confessions from a mama.

August 20, 2012

Today is the start of a new routine for my family.
For the past month we have been between houses,
spending every extra waking moment packing, moving, painting and cleaning.
Last week we finished up our townhouse
and have been enjoying just plain living here at my parents' house.
We're actually really excited to have this "rest" period between
moving out of our townhouse and moving into our new house.

So this morning my little brother (15) went to school (he started last week),
my sister (19) started classes at JCCC, my dad and husband went to work,
and my mom went to get milk.
Jaymin starts kindergarten on Thursday.
So we're getting back to normal bedtimes
and establishing a new routine for the Fall.
Of course it will change again in a month or so once we settle into our new house,
but for now, this is our new normal.
And it feels good.

I almost entitled this post "boobie confessions" for my friend Audrey. :)
I don't write about breastfeeding too often but I do feel very passionate about it
and feel called to write about my current breastfeeding struggles.
Today I'm really frustrated.
And am going to be very candid and real.
I have been blessed with babies that latch right on after birth.
All 3 of mine have nursed within minutes of being born.
And the earlier the better in my opinion.

Jaymin was a good eater but we think he had an underdeveloped valve in his esophagus
(which is common in newborns)
and would projectile vomit almost everything I fed him.
He did fine until he reached 4 months.
He would nurse, spit up and then be hungry again and I wouldn't have new milk yet.
So I had to start supplementing.
I weened him at 7 months.

Jett did great and I never had to supplement with him.
I weened him at 11 months.
I was confusing my cycle with our irregular and infrequent feedings
and had only planned on nursing him to a year anyway.
{The week I weened him was when I got pregnant with Jemma.  Awesome.}

Jia has done great as well.
She turned 6 months last Thursday!!
She's breastfed only and eats every 3 hours.
So here's my confession.
I don't have an abundance of milk.
In fact, I'm really struggling right now to produce enough.
I'm just gonna lay it all out there...
I'm 117 pounds right now people.
About 3 pounds lower than where I like to be
and 8 pounds lower than I wanted to be while nursing.
You need to keep a little extra junk in the trunk to help produce milk
but my body refuses to do that.
I know that I'm really blessed to not have to work too hard to lose my baby weight,
and some of you are probably hating me right now cause I'm actually complaining about it,
but it really is super frustrating when you should be able to sustain your infant's life
and your body is not cooperating.
I work out about 2 times a week
and only do toning exercises - pilates, yoga, etc.
I try to do very little cardio so I don't burn any extra calories.
I love food and love to eat.
I eat as much of and whatever I want really.
I do eat pretty healthy but definitely indulge in {mostly} homemade sweets.
I kind of have to force myself to eat red meat but will do it.
And I try to eat a lot of healthy fats - avacado, raw whole milk
(which is supposed to be super healthy for pregnant and nursing mothers).
And of course, drink plenty of water.
This is an area I definitely fall short in though.
I don't think about drinking water until I'm thirsty
and I've been told, by that point, you're already dehydrated.
But when I nurse I try to make a conscious decision to drink a ton of water
but fall off the wagon often.
But even with all of this, I'm still struggling.
{homemade flourless chocolate cake}

Each time my baby goes through a growth spurt
and is demanding more milk, my body needs a couple of days to catch up.
So far with Jia, I've been doing fine.
But this time around...I don't seem to be catching up with her.
I know stress can contribute to low milk production so I try to stay really calm
when my baby seems unsatisfied, and give myself that time to catch up.
But sometimes I feel like I'm in denial about how low I really am
and just keep thinking and hoping and praying it increases.
I have seriously sat down to feed her before and prayed that there would be enough milk.
Something else that I find so fascinating about all of this,
is that I have some girlfriends that are smaller than I am and make GOBS of milk!
If their bodies don't hold onto extra fat to produce milk,
and yet they always have plenty,
why don't I?
I just don't get it.

But this is where I am.
I don't really like to talk about it too much.
The whole process of nursing has always come easy to me and to my babies
and as I said, I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding.
But the truth is, I have battled this to some degree with each one.
Each Monday it seems, I set out to get serious about my milk production
and view it as an actual job.
Sustaining oneself comes naturally.
Having to worry about sustaining someone else with your body
takes conscious thought.
For me anyway.
So I'm taking my prenatals again (6 a day, yuck)
and fenugreek (6) which is supposed to help increase milk production.
I'm trying to drink as much water as I possibly can.
And eat 3 full meals and 3 snacks.
Even if I'm not hungry
(that part sucks for me - eating and drinking is so much more enjoyable when you're hungry and thirsty).
My stress level should be down, or dropping,
as we have removed a huge burden with the finishing of our townhouse.
I have been pumping right before bed.
Jia goes down around 7:30 or 8 and will sleep until 7:30 or 8 in the morning
so I can pump before I go to bed at 10:30 or 11
and have a full supply for her in the morning (her favorite feeding :) ).
Plus, that's telling my body that I need the milk and to make more
and it gives me milk for the freezer for date nights or days when she seems unsatisfied
(which has been often the past few days :( ).
What else can I do?
I am open to suggestions!
{I made myself breakfast, the meal I like the least.
2 farm eggs with swiss cheese, farmers market peaches, toast from homemade bread
and homemade strawberry jam, raw chocolate milk with ice - cause I'm an old man.
Not too shabby!}

As I said,
Jia just turned 6 months and literally overnight
became interested in everything I was eating and drinking.
But studies are showing that the longer you hold infants off
before feeding them solid food the better.
Plus, her tongue thrust is still in full swing.
And with my 2-year-old still in diapers
I am in no rush to start her on solids as well.
I will change breastmilk diapers all. day. long.

