Friday, August 28, 2009

Supply and demand

So the saga continues....

Unfortunately, for anyone reading today's post, I'm little more than a milkmaid these days, every hour seemingly spent either breast feeding or pumping; this almost constant latch and attach leaves me little time for other life pursuits. So, that's what you get to hear (more) about, the trials and tribulations of trying to get a (late-term) preemie to fatten up.

But is it the chicken or is it the egg? Is it that I don't produce enough milk? Or that the baby girl is not yet able to really suck it all down? Well, to try to find out, for the third time I dutifully went to the doctor's office (this time to the Premature Infant Nutrition Clinic) and had baby girl weighed before she fed, and then immediately after. The weight change tells you how much volume she consumed during the feeding. The last two times we've jumped through this hoop she's gotten 40 mL, about an ounce and a third. When I asked how much term babies typically consume at each feeding they answered between an ounce and two ounces. I ask you, is that not the same as what baby girl is getting??

It is, clearly, but the fact remains that she is not gaining weight so we've now been instructed to attack the issue on both the chicken and egg fronts. I am to take the herb fenugreek, to stimulate milk production, and I'm to pump after EACH feeding, also to help with milk production. (But is there not, perhaps, enough milk NOW?)

Baby girl is now to drink a bottle of formula (the issue of nipple confusion seeming to have evaporated since our last office visit) after every feeding. As much as she will drink.

All of this news did not sit well with me. At all. I, of course, burst into tears, like usual. I neither want to feed my baby formula, or pump, or be made to feel that I am inadequate at producing what my baby needs. Thank you, but no.

The doctor then goes on to mention that age could be a factor, but is not normally in women who have previously breast fed infants (which I have, twice), and she THEN goes on to mention a prescription drug that helps stimulate milk production, but that there may be depressive side effects.

Wtf, lady? I'm three weeks postpartum and dissolving into a puddle in your office, do you really think it's a good idea for this old woman to take that drug? I do not.

So that's were we are -- me popping herbal pills three times a day, pumping whenever I mange to force myself to, and the girl sucking down the formula each feed like it's baby crack.

Will I lose her to the bottle? I hope not. Will I be able to produce more milk? I hope so. But if not, the only side effect that I've experienced from the fenugreek is that my sweat is beginning to smell like maple syrup.

Who doesn't love pancakes?


Rita.the.bookworm said...

Oh, Beth. I'm so sorry to hear that things aren't going smoothly. As a three-time breastfeeding failure, I can't give you the pep talk you deserve to keep at it. But, I can tell you that I relate to the emotions you're expressing and feel all those same pangs of guilt and angst and inadequacy all over again in sympathy for you. For me, it got to the point where trying to keep breastfeeding was too much for me and I had to quit to be able to function and take care of the baby in all the other ways a mother needs to care for her infant (which, IMO, matter, too). I still felt guilt and I still wonder what if I kept at it for one more hour, one more day...

Melissaand3boys said...

Beth - I'm sorry that this bfing thing is being difficult. My twins were preemies, born at 34 weeks. I also pumped after feeding mainly to stimulate milk, but then I also had the milk and fed them using a bottle at times. We did end up also using formula, but we did both for about 10 months. I understand how you feel, because the formula was not in my plans. But after awhile that constant stress of feeding them both, then pumping to get everything I could from my body took a huge toll. All you can do is the best you can. You and baby girl have been through a lot together. You are being an awesome mom to her right now. Try not to feel guilty about what you have very little control over. I know that's easier said than done because being a mom includes feeling guilt over so many things.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw Beth. At least you haven't lost your sense of humor....

Hang in there, kiddo. At least you're still not on bed rest. Or is that not enough of a comfort?

And post photos! We want to see the little chicken!


former milk maid in PA said...

hang in there Beth!
My sister Carol had the same problem with her third, Paul.
He was born at 40 weeks but only weighed 5 lbs so the Dr.s were really on her when he wasn't gaining weight.
She supplemented with formula while pumping and feeding to help with weight but really he needed to get stronger face muscles so he could suck better.
All went well..after a few weeks of steady gain with the formula crack between feedings, he put on the weight, improved his sucking, and was back to boobmilk alone.
Carol was 38 at the time. I'd be happy to have her email the suggested ways to help with the face muscle/sucking stuff.
All will be fine...just stay off all depression inducing "baby help"