Modesty went completely out the window with childbirth. During our hospital stay we lost track of the number of people who saw S in a state of near total undress, observed intently as she breastfed, or offered hands-on assistance. Concerned that S might be lacking in mammary tissue, one of the lactation consultants — an older woman with a generous chest — even pulled down her own shirt and showed S her breasts, saying, “See? This is what you’re looking for” — as if S did not understand the concept of cleavage and could somehow will her breasts to grow heavier simply by thinking milky thoughts.
Despite various visits with lactation consultants during our extended hospital stay we are still working on the nursing and find ourselves talking inexhaustibly about milk and breasts. S had heard ample warnings from fellow moms to relentlessly practice a good latch and prepare for soreness, so she armed herself with products like soothies, nipple butter, and booby tubes. However, it turned out that pain has not been the problem, but rather supply.
Munchkin’s diaper output was more than sufficient and he only lost seven percent of his birth weight his first week so even though he often slumbered for long stretches between feeding sessions, we thought everything was going pretty well. But at his second outpatient lactation and pediatrician visit, when we found out that Munchkin’s weight had plateaued several ounces below his birth weight, we knew we had to do more.
S started a daily regiment of fenugreek and blessed thistle vitamins, asked her sister to bake oatmeal lactation cookies with brewers yeast and flax, and began pumping religiously after each nursing session. It did not take long for her to begin feeling like she had become a slave to her pump, feeding back everything she produces to top Munchkin off. Now that we are out of the hospital, she feels comfortable enough entrusting Munchkin to his grandparents’ care and leaving the house (we did make it to that Slackers show), but the need to constantly stimulate her milk ducts means she can’t stay out too long.
We also took Munchkin to an ears, nose, and throat specialist to get his frenulum checked. The doctor determined that he had a moderate tongue-tie and we decided it was in his best interest to give him his second snip of the week so that he would have greater tongue mobility and hopefully nurse more successfully. Moreover, though every bone in our bodies tells us that it is wrong to wake him from the serene land of Nod, we now watch the clock and rouse Munchkin every two and a half hours to eat.
For all the stimulating the extra feedings and pumping is supposed to do, S is not sure that she is producing enough milk, which leaves her feeling like a failed economics project where increasing demand has not brought up the supply levels. Tomorrow will be the day of truth as we return to the lactation consultant and weigh Munchkin again.