Thursday, February 4, 2010

I need to get something off my chest

WARNING!! This post is about breastfeeding. If that makes you uncomfortable, don't read any further, close your browser, check back in about a week--maybe I'll have something new.

Ahh, breastfeeding. I have a love/hate relationship with it. There are many people of both extremes out there and they can list you the pros and cons of both for hours on end. Mothers choose to breastfeed for many reasons. Some love the bonding time it provides and makes them feel close to their child, some choose it for the health benefits it provides over formula. While those benefits are wonderful, to be honest with you, the main reason I chose it is because formula is soooo darn expensive!! (Breastfeeding is also a secret weapon against a crying, inconsolable baby. Daddys, Grammys, babysitters don't have this super-power to calm and quiet your screaming child. While this is super when its your turn to get up with the baby, it can backfire on you when you need someone else to quiet him.)

I breastfed Luke for his first year and transitioned him straight to cow's milk when he was one. However, that whole year I struggled to keep my milk supply. I took tons of (stinky) herbals--I think about 10 pills a day plus herbal teas--and pumped on a rigorous schedule. I drank ridiculous amounts of water and salvaged every drop of milk that came out.

This time around has been very different--mainly because I am making enough milk to breastfeed triplets. A blessing in disguise, as it has been a struggle of the opposite extreme. My excessive production initially led to feeding problems with Will. After stumbling across an article on the LaLeche Leage website, I diagnosed myself and Will with overeating associated with overproduction. Poor kid was eating himself sick every few hours. To simplify it--breastmilk is released in two stages. First the thin, watery foremilk is released to initially satisfy the hungry baby. It comes out fast, forceful, and is full of lactose. The second stage is the hindmilk where all the fat is. This comes out slower. Basically, because I was making so much, Will was getting full before he got to the fatty part so he was getting a tummy full of lactose without any fat to help him feel full. This brought on horrible gas, diarrhea, choking, excessive burping, crankiness, throwing-up, reflux issues, just to name a few. Long story short--once we figured this out and got ourselves in a good routine we were able to back off on his meds a lot. No more baby gas-x, and less zantac.

To fix this problem, I opted for single-sided feeding (which means he only eats on one side per feeding). The goal was to decrease my milk supply and help him get to the hindmilk so he would feel full longer. Unnecessary pumping would only exacerbate the problem as it would tell my body to make more milk. After about a week, it worked.

Most people who know me well know that I have a little bit of OCD tendencies. The rigorous schedule of feeding and pumping and pill popping that I stuck to with Luke felt right to me. To have this opposite problem with Will is upsetting up my little OCD heart. Literature says breastfed babies eat every 2-4 hours. At exactly 4 hours I start to get anxious. Is he going to eat now? Should I go ahead and pump? I get antsy and have trouble making decisions. My little OCD heart is so programmed to protect my milk supply that it is hard to let it go. I have to constantly remind myself that he is a healthy baby and he will eat when he is hungry. My body will adjust to what he needs. At times I am so worried about losing my milk supply that I have to remind myself--you are TRYING to lose some milk supply and if you go pump now you will make more milk and your baby will have a tummy ache, you dummy!

Not to worry, soon I will be going back to work and I will have plenty of things to obsess over there.
I don't think he's starving, do you? Look at those thigh rolls and wrist rolls!

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