So, breastfeeding. I never thought that this would become something so important to me, but it absolutely has become something I am 100% dedicated to. Before having Ben, I had planned to "give it a try" as it seemed to be something that is recommended. I figured if I could make it for 2 weeks, I could probably continue throughout my maternity leave, and then if it went well when I went back to work I would just keep on going until it was no longer beneficial to Ben.
I was one of the lucky ones, as Ben and I had zero problems from the get go. No soreness on my end, no issues with supply - in fact, I am pretty sure that for a few months I had an over-supply. Milk for dayz. Ben was packing on the lbs as fast as I was losing them - it was a mutually beneficial situation for the two of us! ;) I began pumping and storing extra in my freezer for when I would be away from Ben at work, and I assumed that this whole thing was going to be a breeze until I decided I was going to stop.
Due to my work schedule, and the schedule we have gotten Ben on, I only need to pump one time each day while at the office. I feed Ben before work, he gets a bottle (and I pump) mid-morning, I am home to feed him at lunch time, and then he waits to eat again until I am home from work in the late afternoon. Once we got the bottle issue resolved, it seemed as if we could continue with our system
But let me tell you how weird our bodies are: About a month ago, out of the blue, my body decided that it was not going to respond to my breast pump anymore. Ben would be at home drinking his 5-7 ounces of milk, and I would be at the office....pumping 2 oz if I was lucky. I went from pumping at least enough milk to cover his bottle intake, to hardly pumping half of what I needed.
I didn't think much of it for a couple weeks. I figured it was just a weird day, or I had timed my pumping session wrong. I knew I had enough "reserves" in the freezer that it didn't really matter. I started to panic when I realized I only had enough for a couple bottles left, and I still was pumping a lot less than needed.
I reached out to my network of experienced bf'ing moms to see what they thought. A friend of mine offered to let me borrow her pump, to see if I had a pump issue instead of a supply issue. I called my doctor, I started taking Fenugreek (it's supposed to boost your supply), I stopped drinking as much caffeine as I had been, cut out alcohol, tried eating healthier foods, but for awhile there NOTHING was increasing the amount I pumped.
Finally, someone asked me if I was experiencing the "letdown" while pumping. After some reflection, I realized that no - I had not been experiencing this while pumping at work for the past several weeks. I knew that it was occurring with Ben while feeding him, but for some reason it wasn't happening with the pump. I did a bunch of research and basically learned how much your mental state has to do with the particular hormone release needed to have this occur - which will then make for a successful pumping session.
It was suggested that I take several deep breaths, watch videos/look at pictures of Ben), bring a blanket that smells like Ben to work, and my personal favorite suggestion, "visualize a waterfall of milk", (LOL!) - basically anything to somehow trigger that happy "I'm feeding my baby" feeling.
Seriously. How strange is that? Our bodies are odd. Yes, there have been some pretty major changes at work lately that have created more work for me, (and perhaps added stress), but nothing that I thought would affect me in THIS way.
Anyway, I'm happy to report that after MUCH concern and stress over this issue, I have somehow managed to relax enough to get my pumping situation under control and successful.
So, once again, it has been a reminder to me just how valuable it is to have the support of others to help navigate through situations such as this! Often times the answers are out there, and all you have to do is stay focused on finding a resolution and ask for help.