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Thread: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Default Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down?

    My perfect little son is 16 months old and doing great. He is very mellow about nursing and pretty much "tries" to nurse whenever I offer him the breast. He night weaned very easily and we now nurse about 4 times per day.

    I say "tries" because I have had this incredibly frustrating issue with my let-down from the very beginning. Basically, I have been living with anxiety and stress about whether I will get a let-down or not for the last 16 months and have structured my life around maximizing my chances of having one.

    For example: I must nurse only at home in the glider, in the nursery,dim lights and white noise machine. This makes travelling, going anywhere basically impossible, or very stressful. Days before we go on a "vacation", my milk stops letting down (or takes about 30 minutes) and it won't do it for the pump either.

    I have spent the last year and a half doing yoga, deep breathing, fennel, motherlove supplements, nipple stimulation, etc. I have done an amazing job of conquering whatever my problem is (whether it be mental or physiological or a little of both) and have managed to have (despite it all) a really good nursing relationship with my little guy.

    I am fortunate, as he is a very patient, sweet little man. he will nurse for 30 minutes waiting for a let-down. And if he doesn't get it, he doesn't even care! It is me who is bereft!

    I am going on a weekend vacation leaving tomorrow and I so want to enjoy it!!! I'm so tired of living in fear from feeding to feeding, though when I do get a let-down, the oxytocin rush is wonderful and I do so LOVE nursing my guy.

    I just am so ambivalent, I don;t know how to proceed. Sometimes i think my son, at this point, would benefit from me being healthier and happier and ending this madness. But I feel COMPELLED to keep this up. My husband has been so supportive through all of this, though I am sure that he wishes I would get through this and move on. It's hard not to hate my body (or mind?) and wonder why I have this problem. I know so many women who still get let-downs when they are sad, or stressed or in a bad mood or nothing at all. I have to close my eyes (in above-mentioned nursery) and focus on happy, relaxing thoughts in order to get milk to flow.

    Sorry I am venting. And I know most women don't really have this problem. or at least for as long as i have. I kind of think it must be somewhat physical, but maybe it is all my crazy brain-- though I don't think I am any more stressed than your average first time mom.

    I don't think anything I do will make my milk let-down quicker or more reliably, but I can control my reactions to a "failed" nursing attempt or just allow things to go the way they will go.

    I am still addicted to the pump and I should also mention that my supply, though good (maybe 12-15 ounces a day for little guy) is VERY sensitive. So, if my milk doesn't let-down in the am and I don't pump at work (I work 3 days per week), my supply will have already plummeted, making let-down even more difficult.

    I don't know if i need advice or comfort or what, but i would appreciate any thoughts people have. I think what I need to do is stash my pump away, somehow let all this baggage go and just see what happens. But I think what will happen is that we will stop nursing very quickly, because my milk will dry up. But maybe that is best. Maybe I need to trust my body and let it tell me whether this is over or not.

    Sorry for the long rant and thank for reading. So sad.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    Reading your post, the first thing that springs to my mind is something I read about dairy cows, something that reconciles the mind/body dilemma when it comes to letdown problems. (The dairy industry is often a better source of reliable information about lactation than the human medical profession.) Apparently, a common source of letdown problems in dairy animals is conditioned fear/stress responses to cold milking machine equipment. A cow who expects to get the nasty shock of having a cold teat cup slapped on her udder is likely to "hold up" her milk even when the teat cup is warm. She sees the milking machinery come near her and she gets stressed, pumps out adrenaline, and presto: the letdown can't happen. I'm thinking you might have a similar problem. You're conditioned to expect letdown problems, you're on some deep level worried every time you go to nurse or pump- you can do as much relaxation and yoga as you want, but you can't necessarily eradicate that deep-seeded stress that's making you produce the adrenaline that's stopping your letdown. This is not your fault- if beating stress and anxiety was easy, half the therapists in the world would be reading the want ads. And you are right that you have done an AMAZING job nursing in spite of this problem.

