I’m not talking about a disappointment. Nothing is wrong. I’m talking about a fast flow of milk out of my breasts. The letdown or milk ejection reflex.
I have been breastfeeding for almost two and a half years but I did not experience a letdown until Wallace was at least six months old. Due to his latch and my supply issues, he had to work hard for every drop of milk. The first IBCLC we worked with didn’t quite believe me when I said I didn’t think I was having letdowns. She thought I meant I just wasn’t feeling them. I still don’t really feel much but I know for sure I am having them. I also get tingly when he hasn’t nursed in a long time or when I hear a baby cry.
One day after letting him just nurse and stay latched on while in the ring sling for nap, it just happened all of a sudden. His eyes half popped open, he gripped my breast with his hands, and he started rhythmically swallowing. It was amazing and every time thereafter he could get letdowns of milk.
I tried everything I could to get a letdown for him and for the pumps (still can’t get much out with those). The hospital lactation consultants where we went for weight checks had told me to limit his time at the breast because he was wearing himself out for no nutrients. They also told me to give him a pacifier to prevent SIDS while he slept. Clearly there’s some contradictory information there… Anyway, he had a need to suck that was more than for milk and I had a supply that needed stimulating. I went with my gut instinct and started letting him nap while latched on.
Sometimes we know our bodies and our babies better than any supposed expert and I’m very glad I trusted myself. I can’t imagine my relationship with Wallace without these two and a half years of breastfeeding. I was terrified when I gave him his first bottle at 4 weeks old and then started having to supplement due to my supply. I’m amazed that I was able to improve his latch with revisions, suck training, chiropractic, the Breastflow bottle, a SNS, and nursing on demand (babywearing too!). I’m so grateful for the support I had, the donor milk, and that one time my dad cut my meat for me and served me dinner in the living room where I was stuck in a chair nursing all day.
This journey has been hard but it is anything but a letdown to know that I can give my son something right from my body that nourishes his body and soul.