Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Did I ever really have a low milk supply?

Some researchers are conducting a survey of nursing mothers who have used Domperidone to increase milk supply.

I took the survey, and it reminded me of something I've been wondering for quite a while now: Did I ever really have a low milk supply?

A couple months ago, the local La Leche League put me in contact with another area mother who was experiencing low milk supply issues and taking domperidone for it. She wanted to talk to someone who had been through it and was on the other side, and I was happy to provide any help/moral support that I could. I kept asking the other mom how she knew that she had low milk supply... did her baby cry all the time? Because Will's crying was really the only thing we were going on the whole time I was dealing with this. But no, the other mother said her baby did not cry all the time and was generally pretty easy-going. I think she said that the baby's poor weight gain was the main issue.

For us, Will was a bit slow to gain weight, but he never had dangerously low weight gain or weight loss. During the worst of it, he had a week where he only gained 4.5 ounces. Because I was nursing him almost constantly (as much as 12 hours some days), and he cried whenever he wasn't nursing, the lactation consultant told me she suspected I had a milk supply issue. She thought he must be doing a lot of non-nutritive suckling, otherwise he should be gaining loads of weight considering the amount of time he spent nursing.

Domperidone was the last resort after a long road of trying everything. After a couple weeks of taking it, I definitely felt like I had plenty of milk, and that was a huge relief. But the thing is, Will's crying didn't end. It didn't seem to be colic or acid reflux or an allergy to something in my diet. He just cried. Whenever he wasn't nursing, he cried.

Feeding him was very stressful. Whenever he nursed, he would fall asleep. Maybe after a half an hour or so, I'd unlatch him and he would wake up and cry. Once, I resolved to just let him nurse until he unlatched on his own. I sat there for a solid hour and a half, letting him nurse and nurse (while he was asleep). Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and unlatched him. He woke up immediately, gave me a look of pure contempt, threw his head back, and wailed. He didn't care whether or not there was milk coming out. He just wanted to nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse.

Something I really didn't get at the beginning was the whole concept of the let-down. I guess I thought that the milk was supposed to be shooting out in a constant stream for 10 or 15 minutes straight. But it wasn't that way for me... is it that way for anybody? I'd look at the clock once I started to feel the milk coming out. Most of the time the let-down would only last a minute or 2 before it subsided. Every week I'd be back in the lactation consultant's office, saying, "Milk only comes out of me for a minute at a time... he's not getting enough to eat." I don't know, maybe I am a freak and that's not how it's supposed to be, but that is pretty much the way it is now: several let-downs of milk, interspersed with periods when no milk is coming out.

I don't know exactly what I'm trying to say here, and it's getting very late. I guess I probably did have some milk supply issues and Domperidone did help. But knowing what I know now, I don't think milk supply was the root of the problem. I think Will is just a very needy baby, and for whatever reason, he spent the first 6 or so months of his life crying. I am very glad we are past that.

I still would like to know if hyperemesis or the GBS antibiotics (that I apparently had a severe reaction to), or the freakishly unexplained blood pressure spike I experienced after labor may have had any impact on my milk supply.

Oh, and one more thing, I think Domperidone made me dizzy, even though that wasn't really supposed to be a side effect.

What is the matter with me? Morning will be here before I know it, I've got to get to bed.

1 comment:

Rixa said...

Yeah, I don't know it you did have low supply if he was gaining like you indicated. My let-downs are the same as yours, and I think that IS the normal pattern for letdowns. I feel them the first minute or two, and then they taper off. Inbetween/after letdowns, the baby still gets milk, just not very much at a time. I really only feel one letdown each time I nurse, although it's possible I have more than one and just don't feel it happen. (Oh, and I had no under- or over-supply issues.)