Milk Maid

I know I’ve been a horrible blogger.  I hardly comment.  Posting is random and not often. But that doesn’t mean I’m not reading your blogs* or writing a dozen different posts in my head.  The truth is that there just isn’t any time.

Thanks to the 4-month sleep regression and what seems to be a growth spurt here’s my typical day:

6 AM – Up to pump, shower & get ready for work
6:45 (if he doesn’t wake up sooner, which he often does) – feed MAD
7:45 – Everyone out the door
8:00 – Feed MAD at daycare
8:30 – try to actually get some work done
11:00 – Pump**
11:30 – A little more work
1:00 – Take a late lunch to visit MAD at daycare for another feeding
1:30 –  A bit more work
3:30 – Pump
4:00 – try desperately to finish the day’s work (this never happens and I get further behind)
5:00 – Pick up MAD
5:15 – 7:00 – Try to play with M & have dinner all while MAD is a constant-feeding machine
7:00 – MAD’s nursing/bedtime which lately has taken upwards of 1 hour
8-10:00 – Pump, exercise, try to do a few things around the house, talk with the husband
10:00 – Fall into bed, knowing that I will be up 2-3 times during the night.

This doesn’t leave anytime for surfing the web,  writing, TV or just about anything else.  When I’m pumping or nursing I feel guilty that I’m not spending more time with M or doing anything close to my share of the housework.  When I do sneak away to exercise I feel guilty because I know MAD is home screaming while Mark tries to get M in bed.  At work I feel guilty for the time I spend away from my desk pumping/nursing and I feel guilty for leaving MAD at daycare.  I feel awful that I’m not giving M the attention she needs and it’s showing through her behavior.

Top this all off with the fact that MAD is wanting/needing more bottles and I’m struggling to keep up with his demand.  I never had any sort of supply issue with M (of course I didn’t pump with her either), so this is very frustrating.  I let him nurse on demand when I’m with him and I try to pump every 2-3 hours when I’m not but my output is dwindling.  He was getting 2 4oz. bottles at daycare in addition to my one visit to nurse, but last week they asked for a 3rd. (Side note: one little girl in his class, 2 weeks older then him, who is there the exact same amount of time each day gets 5 4 oz. bottles – does this seem like A LOT to anyone else?) My 3 pumping sessions leave me with just enough, but sometimes I’m a few ounces short.

I’m already drinking 90-120 oz of water a day and taking a max dose of fenugreek (as recommended by my lactation consultant) to help boost my supply. I’ve added a big bowl of steel-cut oats in the morning (using this method which rocks). I bought some “mother’s milk” tea which is absolutely disgusting and I don’t think I can drink it again. So far my efforts really haven’t paid off. I know that the sleep thing is hurting me, as well as the stress of being pulled in 8 different directions at once but there’s not much I can do about that.

We did supplement with formula last week which he promptly puked up – so much so that I took him to the doctor who thought it was a stomach bug and not a reaction to the formula.  However, I’m not ready to try that again.  With M we tried cereal around 4 months but she wasn’t a fan so we postponed solids until 6 months and skipped “baby food” altogether.  I was hoping to do that with MAD but right now I’m burnt out at being is only food source.

I look a breastfeeding like running a marathon (not that I’ve ever done that or plan to – just from what I’ve read) and I know I’m in the “this sucks, and it’s only going to get worse” phase.  I also know that I’ve made it 1/3 of the way to my goal and the payoff is worth it so I’m not going to quit.  I don’t remember being this irritated and down on breastfeeding with M but with her I never really had to pump.  So, if you breastfed and worked outside the house did you hit this wall at about 4 months, too?  Does any have any supply-booster ideas that I haven’t tried?

*I read everything, almost as soon as it’s written!  I don’t know how I got through nursing M for 17 months without my iPhone.  Having Twitter, WWF and blogs to keep me company during pumping sessions and late-night feedings keeps me much more sane.  But commenting on an iPhone leaves a lot to be desired so I usually don’t.

**My work is awesome about pumping – I work at a hospital that is very pro-breastfeeding so I have a lot of resources.   We have lactation rooms and lactation consultants on-call. However, since I work at an administrative campus and not the main facility things are a little different.  For instance, instead of having swipe-card access to the lactation room I have to get a key from security. Every. single. time. And most of the security guards are male. Such fun.  And, I’d been jealous that at the main facility that the lactation rooms are equipped with “hospital grade pumps” so all you had to do was have your own parts, and not lug the whole pump back and forth to work.  That is until I happened to be there one day during pumping time and saw the provided pumps:

let’s just say I was so happy to have my PIS at my side.

