This entire post is TMI. I am warning you. You have been warned.

First up, a report on Operation Milch Cow FAIL. I give you the list of things I have tried/am trying to get my dismal and ever-dwindling milk supply up:

Pumping (on a hospital-grade green rental machine that looks like a vacuum cleaner--I call it Gator and I hate it very much)
Fenugreek herbal supplements (which make me smell like pancakes)
Organic Mother's Milk Tea
Maizena vanilla drink
Reglan prescription pills (At least the side effects are kicking in, if last night's highly unfortunate gastrointestinal episode is any indicator. Sorry, couch.)
Fennel seeds steeped and blended in milk (This was the low point, and resulted in me throwing up in my kitchen sink.)
1 gallon or so of water per day
Lactation consultant who may not actually be a real lactation consultant but an evil one planted by Gerber because all she really told me to do was to give the baby formula.

Was getting kind of depressed about this, so the universe sent something to take my mind off it--a damaged, distended bladder with resulting catheter, which I've been wearing around for the last 2 days. At the doctor's office they couldn't find any clamps for the catheter and so tried to MacGuyver it with office supplies. That is how I narrowly escaped walking (read: hobbling) out of there with an alligator clip in my panties. I have a rubber band instead, which is much more medical.

Caught a look at myself in the bathroom mirror while changing and marveled at what I saw--baggy nursing bra, sad granny panties, and a catheter strapped on like a garter belt. Am pretty much ready for the alternative Victoria Secret fashion show. The one where instead of admiring things like diamond thongs, you instead spend the evening throwing up in your mouth a little bit.

In happier news, am going to go seek out a non-The Man-corrupted lactation consultant today. And I'm going to post pictures of the precious tiny little Dark Lord, who is an angel baby straight from heaven, which his mama really, really, really appreciates right now.


Destroying my son's street cred one pair of socks-for-mittens at a time.

He forgives me, though.

Remember that one time when I talked about how irresistible GH would likely be when wearing both church clothes and a baby?

And lo, it came to pass. Not that I'm ever doing anything that could lead to babies ever again, but still.


Bridget said... [reply]

I am so, so sorry for your troubles and I feel so bad for laughing and laughing while reading this post. I hope all your parts get it together really soon!

springrose said... [reply]

When I had my third child he was so long (23 1/2 inches) and the cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times. So when I went to push him out the cord acted as a bungie cord and he would crown and I would stop pushing and then he would be sucked back up. So finally Hubby had to push on my baby bump at the same time as my pushing to get him far enough down that the Dr could get the cord off his neck. After that he practiacally fell out. But the result was a damaged bladder. I drank about 8-16 ounces of strait cranberry juice and was able to avoid surgery and a catheder. Sorry you had that "bad" experience everyone tells about! I chalk it up to lazy or checked out DR's! They should have known he was coming breech!!!! As far as the milk goes, sounds like you have been told to and have tried everything that there is to try. I drink around 120-140 ounces of water a day when I breast feed. Um, yeah, I can feed they whold NICU when I do!!! Good luck, it will all get better, I promise.

perkiwindy said... [reply]

You don't know me...but boy do I have the book for you. "The Breastfeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk." Diana West, IBCLC, and Lisa Marasco, M.A., IBCLC. I had a HORRIBLE time with nursing my first and this book answers most questions and gives good advice. I am now pregnant with twins and determined to make it work. TONS of good info in there. Take care! -Windy in Arizona

Nemesis said... [reply]

Perkiwendy, am heading off to Amazon right now. Thanks!

Kayla said... [reply]

I'm a total under producer too. I recently tried these cookies and they were the only thing that helped me (after hospital grade pumps, supplements, tons of water, etc). And, hi, COOKIES. There are much worse things.


Anonymous said... [reply]

I think at some point you might just need to give up nursing without beating yourself up. I had similar issues (never could produce more than 1 oz TOTAL), but after getting over my guilt of switching to formula, I couldn't be happier. No more nursing and pumping around the clock. I had to supplement my daughter with formula from the beginning because of my low milk supply so it wasn't a difficult switch for her.

