Thursday, September 2, 2010

List-Style, Once Again

1. Let me preface this section by saying how very much I appreciate all the advice on my last post re. supply issues. I REALLY appreciate all of it, even if ultimately, I might (maybe) decide not to follow some of it... To those of you who referred me to Kellymom, I really appreciate it. I have used the information on that site before, and I find that MOST of what is written there is very helpful to the new breastfeeding mom.



With my latest concerns over supply, I found myself quite pissed at what Kellymom advised. See, as with most sites offering expert opinion, especially those that offer expert opinion that is sometimes counter to mainstream conventional wisdom, Kellymom suffers from being a bit heavy-handed in it's advice-- don't let those peds boss you around (let US boss you around!). Despite being told over and over again to "follow your instincts", to "feed the baby when he/she is hungry", the second that you actually "follow your instincts" in a direction other than where Kellymom thinks you should go, you are suddenly just a stupid, naive, inexperienced new mom who clearly:
1. didn't put the baby to the breast often enough
2. gave your infant a drop of formula (you wanton whore) and therefore caused a drop in supply
-- except that if you think your supply is dropping, you are WRONG. THERE IS NO WAY YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A DROP IN SUPPLY!
4. However, you probably did one of these eighteen things that can cause your supply to drop.
-- BUT, your supply isn't dropping.
6. Follow your instincts and feed your baby when he/she is hungry. Simply put them to the breast. There will be plenty of milk made to feed them.
-- If it's evening time, and there isn't enough milk to feed them, and your child is screaming in hunger, you are probably too dumb to realize that your child isn't hungry, it's just a case of the nighttime fussies!
7. If your supply has dropped (which it hasn't) and you think this might mean that your baby is hungry, your best bet is to put them to the breast over and over, even if this results in them screaming in hunger (because you will just magically make enough milk because your supply hasn't dropped. It just can't. It doesn't happen.).
8. Whatever you do, DON'T GIVE THEM FORMULA, because this will cause your supply to drop. Instead, watch your twins chew on their fists and scream and nurse and nurse and nurse until your nipples are raw, pausing every ten seconds to scream in hunger. We could see how this might make you think your supply has dropped.
-- (Except your supply hasn't dropped! Aren't you listening to us??? Do we need to repeat ourselves???)
9. If you think your supply is dropping, wait until your baby(babies) lose weight to address the problem, because (once again) YOUR SUPPLY IS JUST FINE. And if it isn't, I DARE YOU to PROVE US WRONG!!!

Um, yeah. I'm just a little peeved at their "advice" regarding issues with low supply. Women with PCOS notoriously have supply issues (sometimes under, sometimes over). And forgive me, but with twins, I am exceptionally protective of my supply, because with two of them, even a small dip means that there are two babies who are not able to eat to satisfaction and it's all that much easier to spiral downward into a place where I end up having to supplement more and more, and I don't want to go in that direction. But neither will I let my children starve, so YES, I will supplement with formula if it is the difference between my children happily nodding off to sleep in the evenings vs waking every 45 minutes screaming in hunger.

I think I'm just mostly pissed because the subtext is that the author(s) at Kellymom are the only ones you should trust, even over your own instincts. It seems that it's perfectly fine to rail against the Man, to tell moms to throw off the shackles of the patriarchical pediatric establishment, but what I'm reading at Kellymom (and plenty of other websites like it) is that we are to kowtow to a different set of "experts", who stand in stead for the establishment as the ones whose beliefs we should subscribe to.

Which is stupid.

2. So yeah. I appreciate the advice. After a week now of carefully monitoring my diet and watching my fluid intake, and a few days of adding an extra pumping session in the evening, and now also adding fenugreek, I think my supply is getting under control. The night before last, I actually got an ounce or two when I pumped. And my breasts are finally feeling ever-so-slightly full-- not full-to-bursting like they were early on, but just not-bone-dry-empty like they had been the last couple of weeks. And the most telling is that last night, they nursed, and then as usual, I offered them a bottle, and for the first time in forever, they took only 2.5 oz each, instead of finishing 4-5 oz and screaming for more. And when they nursed after the bottle (as they always do), it was comfort-nursing, instead of frantic sucking.

And then, they SLEPT. Like contented little rocks. It's hard to explain the joy at seeing your children so incredibly content after almost two months of tears and frustration and exhaustion. They went down without a peep at 7:30 p.m., and woke at 1:15 a.m., quietly ate, and then went back to sleep until 4. (We won't talk about after 4, though... He.nry has been incredibly fussy the last couple of days, and he was fussy from4-5, then woke up at 6:15 again, and then at 7-- but then went back down until 8:45... at which point, Ding-Dong Mama finally took his temperature and noticed that he was sitting right at 100 degrees. And after a little T.ylenol, all is now right in his world). Jack ate at 6:15 a.m. and then slept until 8:45 also.

