Monday, June 21, 2010

Extreme Breastfeeding

Hello, my name is Rachel and I'm a low milk supply mama.

It all started when my first child was born, and 'my milk never came in' - that's the phrase everyone uses, though it's a little inaccurate because my colostrum did indeed change to mature milk, there just wasn't much of it. I tried pumping and using a supplemental nursing system (SNS), but I was so overwhelmed that I quit after just three weeks, when he developed thrush.

I figured it was a fluke, but while pregnant with my second, I researched quite a bit just in case. I bought a SNS to bring to the hospital and found out what herbal supplements I could take if it turned out I had low supply again. I ended up making just the same amount of milk as I did with my first, and nothing I tried helped. I still only made about a quarter of what my baby needed. We lasted three months. The one good thing to come from that experience was that I discovered the Lact-Aid, a much better alternative to the SNS.

At the very beginning of my third pregnancy, I started researching obsessively. I found a lot of new things to try, some of which I could do while pregnant. Some of those new things worked, and I was able to increase my production to about a third of what she need. I felt pretty good about that, and we managed to make it to six months, though the last month of that, she would only consent to nurse at night, while half asleep.

This time, I feel like an old pro as far as supply issues go. I had my routine while pregnant: 4 cups of alfalfa, nettle, red clover, and red raspberry leaf tea steeped for 12 hours, 3 cups of Metamucil, and 2 shatavari pills daily. Immediately after giving birth, I started taking domperidone, a medication that is not available here and has to be illegally brought into the country. I dropped the shatavari (not supposed to take shatavari and domperidone at the same time). I also encapsulated my placenta and got about 90 pills, so I take one of those a day, too. On good days, Niall gets half of what he needs from me.

Our plan was to do minimal bottles to reduce the risk of nursing strikes, but I developed a really bad infection on my nipples (thrush, but also something else due to badly damaged skin from a shallow latch that I took too long to correct). I took Diflucan for two weeks, which in addition to 2 garlic pills and 4 probiotic pills daily, cleared up the thrush. My nipples were still badly damaged and nursing was excruciating until I discovered saline soaks and a homemade all-purpose nipple ointment (APNO). Most people get this as a prescription from a compounding pharmacy, but it can run about $70. So I figured out how to make my own (equal parts Lotrimin/Monistat, polysporin/bacitracin, and hydrocortisone cream). While my nipples were healing, we did one bottle a night to give myself a break. Now things are much better and we're able to cut that out. So, while I'm not in nearly as much pain, I'm still taking 20 pills daily (2 fish oil, 2 garlic, 2 probiotic, 1 prenatal, 1 placenta, 10 domperidone, 2 vitamin D), 2 cups of Metamucil, 4 cups of alfalfa tea, and applying APNO whenever I can. Here's what I need to breastfeed my baby:

Breastfeeding is supposed to be free and easy. For me, it's anything but.


  1. Bravo to you for continuing!! I have a 4 mo. old and stumbled across your blog when a friend gave me the addy for your WW pts website. I've gained about 15 lbs. since shortly after her birth (lost 23 after giving birth and in the first week, but it's coming back!) and am back on the WW wagon again. You can do it, too! It's hard because your baby is so little, but it's depressing to gain weight after a baby and you can do it with me. :)

  2. have you tried drinking chicken soup? or a fatty fish soup? that worked for my mom when she was nursing me apparently.