In the beginning, breastfeeding my son came second nature to me. He was born via c-section, and I wasn’t able to nurse him right away. Later, when I was finally able to hold him, he started smacking his lips as soon as he was put into my arms. I placed him up to my breast and he latched on with no problem.
We stayed in the hospital for three days, and everything was great. The lactation consultant helped me perfect a sturdy football hold and sent me on my way. We did face a few challenges when we got home. My nipples were sore which made me scared to nurse because of the pain. I had to mentally hype myself up before I placed him on my breast which sometimes took as long as half an hour to do. Meanwhile, my poor newborn was screaming his head off wondering why his mama wouldn’t just give him the boob already.
After a few days I stopped being a scaredy cat. He and I found our rhythm, and everything was all good again. That was, until things went bad. When it was time for my little guy to eat, he would latch on immediately, but then start thrashing around. He yanked at my nipple, kicked his legs, and finally would unlatch to cry. He did that for 5 – 10 minutes before calming down and nursing.
I was so busy making sure I didn’t drop him as he was flailing his tiny body around that I missed the key to solving our nursing problem. My let down was letting me down. Instead of flowing instantly like it had been for weeks before, my milk supply had slowed down, and my sweet boy was working overtime for a drop.
If it wasn’t for an all-day meeting that I had to go out of town for, I never would have realized it. I pulled out my digital pump so that I could leave my husband with a couple of bottles. The pump keeps track of how much time I’ve been pumping. About 5 minutes in I had a few drops of milk in the bottle. It wasn’t until nearly 10 minutes of pumping that I felt my let down start.
I pumped about five ounces after that, and was surprised because I had always produced a lot more milk. Once I realized what was going on, I went to work trying to increase my supply. I figured the biggest issue was dehydration. The hospital sent me home with a huge mug that I kept filled with water. Once I healed from the c-section and was out and about again, I wasn’t drinking nearly as much. I found a really great water bottle and started tracking my water intake.
As I nursed my son, I tuned into my body and felt my “time to let down” decrease. If I went a day without being sufficiently hydrated, I immediately feel a difference. My fancy water bottle stayed with me at all times, and I made sure that I wasn’t just toting it from place to place, but drinking all day long.
I was spoiled by an overabundance of milk with my son in the early days, and with my daughter years ago. I knew about the importance of staying hydrated as a breastfeeding mother, but you know, I got busy. The crazy thing is, drinking water doesn’t just benefit my baby. It’s necessary for me, too. No matter how overwhelmed I get with two kids, a husband, and work, staying hydrated is the one act of self care that I can commit to since I know not doing it will affect my sweet boy.
I guess my let down didn’t let me down after all. Instead, it serves as a reminder for me to do better when it comes to taking care of myself.