And now, today, they are actually going more than 45 minutes to an hour between feedings, and they aren't screaming after nursing for the better part of that hour. They're even napping a bit.

Point is, my supply has clearly been waning over the last several weeks, and now, it seems to be turning around, and I am SO GLAD that I finally listened to myself and did something about it.

3. We have decided to fly to Austin for the holidays. Bring on the advice for air travel with infants!!

4. Jac.k discovered his voice yesterday. We were at the dermatologist for me to have my stitches removed, and the boys were in their stroller in the exam room with H and I, and apparently wasn't thrilled with sitting in the stroller, and so started to express his displeasue loudly and vocally. He started to sound like he might be ramping up for a cry, but stopped himself, so thrilled he was by his new vocal range. He practiced some more after we got home, yelling at the toys on the bouncer, and then, after his 1::15 feeding, he spent another 5 minutes practicing his new yells in the bassinet before he went back to sleep.

5. I forgot to mention that the boys officially discovered each other the other morning. H and I were sitting with them in bed, one on each lap, and they were smiling at each of us, and then, we turned them towards each other and they spent a good five or so minutes trading smiles with each other. So. frickin'. cute!

Um, okay. Now I have to go, because H is home, and I get to take a run this afternoon. Yay!!


Anonymous said...

Dude....I'm so behind and I'm sorry. I meant to read your last post but never got to it. I hear you on the whole "we are your new alternative overlords and must be obeyed" thing. Ugh. Why can't we all be nicer to each other instead of reactionary?

All I want to offer - and probably you've heard it from others - is that I hear (from a good friend who has twins roughly the same age as your boys) is that nursing twins is different and harder. Duh, right? But it seems like so much of the breastfeeding advice is for singletons, and just doesn't quite cut it for twins. Like that growth spurts last longer and are more intense with two - again with the duh. But anyway, you probably know all this - just a reminder that even the best intentioned advice out there might just not work for you as easily as those judge-y folks might like to think.

And I guess the other thing that rankles me about all this is that it's so easy for people to forget about the mother. Like that it is hellish for YOU to have babies who nurse every 45 minutes and scream in hunger and are never satisfied to sleep for a decent stretch. Of course the babies need food and sleep, but YOU need that too. I finally got to a place like that with C's naps - I stopped explaining to people what he needed, and just started to say that I needed him to nap regularly and for longer than 20 minutes and without me lying in the dark room with him with my boob in his mouth. I needed a break, and that's what naps are - for everyone.

Anyway, hang in there. Hope you can just take what's useful and let the ass-vice settle to the floor and get swept away by your neat-freak husband.

Anonymous said...

Good for you for figuring out what works for your family. I concur with Anna's last sentence.

My word verification is "nonses"...

Katherine said...

I'm so glad you figured out what worked for you and the babies. Even with just the one baby, I had to use formula on occasion if I wasn't getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can definitely drop BM supply. But, I HATE giving out the 'get more sleep' advice, because anytime someone said that to me, it set off my berserker button, KWIM? Anyway, I used the formula to get me through some rough spots, but I never found that the baby grew dependent upon it.
Sounds like you are doing a great job! As far as the advice/ass-vice, I try to remind myself that it is all just possibilities and I get to choose what to make actual. Which is maybe ass-vice, so ignore me :)

Serah B. said...

I love you, Kate. I like Kellymom's practical advice as well, but, uh, ya. Grain of salt required. I went on Kellymom recently to look up information on weaning, and everything was like, "Your baby isn't ready to wean yet. If you need to wean (which you don't) here are some things you can do to make it easier for your baby, but you're kind of an asshole for not letting your baby self-wean. If you go ahead and try to wean anyway, you'll probably get depressed and your baby will turn into a needy, clingy disaster who subsequently will fail at all attempts at intimacy for the rest of his life, you selfish bitch." Now mind you, my baby is over two, only recently stopped nursing every THREE HOURS all night--and never has a drop of the evil, accursed formula of death touch his precious, precious lips. I think I've done my part, Kellymom. My instincts tell me it's time to get my toddler off the tit so I can get my hormones back and have some sex with my husband, by God. My instincts tell me I'm starting to resent my little lad running up to me and pulling my shirt up in public and screaming at me for not disrobing quickly enough. It's tyrannical. I'm taking my boobs back, Kellymom, and you can kiss my ass.

Star said...

Just to defend Kelly a little bit, I think the reason there's so much of a "your supply is not dropping" tone is because so many women think their supply is dropping when it isn't, and are at that point of weakness easily undermined by, for example, mothers and mothers-in-law or other female relatives who don't support breastfeeding who say the baby is hungry and needs formula when it isn't actually true. Then in such a case the woman starts using formula and then her supply does drop and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Happens every day. Of course, the default advice is for singletons, and for non-PCOS women, so individual factors must always be taken into account when reading advice meant for a general audience.

