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Wednesday, August 3, 2011


This recent experience with pneumonia taught me a few things, one of which was about Reglan. I became very, very sick before I went into the hospital, and one thing that added to my stress and worry was the fact that I was drying up. I knew how incredibly important the antibodies in my breast milk are for my baby and how crucial it was for him to get those so he didn't contract my pneumonia. Even though I didn't really have the energy for it, I nursed him more often than usual, but with the combination of my fever and lack of appetite (and accompanying inability to eat much at all), I could tell my baby wasn't getting enough milk. Once I even let him suck for an hour and a half, and when I finally took him off, he cried with hunger. That broke my heart. It also gave me new empathy for those mothers I know who have dried up long before they were ready to wean. It's a terrible feeling!

In desperation, I had my husband call a local lactation consultant (who also happens to be my friend), and instead of giving me all the pat answers that I have memorized, and knowing that I have breastfed twice before, for a year or more each time, she recommended the herb, Fenugreek. I had heard of this herb but didn't know of its milk-enhancing properties. She also told us about the drug, Reglan, which has similar properties, and recommended that we ask my doctor for it. When I was admitted to the hospital later that night, my husband asked that I be given Reglan, in addition to my other IV meds, and they complied. An added benefit with Reglan--which is what it is most often used for--is it reduces nausea, which I was also having trouble with.

I mention this herb and drug in the hope that it may help someone else in a similar situation. Without those regular doses of Reglan, I probably would have dried up completely. I was very grateful that my husband was able to take time off his summer job to be with me in the hospital, and was able to bring our baby with him so that I could nurse throughout the day. That, besides the Reglan, are what saved my milk because I didn't have enough energy to pump more than once a day, in the evening, after my baby had left. (Did you ever realize how much more energy it takes to pump than to let the baby do the work?) There were so many times during the worst part of my illness when I despaired of being able to continue breastfeeding. It would have been so much easier to give up and just resort to formula, and I was often tempted to do so. But my knowledge of the importance of breast milk for the health of my baby, and my commitment to breastfeeding kept pushing me to keep trying, though I really didn't have the energy to even nurse him lying down. (It was alarming to be that weak, let me tell you!)

Now we are back to exclusively breastfeeding and I can tell my baby is once again getting enough. I can't tell you what a relief that is, to be able to provide for him myself again! How grateful I am for an informed lactation consultant, and modern medicine. (I still want to try the Fenugreek sometime, though...)


Carolyn said...

I've used Fenugreek before, but I have never heard of Reglan. Thanks for passing along that information. I'm sorry to hear of your struggles and how sick you've been. But I'm very happy that you're on the mend and that you are able to continue breastfeeding.

Brandi M said...

Wow, good to know. I'm glad that you're finally feeling better and that the baby is able to return to breast feeding.

Katrina said...

Thanks. Carolyn, did Fenugreek help when you used it?

Sheena said...

I am so sorry to hear about your illness! That is tough, especially in the summer! I am glad the Reglan helped maintain your supply. I used Fenugreek when nursing my son, but didn't feel like it helped much. I think my problem was that I didn't drink enough water. Glad to hear you are feeling better. Take care.

Shennie said...

I've used Fenugreek too. I took capsules multiple times for three days in a row and that boosted my milk supply back up so my baby wasn't crying after feedings. (You're supposed to take it until your urine smells like maple syrup and then stop because it is sufficiently in your system.) I think it really helped. Later I learned that if you are hypoglycemic you shouldn't use fenugreek. Since I have some symptoms of hypoglycemia I was a little nervous about taking it again without looking into it more detail.

Katrina said...

Thanks, Sheena.

Shennie, that's very interesting. I haven't looked into it at all yet, so now I know more about it than I did. Thanks!


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