Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Milk supply problems

Sunday night, after giving up the diet and eating the most amazing homemade quiche, my milk supply ran out. The Bois had breastfed half an hour earlier, but then started screaming inconsolably. We thought he was tired, so we put him in bed, but he just kept screaming. This is very uncharacteristic for him. I put him on the changing table, where he always laughs, smiles and plays. I even blew the hairdryer on him, but he could only muster a desperate attempt at smiling and laughing through the torrent of tears and screams. I was very worried. Finally after an hour of screaming (which has NEVER happened), I suggested we make a bottle. We gave him a big 8 oz. bottle of formula and he calmed down, laughing and smiling again. He had never needed so much milk when I had none!

I felt so horrible. I took the diet too far. I wish I would have known about the minimum of 1800 calories a day earlier. And honestly I should have been eating more fat and protein. I managed to eat a lot over the weekend and gained about a pound.

Now my milk supply seems to be almost back to normal, but it's still not enough to meet his needs. I'm not sure whether to blame myself or to believe he just needs more calories now.

Happily he seems unaffected by the whole thing: He's still laughing like a sheep and at less than four months he rolls front to back and back to front and can put a nook back in his mouth! I'll spare you more first-time parent bragging for now :).

I'll leave you with some picture from our mountain hike adventure with the kids...

I hope you all had a great weekend.


Lisa said...

Well, hope you get back on track soon so the Bois gets the nutrition he needs. Formula is stinky but I'm relieved you had some (unless you pumped). Glad your hike was fun.

olga said...

"I'm not sure whether to blame myself or to believe he just needs more calories now." I think it both. At 4 months he is growing. Am I to guess you started him on small amounts of solids like apple puree and "skinny" cereal in a bottle? I am not sure how it's done in US, but I was doing it at 3 months. Heavy food for last feeding = sleeping better:)

Heather said...

Have you checked out any breastfeeding books? There's some with suggestions on how to help.

One thing it says is to make sure you are not giving formula too much to help supplement-- of course, if he needs food, he needs food... but let him try the breast first... the more he feeds and tries to feed, the more milk your body will produce (given adequate Calories, of course.) -- if you're supplementing too much with bottles, then you'll not increase your breastmilk to keep up with his rapid growth needs.

It has other suggestions, too -- might be worth grabbing.

gnome517 said...

i second heather on the feeding him more to make more idea. good luck! I am glad that you got the information that you needed and you are on track to be healthier for both of you!

Michelle said...

Sorry that happened to you, SL. Breast feeding definitely has its share of frustrations, and I remember them all too well! :-)

Looks like you guys had fun in D.C.!

Abbie said...

I had milk supply problems from day one and had too many lactation nazis giving me advice that made me guilty. One person told me that if I put my daughter to the breast every time she cried and was hungry that i would get my milk supply back up within a few days. She gained 2 ounces that week, never slept, cried all the time. I continued breast feeding but also supplementing and she gained 12 ounces in 8 days. She's still little (8lbs at her 2 month check-up) but she's happy. I would give anything to breast feed exclusively but my baby's health and happiness is more important to me than exclusively breast-feeding. Do what is best for the bois and your family. Only you can decide what that is.

Sarah said...

If you have a pump, you might also try pumping in between feedings and see if that helps with your supply. Good luck!

sea legs girl said...

Hey everyone, thanks so much for all of your thoughts and advice! I have been reading about how and when to start adding solid foods (not something you learn in medical school) and I usually see 4-6 months, so I was holding off until then. I agree, though, that formula is kind of "stinky", Lisa, and I'd rather start adding some "skinny" cereal (Olga) or pureed foods.
I really appreciate all of your advice. Oh, and I have been pumping in between feedings since the beginning (because I've been working). I actually pumped one breast and fed out of the other for his first week of life. That gave me a really abundant milk supply at first. Oh, and I put him to the tit all the time even when I know there's not much in there.
Thanks again!

Danni said...

I don't think you should "blame" yourself -- you're learning as you go!

Other ways to get iron include cooking in a cast-iron pot (or is that an old wives tale dunno?) and combining leafy greens with vitamin C. So, for example, I sautee spinach and diced tomato with olive oil and garlic and toss that in a lot of things and theoretically it's a good source of iron. I am mostly vegetarian (I eat fish and occassionally game) and don't have iron problems so it seems to work for me at least. It takes effort though to get enough iron IMHO.

S.A. said...

Solids too early aren't a good idea- their little systems really can't absorb the nutrients properly, and can lead to other problems, though usually not. But mostly it just goes right through, breast milk is best right now. Just try and stay really well hydrated, nurse as often as possible, and just don't diet, it just is not a good idea right now. You are fit and healthy- focus on that, and your lovely family, not the bloody scale. :) When the Bois was in utero, mother nature did a fabulous job of taking what it needed for him he is out in this big world, and it's not so simple, he needs you to put his nutrient and calorie needs first, always.

Carrie said...

Shoot! I was going to post this to you a week or so ago...but better late than never I guess.

I got down < pre preg weight with my first DS very quickly. It was hard to keep the weight on and I was training for a 1/2 mary. I noticed a hit in my milk supply and energy levels when he was about the same age as the Bois. I had to start eating more and running less to maintain enough milk and energy. I'm not a calorie counter, but I'm pretty sure I was eating > 3000 calories a day to keep on enough weight.

I really, really take issue with the BFing taking 500-700 cals/day. The Bois is probably eating 35 - 40oz a day. There are 20 cal in each ounce of milk. So he is ingesting ~700-800 cals, but for sure it must take more cals for your body to manufacture it, KWIM? (My dad maintains it probably takes double the cals to manufacture). I think if you eat 500-700 cals extra, you'll gradually lose weight - which is what is supposed to happen assuming you put on a little fat reserve while PG. You didn't, so you have to be extra careful.

Hope that makes some sense. Also, as others have said, make sure you are feeding the Bois before supplementing so that your supply is being encouraged to increase. I started both my boys on food around 7 months - IMO the later you can start, the better. They are getting more good fats from the milk than they would from food.

Mommy Dearest said...

I would be cautious about feeding solids in place of formula if you are worried about him not getting enough. Formula may have more of a smell to it in the diaper but it is nutritionally balanced. It isn't possible for him to eat enough cereal, veggies ect to provide a balanced diet yet. I had an issue with my youngest when trying to nurse him as well. My milk supply never seemed to kick in. It's as if my supply never got into sync with his demand and I had to switch to formula because he was becoming listless and dehydrated. It was weird because I hadn't had any issues when nursing the 3 children I had prior to him.

Commenter Abbi said...

I stumbled on your blog looking up info on postpartum rashes.

I agree with Mommy Dearest- nutritionally, stick with formula for supplementing such a young baby. Solids are really for playing during the first year, not for any reliable nutritional purposes (at least until they can get to 3 square meals a day).

Good luck with your supply!