When I was pregnant, people would ask me, “Are you going to breastfeed?” My answer was, “I think so. If it works for me.” In truth, I was too busy preparing for the big event (the birth!) to think about what would come next. It’s not that I ever had anything against breastfeeding. I just didn’t think about it much.
Now, six months later, I realize that I had no idea. Breastfeeding has been an incredible gift. It is one of the highlights of my new journey into motherhood. In fact, it’s been going so well, that I now realize I had taken it for granted. Not anymore…
One day not too long ago, I was feeding Wilder and after a minute or so, she pulled off and looked up at me with what seemed to be a sense of confusion. She tried to nurse a few more times and kept pulling away. Then she started whacking me in the chest. Like she was trying to punch more milk out! I didn’t think much of it until I pumped that night and produced half the volume I normally get.
I panicked. This can’t be happening. I love breastfeeding. I want to keep breastfeeding. My body never fails me. What am I doing wrong? I must be doing something wrong!
I immediately reached out to friends, lactation experts, and finally, good ole Ting (remember my fertility acupuncturist?). This is what I learned:
- If you lose your pregnancy weight too fast, your milk production may suffer. Guess what? I’m six months postpartum and I still have 5-10 pounds depending on the day. I am not rushing – I’m totally cool with the fact that it is going to take some time. I don’t think expedited weight loss is my problem.
- Hydration is key. Nursing is a workout. You need to constantly rehydrate while you’re breastfeeding.
- Pump pump and pump some more. If possible, pump within 10 minutes after nursing to stimulate the body’s instinct to produce more milk.
- Breastfeed often. As great as it sounds for your baby to start “sleeping through the night,” it isn’t conducive to maintaining strong milk production. The more you feed, the more you’ll produce. If your baby sleeps through the night, then you should wake up and pump to simulate frequent feedings. This is starting to sound exhausting!
- Skin to skin. In the hospital, the lactation consultant told me that when Wilder runs her hands over my chest while breastfeeding, it triggers a physiological response to create more milk. The only downside to this one is – look out for unexpected visitors doing the new baby pop-in. Boobs-galore!
I listened and did all of the above. Skin-to-skin, frequent breastfeeding while drinking lots of water and firing up the pump immediately afterward. But I didn’t see a big change, and I was still worried. So I decided to pull out the big gun – Ting. If you remember, I visited my Chinese acupuncturist prior to getting pregnant (for fertility treatments) and throughout my pregnancy (for support and protection). He told me Wilder was a girl when I was 7 weeks pregnant and he told me I’d be late (but he said 2-3 days, not 2-3 weeks!). He also told me that Wilder would be an easy baby (he was right-on). In my world, Ting’s the man!
So I called Ting and he said, “Hmm, 6 months. Should be making more milk now. Not less. Come in.” He did an acupuncture treatment and then said, “Come back tomorrow and pick up herbs.” Ting’s herbs are shrouded in mystery. He leaves a brown paper bag on the table with your name (Nicole D) and instructions on how to cook the herbs. Every batch is different. But the one thing you can always depend on is that they will stink up your house.
I believe in Ting’s herbs. These herbs are crazy. Six bags of roots, funghi, berries, tree trunks, you name it! First they need to soak. Then they require a two part cooking and straining process. Cooking Ting’s herbs is a commitment. Believing is important.
That’s what it comes down to – commitment. I want to continue breastfeeding, so I’m willing to commit to some uncomfortable, annoying, time-consuming things. This is my current version of Ironman training. Ironman training can be uncomfortable, annoying and time-consuming, right? But instead of swimming, cycling and running, I’m hanging around topless, eating cookies, and chillin’ with my herbs. I guess it’s fitting that Boulder is the world’s biggest triathlon mecca and the world’s most tolerant breastfeeding community.
Let me know if I’m missing anything. You know me – I’ll try it!