My story is a bit long but I'll try to keep it short! My first baby, Eva, was born on January 5, 2006 so she's just under 7 months old. I had planned on breastfeeding her exclusively for a year but it just wasn't in the cards for us.
Her birth was a little bit stressful (aren't they all?! ) I was in early labor for 28 hours, active labor for 20 hours, and pushed for 3 hours. She had passed a LOT of meconium in the womb, so much that it got into my system and my husband could smell it on me before she was born. When she was born, she went to the NICU where she stayed for the first 36 hours. I was unable to nurse her right away like I wanted to because of this, and on top of that it took the hospital staff 16 hours to get me a pump! Finally I got the pump and started pumping for 15 minutes every 2 hours. It wasn't too bad. I tried nursing Eva in the NICU but she was just too confused from the forceps and the hematoma and being in the NICU and couldn't latch on. She was diagnosed with meconium aspiration and pneumonia (although it was just a shadow of a spot on her lung.) When they finally brought her to my hospital room after 36 hours, I worked with the hospital LC's and we were able to get her latched on correctly. It was a little tricky because she broke her collarbone when she was born and couldn't be laid down on her right side because it hurt her. She also had to go to the nursery for antibiotic treatments 3 times a day for a week which was very stressful for all of us. We stayed in the hospital for the first week to facilitate this. Eventually we were all very happy and Eva worked very hard to get my milk to come in She only had very mild jaundice so I guess my colostrum is good stuff!
Here's where it gets weird. Finally on day 5, my milk started flowing but I developed mastitis in my right breast that same day. It felt like there was a marble under my right nipple and all the surrounding tissue was red and hot, yowch! I went on dicloxacillin to kill the infection.
But the weird part is that I never got engorged... According to the LC's at the hospital, I have "great breasts for breastfeeding!" so I'm pretty sure they are not hypoplastic. They're not widely spaced, they're very veiny during pregnancy and afterwards, and my areolas are a normal size. I thought nothing of it in the beginning, I just thought I was lucky for not getting engorged. Eva did great, she only lost 9 oz total and started gaining again. Her discharge weight at one week old was 8lbs 6oz, woohoo!
So we plugged along for the next week. She was hungry all the time. She fell asleep every time she nursed so every session lasted at least 40 minutes, usually more like an hour. I also pumped with a manual pump in between feedings to help out my supply. Talk about tiring!
We went to her 2 week checkup. Her weight... 8lbs 6oz. The LC at the pediatrician's office watched me pump with the hospital pump. I only pumped 1/2 oz in 10 minutes with the electric hospital pump. So she told me to take some herbs and said to start supplementing with formula. Eva didn't like the formula right away so I didn't force her to take it. We went back for a weight check 3 days later. Her weight this time was 8lbs 5.7oz. I broke down sobbing.
I switched her to a different brand of formula and continued to breastfeed and formula feed until she was 8 weeks old. In the meantime I tried fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa combined but they didn't help. I drank mother's milk tea, I pumped during every feeding... I can't remember all the suggestions that were given to me but I tried them all. The harder I tried, the less milk I made. I was curious about trying Reglan but was scared of the side effects so I didn't try it. At 8 weeks, my daughter started having serious nipple confusion and it broke my heart. She started shaking her head and screaming every time I offered the breast. I couldn't do it anymore. I was becoming stressed out and depressed and made the decision to switch completely to formula. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I was depressed about it for weeks and felt like a failure. I tried everything but still felt like I hadn't tried hard enough. Now I don't regret what happened at all and I have nothing against formula (just my own personal feelings, I know many don't feel this way). But I want to know why it happened.
Now I am 10 weeks pregnant with our second baby and I am going to try my hardest to breastfeed again. No matter what happens, I have promised this baby that he/she will get at least 8 weeks of nursing like I did with Eva. I'm really hoping history doesn't repear itself here.
So at long last, here's my question. What possible reasons are there that my milk never came in fully and I never got engorged?? :cue the Jeopardy music: I would absolutely love to have a full supply this time, but is there any hope of that happening? Could it be hormonal? Could it be due to the meconium that was circulating in my system for over 4 days (that's when my husband noticed the weird smell on my skin)? Was it stress? Was it leftover hormones from the pitocin and epidural? Could being overweight have an impact? I started that pregnancy at 220 lbs and gained 42 lbs during my pregnancy (that in itself is a long story full of excuses! ). I started this pregnancy 18 lbs heavier than last time. As soon as I started losing more weight, I wound up pregnant again! But if that's the culprit, is there any way to correct it? Obviously I can't lose more weight now since I'm pregnant again.
I plan on discussing this with my OB at my first appointment next week, but I'd love words of wisdom from some breastfeeding experts! I hope someone out there has an idea!