I should probably update all 4 of my readers on how things are going with me and baby Rosie. :)
As it turns out, I have low milk supply. This is not a surprise, considering her tongue tie prevented her from sucking effectively from the very beginning. I have never had any engorgement issues, I barely leak, and I rarely feel that tingly, let-down reflex that happens before or at the beginning of a feed. All of this happened regularly with my previous children, so I know it isn't my fault! (poor baby gets all the blame)
Getting the tongue tie fixed was an important step in rectifying the situation, but it wasn't a magic panacea that I had secretly hoped it would be. She was gaining weight, but far too slowly; in a four day stretch, she had gained 9 grams, when babies should be gaining 20 grams per day, at minimum.
This wasn't good, and was a clear indicator that my supply is low. The next step was procuring an electric pump, pumping milk at least 8 times a day, and feeding her the expressed milk afterwards. After a weekend of the new regime, Rosie gained 60 grams! What a huge difference. We're still not at her birth weight, and she's not gaining the minimum of 20g/day, but we're close to both.
Unfortunately this is kind of a long-term arrangement. She needs a good 4-6 weeks of this treatment before we can start considering ourselves out of the woods, weight-gain wise, and for my supply to be enough for her to take 100% straight from the tap, as it were.
The good news is that all this pumping is doing good things for my supply. I am able to pump a bit more milk each day, but I can't always get the milk into her tummy! She prefers milk from me, which is good of course, but she also needs extra calories that she can't always drink on her own. She sometimes will take a bottle of expressed milk, but it's not reliable. I have a tube for an SNS system, and I've heard that you can make your own out of a regular bottle, so I'm going to look into doing that. When I'm not tired and overwhelmed, maybe? Ha haha!
I've read a book about making more milk, and the suggested mathematical equation to work out how much supplements a baby needs gives me a figure of 10oz a day for my baby.
I honestly don't know how I'm going to manage that! I am almost able to pump that amount, but if she won't drink it, then what? More questions to ask my health professionals, I guess.
As for galactogogues, I am eating oats like crazy. Porridge, granola, flapjacks, etc. I add brewer's yeast to my porridge, and I was taking fenugreek over the weekend, but it made the baby constipated. Woops. I'm going to try again with the fenugreek, but with the addition of blessed thistle. Taking them both together helps with effectiveness, apparently. Fingers crossed.
I have 14 oz of expressed breastmilk in the freezer, as well. This is my "back-up" supply, in case something happens like yesterday when I was heating a container of milk for the baby and it tipped over in the jug of water and the lid wasn't on tight enough... nightmare! Water got into the milk, making it watery and unpalatable for baby. She absolutely refused to drink it so 2 oz went down the drain. Sigh.
This is a huge learning curve for me. I sometimes feel like my head is going to spin, with all the rules of safely handling breastmilk, juggling containers in the fridge and freezer, remembering to pump and desperately trying to get that milk into her tummy, and counting out ounces of breastmilk as though I am handling fluid gold. I am grateful I've never had to struggle with breastfeeding before now, and that I've been surrounded by so much positive support during these past few weeks.
So yeah. Feed, pump, supplement. Wash, rinse, sterilise. Feed, pump, supplement....
It's working, though! She's gaining weight and growing.
Also, she's smiling. *heart melts* She's worth it, for sure.