06 Apr My Relactation journey
My name is Lauren Marsden. I am 30 years old. I am married to the most wonderful, supportive husband and I have a beautiful (almost) 6 month old baby girl. I am a clinical psychologist. I like going to the gym, mountain biking, adventure racing, dancing and reading.
To understand why I decided to relactate I must first explain why I stopped breastfeeding. My daughter Lillie was born at 37 weeks 6 days weighing 3,1kg. In the beginning everything was great and she latched and drank well from day 1. She was picking up weight at her weekly weigh ins and was having enough wet nappies. As a new mom I think I always had doubts and was so worried that she wasn’t getting enough milk and that perhaps my supply wasn’t good enough. I have friends who weren’t able to breastfeed due to supply issues and this played on my mind. When Lillie was 6 weeks old she became very fussy at the breast and she would pull off constantly and cry. I became very anxious every time I had to feed and became convinced it was a supply issue. No one ever told me that babies often go through a fussy period and if you persevere it eventually resolves. It was at this point I started with one top up feed of formula a day, my downfall. It was a downward spiral from then on and eventually Lillie only wanted the bottle and I became an exclusive pumper. As soon as I started pumping I began having problems with plugged ducts and mastitis. I had 5 mastitis infections in just over a month. I was so sick and constantly on antibiotics. I was always at the doctor or the physio. Eventually after my 5th infection the doctor told me I was putting my health at risk and that I had to stop breastfeeding. She wrote me a script for medication to dry up my milk. I cried and cried and pumped like crazy for a few days so that my baby could get breastmilk for as long as possible. I was able to give her breastmilk till she was 14 weeks old.
A few weeks went by and I found myself really struggling with the decision. If Lillie had a runny nose or was constipated I felt so guilty. I could not move on from the decision I had made and I desperately craved being able to breastfeed my baby again. 5 weeks after my milk dried up I decided to relactate. I had done tons of research, reading up online, watching you tube videos and I spoke with a lactation consultant who helped me come up with a plan as to how I was going to do it. I discussed with hubby and we set some rules and limitations as he was really worried about me due to the emotional and physical toll it had previously taken on me.
Before I started I stocked on up fenugreek capsules and nursing tea. I began on a Saturday and just started pumping with my Medela freestyle. This process cannot be done without a good pump and the freestyle has been great! I was pumping every 2-3 hours, doing a power pump once a day and pumping once at night. For 6 days I saw nothing not even 1 drop, it was really hard but I was determined. By the 6th day I asked my lactation consultant if it was normal and she said I should try for 1 more day and if still nothing then I should stop. I felt very disheartened as I had really set my heart on breastfeeding again. The next day I pumped and literally I drop came out. I was so happy and excited it gave me renewed energy to continue. It was an agonizingly slow process but 1 drop turned to 3drops and to 1 ml then 10ml. I started writing down how much I was getting per pump and then tallying at the end of the day so I could see how my supply was increasing. I now only pump 4 times a day due to work confines and I don’t pump at night anymore. I am on day 29 now and this morning I pumped 80ml. I still have a way to go but feel confident I will get there!
One of my goals for relactating was to get Lillie back to the breast. I tried to get her to latch but she wouldn’t. My supply is also not high enough yet to feed her only from the breast. I decided to buy a supplementary nursing system from Medela and I am SO glad I did. I have only been using it for 2 days but I have been able to breastfeed my baby 4 times which feels amazing! I use either breastmilk or formula in the SNS and get her to latch. It isn’t always easy to get her to latch but once she does and the milk starts flowing she is then happy to drink. I also use a nipple shield which I am hoping to eventually wean her off. I used the nipple shield so it would be an easier transition for her from bottle to breast.
I still have a while to go with getting my supply back up and with getting her back to breast but the success I have had so far has made the process so worth it! It’s been a difficult journey and I could not have done it without the incredible support of my husband! I am so happy I decided to relactate and am proud of how far I have come.