As you all know from my previous posts, I am currently breastfeeding Maddison and I LOVE it! It's probably one of my favourite connections with my baby girl, knowing I am still feeding and providing her with everything she needs to grow healthy and strong, even now she's out of my tummy!! I have also become so much more confident with feeding in public, as mentioned in my 6 week update post (CLICK HERE TO READ.) But what I haven't mentioned yet, partly because I thought it was all in my head at first, is that I have really been struggling with my milk supply and as a result have been using the odd formula for the past 10 days.
Roughly 2 weeks ago, about 4 days before I found out about my retained placenta, I was feeling really low and upset about feeding Maddison. She wasn't enjoying being on my breast, kept wiggling and pushing me away. She wouldn't feed for more than 10 minutes, so she probably was only getting foremilk and not the proper hindmilk, and she always seemed unsatified? What the bloody hell was going on?! Why was she pushing away if she was still hungry? Had we lost our latch? So, I would try pumping so I could at least bottle feed her my breast milk and I knew she was getting something, as it just felt impossible to know whether she was actually feeding properly! So I'd sit down with my pump, and get diddly squit!! I think I managed to pump about 20mls (and that was from BOTH boobs) when before I'd be able to pump at least 50ml from each boob - making her a perfect 100ml feed! WTF?!?! My boobs even felt like they had NOTHING in them... they just felt (and looked) like two half deflated, saggy balloons. I'd lost any feeling of being engorged, so gone were the need for nipple pads, as I had no let down reflex or nipple tingle at all!
I just sat there and cried. I was so frustrated and cross with myself! Why couldn't I satisfy my baby?! Was I going crazy? We'd always kept some emergency bottles of formula in the house, for whatever reason that we may need them.. so as Maddison was crying, seemed hungry but was refusing to take me, and I literally had nothing to pump, I poured half into a bottle to see if she really was hungry... She GUZZLED 100ml down like you'd never seen then happily burped and went to sleep!! I felt so mixed with emotions.. Pleased that she had had a good feed and finally seemed settled, but I was so upset that the bottle she had just downed wasn't from me! Now I honestly have absolutely nothing against formula feeding, as I have said previously in my first post about breastfeeding (CLICK HERE TO READ), but for someone who wanted and had been so easily breastfeeding, it was hard! She was clearly hungry but didn't want me? (Cue the typical dramatic thoughts of "am I a bad mother?!")
I called my mum (because I go to her for everything!) and we both hopped onto the web in search of some answers.. and everything that came back basically told me I was imagining things. That of course my boobs wouldn't feel as "full" because my milk had settled. That let down has nothing to do with the amount of milk you supply as some women never have the sensation at all. That some babies do just become fussy but it will pass. That babies will willingly down a bottle of expressed or formula milk even after feeding.. All the answers I got were telling me nothing was wrong! That it was all in my head and I basically was doing the typical "first time mum" thing of panicking at anything and everything. The only sign I found to go by whether baby is getting enough, is through the amount of wet/dry nappies (which in all honesty she was still doing fine). But it just didn't settle or reassure me at all!! I simply couldn't shake the thought that it was me and I wasn't producing enough! I think from being pregnant and growing a human being, us ladies just know our own bodies so well, and you just KNOW and get that gut feeling when something doesn't seem right! Agree??
The next day, Maddison and I had our 6 week check up with the doctor. So till then, I'd just been trying my best with breastfeeding her, made sure I was drinking lots of water, trying to pump anything I could, and done maybe 1 formula feed a day. In all honesty, the check up wasn't what I expected, as it literally felt like the GP was just ticking boxes and she wasn't listening to anything I had to say. (I didn't see my normal doctor as she was on holiday, which was frustrating as I know she would've listened!) So when I told this doctor about my milk, she just gave me the same answers as I had got from google.. oh brilliant.. NOT. But she did send me up to hospital as I was still bleeding 6 weeks postpartum, and I later discovered I had retained placenta (more detail in my 6 week update post). Speaking to a different doctor at hospital, she suggested that my feeling of reduced milk supply could be to do with my retained placenta because of the hormones! Here's why...
"Your placenta makes lots of progesterone during pregnancy and this hormone suppresses the action of prolactin, a key milk making hormone. Once the placenta is delivered, your progesterone level drops, allowing prolactin to go to work. But when that separation is incomplete (leaving fragments of the placenta intact in the uterus), progesterone levels remain too high and prolactin remains suppressed." - MOTHERLOVE.COM
Brilliant! That could've been why I was having trouble!
However, 3 days after my surgery, after 2 days of an amazing milk supply and feeling on top of the breastfeeding world again.. same thing started happening. (But not quite as bad as it was before I'll add).
So back on the Web I hopped, hoping to try and discover anything else that could maybe help! While researching, I was trying to think of anything and everything I did, that could've helped boost my milk supply those past 2 days. The only things that stood out were 1) I had TONS of fluid in hospital after being under anaesthetic, as I had a drip and guzzled a load of water as I was so thirsty, (but I knew I always drink enough water daily anyway,) and 2) I had eaten SOOO much once I'd woken up! Which I knew would happen as I'd been under anaesthetic before and for some reason I always have a crazy appetite after I wake up?! I'd eaten (and this is an embarrassing amount of food..) 2 M&S BLT gluten free sandwiches, a gluten free M&S chicken wrap, a whole packed of crisps and a whole packet of gummy sweets!! Shocking. I know... BUT my mum pointed out that I had a LOT of carbohydrates that day, which got us researching into that. And I've found so many forums of mums saying as soon as they went low-carb to try and loose the baby weight they noticed a drop in their milk supply! Apparently when breastfeeding you lose sugar via the milk, possibly around 30 grams per day, sometimes more. So a good source of carbohydrates helps replace that! (So obviously I'm not saying go eat pizza everyday haha! I'm talking oats, brown rice, whole grains etc. the good sort of carbs!) anyway I thought I'd give it a go...
NOTE: I just want to point out I wasn't purposely eating low-carb as weight loss isn't my number one priority right now, I know that'll take time! But I was just unknowingly not eating enough carbs day-to-day for someone who is breastfeeding!
It's now day 5 of eating a more carbs to try and help my milk supply, and I'm a very happy lady as so far so good!! My boobs feel plump again, I have the let down nipple tingly feeling back and I can pump a decent bottle full of breast milk again! Maddison happily latches straight onto my boob like she used to and stays for a decent length feed - perfect!! We do still have formula in the house as a back up! I will always try breast first, as that personally is my preferred way to feed her, but I do still give the odd formula feed if I have a day when I'm struggling with my milk. So I guess I'm kind of combination feeding now? but like 90% breast and 10% formula!!
I just knew something wasn't working quite right in my body.. Was it the hormones from my retained placenta? Was it lack of carbs? Could it have been a combination of both? Who knows!! I'm not a pro, I don't really know the exact science (and I'm not about to go off doing experiments!) but something has changed/helped!! I'm just a first-time mummy trying my best and learning as I go along! But I do feel so much better now I've made these changes and like I've got my breastfeeding mojo back!! If any other mummy is struggling, maybe more carbs could help you too? Has anyone else been through this? What tricks/changes did you find helped? I'd love to know!!
Feel free to comment below or message me via the social page! Love x
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