Liquid Gold

Two significant things have happened in the past 48 hours:

1. Suddenly, the little one is a fan of righty

2. My husband saved my sleep life

As far as #1 goes, there’s kind of a back story to it.

I thought things were going well, but then for the past 5 nights or so leading up to yesterday, I haven’t been able to produce enough at night to feed Livi. During the day we’re fine, but at night I wouldn’t have anything left and she’d start crying because she’d still hungry. It would break my heart. We’d give her the pumped milk we had in the fridge, but eventually started supplementing at night with formula.

The first bottle we gave her, I cried. Not because I have a problem with formula –I’d give her anything to make sure she’s satisfied and thriving- but because I felt like my body had failed me. It was so easy to sustain her and give her the nourishment she needed while she was in my belly, and it was like as soon as she came out, I was having such a difficult time despite the resources and tools I have access to. It made me loathe the tumor even more that caused me to have surgery, and also made me dread breastfeeding and pumping. Breastfeeding is already very, very challenging (there’s quite a learning curve) and throw in a supply issue, and it makes it exponentially harder. Many times I would pump the right side, and nothing would come out- by the end of the night, I’d be lucky to have an ounce or two in the fridge.

Breastfeeding was something I really wanted to be successful at because in the grand scheme of things, if you can get it to work, it’s brilliant. You don’t have to worry about bottles or sanitizing pump parts- you have free food, readily accessible wherever you go. This week was a challenging week to see if it was something we’d be able to do exclusively, or if we’d have to continue supplementing from now on.

The past couple of days, she’s been cluster feeding and eating even more often, and had an upset stomach from the formula. We’ve been giving her one bottle at night before bed, but apparently it was enough to upset her stomach. She hadn’t done her diaper business in a few days (lots of wet diapers but nothing else), and I could tell she didn’t feel well. Yesterday, I nursed her basically all day from both sides to comfort her- I was the human pacifier. We were upstairs and she started grunting and crying from the stomach pain, so I picked her up and tried a new position on the right side. She immediately latched on, instead of punching it and shaking her head, and to my total surprise… it worked. After over two weeks of being a punk, righty is doing its job and the other ducts are making up for the lost one.

Since then, she’s been nursing from both sides like a pro. She also took care of her diaper business as soon as we got to the pediatrician’s office yesterday. I guess all we had to do was make an appointment to get her to go 😉 We knew something was up because she was sitting in her car seat, eyeballs rolling in the back of her head with a big, goofy smile on her face.

For #2, Livi and I both fell asleep around 11 last night, while Tom stayed up to prep for his flights this week. I heard Livi whimper, started to get up to get her, and Tom was still awake and said that he got it. Then, I woke up at 3:30, thinking it was midnight and time to feed her and she was still sleeping. I nudged Tom because I was so confused and he said “I gave her a bottle of the pumped milk that was in the fridge, changed her diaper and put her back to sleep around 1:30.”


After my first solid stretch of sleep in the past 2 1/2 weeks, I actually felt energized today. The fact that she’s eating well –and I already have 3 oz pumped in the fridge from today- make me feel like the whole breastfeeding thing might work out ok. But if for any reason that this was all a fluke, it’s great to know that that there are other options out there to make sure she gets the nutrition she needs.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to help with my breastfeeding woes: (of course, check with your doctor, lactation consultant or midwife if you’re having a similar situation)

-Pumping the right side after every feeding (now I do both sides 3-4 times a day)


-Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek

-Mother’s Milk and Fenugreek tea

Heather’s oaties she sent me 🙂

-In-home lactation consultant visit from Mama’s Latte

-Talking and texting friends who have newborns or young children

-Follow-up chats with the consultants at the hospital

-lots of healthy fats: 7-8 T hemp seeds, 2 eggs, almond butter, 1/2 avocado each day

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  1. Anna @ The Guiltless Life on January 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Yay for a husband that helps out! And I’m so glad Livi and you have worked things out. It sounds like you were absolutely right and there’s just a steep learning curve to breastfeeding. Of course no one ever hears about that in the media – the image put out there is that you give birth, put the baby to your chest and he/she just starts feeding!

  2. Sandy on January 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I breastfed both of mine for over a year. The key for me was pumping an hour after they ate during the day and NO pumping at night. It may take a bit, but the supply and demand will kick in. Soon enough, I had six gallons (no joke) of frozen breastmilk and had to start giving it away to my sister in law (who couldnt nurse her newborn.) Way to stick with it, woman!

