Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Humbled by a milk supply struggle

In a previous post, I talked about how it is easy to see why milk supply can be such a concern for new moms.  But recently, I've gained new perspective and been humbled by a supply problem of my own.

After dropping to three pumps per day a few months ago, my supply dropped, and I started dipping into my  freezer stash.  I had envisioned that by age one, Sam would reduce his milk intake in favor of solids.  To the contrary, he's thirstier than ever.  Then a few weeks ago, I got hit with a nasty cold and suffered another drop.  I decided to up pumps to try to increase supply.  A week went by, then two, without an increase; meanwhile, we were topping off bottles with cow's milk left and right.  I started to feel like throwing in the towel and just letting him have 75/25 or 50/50 human/cow--and feeling pretty bad about it right after my post deriding cow's milk for babies.  You get to a point--and I remember this from the early days--where you start changing the story you tell yourself about how important breast milk is, and guilt rears its head, too.  One minute you've convinced yourself it's totally fine, and another you are reading a study showing a correlation between extended breastfeeding and intelligence.  It's so not fun, and gives me new respect for moms who persevere despite supply issues.

In the end, the milk ticked up, but only after three weeks of trying.


  1. Thank you for sharing. This is timely based on what a comment a reader just left on my blog post. It's not quite the same but it does make you hesitate a little when you get a fresher perspective from the other side of the fence. I am glad your supply increased again. That's awesome you kept at it for 3 weeks. Yay!

  2. Maybe if I'd breastfed my boys a bit longer they could use those extra IQ points to learn not to eat their boogers . . . :)

    In all seriousness though, I don't think you need to feel bad about topping off a bottle with cow's milk occasionally. Sam has had almost entirely breast milk, so a bit of cow's milk here and there isn't going to counteract the effects of your milk. And though IQ points are nice to have, they don't do much good without other factors such as parent support, effective teaching methods, and one's own effort to use them.

    I say, when guilt rears it's head, get out your sword and chop it's head off. Go forward confidently and say "I've done the best I can" not "I wish I could have done it better," especially if it's something you can't go back and redo. It's a much more positive outlook on life. :)

  3. I'd like to say that Karter's diminished his nursing, but in when I really look at it, he's not. He's only nursing 3-4 times a day, but he still wakes up 1-3 times per night. Of course that's probably my fault for using the quickest thing to get us all back to sleep. With Kian and me working then, my supply was shot at a year (and I was supplementing) and he slept through the night earlier. So, part of me isn't too worried about cutting out the nighttime snacks due to his weight gain and it helping supply stay around, but I think I need a full night's sleep soon (it's been a year and a half or more since I acutally SLEPT a full 7/8 hours!) so we'll see if that diminishes supply. He's not as big of an eater as Kian was, but is finally lately eating a lot more solids. And he gets almond milk in the cup, along with water and occasional juice. I figure we've got all the vitamin and mineral and omega and IQ areas covered lol. Good for you to continue pumping, every other mom I know has stopped at a year. Sam still can benefit past a year old!!