When I was pregnant with T, my doctor’s office asked me what I had planned to use for birth control after I had her. I hadn’t thought that far ahead to be honest. I started talking to a lady at work about her experiences with Mirena – they were all positive, so I brought that up at my next visit.
I let my doctor know how sensitive I am to hormonal forms of birth control. I told him how many different kinds of birth control pills I’d tried, only to have to change the prescription in just a little while. I told him about my horrid experience with the Depo-Provera shot. I asked him what he thought my success rate would be with the Mirena knowing all those things; I was especially concerned since it contains the same hormones as Depo.
Doc told me not to worry. He told me that the hormones in the Mirena were so low that I shouldn’t have any problem whatsoever. That rested my mind. I planned to have Mirena inserted.
Fast-forward a couple of months. I had a few breastfeeding classes (yes, a few – I was serious) and I learned that hormonal forms of birth control can mess with milk production. I asked the doctor about that right before he was about to insert the Mirena.
Doc told me not to worry. He told me (again) that the hormones in the Mirena were so low that I shouldn’t have any problem whatsoever. Again my mind was rested. I told him to go ahead.
The Mirena was inserted about the time I started working again.
When I started working again I was keeping up with the amount of milk T needed, though it meant I had to pump seven times a day. I had to deliver the milk I’d pumped in the morning when I went home for lunch and that was T’s supply for the afternoon. It was difficult – but I was able to ensure T was only drinking Mama milk.
A few weeks later I noticed a little drop in my supply. I went and rented a hospital-grade pump (which had helped increase my volume previously). This time it did not help. On the night T turned three months old she had her first taste of formula. From that point she roughly had one bottle of formula every other day; the rest was Mama milk.
By the time T was four months old, it was commonplace for her to have two bottles of formula a day. By this point I had rented the hospital grade pump (again) to bring up my production with no results. I had started taking fenugreek, an herb that makes you smell like maple syrup, to boost my supply. I made sure I was well-hydrated. I was getting as much rest as I could possibly get. Nothing worked.
When T turned five months old, she was having upwards of three bottles of formula a day. I turned my focus toward her nursing habits. When my production initially decreased she went on a nursing strike and refused the breast all the time with the exception of nighttime. I knew that a baby nursing will increase production better than a pump ever will (because they’re such efficient little suckers) so I decided her refusal to nurse *must* be the reason my production continued to drop. With a whole lot of patience and a lot of trial and error I got T to start nursing more often. My production didn’t increase. J said, “I thought nursing was supposed to increase your production.” I said, “Honey, I did, too.” At that point I was praying we could last until she was six months old so that she would fill up a little more on solids and we would have to supplement less with formula.
By T’s six-month birthday our initial ratios reversed themselves. By this point T was only having two to three bottles of Mama milk a day and the rest was formula. She had hit her growth spurt and even though she was getting solids for the first time, her reliance on formula didn’t decrease. I cried. A lot. My first job as a mother was to nurture this little one inside my body almost 10 months. My second job as a mother is to nurture her and give her the best start I possibly could with my own breast milk . . . and I was failing. I ordered an expensive herb tincture online and tried it for one month. Other moms raved about its effectiveness. I saw no positive result.
T is now seven and a half months old. As of last Monday she was still only getting one bottle of Mama milk a day – two if she was lucky. It had gotten ridiculous. There was no way I could continue pumping for 20 minutes seven times a day to yield one to two bottles. I cried more because I wanted to give up – then I called a certified lactation consultant.
The lactation consultant told me that YES, Mirena can absolutely effect production. She told me that breastfeeding moms who have had their Mirenas removed have seen a rebound in supply. She also cautioned me – that she’d caught moms and had them remove their Mirenas when they’ve only had them in for upwards of two months. At this point I’ve had mine for five and a half.
With a heavy heart I explained everything to J. J told me “If it helps your production to remove the Mirena, I’m all for it – but more importantly, you know your body, and if you think it will help you then go do it.” I made the appointment. It’s today at 2:15. The funny thing is that ever since I had that conversation with J and I made the decision to remove it, my production has rebounded a tad. It’s almost like my body is relieved I’ve made the decision to remove the foreign entity from it and it’s thanking me already.
Tomorrow starts the hard work. I’ll be following the rules of re-lactation which means a ton of water, a ton of pumping, nursing whenever possible, being religious about taking the production-enducing meds, and perhaps the purchase of some more of the expensive herb tincture. I’ll be exhausted, but if this works I should see an increase within two weeks and I should get the full result within four weeks. If this doesn’t work I’ll be horribly disappointed – but at least I’ll know I’ve tried everything I can try. If I can continue to nurture my little girl with my breasts as my mother did for me I’ll be elated.
Let’s see how it goes . . .