Before giving birth to Beckett, every parent had told me that the first weeks of your new baby’s life are the most challenging. Though that was definitely a very difficult time, the next weeks that followed were also quite challenging with one thing being the constant – more struggles with breastfeeding.

At ten weeks post partum my breastfeeding experience took an unexpected turn. As you may have read in my last post, breastfeeding began with many different obstacles for me to overcome. The latest one came when I had the joy of discovering my period had returned less than three months after giving birth. I knew it was a possibility that you could get your period even when exclusively breastfeeding but never in a million years did I expect to get it that quickly after having a baby. If you know me and have read my previous post, From No Period to Pregnant,  you may think it is a bit ironic that I would be one of the few to get my period back so early after having had such challenges getting it regularly not that many years ago. And so alas, the lovely red witch decided to make her grand re-entrance into my life at Beckett’s young age of ten weeks. And boy did she produce all kinds of new problems for my life as a breastfeeding mommy.

When I got my period back, my milk supply almost disappeared completely. It had been going down for the week prior (which apparently happens to those who get their period while breastfeeding) and I wasn’t really aware of it. I didn’t realize Beckett wasn’t getting enough milk until I figured out that he was dehydrated. I noticed he looked thinner so I took him to the doctor and sure enough he had lost almost half a pound. I stressed out and my milk supply was affected even further to the point that I had basically no milk left to feed him. Luckily I had stashed a ton away in my deep freezer when he was first born so I was able to supplement with frozen milk while I worked diligently to get my milk supply back up. The first step I took was to call back my favorite “Boobie Mobile”, My Nursing Coach. Linda, the lactation consultant, recommended I take a medication called, Domperidone, to help get my supply back up. DP is a medication meant for gastrointestinal issues and happens to have the side effect that it stimulates prolactin (milk production) and can increase a nursing mother’s milk supply.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I have always tried to do things the natural way and not the medical way. In my moment of desperation, I began taking Domperidone without a moment’s hesitation. Beckett was still so young and the thought of no longer breastfeeding was devastating. So I started taking the medication immediately and within a couple of days, my supply was back to where it had been before. I was so excited to be able to share this special bond again and yet in the back of my mind a bit concerned about what this medication might do to me over time. I had done a ton of research and with the exception of minor side effects while on it, I learned there have been no long-term effects on the mother; less than .01% of it makes its way into the milk, making it also safe for Baby as well.

Just before Beckett’s four month birthday I was at a crossroads; I needed to decide whether to re-order more medication or try to get off of it and see if I could still produce naturally as I had done so abundantly at the beginning of Beckett’s life. I decided to try and get off of it by slowly cutting back on the dosage. In a matter of days I realized that the only way to keep my supply up at this point would be to continue on DP as my body had become dependent on it. I had an incredible amount of anxiety during this time and wasn’t sleeping well. I was still concerned about the unknown affects it may have on Beckett despite what I had researched since I hadn’t discussed it with his pediatrician before taking it.

Luckily, when I visited the pediatrician that week she gave me her blessing to stay on it and wrote me a prescription. I was an emotional mess in her office that day as I had been having a terrible week of getting Beckett to nurse (he had fallen in love with the bottle when I had to supplement back at ten weeks) and was also having extreme difficulty with getting the milk out with the pump. I told her I had been dealing with a ton of anxiety and mood swings, which we both just figured was due to hormones and the stress of whether or not to continue on the medication.

When the pediatrician returned with my prescription, she mentioned that Domperidone could cause anxiety and/or depression; something NOBODY else had mentioned to me between the lactation consultant and other women that had been on it. My nutritionist and wonderful friend, Debra Delson, further investigated the medication when I mentioned that I was on it and was able to tell me more about what can happen on the drug. I was having major letdown issues (when the milk takes a long time to come out) so much so that Beckett was losing patience and it was constantly a battle with him to breastfeed. I was having difficulty sleeping and was moody and anxious. I dealt with minor stomachaches. I would become engorged and not be able to pump the milk out – all things caused by the medication.

Upon learning this I decided that in order to be the best mom I could be for Beckett, I needed to take care of me as well. It was a heartbreaking decision but I decided staying on the medication wasn’t the right thing to do and would have to give up breastfeeding. I needed to stay true to who I am and what I always preach on House of Health…you are the only person that stays with you for your entire life so you must first take care of YOU and then others!

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the milk didn’t entirely disappear upon quitting breastfeeding. I managed to continue pumping and giving Beckett a decent amount of milk until this past week when I got my period again and the milk supply almost completely diminished. It has been a sad week of packing up my breastfeeding supplies but I keep reminding myself to look at the positive – he had a great start to life with over five months of breast milk and I did the best I could.

There is a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed today. It is wonderful that women are being encouraged to give this gift to their babies but the flip side to it is that it creates tons of guilt when it doesn’t go well and a mom chooses to or is forced to quit. I know women who have had no chance at breastfeeding due to breast surgery, cancer or the baby is allergic to its mother’s milk. I will be the first to admit that before Beckett, I judged women for not nursing; I felt they were robbing children of the amazing nutrition that comes with breastfeeding. I had no idea the challenge that was ahead of me and that sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

It’s amazing what we will do for our children. I was very close to continuing on a path of taking a medication that had already proven to be bad for my physical and mental health just for Beckett’s sake. Even today I sometimes still question whether or not I did the right thing by going off of DP and I ask myself where things went wrong; and then I snap back into reality and remember that I made the right decision and it wasn’t my fault! I tried everything!

As a society, and particularly as moms, we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly. Whether you are a parent or not, I hope in reading this you will be kind to yourself about whatever thing that hasn’t gone exactly as planned for you. I had the pregnancy of my dreams, the delivery of my dreams and have a perfect, health, happy baby. Just being able to have a baby at all is such a gift! I’d say I am three for three so it’s time to move forward and focus on taking care of me so I can take care of Beckett.

I am happy to report that I have been making Beckett a homemade formula for the past several weeks. I decided that since quitting breastfeeding freed up some time I wanted to give him what I found to be the next best thing: fresh goat milk based formula. I will post the recipe for those interested in my next post and tell you more about it (and promise it won’t take me as long to post again! Been busy battling breastfeeding 😉 ).

I hope that whatever happens in your life that doesn’t go according to plan, you can find peace within yourself and enjoy the new plan that unfolds. And that you take a second to check yourself before you judge others on their choices because as clichéd as it sounds, you just can’t truly understand another person’s path without walking in their shoes.

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