Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Milk Factory

Sometimes as I sit in my office pumping breast milk I think to myself about how wonderful it would be to not have to carry a pump, milk, and freezer packs to and from work everyday. And about the joys of not worrying about leaking through my nice dress in a meeting. And about how great it would be to not constantly scrutinize my food intake to help me make more milk (oats, flax seed, yeast, and more), and if I am pumping enough milk in the first place for H to have the next day. Daydreaming is fun, huh. And also at times hopeless.

In the scheme of things, my complaints about breastfeeding are trivial. Some women don't make enough milk at all, others have babies that can't latch on for various reasons, and others find it very painful.  I've been pretty damn lucky with my milk factory. H latched on right away and it's really been an incredible experience for the both of us. We have a tight bond and he's growing like a weed!

BUT about two and a half months post-partum my period returned and ever since my milk supply has slowly dwindled down. Here's the chain of events to cope with the low milk supply and ensuring H gets plenty of sustenance:

-3 months: we starting mixing in some rice cereal in with the breast milk in his bottles to keep him full during the day while I was at work.

-4 months: a lovely woman donated some of her massive supply of milk to me. Apparently this freaks people out, but I trusted her (she's a friend of a friend) and I desperately needed the milk. H would not take formula, trust me we tried, so I needed breast milk for him. Her 120 ounces of frozen milk helped me build my own freezer stash of milk so that I can now sort of stay afloat. When she came to my house to drop it off, I almost burst into tears. It's one of the nicest things anyone has done for me.  I love when moms can help each other out like this!

-5 months: H started eating pureed veggies and fruits, plus we were still doing the rice-cereal + breast milk mix.

-almost 6 months: We've added formula. For two days I'd try to get H to drink a bottle of formula but he kept those adorable lips sealed shut and would turn his head away. Then, one day when he wasn't even particularly that hungry, he drank some! He drank a whole 6 oz bottle of formula! I've found the trick--he doesn't like formula mixed in the morning and then heated up hours later. No. He likes it fresh and very warm. So--formula, pureed food, and breast milk.

Ah, it was such a weight off my shoulders when he drank that bottle of formula. I stopped bringing my pump home every night (I was pumping three times a day at work, then at night after H went to sleep, then again before I left the house!) I decided that I was putting way too much pressure on myself to get enough milk out and that pumping three times a day is sufficient. I mean, he's been getting breast milk for almost 6 months now and any breast milk is good for babies, right!?! Besides, when we are together I breastfeed him on demand.

So despite low supply and H getting three bottom teeth in this month (ouch!) I consider myself quite fortunate in the wonderful world of breastfeeding.

As a final note, I'd like to share this amazing video about hand-expression after using an electric pump. I do it all of the time and get about half an ounce more!

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