I don't fault you for finding what you read unhelpful in your situation, but there is such a pervasive sense that women's bodies are inherently defective (fed by misinformed pediatricians and the formula industry, I'm sorry to say) that I think that sites like Kellymom are just trying to counter that, albeit sometimes in a way that comes off as heavy-handed.

On a happier note, it's great to hear that your supply is rebounding! Good thing you went with your instinct. There's always something to be said for that.

Kait said...

I'm sorry the Kellymom advice was so heavy handed. I guess I never read that page very carefully (which means I shouldn't have directed you to that site). Sorry! I'm so glad you're milk supply is at a more comfortable place for you. That is great. I know how stressful it can feel when it's not. Actually, I don't have twins so I DON'T know how stressful it would be for you, so never mind that. I hope all continues to get easier. You are a ROCKSTAR!!!!

ooky said...

I'm another person who directed you to the site - sorry you found it so upsetting (much of your post made me laugh, however!) But I meant it when I said they really really helped me.

For example, all the, "your baby is not really as starved on your boob as you think they are" stuff WAS really true for me. My daughter was screaming, popping on and off the breast, and sucked down all the expressed milk I had each night (which I was trying to freeze or leave for my husband to feed her in the am so I could get some @*$#*@ sleep). After I read that, I kept putting her back on. And back on. And letting her off for 15 minutes when I couldn't take it. And then back on. This was on boobs that were totally flat and I could not hand express any milk out of, mind you. Two things happened - my boobs got engorged again over then ext week and she started pissing like a racehorse in the evenings. So it worked. Obviously, YMMV. Glad the fenugreek is working for you!

Sue said...

Glad you were able to figure out what works for you, and that things are turning around. Enjoy your run!

Tracy said...

"It's hard to explain the joy at seeing your children so incredibly content after almost two months of tears and frustration and exhaustion." Loved this. Still smiling. :)

I really, really, really was committed to breastfeeding. I told Scott to NOT LET ME QUIT. But in the end, I was so upset by the whole thing, and upset that everybody (except E&R's pediatrician! and other twin moms) told me I needed to do it, and that if I *couldn't do it* (for whatever reason) then I was failing, that I finally just said SCREW YOU ALL. My babies are fine, and formula is fine, and we are going to be fine. And we were. And I was much happier.

I'm not saying you should do that by any means, but I'm saying I GET IT.

Our pedi was the one who finally made me feel better about it all. He told me that so many people out there (women especially, infortunately) make you feel bad if you can't nurse for whatever reason, and "that is just bullshit." (yes, that IS a direct quote.) He said formula is just fine, and that after 8 weeks the immune system kicks in nicely, and while breast is best, formula is an exceedingly close second. And that a happy mom is more important than ANYTHING.

You're doing great, and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS trust your gut.


Tracy said...


Samantha said...

Don't know if you want more advice or not but... there's a book out there called, "The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk." It also has a website: I read it and it offers reasons for why supply might be low and ways to improve supply. As I recall, there's some information for women who have PCOS included in the book.

I think books and Kelly mom stress being careful about supplementation because that can be a major factor in decreased supply and gets into a cycle. Your supply is low. You use formula to help. Your supply gets lower, so you use more formula, etc. It's a valid message, but I'm sorry it came at you so heavy handed. While I loved and used Kellymom quite a bit, I definitely also had a large grain of salt at the ready.

PJ said...

That's SO cool that they were smiling at one another! I don't think my girls really notice each other, even when we put them face to face.

I do think Lauren was trying to laugh this morning though! Dude, we have whole coversations! She's all..., "gah, uh, bah...etc." and I'm all, "tell me about it, girl!" It's the best!

Addison just stares at me and seems to always be in deep thought. I think she's developing a cure for cancer or some other thing geniuses do.

I would pump for 25 minutes and get .5, that's POINT FIVE ounces. So Kellywhatever can kiss my behind. Some people have legit physical restrictions when it comes to supply.

Anonymous said...

wish i could have gotten to your supply post quicker :( you know i've tried everything and have always had supply issues. like so bad that i almost cried every time daycare would tell me that they threw away the breastmilk that the kids didn't eat (gasp!). sounds like you are turning things around though. just make sure that everything is still making you happy. i have several friends who ended up HATING bf'ing b/c they had to work so hard at it and didn't pay attention to their feelings.

the kids are so cute when they start to notice eachother and play and interact!! :)

...and i'm so jealous you are running again. (good for you btw) how the heck are you doing it? i need your secret!

Shinejil said...

It's crazy how supply can fluctuate, and how your boobs can feel different and all sorts of other maddening things can happen. And all that's out there is remarkably contradictory advice (worry! don't worry! It's natural! It's your fault!) from all parties.

Glad you got through it and hope things are nice and calm for a bit. You're doing an amazing job.