The single hardest thing about being a mother so far has been dealing with not making enough milk for my babies. I’ve come to terms with it now, but it was so difficult for me.
In the early days, I was so obsessed with making sure I was making enough milk. I was counting diapers and reassuring myself things were fine. My babies were fed and were gaining well. At their 2 month check-up, the doctor suggested supplementing with a couple additional ounces a day to help with their weight gain. It was then that I decided to begin supplementing with a bit of formula. I was preparing to go back to work so I figured it made sense to give them a tiny bit of formula so I could use what I pumped to build up a freezer stash for when I returned to work.
The decision to supplement with formula wasn’t made lightly. I did everything in my power to increase my supply from day 1. I pumped after every feeding. I power pumped. I nursed on demand. I took fenugreek (another story for another blog post). I ate oatmeal. I rested and drank lots of water. I took tinctures. I tried lactation cookies.
At first I gave them an ounce or two of formula in the morning and evening. As they grew, my supply just couldn’t keep up. I started offering formula after additional feedings here or there. During all of this, I was coming to terms that what I had hoped just wouldn’t be possible. I was not making enough milk and my babies were hungry. I tried everything under the sun (as described above) and nothing helped. I was nursing for an hour sometimes every hour or so. It was so challenging for me emotionally. I wanted to EBF through 6 months so badly. (I know some would say supplementing with formula was the start of my problems, but I really truly tried everything even before I started supplementing to increase my supply. The supplementing was inevitable.)
And here we are today. I am still nursing! I would be nursing for every feeding except I went back to work. So they get 3 bottles while I’m away — one of breast milk and two of formula. I pump 3 times a day while at work (4 if I can swing it). If they wake up at night (sleeping is an entirely different blog post), I just nurse — no bottles. I still have a freezer stash.
And you know what? I’m fine with it today. I’m disappointed we have to supplement, but I’ve truly come to terms with it. I am now just thrilled that they can still get the benefits of breast milk. I’m actually quite proud of myself. I hope to continue this until 6 months. That’s my goal. It may change, but for now that’s my focus. Nursing + bottles isn’t easy, but I’m willing to do what I have to do for my babies.
I am, however, so so so so so so so glad I continued to breastfeed and didn’t give up and switch to formula full time. I think that would have been a million times more difficult for me. The fact that I’ve continued to BF while supplementing will only make it that much easier when it’s time to pull the nursing plug for good.
I also realized that I’m addicted to breast feeding. I love it so much. No one could have explained to me what this would be like. I love the experience of bonding with my babies. It didn’t feel like this in the beginning because I was so busy figuring things out and worrying about being a new mom and making sure they were eating enough. But now that I have my confidence, I can truly relax and enjoy this time. I hope 6 months takes it’s time getting here. Oh geesh, that’s only 7 weeks away.