Thursday, 3 November 2011

Breastfeeding: Drying Up

I imagined I was slaying a dragon, or undertaking a feat equally as heroic. It takes guts to tell other mothers that you have decided to give up breastfeeding so early, especially when I had spent nine months mouthing off about the superior health benefits attained through such means. I wore my abscess scab like a suit of armour, I had a tongue sharp as a sword for anyone who wanted to challenge me on this decision, and I had a mud map drawn that showed me the path I needed to take to get to my milk-free destination.  

I stored breast milk in the freezer (so I could still give Hunter breast milk- for a while at least), got my firmest most supportive sports bra (gentle compression works to diminish milk production), some parsley and sage supplements from the health food store (witches whisper in my ear that these herbs help dry up the milk), a small vial of Clary sage oil mixed with carrier oil (Sven, my imaginary Swedish masseur, advised me that breast massage with this stuff is like a milk ShamWOW), a packet of Ibuprofen (to reduce inflammation), and spent some time educating myself about hand expressing for those moments when its either relieve the pressure or revisit Mr Mastitis (you can learn how to hand express too, here). Thus armed, I began the task of slaying the wretched beast that was breastfeeding. 

Hunter enjoys a bottle

It took four weeks, slow beginnings where I expressed less than a full breast of milk or skipped an express. Hunter took to formula really well actually- he didn't vomit formula up at all, but had always had regurgitation issues with breast milk (much to my shame and frustration- I spent weeks avoiding eggs, nuts and dairy in fruitless effort to "locate the thing that was making my baby sick", to no avail. Perhaps he wasn't allergic to anything, but rather was in need of some illusive nutrient found only in S26 Gold). I began a routine of Ibuprofen and herb supplements at night, and a non-nipple Clary sage massage twice daily. Non-nipple because any stimulation ramps up that milk supply. By the end of week two I had dropped three expresses a day and my porno boobs had deflated an entire cup size. I started sleeping on my stomach to help increase the compression (and OH GOD IT WAS GOOD!). I also realised that I suddenly had extra time in each day- time where I had previously expressing and then feeding, I could now just fix a bottle and feed instantly.   

By the end of week four I was done. I could still squeeze a drop of milk from the nipple if I wanted to, and I was tempted by a little voice in my head telling me to "just dive back into breastfeeding- surely it wasn't that bad, was it?" To which I replied "Of course it was, what are you? A masochist?" I smacked that voice upside the head and told it to sod off. I haven't heard from it since. Which I assume is due to the fact that Hunter is very happily bottle fed, thriving on formula. He has finally put on enough weight to not be walking the 'failure to thrive' line, and as a side benefit for me, it is recommended that formula fed babies be introduced to solids earlier, so I have been able to introduce Hunter to solids! So cute.

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