14 October 2006

A Problem of Economics

[DISCLAIMER: I owe a post about GH and his meeting with his oncologist. It's coming. Condensed version: new treatment starting next week. We're not out of options yet.]

I'm having an economic problem that's going nothing to do with money. No, no, this problem has to do with the good ol' principle behind modern capitalism: supply and demand.

The issue at hand is that my babies' demand for breastmilk has outstripped my supply since they started daycare. Here's how the numbers work out:

• I send 24oz. of milk with them to daycare each day, divided into six bottles of four ounces each.
• They eat three times at daycare (at intervals of three hours, roughly 10:00, 1:00, 4:00). In theory, each baby takes a four-ouncer at each feeding.
• I pump around 20 ounces total over three pumping sessions at work.

TOTAL: net loss of four ounces/day, if things go according to plan

But it's worse than that because things aren't going according to plan. To wit:

• Maddie eats more than 12 ounces/day, and Riley slightly less. But Riley is getting accustomed to the bottle and is catching up. Soon each will need more than 12 ounces/day.
• Maddie had been getting a four ounce bottle at night before bed because if I just breastfeed her she and Riley both wake up STARVING just a couple of hours after I put them down for the night. So before bed, GH now gives Maddie a bottle and I feed Riley off both breasts. This holds them for about five hours.

RECALCULATED TOTAL: net loss of eight ounces/day, with loss growing.

We are burning through our frozen milk supply. I think the babies are having a growth spurt--they used to sleep much longer, and when they are waking now it's clearly to eat, not just for sport. Also, they have real trouble going three hours between feedings during the day whereas they used to make it for three-four hours easily. But maybe it's not a growth spurt and I'm just not making enough food for them?

I'm doing everything I can to up my supply. I'm taking fenugreek supplements and drinking fenugreek tea (which might make me and the babies smell like maple syrup! Yum! Maple babies!) and I'm either pumping or letting the babies eat basically all the time to signal my body to up the supply.

I feel like my body is failing me. I feel like I'm starving our children. While I acknowledge formula supplements as a totally legitimate choice, I still feel like I'm failing for not being able to do this.

I'm going to call our pediatrician on Monday and see what she says. For now, do any of you moms out there have tips for increasing supply?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This isn't a supply tip, but a trick I used to have them waste less milk at daycare: freeze smaller bags, like 2 or 3 ounces. Because what often happens is, they'll open a bag, feed the baby a couple of ounces, some will be left over, and often they'll end up pitching it instead of saving it. Seems like the bottle feedings rarely involve sitting down for extended periods at daycare -- too many interruptions. The other tip is to make sure they know that it's ok to keep thawed milk overnight -- often the default is to throw it away unless the parents give them permission not to. (And it's perfectly safe to do so.)

And you are producing an AWESOME amount.

Yankee, Transferred said...

I don't know jack about this subject, but since I never let lack of knowledge get in the way of commenting before, why start now?
You are not failing your children. You will figure it out, even if it means (gasp) supplementing! Man, you have your hands full, literally and figuratively, so go for whatever solution is easiest on you.
My hat is off to you, and I'm so glad you are not out of options for GH!
Hang in there-

Anonymous said...

Reglan isn't as scary as a lot of sources would have you believe- you might want to tlak to your doctor about it. Also, if your provider isn't used to breastfed babies they might be feeding them more than they really need in the time. Consult kellymom.com about that. Are you pumping through an extra let-down at work? If I go through one, than wait five minutes while pumping, I usually get another one. Also, if they get on a regular evening schedule you can pump one hour after they are in bed- an extra pump gets you making more, and makes more for the next day. Finally, are you using a hospital-grade pump? It makes a difference for many people.

And you are a great mother, whether supplementing with fomula is the thing to do, or not.

Amanda (who pumps for one and is amaxed at the tought of pumping for two)

Anonymous said...

Give them each a nice big bottle of formula before bed! They digest it more slowly than breastmilk, you'll get an extra couple of hours of sleep hopefully.
Horizon makes a really nice organic ($$$) one that smells like something you'd actually want to eat. Enfamil and Similac smell like fish!
I breastfed both my children primarily, but do the math and figure out what percentage of their food supply would be formula vs. breastmilk if you gave them each one bottle. 10% to 90% maybe? Its worth it!
You are not going to produce more milk when you are stressed. You have twins, that's twice as much milk!
Finding a way to sustain MOSTLY breastfeeding for longer is better than stressing out about having enough milk and giving up breastfeeding altogether.
Your children are so lucky you have made the commitment to breastfeed, especially since you've gone back to work. But realize that millions of children have thrived on nothing but formula.
Do what works for your family.

Anonymous said...

Give them each a nice big bottle of formula before bed! They digest it more slowly than breastmilk, you'll get an extra couple of hours of sleep hopefully.
Horizon makes a really nice organic ($$$) formula that smells like something you'd actually want to eat. Enfamil and Similac smell like fish!
I breastfed both my children primarily, but do the math and figure out what percentage of their food supply would be formula vs. breastmilk if you gave them each one bottle. 10% to 90% maybe? Its worth it!
You are not going to produce more milk when you are stressed. You have twins, that's twice as much milk!
Finding a way to sustain MOSTLY breastfeeding for longer is better than stressing out about having enough milk and giving up breastfeeding altogether.
Your children are so lucky you have made the commitment to breastfeed, especially since you've gone back to work. But realize that millions of children have thrived on nothing but formula.
Do what works for your family.

weigook saram said...

It sounds like you're doing everything right. The only other thing I would say is to make sure you're getting enough calories. With two nursing exclusively, you probably need 1000 extra calories a day!

Anonymous said...

I read recently that, along with fenugreek, eating oatmeal will help increase your supply. My guess is that old-fashioned or quick oats are more nutritious than oatmeal packets...

Good luck!

snickollet said...

Thanks, all, for the tips. I'll start eating oatmeal for breakfast and will try not to be hard on myself if supplementing ends up being the way to go.

Weigook Saram: I think I'm getting plenty of extra calories, but they probably aren't all supposed to come from ice cream :).

bg's Little Sis said...

I think ice cream sounds like a great souce!

You're doing a fabulous job! One bottle of formula won't do any harm if that's what it takes. Most recently a friend of mine was having a similar issue, with one child, so pat yourself on the back, take a nice deep breath and give yourself the break you so richly deserve:) Glad GH has another option.

soralis said...

So sorry you are having supply issues. Maybe you need to pump a little more often to the the supply up again.

I had to supplement my boys as pumping wasn't doing enough for me. I did my best and was glad they were getting at least some breast milk.

I would talk to your dr. and good luck!