Milk Marathon

Milk-MarathonI’m still on the low supply bandwagon over here. That’s me (symbolically) up there. Old 102 barely trudging along.

I’ve talked to a representative from my local chapter of La Leche League as well as a lactation consultant at the hospital where I birthed my son. The consensus is that I should pump or nurse at least 10 times a day. And instead of pumping for 15 minute stretches, I should only pump for five minutes at a time.

Needless to say, this does take a lot of time. I was only pumping at work three times a day before my supply dip. Now I’m pumping five times at least. More often if I can spare the time. And I’m making an effort to nurse my son between midnight and 3 AM since the hormones are supposed to be doing double time then.

On Tuesday, I managed to pump three ounces over the course of about 9 pumping sessions. I know I made a little more than that since I nursed my son too, but I can’t measure what goes into the boy. And three ounces is one more ounce than I managed to pump on Monday. *sigh*

The lactation consultant told me to continue this schedule through the end of the week at least. She said it could take as long as 72 full hours of this kind of demand to bring my supply back up. She says thanks to my hormones trying to revert back to normal, pre-mommy mode, it’s like the first days after I gave birth again when I was waiting for my milk to come in. She said if we were lucky, I MIGHT be able to trick my body into going back. But she also implied that it might be too late.

She also felt that the mini-pill could be partially to blame though it’s not in the research that the medication causes supply to drop. In fact, the mini-pill is usually given to mothers specifically because it’s supposed to NOT affect supply. And yet, here I am. The LC bases this on her own experience with other mothers, not the medical textbooks.

The LC also researched my new blood pressure medication (in one of the medical textbooks) and couldn’t find a link between it and my supply. It would seem there are no solid answers for my issue.

Why would my body stop playing ball half-way through the game? It’s just not fair. I know this isn’t really a solid comparison, but I think of what might have happened to me and my son if I lived in the days before modern medicine. Would he have starved because my body just stopped producing milk before he could take solids? Really, that’s such a silly thing to fixate on in this struggle, but I can’t get out of the circular thinking that my body is failing his body. If it weren’t for formula and breast pumps, what would I have done?

I’m trying to shake those thoughts out of my mind. It’s not a fair comparison to think of Colonial Kristin versus Modern-Day Kristin. Not only does Colonial Kristin not even exist, has never existed, but neither does Colonial Gibson. Though I bet he’d look darling in little buckle shoes.

Basically, fixating on what might have happened if I didn’t have the advantages of modern conveniences serves no purpose. And yet my mind circles around to me sitting on a porch during the Dust Bowl with my poor baby at the breast trying to get water from a stone. (Yes, I know the Dust Bowl was in the 1930s, way after colonial times. Don’t change the subject.)

My circular thinking isn’t helping the situation. I’m trying to stay distracted enough with work and Gibs that I don’t let my mind wander. But the last piece of advice I got from the LC was to relax. To try to take 20 minutes to myself, twice a day, to sit and do nothing in order to reduce my stress levels. And stressing about not having enough milk has the magical ability to clamp down on my supply. Imagine that!

But when I try to relax, my brain starts taking those iconic, historical pictures of hardship and inserting me and Gibs into them. STOP IT BRAIN!

I’m going to make another cup of Mother’s Milk tea and try to pretend that everything is fine. Because ultimately, it is fine. Even if I have to give up on my perfect, one year of nursing outcome. Even if I have to let go of some control. It’s going to be okay. Because I don’t live in the colonial times. I don’t live during the dust bowl. And Gibs is growing strong and fine with the milk he is getting. He’s tougher than I give him credit for. Maybe I can be tough too.


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