I can honestly say that I never saw myself writing a blog about breastfeeding. If my husband sees this, his face will probably turn bright red (like mine is . . . right now). But, I had a struggle with nursing that I was not prepared for and felt ashamed to talk about. I overproduced and it was difficult. I feel guilty even writing that, but it was.
Blessed Yet Embarrassed
I am so very aware of the blessing it was to be able to provide nourishment for my child. I know so many women who want so badly to do so and can’t. That is why I did not feel comfortable talking about how much I was struggling. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to complain.
Let me clarify what I mean when I say I overproduced. After my nine-pound son nursed from each side, I had to pump an additional eight ounces of breastmilk just to be comfortable. When my husband got up at night to give our son a bottle, I had to wake up and pump to continue sleeping comfortably. I could feel “let down” on the hour every hour (and every time I was near an infant), and I was going through a jumbo box of nursing pads every week. I dealt with clogged ducts and mastitis. My son struggled because he often choked during feedings and began suffering from acid reflux (although he gained weight like a champ, averaging a pound a week for two months). On top of routine post-partum emotions, I felt stressed, guilty, and embarrassed that I could not figure this out.
Slow the Flow
I did some research, putting my library degree to good use, and was able to find some information on how to slow milk production that worked for me:
- Try block feeding. This means for a two to four hour span, feed your baby from one side only. If they become hungry again during that time, stick with the same side. If your other breast becomes uncomfortable, pump for only a few moments for relief. (Just be really careful with this plan so that you do not get a clogged duct.)
- Try different nursing positions. This can help you avoid clogged ducts.
- Do not pump every time your milk “lets down”. If you must, pump only long enough to provide relief, which should only take a few moments.
- Between feedings, apply a cold compress. This provides pain relief and can also slow production.
- Make sure your bra is not too tight. This can contribute to clogged ducts.
- Freeze and donate your excess milk!! I still feel guilty over the amount of milk that I was unable to use but did not donate.
- Purchase a Milk-Saver as listed on the City Moms Blog Network’s Ultimate Baby Registry! I used one of these and it saved me countless nursing pads and soaked shirts as well as provided a little extra milk to save.
I remember feeling so discouraged as I tried to figure out how to navigate the world of breastfeeding. But, hang in there and don’t be afraid to ask for help! As with all matters of motherhood, nursing is a process and it takes time to figure out.