12 thoughts on “Milk Maid

  1. I’m nursing my first (he’s a bit older than your MAD, though), but thankfully I didn’t have to do the work & pump thing. Pumping stinks! (And that machine in the picture was soo scary!)
    But I do know that NOTHING affected my milk supply like stress. If you can find a way out/through/away from the stress, I think it might get better for you. (And, so, did my saying that make you more stressed? I hope not!)
    Also, you’re right on with the marathon analogy. Especially when they have a growth spurt: it feels like you all you can do is feed them. Hang in there!

    • Thanks for the comment, Stacy. Since I didn’t pump beyond the first 3 months with M (to build a stash she never took) I never had to do the work-and-pump thing before. I have TONS of respect for the women who have made it through a year of this. I’m trying to become one of them!

      I am working to get my stress down. Groupon is helping with some cheap massage and even some half-price house cleaning!

  2. judy gutowski says:

    You should have a lactation consultation with an IBCLC. You are probably oveere hydratring which negatrively affects milk production. You should use the classic pump at woerk, it is much more effective than PNS. There aree more effective things than fenugreek. Just some quick suggestions, an IBCLC needs a full history of your health to help you.

    • Thanks, Judy! The LC I’m seeing is a IBCLC, she does want me to try blessed thistle, too but not until after I give the fenugreek a couple of weeks. I don’t think it’s an overhydration issue as I’m drinking to thirst and when I drink less my output goes down. Unfortunately they don’t provide those industrial grade pumps at my location, I just happened to be at our main campus one day to see what they had there.

  3. First, the sleep. JuneBug, my youngest and now 6 mo old, went through the crappiest sleep regression ever EVER at 4 months. Thankfully at just after 5 months she decided to be a good little baby again. I also, at that point, let her fuss/cry a bit at bedtime. In 2-3 nights she was sleeping 9-10 hours straight. Thank the good lord. With my oldest, now 2, I could only pump (we had some really annoying and craptastical BFing setbacks, to say the least). It was at 4 months that my supply went from being ok to downright nonexistent. I had no choice but to stop unless I wanted to feed her the dust that I was producing! At this point, I live by the motto, “doing whatever I need to do to survive”. Ha. Whatever keeps you and the kids happy and healthy!!!

  4. I hit a similar supply drop (though not as extreme)around 4 months, and then again around…9 months maybe? Also, when I started ovulating (TMI maybe, but that drop? Was pretty drastic and scared the crap out of me.)
    Anyway, at the 4 month one, we had to start solids. I just couldn’t keep up. We only added one meal during the day, but it helped–if nothing else, it helped my stress level.
    The other thing I did at 4 months? I stopped trying to make my pump breaks anything other than breaks. I had serious guilt about the time pumping, which was making me rush, try and work during the pumping, and freak out anytime meetings came up. I just decided that years of not taking smoke breaks when everyone else did entitled me to a few months of uninterrupted breaks. Don’t know if that’s feasible for you, but honestly, once I let that go, my stress level was so much better.

  5. Lauren E. E. says:

    I just want to give you a big hug. I’m a working mom who pumped at work and really, really struggled with my supply. I tried anything and everything, including blessed thistle. I watched videos of my baby while I was pumping. I did breathing and relaxation exercises. Nothing worked. My supply just kept going down. Finally my midwife and two lactation consultants told me that sometimes your body is just too tired and stressed to keep up and that it was okay. There was nothing I could do about it. So I just had to accept that. I pumped as much as I could at work, introduced solids at 4 months, and then eventually started to supplement a little with formula. I had to stop pumping at 6 months because my supply got so low that it was no longer worth the stress and hassle of the whole thing. I moved my son onto formula while he was at day care and then breastfed in the morning and at night. He eventually weaned himself around 8 months. I think my supply was totally gone at that point. It was such a hard experience, especially because I loved breast feeding so much and really believe in its benefits. But sometimes our bodies just can’t get the job done. That was really hard to accept, but once I did, life got a lot better. As much as I didn’t want to give him formula, it really didn’t seem to change anything for him and holy cow was I glad to not be pumping anymore. Good luck and big hugs! You’re doing great! What an amazing mom your little guy has!

  6. songbird says:

    my pumping experience, regarding output:
    at 4 months he was taking 4 4oz bottles per day
    by 6 months he was taking 4 5oz bottles per day
    by 8 months it was back to 4 4oz bottles per day
    by 12 months it was 2 4oz bottles per day
    by 14 months it was 2 2oz bottles per day and I stopped pumping.

    don’t compare too much, every baby is different.

    almonds are lactogenic.

    kellymom is your friend.

    it gets way, way, way better once they are into solids. also, he might be in a growth spurt and his appetite might decrease some on its own.

    pumping on weekends might help you get those extra few ounces to get you through the week. try to feed the freezer whenever you get an extra few ounces (which you will, I promise).

    everyone else has good advice.

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