Monday, April 23, 2007

Nursing notes

I used to be in the camp of people saying "once a child can ask to nurse, they're too old". Now that I am a nursing mother myself, I am definitely finding myself re-evaluating that attitude. Partly from reading comments on other blogs (Jenn was discussing nursing at one point, and one of her commenters very astutely asked WHY a child is too old once they can ask for it - a question to which I have no good answer), partly from reading things like the WHO's recommendation that children nurse until at least age two, and partly from my own experience. I was intitally planning on breastfeeding for six months and most likely weaning at that point. But I got to six months and saw no reason to stop, as it was going perfectly well, and how could I deprive my child of the nutrition and benefits of breastmilk for, really, no good reason? (I am NOT judging anyone who stops BFing at any point, for whatever reason. I just didn't feel I had a reason to stop that I felt comfortable with.)

My only dilemma comes from the fact that we'd like to start trying for a second munchkin when Ant is around 14 months old. I am pretty certain that I will not see any hide or hair of the crimson bitch until I stop nursing. My theory is that HA is partly due to a system that is much more sensitive than normal to hormone levels, so the elevation of prolactin and decrease in e2 due to nursing will most likely suppress my system until I stop nursing. (Hopefully NOT thereafter! Pretty please.) But that means that I will need to decide to stop nursing in order to attempt conception. And I'm having a lot harder time with that idea than I ever imagined.

Then again, I've been having much more trouble with my supply in recent weeks than I had before. Well, not my supply necessarily, but more my ability to access my supply. I used to let down equally well for pumping as for nursing, within about 30 sec of starting either. More recently I have had a number of pumping sessions where I have not let down at all, despite feeling relatively full, which means that I only manage to pump 2-3 oz, instead of the 5-6 that I normally get. And on occasion it's taken as long as 4-5 minutes for me to let down when Ant is suckling. I did notice some CM for the very first time since Ant was born, so I wonder if in fact my hormones are shifting a bit. I've tried the looking at your baby's picture, thinking about them method - I'm just so non-sentimental that things like that really don't do it for me. Even his cry doesn't set me off. I've tried shaking the old knockers, stroking and massaging as recommended on kellymom, to no effect. I've even tried sucking myself. Yes that was probably as funny as you imagine. I was desperate though! So now I just get out as much as I can and call it a day. But I do wonder if this is the beginning of a forced end? I'm trying to keep it up by pumping 2x while I'm gone, with him only eating once, and that has been working okay for now, but barely. Any suggestions?


Jenn said...

I said I would definitely stop when it became "self-serve" but Nick figured out how to get through my towel after a shower one day and latched on. So I've re-evaluated that. Now I don't know when I'll stop either. I never would have imagined nursing past a year before, but I just might.

As for the let-down, I have no idea. I couldn't feel letdown at all for the first several months. It's only very, very, rarely that I can pump more than 3 ounces and I'm nursing twins. Maybe your hormones are starting to shift. I hear your supply dips when you get your period, maybe?

Anonymous said...

Just de-lurking with some assvice: my most successful pumping sessions were when I pumped one boob and nursed my daughter on the other simultaneously. I only managed to do this first thing in the morning, but it did yield the greatest quantity of "liquid gold."

MsPrufrock said...

First of all, welcome back! I think Bloglines-induced laziness prevented me from saying that earlier. Oops.

My problems with breastfeeding/pumping are well-documented, so I won't really bother weighing in. As far as the "how old is too old" nursing issue, my own opinion is that that when a child can verbally ask for the breast, it is just plain creepy. I'm sure many people would disagree, which I can understand. I certainly think a child over the age of 3 breastfeeding is just plain strange.

Eva said...

Hi Nico,
First, congrats on successfully nursing & pumping as long as you have!
The image of sucking yourself... too funny.
In terms of suggestions (I have had my share of time with lactation consultants)...
the pumping on one side while you nurse on the other did really help me get more milk.
When I'm away from the kiddos I usually try to pump twice, like you said. But if I'm missing one "meal" I'll pump while away, and then pump again right after the next time they eat, and usually get some more that way.
When I would use breast milk from the freezer for cereal, so I wasn't giving them bottles or missing a feed, I would try to pump before I went to bed. This would work well if Ant's a good sleeper and has an early bedtime... send him to bed, then a couple of hours later before you go to bed, knowing he won't be up soon, pump. It actually works for me even if J or S is up soon after I pump, because they can get me to let down again if they're up and crying at night. So for me, this bedtime pump is like a bonus 2 - 3 ounces.
I've never done the photo thing, but sometimes when I'm away I do try to imagine one of them nursing, or wonder what they are doing right that moment, am I missing one of their firsts... that often helps me with letdown.
Massaging does actually work for me, I always massage in a downward motion from top of breast toward nipple, feeling for areas that seem more full.
That's what works for me. Not sure how helpful it is...

Emma B. said...

I do think it's normal to have a decrease in supply at some point, as the baby transitions to getting more of his food from solids rather than the breast. How many times a day is Ant eating solids, and how many nursing?

Do you have any better luck with hand-expressing than with pumping? Have you tried doing any tricks like "power pumping" to increase supply?

Glad you're back!