Mom guilt is a powerful thing! Mark had his four month check up a few weeks ago, and our doctor was concerned that he hadn’t gained as much weight as she would have liked. For a baby who had consistantly measured big, this was a surprise. He’s really long, and really strong (rolling himself from back to front at 3.5 months), and though he seemed a little less chubby to me in recent weeks, I hadn’t been worried.
Well. Of course receiving this news sent me into a tailspin of doubting my milk supply and feeling like I was failing my son. Being someone’s sole food supply can be an overwhelming thing on a good day. Moreover, I kept thinking of my breast-feeding mom friends and how they seemed to do it effortlessly and for years.
With Annika, my milk supply regulated at around the same time, 4.5 months. Since she was my first, I panicked. I didn’t realize that my body was adjusting to her needs and simply no longer over-producing. She was efficient at nursing and would finish fast. I had people around me comment that they thought she was hungry. I quickly supplemented with formula. That became a slippery slope, and by 8.5 months we gave up on nursing entirely. It wasn’t what I had envisioned.
This time I wanted to do things differently. I was alarmed and upset by Mark’s weight issue, but I refused to panic. Firstly, I went to a lactation consultant. It was something I had never done before. I asked about natural supplements and started taking Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. Twenty-one capsules a day, to be exact. I drank more water and incorporated oatmeal and spinach into my everyday meals. I decided I would try it all. Even the granola-hippie-type-suggestions that I can be a little skepitcal about. I was determined to not give up.
The lactation consultant told me that in no way is Mark failing to thrive. She pointed to his delightful chub. She reminded me that he probably had a recent growth spurt, too, because dude is LONG. She told me to get back to pumping like I had so diligently done for the first three months. It would help stimulate production between nursing. She gave me lots of tips and advice. A couple weeks later, I’m happy to say that Mark and I are back to doing well and being a great nursing team.
I’m giving him a little of my frozen breast milk supply, but less by the day. I’m so so glad I pumped a freezer full of milk when I had the oversupply at the beginning! I’m pumping twice daily, exclusively breast-feeding, and seeing the results. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to self-doubt this time.
I’d like to mention something as well. This is – in no way – a judgement of formula feeding parents. We all have different struggles and different lifestyles. There is nothing wrong with formula feeding if it’s something you have to OR choose to do. This post is just about me being proud of working toward my OWN goal of breast-feeding longer than I did with Annika, and having Mark receive only my milk for his first six months. It was a personal choice and a personal goal.
The point of this post is to encourage other moms to not give up if they know in their hearts that they don’t want to give up. There are resources and help for low supply issues. Trust in yourself and your body. I know that sometimes things are out of our control, so I’m not speaking about medical conditions and serious problems. However, a lot of people will tell you what your baby “needs”, and THAT needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Lastly. This post was entitled ‘Milk and Cookies’ for a reason. One of the many things I tried was baking my own lactation cookies, and let me say…they are delicious. I don’t really know if they’re working because I’ve adopted a lot of new techniques. However, they’re cookies and they’re yummy. I thought I would post the recipe for those interested!
I will note that flax seed meal and brewer’s yeast can be bought at Bulk Barn if you can’t find it elsewhere. Also, get de-bittered brewer’s yeast if you can. I’m not sure how many cookies you’re supposed to eat a day. I didn’t Google it because I was worried that the answer wouldn’t be “lots and lots all at once”.
Hang in there nursing Mommas! You’re all rockstars.