Back to the topic of the hour...
Part II of my post about BF. These are observations that I didn't necessarily read about in a book that I thought would have been useful to know. These are just my ramblings and random thoughts about BF and I know everyone is different so take what I say with a grain of salt. I'm no expert and I'm not pretending to be some lactation guru or anything like that. This is just me, my experience, my thoughts.
In no particular order, here goes...
- Did you know that you can have lots and lots of milk and a very good supply, but it is actually the removal of that milk from the breast that will help to maintain that good supply? If you are no good at milk delivery, you will then be no good at milk production either. There is a protein in breastmilk called the "feedback inhibitor of lactation (FIL)" that builds up in the milk that is left in your breast. The more milk that is left in your breast, the greater the FIL. This then signals your body to stop making so much milk. I used to think that if you had lots of milk and didn't pump it out, it would remain there in your breast for the next feed, not realizing that leaving it in my breast over and over again was negatively affecting my supply!
- my milk supply varies depending on the time of day. I don't have the same amount of milk all day long. I knew that the hormone that makes milk is manufactured by your body overnight so your milk levels tend to be highest overnight and in the morning, but I would have thought that your body would do a better job of portioning out that hormone throughout the day based on demand. In my experience, I found that my supply was really low around dinnertime which was very frustrating for both the kids and myself because they wouldn't nurse and nurse and nurse and not be full only to be put to bed and then wake up pretty quickly because they were still hungry. To combat this, we've been giving them bottles of EBM for the last feed of the night before bed instead of nursing so we ensure that they get a full feed. The girls are also much faster at taking a bottle than they are BFing so it makes the bedtime routine more predictable and shorter in duration.
- you have to be really careful about the whole supply=demand thing. I do have enough to feed both my girls without any formula but I don't necessarily have the milk when I need it (see the point above). This is another reason why I pump - to keep up my supply and to ensure I have enough at other points of day when my supply is low.
- the thing I struggle with the most right now is getting a letdown of the milk. I can feel that I still have milk in my breasts but I can't seem to have a let down. I try to put on a warm compress right before nursing and that seems to help
- did you know that you have more than one let down in a nursing session? Apparently you'll have about 2.5 letdowns in one session and I have to make sure that the girls are patient enough to nurse through the first letdown and get to the second letdown. Sometimes, if I'm having trouble getting a letdown, I'll take the first one off the breast, nurse the second one on the other breast and then return the first one back to the original breast she was on. The little break seems to help me get the second letdown so the girls get all the milk that's in my breast.
- breast milk tastes different depending on when it was produced and whether it's fresh vs. frozen. My girls can tell when there is frozen breast milk added into their fresh EBM and Caitlyn has refused to drink it because the taste is so different to her. She'll take a sip from the bottle and then spit the nipple out and do that over and over again. The very first time she had frozen milk, she made such a face and then blew a raspberry at her father who had the misfortune of feeding her at the time! Needless to say, Daddy got a very clear message about what Caitlyn thought of the frozen milk in addition to being sprayed! Picky picky!
- my bra cup size jumped from a "C" to a "DD" (or an "E" depending on which naming convention you're following according to my friend L!) and I think that's the normal increase - 2 cup sizes. Never would have believed it until it happened to me but yes, it's true. I think my boobs are going to sag afterward too when they shrink back to their original size. For the time being, I'm enjoying being so busty cause it ain't going to last!
- if you're going to pump on a long-term basis, it is so worth the $20 to buy a hands-free bra for the pumping unit. It really frees up your hands to do something else while pumping. When I think about the early days when I was so tired and just sitting there, comatose, and holding onto the horns with my hands and falling asleep and losing some precious milk because the horns weren't on just so...totally worth the money I spent to get the bra so I could stop holding the pump up.
- they say that there are signs that indicate whether your child is BF properly. They include a wiggle in the ear, a pause in the chin dropping down and audible swallowing. As far as my two kids are concerned, I only started hearing swallowing about 3 months ago (they're now 6 months old) and I still have a hard time hearing Victoria swallow. Neither of my girls' ears wiggle when they swallow but I do see the pausing in the chin dropping down when they are BF really well. They say the pause is on account of their mouths filling up with milk which I believe because after these long pauses, that is when I hear the audible swallowing.