You guys are a wealth of information. Seriously. I put out a plea, and so many of you spent your time and energy responding with suggestions and words of wisdom in emails and comments. THANK YOU! It is wonderful to hear what has worked for others in similar situations.
The update? Things are going much better. I went to see my lactation consultant again last Friday and after listening to my laundry list of self-proclaimed issues she said, “Kate, my advice is simple. Chill out! Your body is doing exactly what it needs to do; it’s making enough milk to feed your baby. It’s not your milk supply that needs adjusting, it’s your expectations. The only thing you need to do right now is feed your baby.”
As soon as she said it, a smile broke out across my face. Of course she was right. Here I was expecting my body to make enough milk to feed my baby and fill the freezer for a rainy day. That kind of food hoarding mentality is so culturally ingrained in me that I was literally crying because I didn’t have a week’s worth of food stocked up. There’s no reason I should be making that much milk just yet (or ever)! What I really need to do is stop stressing about it, and enjoy just feeding my baby. And if I want to introduce a 3 oz. bottle once in awhile, and I get 1 oz. at each pumping session, then I should just try to pump three times over 2 days (whenever I want/can) and leave it at that. She said to start pumping a bit more 4 – 6 weeks prior to going back to work to have some in storage, but at that point my milk supply will be in a completely different place than it is now, and I may have a different plan for how long I would like to breastfeed, a different viewpoint on formula supplementation, etc.
So that’s the new plan. Relax and feed my baby. It’s not rocket science, but it took me awhile to realize! And, guess who pumps 2 oz. at every pumping now (double what I was doing before)? Thanks to a new attitude and a heating pad 🙂
The other issue that I discussed with my lactation consultant was weaning Owen and I off of the nipple shields. Nursing in public is very difficult when you have to stick a plastic nipple on top of yours before popping it in your baby’s mouth! I would really like to get to a place where he is eating naturally, with no tools involved. So my new best friend gave me some tips (like starting Owen nursing on the nipple shield, then pulling him off, taking off the shield and offering that nipple again — tricking him into nursing without it) and we gave it a try. Do you know what happened? WE NURSED, PAIN-FREE, WITH NO SHIELDS!!! I was elated. I practically cried tears of joy. NO PAIN. He barely seemed to notice the old switcheroo.
Once we got home, he backtracked a little; fussing and pulling and refusing to latch on properly like he had at the doctor’s office (he’s a pro at showing off for the docs!). However, we’ve been working on it every day since then, and he’s really getting the hang of it. I use the shields for 1 – 2 minutes on each side to get things started (establish his latch, pull out my flat nipples, etc.), and then I take them off and reposition him, and he does just fine most of the time. We still have our occasional “milk monster”-like episodes, but doesn’t every baby? Also, I learned very quickly that neither he nor I have the patience to fight about nipple shields in the middle of the night… so I let him have the easy way out for those feedings (all shields all the time). Someday I’ll work on that too, but for now, baby steps!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I LOVE LACTATION CONSULTANTS. And I’m almost to the point of totally loving to feed my baby. And I’m loving being so relaxed about pumping. You’d have though I would have figured this all out by now, but it’s a LOT more complicated than I thought.