I’m still no pro at breastfeeding, but a few things definitely made a difference. The first thing is a husband that was really supportive. Supplementing with formula was not easy because Robin would get so frustrated about it and cry. But Will kept doing it, which was a great help to me because it gave me a break from having to hold and feed the baby. Even now, when I want to take a long, relaxing bath, which is pretty much every night, he’s on milk duty, which means feeding her a bottle of pumped milk if she’s hungry. Sure, it makes it difficult to build up a supply of frozen pumped milk, but I think it’s a nice time for them to bond and it gives me some time to myself.
The second thing is fenugreek. Even though the supplements say to take 1 pill 3 times a day, that’s too little fenugreek. Everything I read online said to take enough pills that you smell like maple syrup. For me, that was something like 12-14 pills a day, spaced out. I would take 4 pills in the morning, then 3 pills every couple of hours after that. I think that, more than any other supplement helped with supply.
The third thing is learning how to nurse on my side. As Will says, this was a game-changer. I no longer had to get up, cradle the baby, nurse her for more than half an hour and then try to get her to sleep every 2-3 hours at night. I would sleep with the baby in the bed and if she woke up hungry, I would just lie on my side, her on her side facing me and she would nurse, while I could still rest and kind of drift off. Most of the time, we’d both fall asleep. While it’s not the most relaxing sleep and it does get uncomfortable and cramped, it’s still a lot better than having to get up several times each night and feeding her that way. I think because the baby doesn’t end up fully awake, it’s easier for her to fall asleep. Unfortunately, it’s also sometimes hard for her to be awake enough to eat efficiently. There’s also the guilt factor of doing something that we’re told repeatedly not to do by doctors: sleep with the baby in the bed with us.
The fourth thing is something I’m still struggling with, which is: just enjoy the nursing. It helps to have Netflix and good stuff to watch while I nurse. It also helps to have some books on the Kindle to read. I’m getting better with just sitting and nursing, but sometimes I still feel antsy. I think about the pile of dishes in the kitchen. I think of the errands I need to do. I think of the diapers that need to be stuffed, and so on. Sitting on the couch and nursing to me just feels like so much unproductive time. Before having a baby, I thought that sitting on the couch watching Netflix and reading would be awesome. But it does get boring.
Women weren’t kidding when they said breastfeeding has a learning curve. It amazes me that our species has survived for this long when it’s so difficult to just nurture our young. I guess back in the day, when everyone was breastfed, there was better support and information floating around.