This last month has been crazy and not in a good way. At the beginning of September I started experiencing some severe pelvic pain. I couldn’t figure out what it was or where it came from. After lots of doctor visits and an MRI I found I still had SPD from pregnancy and had injured myself starting an exercise routine too soon postpartum. I could write an entire post about SPD and the lack of postpartum care in our country compared to some European countries, and I probably will, but it's not what this post is about.
This post is about stress and what it can do to your milk supply. I have been lucky to always have a great supply, even an oversupply while nursing. After three babies the only time I have ever doubted it was during the days after my first baby’s birth, when she was in the NICU and I had to pump initially. But, during my doctor visits I missed some feedings and ended up with mastitis. Now mastitis is probably more associated with over supply than a low supply. While over supply and not draining my breasts may be what led to mastitis initially, after the pelvic pain, stress, and mastitis I noticed my supply seemed to go down. I still was not concerned, I figured it would go back up with plenty of nursing.
Then I took my daughter to her four month well visit and after her height and weight check I asked the pediatrician if her growth was good. Maybe this was my mistake. Maybe she wouldn’t have said anything to me, but then she looked carefully and said my daughter had fallen a bit off of her curve. Now my daughter is about 50% for everything so not a size issue, but my other kids were big babies. Always 75th-90th percentile so of course I wonder. To tell you the truth I kind of like having a bit smaller baby. My son was breaking my back by five months.
Now her doctor was asking me about my supply and saying maybe I am not producing quite enough for each feeding. Considering all my stress, and having just had mastitis, this left me feeling worried. She suggested I pump and see how much I produce noting that three ounces might not be enough but five probably would be. I know that a baby is much more efficient than a pump but agreed I would check it out. Then I felt all those mommy guilt feelings, what if I wasn’t producing enough, what if I was assuming I always had a great supply, and what if I was somehow depriving my daughter. While I figured it was probably fine I also felt worried. It's a common, familiar parental worry and guilt all moms feel from time to time.
I decided to spend a few days working on my supply before testing it out with a pump. I always fed on demand but I fed a little more, I upped my fluids, and I ate more. I had started counting calories recently in an effort to lose some baby weight so I added more calories and ate more frequently. And, I definitely believe my supply rebounded. I started to even wake up feeling slightly engorged. I woke one morning and fed my daughter and since I still felt full decided to pump. Nine ounces. Wow, I think that takes care of my fears and I feel grateful to know everything is most likely fine. Who knows why my daughter is a little behind her growth curve. Maybe she isn't, I swear she had a growth spurt the week after the visit. I can only say I have learned to be more mindful of my milk supply and not take it for granted going forward.
Please let me know, have you ever doubted your milk supply?