*For those of you who feel weird about lactation, breast feeding, etc. now is your chance to turn away. You have been warned.
I am proud to say that we have a growing store of breast milk in our freezer for our baby girl and it was produced by ME! I am lactating! How cool is that?
I have been surprised by my body over the past few months as I have been working on inducing lactation so that I can breastfeed my daughter when she arrives. I honestly didn’t know if it would work. I had heard that some women can start producing milk if they simply start pumping regularly, so I tried it. I thought it might be easier for me since I breastfed Liam and Asher for a year each and after I lost Lucy my milk didn’t dry up for MONTHS. So I started pumping every 3 hours around the clock and taking herbs to increase milk supply and all I got was one single drop. It was a really depressing time for me because every time I pumped and got nothing it reminded my of my losses and the fact that I can’t just get pregnant and have a baby and breastfeed like most women can. I almost gave up completely on the whole lactation idea. I decided to try the Newman-Goldfarb protocol to induce lactation, but I really had very little hope that it would work. A lot of women lose confidence in their bodies after they lose a baby because it feels like your body failed at it’s most important task. My own body actually attacked and killed Lucy so I had very little trust that it would succeed in producing milk for a baby when I’m not even pregnant. Fortunately, it has proved me wrong and I am gradually gaining confidence in my body again. I love being able to produce healthy breast milk for my baby and I can’t wait to breastfeed her. I missed that so much with Lucy. What an incredible gift.
So how does it work? Basically you trick your body into thinking you are pregnant by taking birth control pills for several months before your baby is due. I think the protocol suggests starting at least five months ahead, although you can start pretty much whenever you want. As well as taking birth control, you take domperidone, which is an anti-nausea medication that has lactation as a side-effect. It is NOT champagne, like I thought 🙂 Anyway, during the months that you take the birth control and domperidone ahead of time, your body is preparing your breasts for lactation, just like it does when you are pregnant. Around 6 weeks before the baby is due you are supposed to stop the birth control pills so your body thinks you gave birth, and then start pumping every 3 hours. This is when your milk should come in and you should have a good supply by the time the baby arrives. I was only on the birth control for about two months when my body just started producing milk anyway, even before I stopped the birth control. Apparently my body reacted very well to the domperidone and I was getting uncomfortably full of milk, so I decided to stop the birth control early and start pumping. I now pump every 3-4 hours and freeze the milk for when baby girl arrives. I take fenugreek and blessed thistle, which help with milk production.
I try to eat oatmeal every day and drink lots of fluids, including mother’s milk tea, which also increases milk production (and tastes great too!)
I have also recently discovered lactation cookies, which are healthy and delicious and help with lactation (and NO, they aren’t made with breast milk like I first thought, haha!) I remember being exasperated at times with breastfeeding Liam and Asher because it was so hard and exhausting. Breastfeeding is a lot of work! It is difficult to find time to pump every 3-4 hours while caring for 3 and 5 year old boys right now. It’s hard to remember to take all the supplements and it is expensive (although not as expensive as formula.) I’m also taking a risk since this baby isn’t technically mine yet. K and P have the right to make whatever decision they want regarding parenting, and they could still choose to parent, which would leave me with a lot of breast milk, tears and no baby (although I don’t think they will.) But she is worth the risk. I recognize how blessed I am to have the chance to breastfeed. After losing Lucy and my ability to have live babies, I thought I would never get to breastfeed a baby again. It feels like an amazing gift and I am honored to be able to do this for my daughter. It felt like Christmas morning when I went up to get my breast pump out of the attic and go searching for all my bottles, nursing bras and nursing tank tops that were packed away. How fun! I am loving it and I don’t even have my baby yet. I can’t wait to experience breastfeeding again with my new baby.