My intention was always to breastfeed. After all, “Breast is Best”. Everyone knows this. Everyone except for my breasts, apparently.
When my baby was born, we had a very stressful time trying to teach him how to latch properly. Because my baby took a few days to latch consistently, it was an endless cycle of trying to breastfeed, give any (minimal) expressed milk, top up with formula, and try to pump more milk. I continued this process for the first couple of weeks of my baby’s life.
Eventually, we stopped topping up, and I tried to solely breastfeed. I eventually also gave up on pumping as I was only ever getting, at most, 30ml combined from both breasts, and it was incredibly exhausting.
My supply never fully established. I massaged, took Motillium, took Fenugreek, drank heaps of water – did just about everything suggested to me to try to boost my supply. I read article after article, including those that insist that ‘low supply’ does not exist. So, then, my supply was just stubborn, I thought. This only made me feel more determined to keep trying, as surely it would get better. Surely.
I was always paranoid about my supply, to the point of compulsiveness. I tracked every nappy, every pump, and every feed, to try to ensure that my baby was getting enough. I sent endless emails to my lactation consultant. I weighed my baby every week, only to stress when he did not seem to gain as much as the other babies. He was on the 25th percentile for weight, but had been born on the 85th. The nurses told me not to worry, as he was still gaining every week.
But the weight wasn’t the only issue. Not only was my supply just barely adequate, my flow was slow. My baby would fall asleep on the breast fairly quickly, no matter how many times I switched breasts, roused him, or changed his nappy. This ended up turning into a vicious cycle as this process affected his sleep. He would have only short naps and wake up tired and hungry. He would then fall asleep on the breast as an extension of his nap, and not end up feeding as well, and so the cycle would continue.