I talked to several different lactation consultants, my OB, friends, etc. According to my OB, the breast tissue of some women is such that it makes it difficult or impossible to nurse (not enough milk ducts or something like that). If that's the case with you (which it may be since none of the usual tricks are working) then I would get over the guilt and enjoy your little one.

Warning though, formula is crazy expensive. Might as well be drinking liquid gold :)

Anonamom said... [reply]

So - here's Cicada's Mom weighing in. I did not breast feed Children 1 & 2. You have met them both, and they turned out okay. Healthy, even. So if things don't work out - it's fine. The baby will be fine!

The thing that made the difference with the next three - Brewer's Yeast. Which, after reading the previous comment, makes me wish those cookies had been invented in the dark ages when I needed them. Because I'm sure they tasted a whole lot better than milk with Brewer's Yeast stirred in.

And - I had to be careful how much I did. If I got too tired, then it was back to the arid desert for the babe. So Child #5 was breastfed until he was 5 months old - and then all milk production ceased. Brewer's Yeast and all. Hey. I had 5 kids under 7 years old. I COULDN'T "not" get tired.

mj said... [reply]

Oh man, breastfeeding is horrible at first. Horrible. You are totally giving me flashbacks to exactly one year ago, except that I did not have the wherewithal to write anything down as I was a listless slug.

I did all that stuff you are doing and it did help, but I always had a borderline supply. So, you should know that it IS possible to breastfeed (supplying 80% of the baby's nutrition) AND supplement (the other 20%) for an entire year and not hate life. We are currently in month 13 and starting to wean. The trick is to eventually consolidate the supplements (note I said eventually; right now you're still in survival mode or what I like to call "breastfeeding hell"). On the other hand if I had to continue both BF/bottle round-the -clock past the first couple months, I would have given up, so I am no model of endurance.

One other thing I tried was a supplemental nurser wherein you attach a little tube to your breast so the baby is getting breastmilk and formula at the same time. Look it up if you dare. p.s., I hated it and gave up but maybe you are stronger than I am. In theory it should work.

Do what you can, but someday (only you can say when) you may have to say to yourself, "Okay I am trying X for Y amount of time longer and then I am done." And then wherever you're at feeding-wise is fine and you can be happy with yourself for doing your best.

One more thing: last year at this time a wise friend told me that if you multiply 1 X 1 you get 1, so you've already multiplied and replenished the earth. Good work!

Cooldad said... [reply]

I think you should...Nope. Never mind.

AmyJane said... [reply]

"The Breastfeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk." I will second the motion. Great book, great ideas. I used it religiously when I was trying for my do-over with Kennedy, after the nursing debacle of Patrick.

That being said, babies survive being fed either way. Hang in there, and good luck working through the drama.

Breanne said... [reply]

I had a dwindling supply also and did all but one of the things you mentioned here. The hours I spent pumping outside of normal nursing was the worst part and ended up being really painful. And on top of everything, the emotional frustration of it all... Usually when I tried something new it'd work for a day or two and then my supply would drop back to normal or lower. This went on for months. My heart really goes out to you.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

When my second little guy was two weeks old I woke up in the middle of the night with horrible abdominal pain. We went to the ER, and after a CT Scan a bunch of other stuff they determined that I was just horribly constipated. And I had a bladder infection. Worst week of my life by far. The first month or so after you have a baby is definitely the worst thing ever. I hear you on the depressingness of looking in the mirror and contemplating your unwashed, saggy panties state. Just ignore it.

I've also had issues with low supply and I think people have given you good advice. Definitely try finding a better consultant and make sure you have a good latch. It wasn't until my third that I finally had someone talk to me that made sense and actually helped (like finally really explained how to get a good latch with the baby--line up their nose with your nipple, not their mouth, it gets their head at a better angle). I also breastfed my third much more 'on demand' than my first two--even if it was only 5 or 10 minutes at a time every hour. And give yourself a mental time limit, like "I'm going to try this for 4 weeks" or something. Also, most little babies can handle an occasional bottle if that makes things better for everyone. With my third I finally got my supply up and even had too much, and then suddenly the factory shut down and we've been doing bottles for the last few months. Oh well--she's happy and growing and that's all that matters.

