Thursday, October 9, 2008

Breastfeeding Chronicles

Ned eats 6 ounces of formula at bedtime and in the middle of the night. 6 ounces! And same amount when he has breastmilk bottles. Penny still hovers between 4 and 5 ounces for her bottles. I'd like to remind you all that they are only 7 weeks old. They love to eat and they love bottles and a schedule and I'm starting to be too tired of worrying about my Supply and whether I'm giving them enough when they breastfeed and whether I can find time to pump while taking care of them to stand up to it much longer. I wonder whether I'd be happier if I just stopped and fed them formula and I think that's where we'll end up in a few weeks.

I'm still determined to make it through end of October (when they'll be 10 weeks old) with the majority of their feedings as breastmilk but I think things might quickly fall by the wayside thereafter. If I'm lucky I can make it 12 weeks with majority of feedings being breastmilk (expressed or from me). As it is I have had to supplement them both after each breastfeeding with a few ounces of pumped breastmilk. Then per the lactation consultant I pump to try to increase my supply (so I don't have to supplement them). It's really hard to find time to pump when you're trying to feed 2 kids, keep them calm, do laundry, etc. And I haven't noticed any increase in my supply - in fact, it's been decreasing this last week.

We're still doing both on the breast in the morning (tandem which can be tough but they are not patient in the morning to allow for one at a time) and then alternating kids with one on the breast and one on the pumped breastmilk bottle for the other daytime feeds. Bedtime and middle of the night is formula. It is also still taking over an hour to breastfeed - sometimes as much as an hour and a half. Ned does a bottle in about 20 mins - Penny is more like 30 mins. The interesting thing though is that because they are eating so much they are going to bed earlier and only doing 5 feedings a day (4 during the daytime/bedtime, 1 in the middle of the night). Husband and my parents and other visitors love that they have a chance to feed the kids a bottle.

We'll see how this is all working next week when I'm home alone for the first time all week. I can't imagine being able to pump after I get up at 3 am to feed them their night formula. After next week Husband is home for about a week between jobs (which is why I can probably make it to the end of the month).

Right now I'm trying to find someway to feel okay about switching to exclusively formula in the near future. I feel like if I were stronger somehow I could make this breastfeeding twins work since so many moms have been able to do it. I feel "weak" for liking the ability to schedule the kids with the bottle. I only breastfeed 3 times a day and I still feel so insecure the whole time I do it (primarily relating to my Supply and whether they are getting enough). I'm tired of worrying about when to pump or whether they are still hungry. I think if I had done exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) it might have worked better but I would also have had to check myself in a mental hospital if I had tried to feed both of them on demand all day and night. I do read about how if I kept going it would protect them against allergies, ear infections, diseases, etc. I'm also going to miss how I can eat whatever I want right now and still be losing weight.


mames said...

hi there, i found you via HDYDI and have read a few of your recent bf posts. i am a mama of 17 month old twin boys and thought i would chime in a bit.

i 'breastfed' (pumped mostly(80%) and had some successful bf on boob(20%)) for 7 weeks. i almost lost it by week 7. i had to stop. i knew it was not going well for me, and they were fine, growing and healthy but so hungry. my mama (of triplets) friend told me at that point the pump was my third baby and i needed to do something to help myself.

so, i stopped, cold turkey, in three days. they went on formula, had very little problems (they had more gas on the breastmilk, i think) and they have been totally healthy, ear infection free, no terrible flu's etc for the last 17 months. so, i think, they got the initial wonderful supportive breastmilk, then mama got her semi-sanity back.

do what feels right. they will be great because you love them and are doing all you can to provide and nurture and help them grow.

and if it helps to hear it, the days you are in are the most intense and exhausting days ever. it really does get easier.

Liz Jimenez said...

Though I may still harbor some disappointment for not making BFing work, I can tell you that I was a whole lot happier when we switched to formula at 8 weeks. Pumping and supplementing sucks. No two ways about it. Yes, if you decide you want to power through and make BFing work, it will probably get easier. But you still need your sanity, and there are definitely easier parts to formula. And your kids will be FINE. They will be happy, they will be bonded to you, they will be healthy (my kids have had one ear infection between them, and one flu [which they got from two BFed babies!]).

The biggest bummer is the weight loss. I didn't modify my eating when I stopped nursing, and boy am I paying the price. ;-)

Don't beat yourself up. Do what you have to do, and all of you will be fine.

