November 30, 2014

My Tips for Pumping

Being a momma who struggles with supply issues I sometimes feel tied to my pump.  When I got first got home with Judah I was very structured with my pumping, but as life happens are you have to care for a newborn and your other children you need a little wiggle room.  So although I don't pump as much as I would like to, here are some of the tips I have learned to make the most out of each session.

1.  Make sure you are a proper fit.  There are different sizes of flanges for different size nipples.  Make sure you have a proper fit.  Keep in mind it is nipple size not breast size.  When it is pumping it should be pulling your whole nipple in with out rubbing any on the side.  It should be comfortable and not  painful.  It it is have it checked by a lacation consultant if you have questions.

2.  Massage.  I massage my breast before I start to get the milk moving a little.  There are also time I don't feel like the pump is working as well as it shoud, so then I will take a break in the pumping session and massage again.  Heat compresses also work really well with massaging too.  This is basically just anything to get the milk flowing.

 3.  Press the Flanges into you, and also let them hang.  What I mean here is don't just hold them to you and count on them to do all the work.  Sometimes I will press them into me and get more sprays of milk.  I will also press them into me a slight angle and get sprays from other places.  I will also bend over slightly and hold them so my breasts are dangling over them, and this also gets milk from other places.

4.  Give it time. From personal experience, I know that if I pump for over 20 minutes I get a second let down of milk.  I will only be getting small drops for a few minutes, but if I just give it time the milk starts to flow for another small amount.  It may only be half an ounce, but of me, with my supple issues that is a lot.

5.  End with hand expression.  I was amazed when I started doing hand expression at the end of every pumping session.  When I think the pump is done and had gotten everything out, I stop pumping.  Then I try to hand express.  I am always surprised with the amount of milk I can still get from them.  I can usually get another half ounce.  These is good because the more thoroughly you empty your breast the more it will fill up.  This is a good way to increase production.

These are some things that have helped to me get more out of my pumping sessions.  If you have any other tips please share them.  I always love to learn more about pumping more effeciently.

I am so expert so if you have any questions about using a pump properly or questions about your supply please talk to a lactation consultant.


November 27, 2014

And for that I am Truly Thankful

I have the ability to work at a job where I love my coworkers and get a sense of fulfillment from my work, and for that I am truly thankful.

I live in a world where we have the technology to keep us connected to our family near and far, and also allow s us to make new connections and find new relationships, and for that I am truly thankful.

I have a warm safe home, delicious food on the table, and clothes on my back, and for that I am truly thankful.

I am in a place in my live where we have the power to take control and the ability to chase our dreams, and for that I am truly thankful.

I am healthy enough to enjoy my life and the family around me, and in a state of mind to see the wonder in our world, and for that I am truly thankful.

I have wonderful family, my extended family is supportive and always willing to lend a helping hand, and for that I am truly thankful.

I have the best husband in the whole world.  He is always there for me and he loves our family.  He is a very hard worker, and he is cute too! And for that I am truly thankful.

I have the 3 most amazing children.  They make me laugh and warm my heart everyday.  They make my life better, and for that I am truly thankful.


November 24, 2014

The Struggle of Low Supply

Not making enough breast milk feed my son is a struggle I deal with every day.  I spend hours every day pumping and I take close to 30 vitamin and supplements everyday. I can't even tell you how many times I have been told  that is it just a supply and demand issue, you just need to nurse more, drink more water, eat more lactation cookies.  Guess what?  It is not that simple.  Low supply is a real problem and it is a complex problem.

I wrote about my breastfeeding journey a few weeks ago. I shared that I suffer from low supply and shared some of my challenges. Though I have it better than some because I am able to provide a good amount of my babies nourishment, my body just won't make enough. There are many reasons for this, but most of the time the answer just tends to be "who knows".   Some of the reasons you run into a lot are hormone issues like thyroid or PCOS issues.  There is also something called IGT which is low glandular tissue in your breasts.  There are also issues relating insulin resistance to low supply.  There are many causes, but there just isn't much research and help for mama's out there. 

I have talked before about my issues with gestational diabetes, which most likely means I have some insulin resistance issues.  This is one of my main reasons for low supply I think.  There are drugs you can take for this like Metaformin, but the best thing you can do is just diet and exercise.  I am basically still doing the high protein diet/ low carb diet I did during pregnancy to help with this.  I may try the Whole 30 diet soon, we will see.  Also when they ran a hormone panel on me they found I had low prolactin level.  One good thing about this is there are somethings we can do, sadly they are not yet legal in the united states.  There is a drug called domperidone.  It can be prescribed in the states as an anti nausea meidcation, but not yet for lactation.  That being said.... I am taking it for lactation and I have been for 2 weeks.  I have seem my supply almost double in 2 weeks, which to me is amazing.

