From the time I learned I was pregnant the first time, I planned to breastfeed. I read a few books, and I watched my sister with her baby. I felt pretty prepared for all things birth related. Things didn’t exactly go as planned.
My daughter was taken to the NICU a few hours after her birth and I was plunged into a world I hadn’t expected and didn’t understand. She looked so huge compared to the other babies, and yet so fragile as she lay in her bassinet, an oxygen saturation monitor, an itty bitty blood pressure monitor, and the tiny IV in her hand. The nurses in the NICU were great–they helped me latch her properly, showed my how to start over if the latch looked or felt off, and smothered her in love.
In between visits, I started pumping. I didn’t know anything about how much to expect, so I was dismayed to only be getting an ounce or so each time. I pumped for 10-25 minutes every 2 hours, and then went to nurse my baby in between. In hindsight, I can see now exactly when my oversupply was triggered.
I didn’t have that knowledge back in 2012. I went home, engorged, but with my baby, three days after her birth. Since she was already transitioning so well between bottles, I would pump occasionally before bed and let my husband do a night feeding.
The engorgement took close to a week to die down, and I pumped only once every few days. I went through several nursing pads a day and my chest always felt wet.
At seven weeks postpartum, I had my gallbladder removed, and I was away from my baby (and unable to breastfeed) for close to three full days. I panicked because I could barely pull half an ounce of milk from my body the entire hospital stay, worried that I’d ruined my feeding goals by having a very necessary surgery.
Thankfully, my milk came back in closer to normal amounts during my recovery, although my daughter never took a bottle again!
Hindsight is everything. I knew so much more about breastfeeding after I weaned her than I ever knew while I was nursing. I realized that I had oversupply, and I took steps to prevent it after my second daughter was born. Within two weeks, I had a good supply, with only a little extra.
I settled into my postpartum period less than gracefully, and spent a lot of time online, trying to escape the dark claws of postpartum depression. During this time, I saw many articles about milk sharing. It felt like something I needed to do.
But where to start? How on earth could I bring my supply back to a level that could sustain pumping and nursing?
Part 2 of “Got Milk? My Experience Milk Sharing” is here!
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