Saturday, January 11, 2014

Breastfeeding Diaries: The Next Best Thing

We did it! All breastmilk all the time!
It's been quite a while since I wrote an update on the whole breastfeeding situation (for some background, if you don't know what I'm talking about, see these posts here). I haven't written partly because I was hella busy blog-wise over the holidays, but also in large part because we've been teetering on the edge of a huge milestone, so I didn't want to jinx it. That milestone is exclusive breastfeeding (EBF).

From about two weeks old until three months old, Bronte was getting at least a little bit of formula pretty much every day. In the early days, I think she was only getting about half breastmilk. By November we were throwing away half to 3/4 full canisters of formula at the end of the month. That month her weight went up & down. When I just fed her my milk for a week or two, she actually lost weight. But when we started supplementing again with formula, she spat up tons & gained so much that it seemed like she really didn't need the formula. It was frustratingly difficult to figure out if we still needed to add formula to the pumped milk in her bottle top-ups or not.

Despite having been through all this before with Linnaeus, it was still an emotional rollercoaster. I was a bit depressed thinking that I hadn't made it to EBF, despite fairly heroic efforts to increase my milk supply. My doctor at the Vancouver Breastfeeding Centre had faith in me & Bronte & suggested we just give her pumped milk--no formula--over the holidays & come back for a weigh-in after three weeks.

I know it sounds obssessive, but three weeks is the longest we've gone without weighing this baby. Every growth spurt & fluctuation she's had has been evident because we've weighed her at least every week of her life until recently. Three weeks was a bit tough to wait--I vaccillated between being sure she'd not gained enough, or worse, lose weight again & thinking of seeing 6 kilos on the scale when we went in.

The suspense was nearly killing me when I finally got to weigh her--the doctors' office was busy & there was actually a three baby line-up for the scale. By the time I got her stripped down & placed her on there, I was thrilled to see 6042g (about 13 pounds 4 ounces). What that number means is she not only gained enough weight, but she caught up to the percentile she was following (it's a range in the 30s really) before her slight weight loss in early December.

We no longer have a supply problem. I am making enough & just a tad more milk than she needs to grow & be healthy. We still have a distribution problem, however. That means I still need to pump a couple times a day & give her a bottle or two (usually about 150mL total) in the evenings. My ultimate dream has always been just breastfeeding without any pumping & supplementing, but this is the next best thing. It's hard to explain how amazing that feels after struggling with low milk supply for months with two different children. After trying so hard with my first child to get to this point, but still not making it & having to supplement with formula. So proud to be among the ranks of EBFers. :)

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  1. Congrats on battling through some big breastfeeding hurdles! It is lovely to see all the rolls and grams on the scale increasing because of all your work. Do you think your next step will be to nurse on demand and skip the pumping? Curious about your 'dream' plan :)

  2. That is awesome news! So so so happy for you and Bronte!!

  3. Thanks! I tried skipping the pumping & feeding more often about a month ago, but neither of us slept well & she lost weight. :( She just doesn't seem to want to nurse very often at the times when I have more milk (overnight & mornings) & only breastfeeds 5 times in 24 hours on average. If she starts wanting less bottle supplement after her evening feeds, maybe we'll try to cut one of them out, but I'm sort of looking at the current situation as how it'll be until she's getting significant calories from solids. With my son, that was around 8 months. So I'm hoping no more than 2-4 more months of pumping.

  4. Glad to hear such great news! It is a process -- and I totally understand the anxiety. Although I am able to EBF this time around, I still continue to throw some pumping in every few days. After experiencing a lot of difficulty with the first child, it is hard to be confident that I will always have enough. What has helped this time around is being a more educated mom on the subject and having a bigger, vigorous baby - the latter being pure luck. I wish these differences were highlighted in more prenatal classes because it would decrease the emotional stress for new mothers. There are many doors to breastfeeding.

    1. Thanks, Gina! I know what you mean about how the baby makes a difference. I have to say, Bronte's chubby little legs have been very reassuring over the past month or two. & you've said it well--there are many doors. I like that. :)


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