  3. Angie All The Way on January 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I had milk supply issues associated with PCOS and my dear, I know EXACTLY how you are/were feeling. I would pump each and every chance I had when he wasn’t at breast and I would be lucky to get an ounce total a day. I wouldn’t waste a single drop of that liquid gold. Then one day when he was 10 weeks old, I had NO milk! He was hungry, and NOTHING would come out. All I had was 4 ounces I had been working on for days and I gave it to him in a bottle. I knew that we were in some serious breastfeeding trouble. My doctor had the foresight to discharged me from the hospital with a prescription for Domperidone in case I had issues with my milk coming in, but since it had with no problems I thought I was in the clear (even though he was ALWAYS at breast, but you expect that anyway).

    I called the breastfeeding hotline and spoke to a nurse. She agreed with me that it was a supply issue and recommended I should take the prescription (and confirm with doc of course), keep him at breast and wait for the milk to come back. The last thing I wanted to do was cease breastfeeding, (especially all that you do through to keep it going through the first few months, right?), but I also wasn’t prepared to let him go hungry waiting for what was so uncertain! I wasn’t “against” formula, but I knew that whatever he wasn’t getting in a bottle and not my breast was a time that he was not signaling that milk production from me if he wasn’t nursing (same goes for bottled breast milk for that matter). Pumping was never that successful for me, as I already mentioned, so there I was in a state of panic and tears.

    The Domperidone worked and helped increase my milk supply and we continued to breastfeed until 8 months, but it was still not enough for him, so I had to supplement with formula. He still nursed every feeding, but also drank formula from a bottle each and every time when he unlatched started to fuss when there was nothing coming out. I cried the first time he had formula, especially since he gagged on it. I was home alone and I still remember the exact place I was standing with him. I hated that my body was “letting us down.” I knew that I had no control over it, but I couldn’t help how devastated I felt.

    He was a comfort nurser and continued to nurse to sleep up until he weaned himself at 8 mths. I was really sad when the time came because it truly does become such a special ritual. As time went on, it got much better and I wasn’t phased by it. Ultimately I was able to see that I truly was doing everything I could, including taking a prescription to help. You always hear so many breast feeding mothers who look down on others for feeding formula almost in disbelief that the likelihood of a real supply issue was unlikely and just an excuse to take the “easy” route. Before being there myself, I might have even thought the same. Having gone through what I went through, I will never EVER allow a mother to feel badly for needing to supplement. We do what we MUST to do the best for our children. Every.single.time!

  4. Heather Eats Almond Butter on January 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I’m so happy to hear righty is feeling the love, and I hope that things just keeping getting better. You’re doing your best, and I know that it is so so SO hard, especially those first few weeks when you’re exhausted. Keep up the amazing work mama, and keep eating those Oaties! We’re cheering for both you and Little One!

  5. Karen Carloni on January 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Just climb into bed with Livi with no shirt on and let her latch on and nurse at will all day while you nap and drink plenty of water. A day or two of “nursing naps” will help increase your supply also. You are doing great – keep it up.

  6. Roselyn @ A Balanced Fit on January 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm


    Having a newborn is stressful enough, having one of your boobs acting up just adds to things, I’m sure. Glad its stopped being a punk. 😉

    And the Pilot…he’s a keeper! Most men are scared of newborns. 🙂

  7. candice on January 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Yay! so glad righty is up to speed! breast feed as long as you can but don’t worry if it doesn’t work out. I nursed my twins untill they were about 5 months. As soon as I went back to work (I’m a fitness instructor) I simply wasn’t producing enough to feed to babies and the more active I got.. it just disappeared and I felt really guilty at first cause I really wanted to nurse them for a year but the babies adjusted to formula easily and are healthy as can be. Drink LOADS of water, that helps.. (something I wasn’t good at while trying to juggle two newborns..)
    Have you notice you smell like maple syrup while taking fenugreek?! I craved pancakes almost everyday because of it! haha!

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      Yes!!! I’m pleasantly stinky haha

  8. Conni Jo on January 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    When I nursed my first child (I have nursed 3), someone told me that if I made it through the first 4 weeks, I would be fine. They were so right (with all three). You will soon have it all very figured out.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      one week left!!

  9. geetha on January 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    dear gina,
    They say that garlic intake increases milk production. Will ask my mom more ideas and will share with you. 🙂
    Take care dear.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      really??? and id been avoiding garlic! thank you

      • Jessica@Fruit and Veggie Tales on January 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        that’s probably true but if you notice Olivia having stomach pain, that could be it! 😉

      • geetha on January 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

        just the regular intake of garlic, don’t overdo it.

