Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Guest" post: The points system: When you can't do it all. Learning to breastfeed triplets, part 1

For "Throwback Thursday" this week we have a special guest post by Michelle, reflecting back on the most helpful advice she got from a lactation consultant while trying to "do it all" surviving the first week of breastfeeding triplets.  Here's Michelle!

I initially set out to write a product review and realized that I really wanted to talk about what I've learned about breastfeeding and then do the product review of Rumina's pump&nurse products. (stayed tuned for this in pt. 2)

I really knew very little about breastfeeding before the trio were born.  I had seen others do it of course and I knew from friends that it was not going to be super easy or awesome at first.  Mari had been pumping for months, so I'd seen her do that, but I really didn't know the mechanics of pumping either.  We had visited a lactation consultant (LC) before the babies were born and while she was enthusiastic and supportive, she didn't get into "how to's" at all.

When the babies were born (via c-section at 34 wks), I was told to pump within 2 hours, but was still in "recovery" and Mari was in the NICU with the babies, so I wasn't sure how to begin! Thankfully a LC visited to walk me through that first dairy cow-like experience of hooking my udders, er breasts, up to the pump.  I don't remember too many details from the first week of nursing because the combination of pain meds, sleep deprivation, and the stress of having three babies in the NICU leads to memory loss, literally! But I do remember that it felt very stressful and exhausting. I know I sought out help from the LCs at the hospital often and remember it feeling rather unhelpful with one exception: a very seasoned and practical LC who taught me a valuable lesson that I wanted to share with new nursing moms!

Because we had three babies to feed, we had to work hard to establish a good milk supply. While the babies were in the NICU we were told to pump every 2 hrs during the day and at least every 4 hours at night and to definitely get 8 times in 24 hours.  This is in addition to attempting to nurse the babies so they could learn to nurse and recovering from major surgery! (Not to mention visiting with a million doctors coming to check on me and/or the babies).  While I don't remember details, I clearly remember feeling completely overwhelmed with trying to fit so many things into a 24 hr period! Oh, and of course, I was also being told to rest (sleep is important for milk supply) and eat (a healthy diet, also important for milk supply).  I literally could NOT follow all the advice! 

I was feeling stressed about getting enough nursing and pumping in during each 24 hr period and am so thankful for the advice of the seasoned LC who taught me a system that helped me find some balance.  She told me to think of "things good for milk supply" as a whole and to give myself points for everything that met the definition. If I took a nap, I got points! If I tried nursing babies, more points! Kangaroo care? Points! Pumping? Points. She made me feel like I didn't have to, and really couldn't, do it all and that was okay.   If I couldn't nurse them, then pump. If I couldn't pump, eat a good lunch and cuddle with a baby.  It all counted!

This was such a relief to me.  I still tried to pump and nurse as often as possible, but I stopped being rigid about doing it all so many times per day!  Letting go of that let me focus more on enjoying our three precious babies.
cuddle time with Avery? Points...

Kangaroo care with Ellie? Points...

taking a nap? Points...
(no I didn't REALLY nap with all 3 in bed covered in a sheet, but it did make a cute pic!)

Part 2...what happens when three babies and two nursing moms leave the hospital? Coming soon...

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