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Lives in: Ventura, California
Breastfeeding experience: Difficult and discouraging, but she pushed through
Main challenges: Nursing a preemie; low milk supply after period returned
Breastfed for: 7.5 months and counting
Getting Michael to nurse right after he was born was a challenge. He was a preemie and was jaundiced, so we really had to push him to nurse. But he finally got it and was doing well until I got my period, about four months after he was born. I don't know why it came back so soon. I was told this was early for postpartum nursing moms.
About 10 days before I got my period, things started changing with my milk supply. Michael started nursing a lot more frequently. He'd fuss a lot and it would take a good five minutes for my milk to let down. He'd want to nurse every hour! When I pumped, I would get half an ounce to 1 ounce, compared to the 3 to 5 ounces I'd been getting before. I thought I might have to give up breastfeeding!
After I got my period I went to every expert I knew – my OB, his pediatrician, lactation consultants. My OB had my thyroid and progesterone checked to make sure all was okay, and the results came back normal.
Everyone told me that this kind of thing sometimes just happens. I was so demoralized! Four of my friends had babies before me and none of them had problems with their periods and milk supply.
Meanwhile, Michael wanted to eat every few hours. I went to my lactation consultant sobbing because I didn't want to give him formula. I was using the advice people gave me: I had already tried fenugreek and was drinking a lot of water. I didn't try giving bottles because I didn't like to pump, and I didn't want to struggle to get him used to taking them.
My lactation consultant recommended that I take calcium and magnesium. She said your menstrual cycle can make your calcium levels drop, which for some women can affect milk supply. Her recommendation was to take these supplements starting the day I ovulated through the first day of my cycle, but I've taken them every day since.
I stuck it out and continue nursing Michael as much as he wants. Every month my supply seems better. Now, when I get my period, it barely affects my breastfeeding. Letdown is a little slower, but it's fine. And Michael eats solid food now, too.
Breastfeeding is nice and convenient, and I'm happy we're still doing it. Michael loves it, and I like how close I feel to him. It's nice quality time.
My biggest lesson learned
Stick with breastfeeding and it'll get better. Setbacks can be discouraging, but just keep going. Don't let other moms' difficult experiences make you think you can't do it.
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