Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It breaks my heart

A quick question for all who've breastfed -

Did any of you struggle with milk production? Maybe Will's just going through a growth spurt but I've had to start supplementing with formula a couple of times a day because no matter how much I feed him it doesn't seem to be enough. He'll feed for 45 minutes, drain both breasts, and still root for more. I put him back on hoping maybe there's still some milk somewhere but he just pulls and tugs and cries for milk. I try to hold him off for a bit (maybe my boobs will refill) and slap him back on, but of course the poor kid gets nothing. So I've had to supplement which kills me a little. I know it's fine but I can't escape the whole Breast Is Best thing. Hell, the formula ads even say it! I've tried to build up my milk supply by pumping after feedings but the kid drains them. At best I get 3-4 drops. (The woman from La Leche League actually told me to spoon feed him those drops. "They won't satisfy him, but the might hold him off until your breasts refill." Uh, okay. OR I could actually give my child some freaking food.) My boobs never leak, I never get those glorious battleship breasts... I've worked with a lactation consultant and a postpartum doula. All I think about is breastfeeding, all I do is breastfeed, I obsess about breastfeeding... and yet I don't make enough milk. It's upsetting.

Did any of you go through this or were you those lucky women who made milk constantly? Some people dream of winning the lottery, I dream of being someday producing enough milk to freeze...


Woman with a Hatchet said...

I struggled with the twins. That's a helluva lotta milk to have to produce in a short time period. I supplemented with formula and the twins appear to be just fine.

The first thing you need to look into is how old he currently is and whether you're stuck in the middle of a growth spurt. They show up frequently in the beginning and then you have longer stretches without them. Have a quick look at reference material to find out.

Then! Go ahead and supplement when you need it. My worst time, when I was utterly out of milk, was in the evening. That's when things were hardest. So that's when we supplemented. What you're trying to do is get between those periods - basically 1 hour until your breasts refill. You can try to distract him, or have your husband do so. Seeing you is a giant feeding trigger, so keep that in mind.

It's probably more about getting into your stride than it is about not having enough milk.

You can do it.

And if your aren't, drink a WHACKING LOT of water. You need it. And lots of food, too. Don't worry about weight loss right now.

Laura said...

I agree, you probably just are finding your groove. If he is at the right weight and is gaining, then he is ok. It's so hard to trust that, especially when he is looking for it, but you can do it. You will be low in the evenings. And I remember that my son would go through growth spurts what seemed like every other week and my supply seemed low. But it catches up. I found that pumping actually decreased my overall supply, because they say that the breast can tell the difference between artificial and real nursing, so it won't produce for a pump like a baby. (Oh the mystery of the boob...) The most important thing is not to stress too much. You WILL find a balance. You and Will can do it! Just keep at it! Keep us posted!

And btw, that baby is some kind of adorable!

Missy said...

It does kind of sound like your breasts just haven't caught up with his needs. If I may state the obvious, he is not a small fellow and probably needs more than most babies of his same age. Now your boobies just have to get with the program.

I agree with Hatchet to make sure that you are drinking assloads of water and eating. (oh what a hypocrite I am...I often put off eating in those early days due to exhuastion, but really it is important for milk production) Try those milk production foods too like oatmeal, and brewer's yeast. I think you can get those in tablets at health food stores. Much better than drinking non-alcoholic beer. Also, I wonder if sometimes he is just wanting to suck and sees you as a pacifier. My kiddoes used to do that sometimes. They never liked anything that resembled an artificial nipple be it on a bottle or a pacifier, so would just use the boob. I got in the habit of letting #2 suck on my little finger, and then she moved on to her thumb, which is harder to break a child of as opposed to a pacifier, but let me tell you at the time I did not.give.a.shit.it shut her up and I got to sleep. I know this probably won't help, but really as long as his primary source is breast milk I really don't think you are doing any harm, and in fact are doing you both a lot of good. He is happy because he is full, and you are happy (eventually) because he is satisfied and you get a well deserved reprieve from fussy baby. But I bet things get better soon. I will send milky thoughts your way.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Missy just reminded me! There are several supplements you can pick up to help with the milk production. I was using them until it got crazy - the milk production, that is.

Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle and Alfalfa.

All can be picked up from your local natural food store in capsule form. Take 2 of EACH, 3x per day. I only did the latter two, since last time I used Fenugreek, I smelled like I'd been bathing in curry - it was coming out of my pores. Give those a whirl. It should help over the course of a week.

That plus lots of water, eating heaps and Brewers yeast, too. Beer is also good for milk production, believe it or not. So try one every other day or so.

And I also believe it's because he's SO BIG. And cute.

You're both going to be juuuust fine!

Woman with a Hatchet said...


Aaaand stop pumping after feeding. You're only hurting yourself more.

My doc took one look at me and told me the most useful thing ever: let them nurse for 15-30 and then stop. Give your breasts a chance to refill and your nipples a chance to heal/rest. Your body makes more milk when triggered to by a series of empty/refill/empty periods. It usually takes a few days before your body catches up.

This way you can build up your supply over time and not go crazy.

In the meantime, supplement. If the formula is killing you and you have the money for it, look into your local Milk Bank.

Then, after your supply builds up you will find you need less and less supplementing until one day it's all you. That took me about 4-6 weeks, if I'm remembering correctly.

And stop beating yourself up. Breastfeeding isn't as easy as all the books like to make out.


hilary said...

all this advice is great...another thing to try is Mothers Milk tea. The extra water can't hurt, plus it contains some of he herbs mentioned above. You can get it at Whole Foods and most small health food stores.

filthEdesign said...

i have a friend who has a situation where she just doesn't produce enough milk - she takes a medication to enhance her production. there are also places that have milk banks or milk exchange programs, she does this also.

it could just be that you are adjusting, i don't know, but i also want to say that if your production never catches up, it's not because you're an inept mom or anything remotely like that...sometimes it truly is physiological and there are options to still provide breast milk if that is the case...

if you want more information, let me know - i know my mama friend would love to help other moms.

(this is emily by the way - val's sister!) :)