Dealing with a Forceful Letdown in Breastfeeding

forceful letdown, breastfeeding, overactive letdown, oversupply breastfeeding, breastfeeding oversupplyI remember holding the plastic baby to my breasts, awkwardly perched on the couch of my breastfeeding class, trying to perfect the football hold. Following this single 90 minute class I was obviously a breastfeeding guru, equipped with all the knowledge I needed to nourish my baby.

Cut to me actually having a tiny, living, breathing, screaming, hungry baby. My real child was way harder to wrangle into the football hold than the well-behaved plastic baby I used for practice. No worries. My type-A personality decided that everything would be better once I was home in my chair, with my Pinterest-inspired basket of breastfeeding necessities within arms reach.

Once my milk came in I was like hell yeah, I’m a rock star, I make milk with my body. And I made a lot of milk. Like a cow on steroids. I went through breast pads like a teenage boy goes through Kleenex. I hadn’t stuffed my bra that much since middle school. Nevertheless, I figured all the milk was a good thing, since my baby was excessively hungry.

But she hated it. See, I didn’t know it at the time, but I have a forceful let down. When my milk lets down it’s like Old Faithful erupting. If you are ever going to a Super Soaker party, just bring a lactating chick with an overactive letdown. First off, no one will want to get sprayed with that, second, you’ll definitely win.

Anywho, imagine a newborn baby having a Super Soaker full of milk shot into their mouth. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy/postpartum journey that will either make you laugh or cry. I’m laughing, sorry. Still, most babies obviously aren’t into that and there’s really nothing you can do.

I remember feeling like the world’s worst mother. I read online that my baby would “get used to it eventually”. All I could think about was how I was torturing my daughter in the meantime. She choked, coughed, sputtered, gagged and pulled off my breast. It felt like I was feeding her Mountain Dew out of a broken beer bottle and she reacted accordingly.

God forbid she pull off my breast after a let down and things got out of control. She got shot in the eye, I got shot in the eye and I was screaming for my husband to bring a towel. Everything was constantly wet. Everything. I just kept telling myself to try to make it one more day. foreful letdown, overactive letdown, breastfeeding, funny breastfeeding, breastfeeding memes

And here’s the crazy thing.One more day kept coming and going and before I knew it months had passed. During those months, my daughter truly did get used to my forceful letdown. Somewhere along the road I stopped needing breast pads. The Lanolin is lost in my daughter’s room, and my super useful breastfeeding basket is no more.

There are some great tips on dealing with a forceful letdown, the hardest of which is giving it time. It’s the last thing you want to do. I wish I had some super awesome advice that would make everything better., but I don’t. The thing is, no one really does. We’re all just trying to make it and do what’s best for our babies and our families.

I can tell you this though. It DOES get better. Breastfeeding because painless and easy and beautiful. Even if you’re in the trenches, even if you don’t feel like you can do it one more second, even if you’re ready to give up, just make it one more day. As each of those days passes you’ll become stronger, you’ll heal, your baby will adjust to life outside the womb. And if it doesn’t, you’ll know that you lasted on your breastfeeding journey one day longer than you thought you could.

I’m learning that no one really has answers, but we do have this amazing bond of motherhood. It’s a bond that gets politicized and embattled, but at the end of the day, it’s a bond that shows us we can get through the hard times. That there are women just like us who survived and lived to tell the tale. So here I am, just one of those women on this crazy journey called motherhood here to tell you it will be okay. Just give it one more day.

Things I’ve Learned on my Breastfeeding Journey

BFJWhen I got pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I am lucky that everything worked out and my little girl and I have been going strong for six months.  Although it hasn’t been an easy journey, I am glad I’ve gone on it with her and I’m hoping to continue as long as she wants. I had no idea how much I would learn in these few short months of breastfeeding, but here it is.

Everyone’s Journey is Different 

There are tons of ways to feed your baby. When my baby was born I decided that I wanted to breastfeed. I was lucky enough that she was given to me in the first hour to latch, she latched well, my nipples did their jobs properly and we survived the hardest few weeks. Some people try tirelessly to make breastfeeding work, others don’t try at all. I don’t judge.We are all doing what’s best for our families. So other mommies, I want you to know that I support and  love you right where you are.

I am Forced to Slow Down

I  often fancy myself some 1950’s housewife who has it all together. I picture myself in a cute red dress with my hair curled, the baby happily playing, dinner on the table and a pie in the oven. Except I work from home and take care of a baby all day, so my reality looks much different than that. Still, in my endless quest for perfection, I find myself running around most of the day. Then my baby cries and everything stops. I drop what I am doing, pick her up, cuddle into our spot on the couch, cover her with blankets and stop for  a minute. In that moment, everything else melts away. It’s just me and her on this crazy journey and I am forced to slow down and cherish the precious baby in my arms.

Supplementing is Okay

I am a very “all or nothing” kind of girl. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s awful. When my daughter was born I was told that colostrum would be enough to keep her little belly full until my milk came in. Only it wasn’t, not for her. I was given pre-mixed formula for her to eat after breastfeeding. My baby went from screaming her lungs out to a happy, content baby after the first supplement. I figured I had ruined our chances at breastfeeding, but two days later my milk came in and that was the last time we had to supplement. It’s okay if you don’t meet some arbitrary standard of perfection, especially when it means keeping your sanity.

Covering Up is Controversial

I would really love to have an extremely well-formed and controversial opinion on this, but I don’t. I have always felt comfortable breastfeeding in public and I choose to cover up on most occasions. I have also decided to not cover up when I’ve forgotten my cover, or when it’s too hot or when I just don’t want to. I always try to be respectful of the people around me and be discreet. I know that it makes some people uncomfortable. Here’s the thing though, I’ve never gotten a negative comment. People have always said very positive things or nothing at all. I try to balance making my baby comfortable and making myself (and others) comfortable and so far it seems to be working out for me.

Breastfeeding + Babywearing = Win

You should seriously try it. My husband bought me a Tula for mother’s day and it was seriously the best gift ever. I wear my baby all the time. When she’s fussy, when we’re out, when we’re going on a walk, when I am trying to get stuff done. The best part is she can breastfeed discreetly while I have both hands free. In fact, she’s eating right now while I type. I am also sipping a coffee and texting my mom…because doing one thing would be too easy, right? Anyways, this has made my breastfeeding journey much easier. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a hungry baby, but also a life.

Support Systems Matter

My husband supported me breastfeeding 110%. While he would have supported me if I couldn’t do it, he knew it was really important to me. He was a key player in those early days when my nipples were cracked and bleeding, when it hurt to walk and when people were telling me just giving her formula would be so much easier. I didn’t want to give up, but I might have had he not been there. He was up with me during the late-night feedings, even though he didn’t have to be. He was always at the ready with water, a magazine or a snack while I fed her. When I felt like giving up he encouraged me to press on. He is my biggest supporter and constantly tells me what a good job I’m doing. I don’t think I could have survived without him. A support system is everything.