So a basic day for me is filled with feeding my baby whenever he needs to nurse, pumping between 4-8 times for thirty minutes, and taking all my pills.  I take 4 domperidone 3 times a day to help my prolactin levels.  I take 2 goat's rue 3 times a day to help with breast tissue production.  3 fenugreek 3 times a day to help with production.  I take 2 Shatavarri twice a day to help with estrogen levels. And I also take my prenatal vitamin and vitamin D.  I also eat oatmeal and drink lots and lots of water.  I do all of this just so I can produce a little over 1/2 of my son's needs. So when people do not perceive low supply as a real issue it is infuriating.

So this is just a reminder to all those proud nursing mama's out there.  Please be kind to each other and try not to judge.  You do not know each others journey and the road that has gotten you to where you are.  I defend myself every time I get out a bottle to feed my baby.  Yes, we all know breast is best, but it is not that easy for all of us.  Every time you post on facebook about how much breast feeding rocks and all the down falls of formula it slowly breaks my mama heart.  Yes, I see all your information about how breastfeeding is good for the gut and produces high IQ's and gives babies the best start.  I get it, but I assure you my twin that were formula fed are smart and healthy and wonderful.  We need to stop scaring and guilting people. We need to handle each other with care and not be too judgemental with each other.  We are all doing the best in the situations we have been given.  We are moms and we all love our children, breastfed or formula fed.


November 19, 2014

Thoughts and Ramblings of a 3AM Feed

Now all new moms know about the 3AM feeding.  Whether this is your first child or your 4th child, whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, it is something we all get through.  Those wee hours when you are awaked by those little cries, and the confusion and disorientation sets in.  This is what an average 3AM feeding looks like for me.

Hear stirrings coming from the pack-n-play at the foot of my bed.

Don't move a muscle! .... maybe it's just gas.

First verbal cry.... Maybe he will still go back to sleep...

Second cry... Ok, I'm up, get to the pack-n-play.  He looks asleep.  Wait a minute, hmm I hear nothing... very quietly go back to bed.

Crying. Nope. Ok, guess we are really doing this.

Pick up the baby and make your way out to the recliner.  Try and remember which boob goes in his mouth.. no idea, just pick which every one feels the fullest.

Doze in and out while the precious baby nurses until suddenly you wake up.  Maybe it was from his fussing at your now empty boob, maybe it is from the sound of your own snoring.  Either way you figure out what is going on and you change sides.

This time you are a little more awake, and the baby is a little less urgently hungry. Although you would love to be in your bed, this little baby is pretty amazing.  You guys share that amazing baby mommy eye contact while he drinks happily.  And you might even find yourself thinking... OK, maybe it was worth it to get out of bed at 3AM just to get this moment.

It is becoming quickly apparent to me how fast it all goes.  It seems insane to me that I now snuggle a 6 week old.  While there are times I think getting more than a 3 hour stretch of sleep would be amazing, I am able to look at Ben and Penny and see how fast the time goes.  They are little kids.  There is no baby there any more.  Instead of 3AM feedings I am dealing with sassiness and fighting.  I understand that Judah will only be this small for so much longer.  If he follows the twins, I only have a month or so left before he does sleep through the night.  Don't get me wrong, I will rejoice in my first full night of sleep, but a part of me, no matter how small, will miss those quiet moments.  Those moments when there is nothing to do but snuggle and feed my little baby.  In the fast-paced, quick-thinking world that is motherhood, those quiet moments where nothing else exists except for you and that amazing being in your arms are rare.  So even sleep deprived, I can find enjoyment in the quiet and amazement of those early weeks of motherhood.


November 18, 2014

My Journey and Lessons with Gestational Diabetes

So this pregnancy I was diagnosis with gestational diabetes.  After the shock of the initial diagnosis, I learned how to deal with things.

I was lucky.  Mine was very easily controlled with diet and exercise.  I basically added in some extra walking into my day.  Just simple things like walking around my office and parking farther away and things like that worked for me, and towards the end were about all I could do.

  Diet wise I basically focused on high protein and no sweets.  At first I really watched my carbs and really stressed myself out about it.  After awhile of watching my blood sugar number, I realized as long as I made good carb choices and didn't eat them too late in the night I was ok. Now I was also in Bradley classes, and there is a diet that goes along with those classes.  The main point of the diet is getting lots of protein, you also have to make sure you are eating a variety of food.  So that is the diet I ended up following.  It worked wonderfully for me.

I learned little tricks along the way.  Like if I ate a larger meal I would walk, even just 10 minutes would ensure my blood sugars stayed low.  I think one of the most important thing for me was having a high protien snack before bed.  My fasting number (which is the one you take right when you get out of bed) could sometimes be borderline.  If I had a high protein snack, like a cheese stick or even just a handful of almonds before bed time that number was usually good.