    What you do now... I don't think anyone can tell you the right path. I know that if it were me, I'd stop driving myself crazy worrying about pumping and output and supply and your baby. Your LO is happy to nurse no matter what- at this point, I'd see that as a huge win. But that's what I would do, and you're you! If you feel driven to continue, that is OKAY! You know your body, your baby, and your needs better than anyone else.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    I think a lot of what mommal said makes sense. And I think the good news is at this point, the pressure is OFF. You are no longer the sole source of nutrition for your son. Any breastmilk he's getting now is EXCELLENT added nutrients, rounds out his diet, provides immune benefits, and overall is a huge BONUS. But he doesn't HAVE to have it. So I think it's okay if you want to relax, stop worrying about whether the milk is there and whether it will let down. Let yourself have those moments of peace watching your little guy cuddle in and nurse without the constant concern about whether it will or won't happen this time. You may be totally surprised and find that it comes a little easier if you can re-frame it in your mind and reduce some of the stress surrounding it all. And if not, then you've given your little man 16 amazing months of breast milk, the best possible start for his life.

    You're doing a great job, mama. You've worked so hard to keep this going for him. Give yourself permission to be proud of your accomplishments so far, because it is definitely something to be proud of.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    And enjoy your vacation!

    Erm, if your baby isn't going though, you might want to bring your pump to keep from getting uncomfortable. I made the mistake of thinking at 19 months I didn't need to bring mine on a 2-day trip and REALLY wished I had it by the middle of the night. I got SO engorged it was ridiculous.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    I don't really have any advice, but just wanted to say that from personal experience that stress can greatly affect your supply. When my brother passed, I was so upset that I barely got anything pumping. It was fairly early on, so I was able to get my supply back up eventually.
    I hope things get better for you! You have already done a lot for your son!

  6. #6
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    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    I think it's amazing you've worked through this for so long.... As PPs have said you've done a wonderful thing for your little guy! The way I think of it, you HAVE to nurse an infant so he gets enough calories to grow. Whereas nursing a toddler is often as much about the comfort and connection as it is about the nutrition. So could you give yourself permission to nurse your little guy whether or not there is a letdown? So that he is getting the comfort and connection whether or not any calories come out of it? And not see that as a "failed" nursing attempt but as actually a successful nursing session? It sounds like he is actually perfectly happy to nurse even when there's no letdown. And maybe that will end some of the "madness" on your side, without putting your nursing relationship to an end. And maybe will even help with your letdown troubles, as mommal suggests.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2013
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    Thank you, sweet ladies. These responses brought a tear to my eye. sometimes it's hard to be proud of what you have already accomplished and not focus on the fact that you had to leave your baby to go to work without him getting any milk
    I want to have a second child. Any advice on how I can kick this deep seated anxiety problem? do you know anyone that has had success with anti-anxiety meds? or might therapy be a good idea?
    I feel like this all started when my little man was one month old and my horrible pediatrician told me that that my baby was crying all the time because he wasn't getting enough milk. He had been gaining over an ounce a day every day of his life, and even though an LC and many others assured me she was wrong, I never recovered. I was convinced he was starving and that I was inadequate to meet his needs. Every time he cried it was because he needed milk and I didn't have enough. It filled the first 6 -8 months of his life with intense anxiety for me. Ma, I really hate that pediatrician, but I hate myself more for letting her do this to me.

    What can I do to be "normal" again and re-condition myself so I can enjoy nursing baby #2??

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    This isn't something I've personally experienced, but my guess is that therapy could help - perhaps cognitive behavioral therapy. And a new pediatrician - that is so absolutely awful that he needlessly undermined your confidence. Geez.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    If this is an anxiety problem, then therapy is a great place to start! That might be enough, no meds required. If not, then yes, I think some moms do combine anti-anxiety medications and nursing. But cross that bridge if and when you come to it.

    I second the new pediatrician idea. I'm so sorry she gave you such damaging counsel when that was the last thing on earth you needed.

    Since I'm the crazy thyroid lady around here, I'll just ask my favorite question: have you had a test for thyroid function done in the last year or two? The reason I ask is twofold: first, the anxiety you experienced sounds really severe and thyroid issues can make anxiety much, much worse (ask me how I know! ), and second, you want another baby, and having a functioning thyroid is important for getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    29

    Default Re: Is it time to stop the madness? or at least dial it down

    I definitely got a new pediatrician! I left her almost immediately (over a year ago), but the damage was done. She must have hit a nerve, and really got me at my deepest insecurities, which is really a shame.
    I am hypothyroid and take synthroid. i have been getting checked every 2-3 months and my levels are good. I also had testosterone, prolactin and estrogen levels tested about one year ago and all looked fine. I often wonder if I have hypoplasia (as my breasts have the textbook shape and look to them) and whether that has affected my lactation. But I can't find anyone to diagnose that. I also have wondered if I just have inherited low oxytocin and high adrenaline balance from my mother, who I would describe as hypervigilant and near hysteria panicky 24/7.

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