I struggled with my milk supply the entire year I nursed my oldest son. I’m incredibly proud of myself for overcoming all the obstacles that we did and still making it to the one year mark but I defiantly wanted to set myself up for an easier, more successful round two with my twins (and I would need to make double the milk!!!).
My breastfeeding journey got off to a rocky start just minutes after delivering him. I unexpectedly postpartum hemorrhaged and lost about two liters of blood. The placenta and clots had to be manually dug out so I had my OB’s arm up inside of me with no pain meds because I’d had an all-natural, medication free delivery.
I remember not being able to stop shaking and being in an unbelievable amount of pain AFTER the delivery. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the possibility of a rough recovery and I truly felt like I was dying. In the few minutes before the hemorrhage, I attempted to get him latched and breastfeeding but he wasn’t really interested and I was pretty out of it. I let it go and figured I’d try again soon, once he had been weighed and evaluated; I didn’t know I wasn’t going to get that chance for a long time.
I didn’t make it up to the recovery floor until six hours postpartum because the complications and I kept fainting every time they tried to move me. Once I did finally try again, things went pretty well. He had a great latch and other than being sleepy, he was a good nurser.
Just five days postpartum, I came down with a high fever, chills, sweats and body aches. It turned out I had a goose egg sized hematoma inside my vagina from the delivery (he was a large baby weighing in at 8lb 14oz) that was now infected. I had to go on heavy-duty antibiotics to get rid of that and my body was further run down and trying to recover from birth, heavy blood loss and now a bad infection.
The next obstacle was that I had to return to work full time just two weeks postpartum. At two weeks postpartum, a mother’s milk supply is not fully developed and being physically separated from my baby for long periods of time that soon greatly impacted my milk supply. I was not near my baby for our pheromones to be mixing and signaling to my body that I needed to be making milk for him even though I was pumping twice at work everyday.
Fast-forward a month or so, my son and I came down with a nasty thrush infection. Babies often get oral thrush and its common for the nursing mother to not contract it, however I did end up getting it and then we just kept passing it back and forth. Nursing was extremely painful. I would tense up and cry every time I had to feed him. It felt like someone had sandpapered my nipples and then poured rubbing alcohol over them! The yeast moved up into my milk ducts then causing pain in the entire breast whenever I had a let down. It took an entire two months and prescription medication for both of us to finally get rid of it.
During that time, about three months postpartum, I developed postpartum depression. I struggled to get out of bed, my husband had to beg me to feed our baby, I was totally disconnected from both of them. I very stupidly denied that there was a problem and didn’t seek help until months later and continued to battle PPD until I was about nine months postpartum.
I was never able to pump more than a few ounces total for my son and when he was around six months old, my breasts refused to letdown for the pump all together and even after a full 40 minutes of pumping full breasts, I wouldn’t have more than a few drops of milk in the bottles. My pump and I had a very poor relationship.
I used all sorts of milk boosting herbal supplements to maintain my weak supply. If I stopped taking them, my supply took a very obvious hit so I know they were helping. I conceived the twins when my son turned one and once I found out I was pregnant, I started to wean him which was super easy. My supply disappeared very quickly; I was never engorged.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant with the twins I met with a lactation consultant to learn about breastfeeding multiples and to prepare myself for success this time. I was very apprehensive about whether I would be able to make enough milk to adequately nourish two babies at once. I learned some very surprising things that I never even knew had impacted my supply.
Products that help increase milk supply that I found extremely helpful:
My doula (who is a student midwife also and got these recommendations from her teacher midwife) had me mega dose on two herbs, fenugreek and alfalfa in the first two weeks postpartum. I also took one other postpartum support herb shatavari.
You can also check out @triple.twinning's blog for more tips. Every mother has a different experience and finds things that work for her. I hope that between our tips, you can what helps you be a successful breastfeeding mother. She is a VERY experienced mother of multiples (she is superwoman with three sets of spontaneous twins!!!) and makes far more excess milk than I do. By setting myself up right and being proactive, I have been able to make enough to feed both my babies and build up a stash and I'm very proud of myself for that accomplishment. However, I highly recommend her blog for breastfeeding and more because she has some really amazing tips!
These are herbs my medical provider and I both feel comfortable with me using and have helped me. Consult your doctor prior to using any supplements as they have the potential to have side affects even though they are natural.