Before the baby was born, Nat and I signed up for the Mt Alvernia Childbirth Education Course. Well, 90% wasn’t very helpful since I had epidural and an emergency c-section (but again, another story for another time). But what was useful were the breastfeeding classes. Prior to delivering the baby, I knew absolutely nothing about breastfeeding. People asked me, “Are you intending to breastfeed?” To which I would answer, “Yes. Of course.” Thinking in my head it would be fun, relaxing, enjoyable…
Yes, that illusion was quickly shattered when I came home from hospital. So the baby was a pretty normal nurser. He latched on in the hospital and even when he came home. But then, I did what they repeatedly told me NOT to do during the classes – introduce the milk bottle very early on. I believe I introduced it on his 4th or 5th day of life. Which was not a good idea. It was introduced because I was just getting way too tired to do middle of the night feeds. So my mother taught me how to manually express and so I expressed the milk I had into those Philips Avent VIA Cups and saved it for the night.
Well, after a week of breastfeeding and bottlefeeding, the baby started to wisen up. He realised that he could get the same milk for less work using the bottle. That’s when the drama happened. He would cry and scream every time I put him to my breast. It was so difficult. I persevered until he was 4 weeks old and then my milk supply started to drop really low because he wasn’t latching. It was hell. Feedings would take 2 hours each time because he just refused to latch. He was skinny and at 3 percentile body weight. By that time I had bought a Medela Swing Maxi Double Breast Pump since I was pumping around the clock.
I started to supplement with formula. I hung my head in shame when I walked into the supermarket to buy the milk powder Stage 1 because it clearly states on the tin that doctors do not recommend formula for babies under six months. But what could I do? My baby was starving!
I spoke to my doctor who said that exclusively pumping was not possible because you need the baby to suck to stimulate breast milk supply, but he did offer domperidone which helps to boost milk supply.
So I did research. I found out also that my relative was successfully exclusively pumping, so it is not unheard of. There’s also not a lot of literature out there. There’s some, but not a lot.
So this is what I did to boost my supply and can I tell you, my supply tripled! This regiment may seem brutal and not palatable to some, but it worked for me.
1) A prescription of domperidone – done strictly under supervision of your doctor. Some people take fenugreek which apparently works too.
2) Pump EVERY 2-3 hours a day. You can have a 4-5 hour rest in the middle of the night but you MUST pump in the middle of the night. I pumped every day for 2 months at 3 am.
3) Breast massage prior to pumping.
4) Keep reminding yourself of the multiple benefits of breastmilk.
5) Bring your pump everywhere. So pump EVERYWHERE. Shopping centres, swimming pools, Christmas parties…
And yes, baby is almost 6 months and exclusively breastmilk fed which is my goal. Exclusive pumping is difficult and a lot of time you face the pump more than your baby. Which means you have to spend extra time and energy bonding with the baby through song, play and book reading. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted and I’m not sure I have the tenacity to go through it again.
Also, to be honest, I have had ALOT of help with donor milk which really saved us!