February 1, 2008

Breastfeeding woes

If you're uncomfortable with the topic of breastfeeding, you may want to avert your eyes elsewhere . . . because in case you skipped right over the headline, that's what it's about. If you'd rather read something else, try this or maybe this.

I have been breastfeeding Jack exclusively for the last 7 months and 30 days. There have been ups and downs, but we're finally in the home stretch and my milk supply is beginning to wane. It's dwindling, and I can't figure out why. I know he should be getting 24 - 32 oz a day and I'm worried that he might not be. Or if he is, he's getting it all in the morning and very little right before his bedtime. I can sense his frustration when I run out and he's still hungry.

I added 2 oz of formula to 6 oz of breastmilk in a bottle before bedtime one night this week and he was up with an upset tummy for a lot of the night. Is it possible to re-establish your milk supply at 8 months? I've been pumping like crazy trying to help get things going again, but it doesn't seem to be working. In the mornings, I get quite a bit, but by evening I can pump for 45 minutes and only get 3 oz. I know that he needs more than that right before bedtime.

For now, I'm going to pump so I can spread the milk out evenly over feedings. But I miss nursing him. And I think that maybe he misses it too. I know that there's nothing wrong with switching to formula, but I'm just not read to give up.

P.S. I forgot to mention something else when I wrote this . . . at one point, I had probably a one month's supply worth of frozen milk. You know, from back when I could pump two bottle's worth in 5 minutes!

I had it stored in the Lasinoh breastmilk storage bags, according to the manufacturer's directions. Unfortunately, as I started thawing some of it (also according the manufacturer's directions, about 4 out of 5 bags leaked at the seams . . . meaning that the bags were broken and I couldn't use the milk. There was so much wasted it made me absolutely sick. It just would have been nice to have to help supplement feedings now!


Anonymous said...

I have no advice for you. Only wanted to encourage you that you have had great commitment to breastfeeding (remember the terrible early days?) and you have given Jack a real gift in these 8 months. I hope your milk supply goes back up, but if not, know that you made me proud to have come this far!!

Smith Family Blog said...

Oh Sara,
How I can sympathize! Because of breastfeeding problems, I had to exclusively pump. So I watched my supply like a hawk. I remember that my supply naturally went down about month 8. So this could be natural.

Also (sorry to be so personal), supply also goes down before you know what returns. But, rest assured, it should go back up after that week is over.

I would suggest continuing to breastfeed him as much as you can, and especially in the morning, because 1) your breastmilk is the best and most nutritious in the morning and 2) you want to keep that bonding time with him.

I know you are already pumping, but if you have time, try "power-pumping." There are different ways to do this. For example, about half an hour after feeding him, try pumping for 30-45 minutes. You would be surprised-- sometimes you think you are dry, but if you keep going another 10 or 15 minutes, you will have another letdown. OR, try pumping for 10 minutes every hour. Massage as you are pumping. Use whatever milk you produce later in the day, if Jack seems to want more after nursing. Freeze whatever you don't use.

There are also natural ways to increase milk supply. In fact, oatmeal works for some women.

Also-- are you taking any medications right now? For example, antihistamines decrease supply.

And as you probably know, lack of sleep decreases supply, as does an inadequate intake of calories. I would suggest sitting back, eating some butter popcorn and a candy bar, and making Kyle rub your feet until you fall asleep. Then get a good 10 hours in, if you can. :)

Crystal said...

I can feel your pain!! I only made it to 6 months because I was exclusively pumping for the last 3 months of it...But remember too that he can get more from you than a pump can. Maybe call your doc to get in touch with a lactation consultant. They are awesome. :) Blessings to you and great job!!!

Sara Neufeld said...

With Avery, my milk dried up at 6 mos. With Finley, I wasn't going to let that happen! I found this "Mother's Milk" tea at the health food store. That stuff is awesome...it really worked! If you don't have a health food store, you can try online. I was able to go 10 mos. with Finley that way. Just a thought. :)

Heather S. said...

You have done great so far - 8 months! I breastfed Norah until she was about 10 1/2 months and I just got tired of it. I had enough milk saved to bottle feed her until it was time to transition to whole milk. With Lucy, I stopped around 8 or 9 months - she was a biter and I couldn't get her to stop. Anyway, I know with Lucy I had a couple of different times that I felt as if I was drying up and I would pump extra and just wait it out.
Also, when she seemed extra hungry, I would increase the amount of food she ate during the day.

Anonymous said...

Try Fenugreek. My supply sort of dried up some around 8-9 months and I attributed it to the fact that I had been back at work and away from Boog for so long during the day. Maybe that is just a natural time for it to dry up, not sure.

Anyway, I would use Fenugreek to boost my supply and that worked fairly well. You have to take quite a bit though, until your sweat smells like maple syrup. Also I would pump more often, like every two hours or so if possible.

Good luck and I think you've done an amazing job. It is tough to stick with it sometimes. Boog is 13 months and I think his interest is waning so I believe our breastfeeding days are numbered now. It makes me sort of sad but also a little relieved as well.

Irene said...

I am not an expert by any means, but I breastfed 3 babies, each one for way over a year. And the second one I exclusively pumped for from day one as she was special needs and ended up being 100% tube fed.

I truly found bf to be supply and demand. It really is true. The more your baby sucks and correctly sucks, the more milk you will make. Of course, they are occasional reasons why supply will still go down, but from what I have read, they are not common. Did you know that moms that are adopting a child can trigger their own milk production with just lots of sucking and pumping. Do it enough, your body will follow suit. Our bodies are amazing.

When I pumped exclusively, I found that if I pumped and watched the amount of milk coming in, it would be hard to let down. And I wouldn't have much quantity at all. But then I started pumping when I was computer and just surfing the Internet. I would be reading something and forget about the pump. MANY times, my bottles would start overflowing before I knew it! And this was when my daughter was almost a year old! I actually stopped pumping for her in the middle of the night when she was only a few weeks old. I just did last thing at night and first thing in the morning. I truly think making pumping very stress free (to the point where you are distracted) is important. Do you have a double electric pump? That also helps a lot!

Unfortunately, supplementing with formula will only cause your supply to go down. Your baby won't be as hungry, won't suck as hard, and your body will slow down production. Relax, let your baby breastfeed before offering other foods and let him suck as long as he wants. As he is nursing, your milk may slow down (it never completely stops coming out), but if you keep letting him suck for a while, you will have multiple let downs and he will get plenty.

Have you contacted anyone from La Leche? They are really helpful.

Good luck with it. I would love to help any way I could. I honestly miss breastfeeding my little ones!

Take care!