I guess I just needed to share my heart.
Document this chapter in our lives.
Hold myself accountable to my "job".
And seek advice from other mothers.
Any time I mention anything to my husband about being low
he immediately thinks I need to start supplementing!
I on the other hand probably swing too far the other way,
and will wait too long before deciding its time to supplement. ;)
All I know is, I won't let my baby starve
and I count her chubby rolls daily and for now she still has plenty! :)


Chelsea said...

Oh girl, I feel like I could have written this. I struggled with both of mine and am so scared I will struggle again this time. With Ben, I "had" to bottle feed his first week (or so the doctor told me) because he was so jaundiced and then I "had" to exclusively formula feed Nutramigen for a week to test out what he could be allergic to when he was a month or two old because of blood in his poop and projectile vomiting, so those two things definitely set me up for low supply. He was fully formula-fed by 7 months and I was HEART BROKEN. The second time, I vowed it would be different and pretty much exclusively breastfed except for a few bottles here and there. Everything was fine until I got pregnant and lost my supply completely within a few weeks (she was 7 months old). That was one of the worst periods of my life, as she also refused solids and formula and you might remember started dropping weight and I was a nervous wreck. Anyway, all that to say that now, with Landon, I am so desperate to make it to one year without any supplementing whatsoever that I sometimes obsess about it. I find myself so jealous of the women who talk about their oversupply or post pictures of tons of milk in their freezer. That just doesn't happen to me. And, as I am proof of, it really doesn't matter if you carry extra weight or not. I would bet that your weight really doesn't play into your milk production as much as you think. I have plenty of extra fat to give away, but my body still doesn't make the milk that some of my VERY skinny friends do. I wish they knew exactly what the magic formula is to excessive milk production, because I would be all over it.

I think the point I'm trying to make here (though very long-winded), is that it happens to so many of us, and though it's easier said than done, beating yourself up about it or blaming yourself or stressing about it isn't going to help. I think this is where we need to turn to God and trust Him to help us feed our babies. Even if that means supplementation here or there. We should feel blessed to live in a country where something like formula is available to us and we can afford it. Like I said, totally easier said than done. I have never before praised God for formula. But I'm trying to remember that if I should have to turn to formula this time, I *should* praise God that I am able to sustain my baby, even if it's via formula here and there. :)

Hang in there mama, you have done an amazing thing giving Jia all that mama's milk so far, and she's got the adorable baby chub to prove it!

emily anderson said...

she is not starving. look at her! it can take a week or 2 for me to catch up sometimes. but during those times i let olive nurse anytime she wants. sometimes it's every hour. and she might not be getting a ton of milk, every hour, but i do have a letdown, so i know she's getting the good stuff.
i think you and jia are fine. you have been stressed. don't give up on it yet. give it another few weeks and see if your milk catches up. which i'm sure it will.
even when my boobs don't feel "full" i can still breastfeed olive just fine. i'm sure it's the same with jia?

amy said...

it is crazy how different breast feeding is each time. with noah, i was a machine and with mila, my supply dropped drastically when we moved. most likely stress even though i did not feel that stressed out. perhaps, that is what's going on with you? i think pumping at night will help, too. i also did mother's tea (which i dreaded because it doesn't taste the greatest) and it seemed to help.

katieharris said...

Only having experience breastfeeding one child, I don't have a lot of advice, but my body sounds a lot like yours. I CANNOT gain weight no matter how much I eat, so I hear ya on that. Does Jia take most of her feedings from a bottle? When Elise was 2 or 3 months old, she was in a similar state where I just could not keep her satisfied and my mom suggested to eliminate the bottle for awhile b/c she's probably not getting as much from that as straight from the breast. Worked like a charm (except she never took a bottle again, ugh) and we've been going strong ever since. That's all I got for you. I hope it gets better for you all.

Audrey said...

There are so many questions that I would love to ask you right now!

First of all, what makes you think that you don't have enough milk? Look at her! Rolly polly! Starving babies don't look like Jia. Is she gaining weight steadly? (Even slowly, doesn't matter.) How many wet/dirty diapers is she having a day? Both of those can determine an adequate milk supply.

Also, don't be fooled into thinking that just because she takes a bottle she is hungry. Most all babies will take (and finish) a bottle even if they have just nursed. I would try other ways to calm her before resorting to that. Also, the more time on the breast, the more milk you will have. Pumping can be great to increase supply but bottles can be quick to ruin it.

Babies also like bottles because they tend to be faster and easier. Calm, dark rooms work well for distracted eaters. If my boys are home and it's crazy in the house, I take Cora upstairs to the quiet, dark bedroom. She is 10x more likely to nurse there then in the living room with the music on and the door slamming.

Stress can and does play a huge role in reducing supply. I know that you're working on this and sometimes it can't be help.

Keep up the good work! You are doing an amazing job! Surround yourelf with positive, supportive family and you will be fine. Keep drinking your water. Oatmeal, beer, fenugreek, can all increase supply too!

Check out for a ton more ideas. You can and will do this!

Kiley E Photography said...

Hi there! Sorry you have been dealing with this. Another blog I follow has an e-book on more milk naturally. I have not read it so I cannot speak for it's contents but come March 2013, I'll probably be getting it (due with #3 then!). Good luck!

Jami Nato said...

jia is a chubbs! you are doing great. seriously. stop it. right now.

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