Hi! First of all, Congratulations to you Mama and pat yourself on the back for continuing to try even though you're facing challenges. I had a few of the same issues but the overall problem was exactly the same. I had triplets that were born prematurely and had to go to the NICU. My milk hadn't come in yet and I couldn't stay with my babies in the nicu so it made breastfeeding right off the bat impossible. But I pumped as often as I could even when I wasn't producing much. I think the problem was supplementing with formula gave my body the idea the milk wasn't in demand as much so I continued to have low supply issues. My babies also got frustrated with BFing because bottles and formula were so much easier. So here are a couple things to try:
Make sure you're drinking tons of fluids and stay on your prenatal vitamins. Some people have adverse effects to certain foods and drinks while breastfeeding so try to make note of that - like coffee, alcohol, caffiene, etc and see if your diet might be an issue.
There are vitamins and prescription supplements that are known to help milk supply. I remember one is milk thistle. My doctor prescribed something to help too but I forget the name. They may have helped a tiny bit but didn't solve my problem all together.
Force yourself and your baby to at least try BFing before giving formula. Don't worry about the specifics of how long its been since he ate last or how many ounces he got. Just try it as much as possible. If he's not crying/hungry, don't follow up with a bottle at all. If he's hungry a half hour later or whatever, try BFing again.
An oppositte approach and one that sounds kind of drastic and tedious. I made a spreadsheet of all the times I pumped and nursed. Every single day I kept track of when I BF and when I pumped. What time, how many ounces, etc. Then you can see where you need help. Are you not pumping frequently enough? Are you not nursing or pumping at night? Unfortunately this is a round the clock job in the beginning and especially when you're trying to increase your supply. Set a timer on your phone or something to remind you that its time to pump. (If you're with your baby, this might not be necessary. I did this more when I went back to work.) Pump when he's napping. Pump after he gets frustrated from nursing. Keep at it! It doesn't matter if it's only been two hours since you last pumped, if you have a few minutes, try again. If you did 3 times yesterday, try for 5 today and 7 tomorrow. Play games with yourself to beat your record. I know it sounds stupid but at least you will be aware and getting closer to the recommended. Hopefully, you can get to a point where you don't have to do this but until then...
Follow up with a lactation consultant and La Leche League. Most the time, they can give you suggestions right over the phone. I was willing to try anything and everything and every person I asked had different ideas and gave me a little more support to keep going. So check with as many sources as possible.
Good luck to you! Keep us posted.
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