        Also have oatmeal atleast once a day, drink more water and fluids (fresh juices), lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Avoid spicy food. Indian women also have cumin, ghee, mung beans (lentils) which are already staples in indian diet.
        Don’t stress over it….relax and think, believe and visualize that u r having good milk production.

  10. Jessica@Fruit and Veggie Tales on January 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    So glad that everything is getting better! I’ll never forget the times my husband takes a shift for me either! It’s amazing what 4 hours of sleep will do! 😉 You are a warrior and I know exactly what it’s like to have breastfeeding woes! I did discover with my second child, that green smoothies, green juice and carrot juice produce milk like CRAZY! I fought and fought and fought for milk with my daughter, doing all the other things including fenugreek and nothing. By the time she was 5 months I had to stop. With my son, I had changed my diet quite a bit but it was the greens and carrot juice that made such a difference! I had so much milk I was able to pump for other moms who needed it! A HUGE blessing considering where I came from before so I thought I’d pass along the info because if I had known that with my daughter, it would have changed things! Hope it works for you too!!!

  11. Candice on January 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Yay for the Pilot stepping up! He probably has no idea how much he really helped you!

  12. Shilpa on January 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm


    Have been a silent reader of yours from a long time now.Please TRY MOTHERS LOVE concentrated drops!Chk youtube for some videos.I did exactly everything you have done till now….infact was glad you had milk since I last read.This did the work for me many times during the past 9 months I have been nursing my baby.Each time I felt the milk drop,I supplemented and it took couple of hourrs at the max a day for more milk to set in.Fenugreek tablets dont have the same effect as this.I have used it @ 4-5 weeks,3 months,5 months and each time it worked.Good luck and ping me if you need more details.

    • Fitnessista on January 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      thank you!

  13. Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's on January 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I totally feel you. I wanted to BF so badly and then B was readmitted for jaundice and everything had to be monitored so I had to pump, and after my coloustrum was gone, my milk never came in. It was the most frustrating thing. I felt like a failure but I did everything I could to get my supply and it just didn’t happen. We do the best we can and have to know that we can’t be superheros haha. Good luck with everything!

  14. Jess on February 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I’m glad nursing is getting better. Make sure you pump with Olivia gets a bottle otherwise your body won’t know that you need milk at that time and your supply may drop. Also, eat eat eat and drink drink drink. Even after nearly 7 months of breastfeeding if I don’t eat enough or drink enough during the day my supply tanks the next day, especially after a workout. Once I eat enough I have milk aplenty.

    • Jess on February 2, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Oh foods like oatmeal, almonds and avocado encourage lactation.

  15. Lisa on November 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    This post has helped me so much today, thank you <3 I'm so sorry you also struggled with breastfeeding and I feel like I can relate to you 100% in this post. I feel like no one really tells you how difficult it will be because you have to add in the "not sleeping", "recovering from childbirth", and stress of caring for a new baby 24/7!

    My baby has a very small mouth and we had so many problems with the latch. After 7 days of bleeding/cracked nipples, I finally sought out a lactation consultant, but not before a huge delay in my milk coming in because the suck was off. :/ WE finally got my nipples healed and got his latch fixed, but now I'm still playing catch up with my supply and he's still figuring out the suck/swallow. I'm taking pills, tinctures, herbs, pumping, feeding, trying to get as much rest as possible, eating lactation cookies and steel cut oats every day, drinking tons of water, and while things are improving, I had to give my baby formula which broke my heart at first. I bawled and had anxiety for days!!! Nothing against formula, but I really had this ideal image of me being able to sustain my baby from my milk. Now I'm very thankful that we have formula to give him because he needs more food and nutrition than I'm able to provide. He's now getting about 30% milk and 70% formula, and I'm pumping and feeding around the clock to hopefully increase my supply more. I figure any milk is better than none, so I'm not giving up hope! His suck/swallow is improving every day and I'm praying that this is only a little bump in the road. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this. It really helps to know I'm not alone, especially when you can feel SO alone in this process!! <3

    • Fitnessista on November 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      my heart aches for you while reading this! hang in there, mama. it is HARD, and like you said, it’s compounded by the lack of sleep and trying to figure everything else out. you’re doing the best you can, and looking back, i wish i wouldn’t have been so hard on myself about “failing” at breastfeeding exclusively. it’s actually a huge reason why we’ve waited a while to think about #2.
      i’m so happy to hear everything is getting better for you! keep being kind to yourself <3 i'm thinking about you!! congratulation to you 🙂 xoxo

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