Anonymous said... [reply]

Long time reader, first time commentor:

About 5% of women, no matter how hard they try, will not be able to produce enough milk to support a newborn. These women are not lesser mothers because of this, and their babies can grow happily on formula. I have a hunch you're giving yourself far more guilt about this than you would want any of your friends to feel if they were in a similiar situation.

Try a new lactation consultant and see if she's a better fit for you. However, recommending formula is not exactly evil. It is not poison.

The only thing you didn't mention that I would recommend is Medela's Supplemental Feeding System. You hang a small container of milk or formula by your head, with the end of the tube affixed near your nipple.
This allows the infant to receive the supplemental nourishment, as well as breastfeed simultaneously, which provides the stimulation needed to produce more milk.

But keep in mind, formula is not failure.


Lady Susan said... [reply]

Color me clueless, but I had no concept of how messed up I would be "down under" after birth. And the healing of it just seems to go on forever. (At least for me). Be sure to take care of yourself as well as the little one.

Hopefully you can find a lactation consultant that is not planted by The Man that can give you some good tips and support. (Although there are a lot in these comments too.)

"Not that I'm ever doing anything that could lead to babies ever again, but still."

Oh, this was good. Thanks for the laugh.

Nemesis said... [reply]

KJ, I didn't mean to imply that formula is evil. I am very grateful for formula because it's helped get the baby's weight back up. My issue with the consultant is that all her advice was to do with formula-feeding and not much about breastfeeding. I think this may be because she is affiliated with the pediatrician's office so it could be that for her the more immediate priority was getting the weight back on him.

Anonymous said... [reply]

It's so cool to be where I am (DONE with birthing) and watch new moms like you start your life with your little ones. When I read about experiences the experiences you go through, I'm amazed at what I WENT through, and that I survived it! You're awesome - you're strong - you're one amazing mom. Hang in there - someday - you'll be amazed at what you did.

lilcis said... [reply]

The baby Dark Lord is very, very cute but man this post and all the comments are NOT making me want to have a baby any time soon!

abby said... [reply]

Listen to mj. She had quite a hard time with her little newborn. Now she's a happy and healthy one year old who gains weight.

Good luck! Motherhood is not for the weak.

emandtrev said... [reply]

I too am sorry for the troubles. Geez, Louise. I also second the motion that motherhood (and recovery!) is not for the weak. It can be a total trip, but is obviously worth it--just so challenging at times.

Hang in there. Things will work out. You have such a darling (definitely straight from heaven) boy on your hands.

Ana said... [reply]

Ok, so the fact that you are willing to share this much information on a blog is a good sign I think. It shows that you are not afraid/ashamed to ask for help. That's exactly what you should do - ask a good friend around, someone you trust and admire, who has had or has children and knows what she is doing - get her to help you with holding baby comfortably, latching and the like - which are probably things just as important and just as stressful and worrying as the state of your supply.

Also I would like to reiterate others' comments that formula feeding is not evil nor does it make you a lesser Mother - but you WILL have to be thicker skinned cos there is definitely that "mindset" out there of "breast is best" which oft doesn't seem to take into consideration that percentage of women for one reason or another don't have a fantastic milk supply and thus literally can't breastfeed no matter how much they want to.

I'd like to suggest perhaps getting a copy or renting (if it's available) a copy of "The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show" it is hosted by a NZ Clinical Psychologist, Nigel Latta and is HILARIOUS - in particular I am thinking of a specific part where he describes being invited to talk at some kind of ante natal class and when he inquired about where the material on formula feeding was it was treated like he was talking about porn hidden down the back! You will LOVE it. Here's a link to it:

Now this is a NZ site so the prices may well be in NZ$ which is a good thing because it will mean it will cost less for you. All the best and hope things start getting better for you.

Kelly said... [reply]

When Jason wonders why I suddenly stop talking about when we're going to start trying, I'm pointing him to this post.

Sorry you're having such a rough time of it!

Marci said... [reply]

CAN. NOT. WAIT. to meet the little guy. He is so stinkin adorable!! So sorry about the breastfeeding...so not fun! Things will get better!!! I promise!

sourfleed said... [reply]

Blessed thistle is supposed to be great.
The Dark Lord Child is adorable, and you still make me laugh.

MJ said... [reply]

Ok, I'm going to tell you this because it works, and I'm not even kidding you.

