Posted by: Amber @ NotMommy | July 22, 2009

Pumping, and Pills, and Nipple Shields…Oh My

I’ve been pumping, nursing, or a combo of both for 5 months (well tomorrow).

Alexandra was born 10 weeks early on 2/23. So early that my body couldn’t figure out that I was no longer pregnant. I didn’t produce a drop for 4 days…though I pumped diligently. Not a god damn drop! Finally, on that 4th day I got about 8cc’s TOTAL. I was ecstatic and hopeful. That was the first day I was going to see my baby girl…and I finally had something for her. You see, she was transferred to a different hospital with a higher level NICU, so I was in one hospital recovered from surgery while she was being tended to 40 minutes away.

During the 5 weeks that Lexie was in the NICU I pumped and pumped and pumped. We had rented a hospital grade machine, but I still never got more than 10ccs or so during each session. I felt horrible. The nurses tried to make me feel better by telling me that “not everyone can breastfeed”, but dammit I was determined. I even had an OB tell me to basically give up when I went in for a check on my hormone levels.

I researched a TON on my own and, with the help of my mentor from Adopt_A_Mom, found a bunch of herbal supplements to take. When the herbs didn’t do anything we started to consider persecution meds. The issue was that the meds that were legally prescribed here in the US had “major depressive episode” as a possible side effect. Something I SOOOOOOOOOO did not need. The lactation consultant I met with had to research the drug that did the same thing, but had to be ordered from overseas. She wasn’t allowed to tell me to get it (because it wasn’t legally prescribed for milk production in this country), but basically told me it was the same as the legal version…sans mental problems.

I placed my order but found out it would take 2-3 weeks to arrive. Luckily my mentor found another mama in the US with extra pills to share. She sent them in 3 days! My god the amount of support I found online was unmatched. I cannot believe how helpful complete strangers can be when there’s another mother in need :-)

I wasn’t able to nurse for the first 3 weeks or so because Lexie didn’t know how to swallow…and the pump was not doing its job. I basically prayed that the drugs would work some magic. They did sorta. I started getting about 20ccs per pump session. Still not even close to what she needed, but more. Again I was hopeful.

When I was finally “allowed” to dry nurse my production upped itself a tad more. Magic those hormones are! The problem was…Lexie had caught the dreaded “nipple confusion”. And then with my production so low she was aggravated when she tried to nurse. Not only did she have to work for it…but she barely got anything when she did. It was horrible…

I bought an SNS (supplemental nursing system) to feed formal through while she suckled. Then…FINALLY we found something that worked…Nipple Shields!!!!! I know some people hate them and say they’ll cause more problems. But seriously? Like i didn’t already have all the problems one could have? So I said fuck it and we never looked back.

We still use the shields, but she does know how to latch on without them. I try to get her to nurse without once in a while..because eventually I would like to get rid of them. But, honestly, if I have to use little silicone shields for the rest of eternity, I will.

Now Lexie nurses like a champ most days and is gaining enough weight to keep all the docs happy!

We tried so hard for so long. There are still nights when I just want to give up. When she’s testy and refuses to sleep…but how could I? I mean, we’ve come this far.

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