Saturday, July 7, 2012

Breastfeeding worries

Breastfeeding is no where as easy as I had hoped it would be. I learned that very early on. And while we've got the act of it down pretty good at this point, I still worry about a variety of issues daily. I love breastfeeding and hope to continue for a long time, but not sure if my body will back me up on this.

1) Am I producing enough milk and what is "enough"?

Enough for me and enough for the docs are two different answers. Enough for the docs means that Reese is gaining about an ounce a day and is healthy. Enough for me means that I can breastfeed Reese everyday to meet her needs AND to pump enough to build up our freezer supply for while she's away from me. Those two tasks are hard to do simultaneously.

While Reese has a bit of a schedule, it's in no way set in stone and if you tried to set your watch by it, you'd end up late for everything. She usually eats every 1.5-3 hours. But sometimes its like every hour. As I'm sure you can imagine, my body doesn't make milk that fast in large quantities. So if she's eating every hour our feeding is shorter and she's not as hungry as when she eats every 3 hours and she's gulping milk down when it's time to eat. I'm trying to stretch it to no more than every 3 hours. 

2. How do I pump and feed in the same day or time frame?

They say to "feed the baby and then pump." Again, just like "sleep when baby sleeps," that is easier said than done a lot. Sometimes Reese falls asleep after she eats, so I could put her down and go pump, but she doesn't always stay asleep (whole other issue). Sometimes she does. It's really hard to pump and hold her. And many times, she has pretty much drained me to the point of not having any left to pump. Not even to mention that as the day goes on, my supply is constantly less and less.  So pumping in the evening usually only produces an ounce, if that!

I can and do pump at work, but I can't do that constantly because there is only so much milk in "the girls."  And seemingly, she a) eats from the bottle more than she gets from me directly or b) she pulls more out of me than the pump can.  I try to pump about every 3 hours so I can replenish myself, but I also have to be wary of when I go to pick her up that I have something in case she is hungry. 

3. How do I build my supply up?

I am doing everything I can to keep my supply up but I am constantly worried that it isn't enough, mostly where pumping and daycare are concerned.  (Let me say here, that I have nothing against formula and know many kids - now adults - who had nothing but formula and are fine.  I have always dreamt of breastfeeding my kids and now that the opportunity is here I most certainly don't want to give up or fail.)  I take Fenugreek pills three times a day to help my supply - and most recently have started to take 3 at a time instead of 2.  Per the Lactation Consultant's suggestion at Dr. Kids' office (and a few friends), I have a beer (which is so not my style as I couldn't stand the stuff until now, and even now I drink "girly" beer) every night because the hops helps with milk production.  And I drink a lot of water and milk all day long to help my supply.

Which leads me to my next question...

4. Effects of breastfeeding and diet and/or exercise.

I am down to just 6 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, but still about 20-30 lbs away from where I like to be (and truly haven't been consistently for a long time).  This makes me very happy.  However, that doesn't mean that my clothes fit like they did pre-pregnancy.  My body has simply changed.  Therefore, I am still wearing maternity pants.  But they are very big on me and I am constantly yanking them up.  So I would love to go back to Weight Watchers and start to lose this weight.  However, I am deathly (yes, deathly) afraid that I will lose my milk if I do that.  Breastfeeding burns 500-1000 calories a day, so you need to eat a certain amount to have enough to produce milk.  However, many a friend have told me that they have reduced their milk production by losing weight and working out.  So what's a girl to do?

Weight Watchers does have a plan with breastfeeding, but I'm not sure I could commit to it right now as we are still getting used to all this.  I'm definitely trying to eat better and I know that is helping.  But I'd really like to get rid of my belly.  I used to be able to say that I could never see my belly beyond my boobs, and that is not the case right now! (sad face)

5. It seems like she gets more at Daycare than I can pump.  How do I keep up?

Reese seems to be constantly hungry and I think daycare feeds her whenever she cries.  I'm currently trying to lengthen the time between feedings a bit, so hopefully she'll sleep a bit better and she'll eat more when she does eat.  Sometimes she'll eat for 5-10 minutes, and then stop.  The other night I fed her on one side and then had to really fuss with her to get her to wake up enough to eat on the other side.  But then she slept almost 5 hours after that.  So we just need to get her to eat more and have time between the feedings.  I have no idea how much she gets from me when she eats, but based on pumping when I am not around her, I would guess it is probably 4-6 oz if she takes both breasts.  Therefore, if daycare is feeding her every hour, they go through a lot of milk!  And I just can't pump that fast.

6. Pumping and work

This last week, when I would leave the house, I had fed Reese about 5 or 6, and then she'd gone back to sleep while I got ready.  So right before I left for work, I got her up and got her dressed and she went right in the car seat to go to daycare.  Then, when we got there she was hungry and could be fed.  And when I got to work I could pump, and then pump again right before I left (I'm still on half-days thankfully).  I obviously can't pump with clients in my office, but the pump is pretty quiet so I can pump while on the phone and just working.  I also work in an office full of women who are all mothers or grandmothers, so they understand and aren't put off by what I am doing.  I'm very thankful for that.  But that still doesn't help my milk supply be more.  I did determine that if I pump every 2 hours versus every 3, I essentially get the same amount of milk, but I'm not so hard on my body and "wired" to the back-pack. 

So there's my thoughts folks.  Any input is welcome on how to do this better.  Have a great week!


  1. Hi Nikus - just know you are not alone with theses problems. I have no idea of how I will handle things back at work - you are lucky you I can pump there. I also have supply problems and now I'm taking meds for that too.
    I think what I've decided is to just take things one day at a time. I refuse to feel guilty if I have to add in some formula if my boobs just won't produce enough when he needs it.

  2. Hi! Long time reader — first time commenter!

    I wanted to let you know that you are definitely not alone with your breastfeeding issues. I just had my son two weeks ago and deal with many of the same issues. What really helped me was visiting a lactation consultant at the hospital this last week. They weighed my son before he ate, then showed me a few different positions, I nursed him, and they weighed him after.

    I was SO surprised that after nursing on one side for only 9 minutes, my guy gained 5 OZ!! I never would get that much from the pump in nine minutes — so perhaps you are producing more that you think! You are doing great, and remember to take the breastfeeding just one day at a time!


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