get this at any nutrition store.

Mother's Milk Tea
I used this with Caden and it did seem to help, so it will be on stand by for sure.  I am confident that my cookies and Fenugreek will do the job and I won't need this.  I didn't really care for it.  It's not awful, but it's not exactly great either!

La Leche
There are support groups around and I think it's important to be aware of when they meet before you have problems.  The hospitals also have lactation consultants who can help.  There is help to be had if you are willing to go get it!  I never did seek help with Caden.

The Pump
It's not what I want to do.  I am not even sure I will use it again.  I think about it and it takes me to a really dark place.  I want to be a happy mom for Addyson.  So if that means formula, it means formula.  I think my mental well-being trumps the nutritional benefits of nursing at some point.  I may get yelled at by the Nursing Nazi's out there, and so be it.  I WANT to do the best for my child, but I can't give my child the best if I am suffering from depression!

I hope that this has been helpful to some of you!  I will let you know how my second journey with nursing goes!


  1. An extra 15 minutes of pumping after the morning feeding can help increase milk production. It tricks your body with supply & demand. If it doesn't stress you out too much, I wouldn't completely say "Goodbye" to your pump. But you just have to find what will work for YOU!

    1. Yes, I've heard of that! I think someone called it Power Pumping! Great suggestion!

  2. Great post.

    Couple of thoughts.
    1: have you considered getting free donor breastmilk (try eats for feets) and using an sns to nurse? Nothing better to help your milk come in than your baby... Then you're not 'tricking' anything... Your baby is drinking as she normally would and you don't have the stress of feeling like you weren't producing enough...just a thought.
    2:the group is called la leche league and the leaders will gladly help you for free. The meetings are monthly and it helps to talk there to the other moms who share your difficulties. They can totally help.
    Good luck.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I haven't thought of donor breastmilk. I'll look into it! Yes, La Leche is great. I already know when their next meeting is and plan to go!

  3. I feel like I was reading my own story with your opening. Mom never nursed, sister was almost grossed out by it, but I just felt like it was something natural. Never even considered formula, especially with my first child. However, being a full-time mom, he was only exclusively nursed for the first 3 months or so. I became slave to my pump at work every 2 hours on every break/lunch for the next 3 month (which is an entirely different story.. had to fight to find somewhere TO pump, other than the bathroom which would have been gross). I got so depressed when I wasn't able to produce milk anymore.
    With my 2nd baby, I went into a bit more prepared. I knew a bit more about what helped your supply and what didn't, and what to expect. With my daughter I was able to nurse exclusively for the first 6 months, then she was completely on formula at 10 months old.
    Just hang in there, you know what's best for your child. If for some reason you're not able to nurse Addyson, you didn't do anything wrong. Formula isn't the end of the world. (and if you were unable to nurse 100 yrs ago, chances are you'd have to have found a wet-nurse. One more reason I'm grateful for the invention of formula!) :-D

    1. Forgot to add, I did use Mother's Milk tea for my second baby when I noticed my supply starting to decrease. I'm pretty sure that's what helped extend my "nurse-ability" last longer the second time :-) Not the best tea in the world, but then again, it accomplishes what you want it to!

    2. Thanks for your comments! I totally agree on the tea--not great, but it helps!

  4. Awesome post! I went through the exact same thing. The second time was much better and more enjoyable than the first. Good Luck to you!

    1. I love hearing others say there is hope for this time around! I just want to give it my best try!

  5. Great post! We struggled at first too. I have the same inversion problem-or did. After nursing my first, that went away and it was much easier with my second. We used a shield off and on with both of our kids for the first couple of months. Helps with the sensitivity too! I stressed with pumping at work too. I eventually pumped before I went to bed and in the middle if the night when baby started sleeping, just to get an extra few ounces. I did not get a ton when I piped, but somehow once I added it all together, it was enough. Fenugreek works but makes you smell like maple syrup. loL! Good luck!

  6. You are a wonderful example of working towards something and accepting a solution that worked for everyone - you never settled because you gave it your all! Remember that heat before nursing can help your milk let down so even if milk leaks ahead of time, it will make your breasts softer and make it easier to latch, especially if you struggle with inverted nipples - all the extra room helps. Afterwards, grab a bag of frozen peas/corn and put it in your nursing bras - the cold will help with the swelling (only after nursing tho as cold can slow milk production). Gerber makes hot/cold packs for breastfeeding that have a hole in the middle for the nipple and are small enough to strap in your nursing bra for before/after care. Your own milk is a natural moisturizer and is full of antibodies so if you are chapped or cracked, take a few drops of milk and gently put in on the sore spots as often as you nurse or more. Also remember that afterbirth pains (the ones you get while nursing) usually get stronger with successive children so you might notice that difference too. If the tea, cookies, and fenugreek help, go for it. A favorite book of encouragement for nursing is Spilled Milk by Andi Steiner.
    My story about "needing" to nurse is similar to yours but I didn't have a lot of friends or other examples. My mom and mil were encouraging but since they hadn't done it, they didn't quite understand why I was so adamant. Our first was the same weight as yours and my milk took 5 days instead of the assumed 3, making for greater weight loss and more stress. We also struggled with strep infections in my breasts - they treated my son and myself for thrush for 14 weeks when it was strep the whole time - if you find the pain unbearable and not subsiding with help, repositioning, shields, then ask them to test you for that. It was amazing after 2 courses of antibiotics! As for pumping - I pretty much failed. However, I successfully nursed 3 happy, healthy boys!

  7. One would think that since we have breasts to nourish our children that it would be perfectly easy to nurse them, but alas that is not the case. I am lucky enough that I was able to, but jeez the pain and torture were a lot to deal with. You are not alone, I have a friend who tried everything and she still wasn't able to produce milk for her daughter. What's important to me is that she tried her best and in the end made the best decision to make sure her baby was fed.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy and best wishes for a short delivery!


    Christine Barker
    (sent from Kim Geisers FB)

  8. I had the same exact issues with my first-same feelings, same problems. I just realized that spending time with my baby and child was more important than being hooked to a pump 24/7. Once I had my second and had very similar problems-it was a lot easier to realize it was ok for me to "fail" at nursing. Being a mom was more important. Hope you are enjoying your new baby!

  9. Thanks for writing this. I went through the same things with 3 kids... Second was much better, not exactly sure why. It's nice to know I'm not alone, it's easy to feel ostracized and uncomfortable. Especially when strangers seem to think it's o.k. to ask if you are breastfeeding, and then follow up with - why not?? Best wishes for a healthy and easy delivery!


So glad you stopped by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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