Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Slave to the pump

Warning: this is a pumping/breastfeeding post. So if you are not interested in why/how breastfeeding and pumping are stressful for moms, this is not a post for you!

Now that I am back at work I have already noticed a decrease in my milk supply. I used to be able to net 8 ounces a day for my freezer stash. Now I am at a -4 ounces. It is very, very annoying. I was pumping only twice at work but now I am upping it to three times a day. This is running havoc with my work schedule especially because I am usually in 8 hours of meetings a day. Yup, who has time to get real work done when there are all those meetings to attend?

Thank goodness for technology or I wouldn't have the flexibility to pump as often as I do. I have a Blackberry and Bluetooth earpiece so I can just dial into a meeting while pumping. True, it's a little weird but a mother has to do what a mother needs to do. The biggest challenge is that I don't bring my computer with me so I can't IM with colleagues throughout the meeting. But that's not necessarily a bad thing since it forces me to pay closer attention to the call. Me? Multitasking? Why, of course!

Anyway, back to the milk supply. I have been doing a lot of reading on the subject and frankly, I am not prepared to go the lengths recommended to ensure that Cameron has enough milk just off of my from pumping during the day. Apparently I am not supposed to be using my freezer stash - just giving her what I pump and if it's not enough she will adjust. For example, did you know that reverse cycling is a good thing for a working mother? Yeah, just what I want: for Cameron to wake up multiple times during the night to feed instead of once. Supposedly it is easier with co-sleeping but screw that! I like that Cameron is in her crib in her own room.

Another recommendation is to eat lots of protein and oatmeal. OK, I can do some of that but I am also the pickiest eater on the planet so that's challenging. Not to mention, who the heck has time to plan out lunches and dinners like that? I can barely get bottles washed in time for the next day!

So I have been supplementing with frozen milk and ending up about 4 ounces short a day with just pumping. I use 8 ounces of frozen milk and 4 ounces of fresh for her daycare bottles. I BF in the AM, evening and middle of the night. I do also give Cameron a small bottle before bed (with daycare leftovers and some fresh milk) so that DH can put her down and it's not always me. I also pump once before bed to "make up" for that extra bottle. Basically that means I am using 8 ounces of frozen milk and 8 ounces of fresh milk and only freezing about 4 ounces of fresh milk a day with my current pumping output (4 times a day). I am also exclusively BFing during the weekend to try and get my supply up. Cameron doesn't like that so much because she actually gets smaller amounts off of me during the afternoons than her bottles at daycare.

At my current rate with my freezer stash I can last about 90 days before I run out. Not too shabby, right? That means Cameron will be at least six months old and probably on solids at that point. So, why am I still stressing about milk?

Seriously, people, why? It's like I have this complete neurosis to make sure I can give Cameron plenty of food off of me. And it's not even like I am against formula or anything. I just know that Cameron reacts well to breast milk and she's never had formula so who knows what could happen? Yes, I am completely insane. Let's hear from other moms. How did you handle not having enough breast milk? Or what did you do to increase your supply?


confused homemaker said...

i understand where you are coming from &(((hugs))). i have bf all the kids i did the teas & the supplements to help with pumping. but with my oldest it was the hardest because of my schedule when i returned to work & when i got pg during my 2 trimester my milk supply decreased so much that Mr. J weaned. i also hate pumping, i'll do it but it just feels so awkward. anyway, my point is (((hugs))).

Amanda said...

props to you, as much as i was sad and disappointed i had to stop bf at 6 weeks, I'm not sure I could have stuck it out pumping at work, and your suppose to think happy thoughts about baby instead of working so you lose like over an hour of productivity at work that way. So, I'm sure you and cameron will find a good way for things, my lactation consultant said if your baby can get at least 25% of her milk from bf she will still get all of the benefits. And if you do have to introduce formula later on, similac early shield is suppose to be the most like breast milk and with the mixture I'm sure she will tolerate it well.

T. said...

On the oatmeal front, can you just buy a box and stash it in your drawer at work for breakfast?

Sotorrific Twins said...

Sorry to hear that you are having supply issues. I'm sure you've read this a million times but drinking lots of water has a very visible effect on my pumping output.

And I totally understand the wanting to feed them from yourself. About every other day I think about quitting because it would be so easy to just not do it but something keeps pushing me...hard to explain but I'm with you.

Donna said...

First off, forget the reverse cycling. I will tell you things I learned the second time around when pumping:

You need to pump anywhere from 20-30 minutes each time. You need to pump passed the time you stop producing milk to force your body to have a second letdown. This will help your body to keep up with your normal supply. At first you will pump for about 10 minutes or so, then it will seem like you are done. Keep pumping, it will take a while but you should have a second let down.At times, you can even get a 3rd let down.

You really should try to pump three times a day. I definitely found that pumping three times a day helped. Once I dropped to two times a day at 9 months, it ate at my supply.

Drink gatorade or powerade or something like that - it helps to hydrate you. Better than water.

You could make the oatmeal lactation cookies, they are yummy! I used to tea but the fenugreek made DS2 gassy. GL!

jerseygirl77 said...

I'm with you too. I think you are doing great! You've already gotten some excellent advice. I second T's suggestion to get some oatmeal to stash in your drawer (the packets work fine- just add water and microwave!) Also, I agree with Soterrific Twins, Water!! Get yourself a cute water bottle that you like... Be trendy and get a Sigg or a Kleen Kanteen. :-) Drag your water with you everywhere. And Donna's suggestion about "dry" pumping to get another letdown is spot-on.

I would also add in some alfalfa tablets, since Cameron reacted to the fenugreek. Avoid sage and peppermint (even Altoids!) because it can reduce your supply. Oh and massage your breasts while you pump to make sure you get every last drop out.

Hang in there!!!