Towards the end I started to think of my diagnosis as even a little bit of a blessing.  It made me change my diet and my level of movement.  I only gained 6 lbs during this pregnancy (and having a high BMI that was perfectly healthy).  And now that the baby has been here I am almost back down to my weight before the twins were even born.  I have been tested since pregnancy and my number are fine, so I am good to go.  I will be tested again in a few months just to make sure, but I feel pretty good about it, even with all the Halloween candy and cookies that have been around.  I will need to be tested more frequently in life now, but with the family history that is probably a good thing.

So over all what I learned was just  a reinforcement of "everything in moderation."  I did cut out sweets, but besides that I learned as long as I am eating a variety of foods and healthy foods I will be healthier and feel better.


November 13, 2014

My Breastfeeding Journey

For me, breast feeding is always a somewhat painful journey.  It never goes quite like it's supposed to go.  I share in the twins birth story a little bit about my journey with them, but basically I never really got my milk in and never produced more than an ounce a day.  I chalked that up to their prematurity and that I could not put them to the breast.  Also that it was just a traumatic birth and really stressful.  I was not really educated and thought it would be much easier than it was.

This time around I was much more educated.  I knew all the steps I was going to take afterwards to make sure we had that bond and give breastfeeding the best start.  I was going to have a natural birth to help.  The birth I had with Judah was so different.  I really assumed my breast feeding journey would be different.

So I had skin to skin right after my c-section with Judah.  And he was in recovery with him and we got him latched.  It wasn't a perfect latch because newborns have such a small mouth... and let's just say, I'm not small, but none the less he was latched. He slept a lot the first two days, but he would latch some.  He was losing weight, but that is what happens, I wasn't too worried.  Then on the 3rd night he was just screaming all night long.  He would fight the latch and when he would latch he would come off quickly and scream.  My nipple hurt so bad due to a shallow latch.  We found out that morning that he had lost more than 11.5% of his body weight and we needed to start supplementing asap, and we also found out we would not be able to leave the hospital until he started gaining again.

So here I am... in the exact same place production wise as I was with the twins.  There is just something heartbreaking about knowing the reason my baby was screaming all night long was because he was hungry and I couldn't feed him.  I am his mother, that is what I should be able to do.  It is such a awful feeling to be unable to do that.  Now I was looking at supplementing.  I knew I did not want to use formula at this point because I was hoping to work through this and still breastfeed, so I put out some feelers with some friends and the Lactation Consultants and we were able to get some donor milk. I am also pumping but only getting 3-5 ml at a time, which is almost literally nothing.

In the beginning we tried so many different ways of supplementing so he wouldn't get nipple confusion.  We did finger feeding.  We supplemented at the breast with feeding tubes. We tried it all.  I would still nurse him but we had to make sure we was getting most of his nourishment in other ways because he was not transferring any milk from me.

I did all of this, but it was so awful.  I think this was so much worse that not getting my VBAC.  There were lot and lots of tears, but I was determined.  So we got his weight up and we went home.  I was in and out of the lactation consultants office for a couple days getting things figured out.  There did some hormone screening to find out why I do not produce.  What came back was that my prolactin levels and low and do not behave like they are supposed to.  Also because of the gestational diabetes there is a big chance I am insulin resistant which can also lead to supply issues.

Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than supply issues.  I hear so often that it is just a supply and demand problem.  All I need to do is just put my baby to the breast and do skin to skin and nurse nurse nurse.  Yeah... I would love if it was that simple for me.  I can do that and many days have, but it still doesn't mean I am able to feed my baby.  My supply has grown, which is promising, but so has his appetite.  I am staying right at about a 1/3 of what he needs.  Although I have started some new herbs and a medication that are looking promising.  I will let you all know about that journey and the life with low supply later.  Let me tell you... I have never taken so many pills in my life, probably close to 30 a day.

So now little Judah is 5 weeks (shut up! There is no way it is going that fast!) and we have a good nursing relationship.  He nurses many times a day for a small amount of milk, but mostly comfort, and I love it.  What is nice is prolactin levels are highest in the late night/early morning hours, so during those late night feeding I don't have to mess with anything, I can just nurse him because I actually have enough milk.  That is the best.  During the day and evening he gets bottles of donor milk.  I have been blessed with a wonderful donor who has given us freezer fulls of milk, so we are still getting all the breast milk goodness.

So that is my and Judah's journey so far.  He happily takes bottle from daddy or grandma or anyone, but he also really enjoys nursing and looks for me and roots as soon as I get him.  As much as I would like to be able to feed him by myself, I am happy with where we are.  I feel like I make enough milk to make it worth it, but I love the nursing relationship we have.  Low supply sucks for many reasons, but we are making it work for us, and Judah is happy and healthy.  So life is good.

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