What A Card said...

If it alleviates any guilt, I did breastfeed and we're dealing with food allergies, ear infections, generally weak immune know, all that stuff that breastfeeding was supposed to help us avoid. Which it didn't help with at all.

Do what works for you, and you'll all be fine!

Stacey said...

I'm impressed with how long you have been able to do it. I hope I can last as long! Too bad about the weight loss but at least you are already back in pre-pregnancy clothes...

Anonymous said...

Did Stacey say that you are back in your pre-preg clothes? Holy cow batman! Congratulations! That's great! (I'm jealous...)

LauraC said...

I am a full supporter in breastfeeding but I have to agree with mamie... your pump is like a third child. I switched to exlusive pumping but when we had no more help, I had to cut out pumping sessions. I felt sad to make the decision, like I somehow failed my kids and myself.

But here's the thing. When I pumped for the last time, I felt so liberated to finally not be thinking about pumping and formula and breastmilk and weight gain and everything! It was such a weight off my shoulders so I could focus what little energy I did have on my babies.

You have done so incredibly much for them so far. You should be very proud no matter what your decision is going forward.

I just wanted to chime in as someone who didn't get it to work. It was the right decision for our family to stop.

PS. Nate had ear infections and tubes and Alex did not. Both of them got equal amounts of breastmilk. I think it all depends on the kid.

Nancy said...

First of all, I'm going to say a big: GO YOU!! For how long you've made it so far :) And for being a good mommy :) (And damn, for fitting into your clothes!!)

Now, something to ponder: what about throwing the pump away, breastfeeding when you can/want to, and supplementing with formula when they're still hungry? There's no rule that says they can't have both. There's no rule that says you have to stop completely if you don't want to. The only thing is to remember to be consistent so you don't dry up...for example, make all the bf'ing in the morning, and/or at night before bed. You'll be amazed at how the body adjusts to accommodate what you want it to do. :)

I used to set a time limit for how long they could linger on the breast and then pop a bottle of formula in when they were "done" with me - every time. Mike kept telling me that it doesn't matter how MUCH breast milk they get as long as they were getting SOME up to the 6 month mark. The kids also got really good at being efficient when they realized the breast was going away within a specific time frame.

Now. All THAT said, there's also no rule saying you have to keep bf'ing. If you're done, you're done. You need your sanity, and your kids will be just fine :)

Just Kristen said...

You should do what ever works for you and your family...with no guilt!! I agree with Nancy, it doesn't have to be all or nothing....I can't even remeber what week it was, somewhere between 2 and 3 months where I had to take a long hard look at what about trying to breastfeed twins was driving me batty. I decided that it was trying to find time to pump between each feeding. So I decided I was going to drop the obscene pumping schedule (slowly) and just nurse them. They could have what they could get! And you know did make things a lot more tolerable for me and I think they enjoyed nursing more since Hey...there was actually a decent amount of milk there! Add up all the minutes you spend bonding with your pump and think about how nice it would be to spend that doing...well anything else!!

Anonymous said...

As a lurker on many pregnancy and new mom blogs, it seems like there's a whole lot of Mom guilt out there. BFing/no BFing. Go back to work/stay home. Daycare/nanny. And on an on and on. I'm beginning to wonder whether guilt beats out lack of sleep/time as the toughest part about the first year of mommyhood!

Penny and Ned have parents (and lots of family and friends) who love them and a lovely, safe, warm home to grow up in. I hope you can look at all the positive things you're doing for your kids and weigh the additional benefits they might get from a few more weeks/months of BFing against them.

Anonymous said...

Congrats for making it this far! I agree with those who said that BFing does not have to be an "all or nothing" proposition. Even some breastmilk is better than none.

If you are really concerned about how much breastmilk they are getting, you could get a baby scale. (Buy, or some hospitals/lactation consultants have them to rent.) Weigh before and after a feeding (in the same clothes and same diaper) and you can determine their intake. You may be surprised by how much they are getting. :-) One more thing to note, after the 6 week mark, milk supply tends to level off and regulate itself a little better. Some moms think this means they are "drying up" when that's not actually the case. Just a little tidbit!

Anyway, ultimately it comes down to doing whatever it is you need to do to parent them best. If that is EBF, FF, or some combination- it doesn't matter. You've done an excellent job so far! Keep up the good work!