Non-alcholic beer. There are a few different kinds, so you might find one tolerable (cuz I tried 3 different kinds, and finally found one I could stomach), but seriously, it WORKS.

As for pumping, I've done it at work for both my kids, and I can tell you that some women's boobies just aren't fooled by the contraptions. Mine weren't, either. I just couldn't keep up with him. But after trying the non-A-beer, I was having to pump in between feedings, I had so much milk.

elliespen said... [reply]

If you're anywhere near Orem, there is a lactation clinic near the Orem Community Hospital and they are wonderful. It's called something like A Mother's Touch and I can't recommend them highly enough. Good luck!

Azúcar said... [reply]

I did the same thing: fenugreek, pumping, sobbing, being an emotional disaster, getting a real LC, figuring out a better latch, a supplemental nursing system, gradually dialing down the formula supplements and upping the breastmilk. It was 4 weeks of Hell.

It was worth the hard work. You can do it. A pump is never as effective as a baby.

The best advice actually came from my mom who told me "Sit down and nurse the baby. Nurse him all day and all night if you have to. Don't do anything else and your supply will meet his demand." She was right. The correct latch from the LC helped, too.

Believe in yourself. 95% of women can nurse (or there wouldn't be humans.) You can do this. Call me if you need to.

anne said... [reply]

I don't normally comment on blogs, I much prefer to read the other comments and wish that I had said it!

Anyway, just wanted to second what Azucar said. Have a day where you just focus on feeding your baby, all day in bed or on the sofa?. You will be able to do this, but it takes time, you are learning a new skill, and it takes time to learn that skill. Keep going.

Mrs. Clark said... [reply]

I'm thirding what Azucar said. Give it at least six weeks. A little supplementation won't hurt; just give it after you give him the breast, not before, so he works for it.

My mother (not a member) kept telling me to drink beer, but I wouldn't do it, of course. The fake stuff might help.

This newborn period is absolutely the worst. It will get better, especially around 3 months. And for some reason it's not so bad the subsequent times. Probably because you know what you're going to get.

Makes you wonder what the h--- women did when there weren't miracles of modern medicine like antibiotics and catheters, huh? (I always think of Melanie having the baby in Gone with the Wind.)

FoxyJ said... [reply]

I just got on to third or fourth or whatever what Azucar said--just nurse, a lot. Let the baby sleep in bed with you if you need and nurse. Make sure you're getting a good latch too so that it doesn't hurt you too much, but really what your body needs is a lot of stimulation from the baby. For many women a pump is not really the same thing. With my first two I think I worried too much about 'scheduling' early; with my most recent baby I just nursed a lot for the first month or so--it took a few weeks but I did get my supply up. I also let her sleep in bed with me for just those first few weeks though--I didn't sleep well because I was so worried, but it did make the breastfeeding easier. And don't be afraid to ask someone for help, even if it means they have touch your boobies :) My mom still talks about her amazing visiting teacher who came over in the middle of the night to help her figure out how to get my older brother to latch on.

Meg said... [reply]

Second to Elliespen's comment, the lactation clinic at Orem Community rocks and it is called A Mother's Touch. First time consultation is $35, subsequent visits $15.

I really hope things get better for you soon!! I've had latching issues... owie owie owie. But your son is especially adorable. :)

Audra said... [reply]

Honey, I have had some of those "results of childbirth" issues. I think it was because Jovie was crowning during change of shift and no one would come in to catch her... so I was there sitting in my bed feeling like a baby was going to fall out if i sneezed for an hour. They came in. I did a push equivalent to a sneeze and there she was. A year later... surgery. Joy of joys! Sorry you are going though this. You will get your sexxy back soon enough! I promise!

momof8 said... [reply]

I am sending love and prayers your way. You are dealing with a lot of stuff--hope nursing goes better for you.

I tried, really tried with all 8 of mine and was never successful. It's okay if it doesn't work out. They are all super intelligent, very healthy and totally awesome.


Snow Whiteley said... [reply]

Congrats Nem. Sorry that everything has been so hard. I love seeing the pictures of your family. So. Cute.

Also, thanks for the TMI. I will really appreciate the forewarning (as will my couch) when I try to start having kids and perhaps using drugs with side effects.

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