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starting at the breast
honestly, i had heard so many different takes on breastfeeding [it hurts / it's very hard / it's easy / it's natural / i love it / i hate it!] that i had no idea WHAT to expect at the earliest stages. in the end, my final take on the initial stages was that yes, it hurt, but not nearly as much as i thought it might. i did get some blisters and cracking, but hydrogel pads were incredibly soothing and helped heal me up within a week or so. i do enjoy just feeling close to my baby and knowing that she is getting exactly what she needs from me.
it does feel natural. and nice. and at this point, it doesn't hurt at all. it's also convenient -- i don't have to mess with bottles in the middle of the night, and i don't have to worry about keeping things fresh. if i were a stay-at-home mom, i would go so far as to say it's actually the easiest solution. it's certainly not the only solution, and i fully respect women who have reasons not to breastfeed. but for me, it certainly feels like the right choice.
the plot thickens
but . . . i WILL be going back to work -- at the end of june. i'd like to have a good enough freezer stash by that point that i don't have to stress about not having enough milk to send with her to day care [although obviously i'll also be pumping throughout the day at work]. i also will be attending an overnight conference in houston right at the end of that time frame and would like to leave annabel for that weekend with an ample supply.
we've been lucky that she had absolutely no issues taking the bottle. [in fact, as i mentioned before, it hurt my feelings a little! but i'll get over it.] we introduced her first one at 3 weeks exactly -- dad gave her about 2.5 oz of pumped milk. she hasn't had any issues going back to the breast after that either; right now our routine is one pumped bottle per day, given around bedtime, but she takes the rest of her feedings at the breast without protest.
it seems that she just likes to eat -- and doesn't really care where it comes from!
i think the major challenge for me will be the classic supply issue. annabel's weight gain has been fantastic so far, so i know she's been able to get what she needs from the breast. but will i be able to surpass her needs and build up enough stock? that is something i wonder about.
currently, i've been pumping ~3x/day -- and i get anywhere from 0.5 oz [depressing!] to 1.5 oz per shot. i get 2.5 oz only when i pump when she's not eating [i.e., when she's getting her pumped bottle]. it's still very early in the game, but i really haven't been able to build up any considerable stock yet. and of course, i read about moms pumping 4, 5, 10 [!!?] oz between feedings and it makes me paranoid that we're going to have issues.
obviously, it's still early and there's plenty more i can do at this point! i probably need to ramp it up to pumping after most of her feeds, if not all. maybe my timing also needs work. i've been pumping right after she eats so i don't 'steal' from her next feed, but maybe i should be waiting a little longer?
other strategies to potentially employ:
fenugreek. this herbal supplement is known for increasing milk supply. it also makes you smell like maple syrup, apparently. but i suppose there are worse things to smell like . . .
increased hydration. i've been pretty good about downing a glass of water every time i feed or pump, but maybe i'm still falling short. i could work on doubling this.
reglan (metoclopramide). hopefully i won't need to go the pharmacologic route, but at least the option is out there if i get desperate
formula. i really, REALLY don't want to go this route, but if in the end i have to supplement, i will try as hard as i can to not beat myself up about it.
as always, i'd love your thoughts and to read about your experiences! if you have words of wisdom, please share.
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