My Experience

When Kenny was born he was in respiratory distress. He ended up in the infant special care nursery under an oxygen hood and I was unable to breastfeed him until the next day. The hospital was good enough to get a pump to me and give me some fairly good instructions on how to start stimulating my breasts so that I would be able to feed Kenny as soon as he was out from under the hood.

However, I ran into a slew of nurses in the nursery who were all along the spectrum of capable and supportive. Some were downright abusive to me and to Kenny. They insisted on sticking a pacifier in his mouth and giving him a bottle of formula. They pricked his little heal before each feeding to test his sugar levels and decide whether I should feed him or they should give him what they obviously thought was the perfect food--formula. Needless to say, as a new mother, nursing a newborn with all the wires and tubes attached to his body was unnerving and next to impossible.

Once he was home we began the journey of a new family and spent as much time as possible reading and spending time with him. Kenny was a wonderful easy baby to care for. He slept and ate as he needed; wanting little more from life than we were able to give him.

The honeymoon ended when I had to go back to work when Kenny was 8.5 weeks old. I had been in touch with LLL and talked to one of their pumping experts on when to start pumping and which pump to buy. This is when I learned that most of the people you talk to will give you the advice that fits them and not the advice that will necessarily work for you. I was told to pump after each feeding for the two weeks preceeding my return to work.

Noone ever explained to me how every time I looked at that pump I would be reminded that in just a short time, I would have to leave my son and return to work while he spent his afternoons with a woman I hardly knew. Noone explained to me that not everyone responds to the pump. Noone told me the signs that it wasn't working. Noone told me how long to pump or how soon after feeding. Noone told me what I was supposed to do with Kenny while I pumped when my husband wasn't home. No one told me how much milk I should have stored up in the freezer before I returned to work. Noone told me how much was a sufficient amount to get after a feeding to tell me if I was increasing my supply. And I didn't know to ask.

So I had some 25 oz stored in the freezer when I returned to work full time, on February 13. I pumped 6 oz at work, he drank 15 from my husband who cared for him full time for the first 3 weeks. The next day I pumped 6.5 oz and he drank 17. And on it continued until after the second week, my store was gone and we had to supplement with the dreaded formula. Everyone I talked to said drink more water and relax. I drank 5 quarts each day.

After the first week at work, Kenny decided the bottle was much more fun than the breast and he would refuse the breast. Knowing that if I let him do this I would have him off of breast milk in less than a month because pumping was so inneficient for me, I persisted and read and asked people until he finally decided that the breast wasn't so bad and he would live with it. He got most of his calories from the bottle during the day and snacked at night.

Then Kenny started to get more and more constipated. He went 5 days at one point. On the one hand the books say that a breastfed baby can go as much as 7 days without a bowel movement, but Kenny cried and cried for hours before he finally passed the movement. The formula was constipating him. So we supplemented with sugar water for a couple of weeks and used suppositories when he went too long without a movement. I tried everything I could to increase my supply. Every weekend I would rest and breastfeed him exclusively. Any time he cried, I would attempt to feed him. I brought him back into bed with me even though he was not very comfortable there and he was sleeping through the night in his cradle. My pumping started to bring 10 oz.

I then got a stomach bug and became very dehydrated. I could not eat much for 3 or 4 days and I could not feed him during the 24 hours I was sick. I pumped as often as I could and really was able to get a good amount out of the pump. When I returned to work, I pumped 6 oz. I was back where I started. I tried every herb and nutritional supplement and that is where I am today. After a weekend growth spurt, I am actually pumping less than I did the previous Friday.

Interestingly enough, at about the time that I got sick, I also got my first Depot Provera shot for birth control. I link the permanent loss of milk supply to the Depot Provera shot. Although all of the literature writen about this hormone says that it is safe when taken after the first 6 weeks, I'm not sure if they tested on women who were pumping. Because the pump is so inefficient, you need to have more milk than what the baby would take in.

I figured I must not be alone. There must be other women out there who are having a tough time pumping enough milk at work to fully feed their baby. Perhaps you are having problems. Perhaps you have overcome some of these problems and you have some suggestions that might work for me and others. Perhaps your problem is getting time to pump or a location to pump. Perhaps you are returning to work in the near future and need good solid information on how to procede and prepare yourself best for the coming changes. Is your child refusing the bottle?

This page gives real-life stories from other breastfeeding moms and links to great breastfeeding sites. Read on and give me feedback.

Another success story in increasing supply
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