The thing about parenthood that nobody talks about, is that there is no complete “manual” for it. Oh yes, there are lots of books and websites and information, but no one-stop shop for all the problems you could encounter. There’s no “trouble shooting” section to read to prepare yourself for this.
Now that Joshua is just over 6 weeks old, we’ve finally established some routine in terms of feeding. I would nurse him for about 10 minutes on each breast, and then give him a bottle of formula. Lately he would take about 80 or 90 ml of formula after nursing. Everything seems all good and normal, and not much has changed this routine for a couple of weeks now.
I started thinking that now that things are established and we are not worried about his weight, maybe it’s time to seek more help with the breastfeeding. I would love for any tips or tricks to increase milk production, so I can give him more breast milk. Every time I pump, I only get about 20 to 25 ml of breast milk all together. Compared to the amount of formula he takes (80 or 90 ml), the breast milk just seems so pitiful.
Late last week, I called up the lactation consulting line at Women’s Hospital, and asked to speak with a consultant. The lady who called me back asked us to go visit her on Monday. When we showed up yesterday, I told her that I don’t produce enough milk. She took a quick look at Joshua and I, and simply said she didn’t think that was true.
I thought, “yeah right, how would you know?”
She weighed Joshua, and crunched some numbers. It looked like Joshua has gained weight twice as fast as infants on average. At 6 weeks, he is already 12.4 lbs. Most infants at his birth weight would only be just over 10 lbs.
Ok, so all that means is he is getting lots of nutrients, and perhaps a bit too much formula. It doesn’t mean I make enough milk.
Then she weighed him with all his clothes and diaper on, then asked me to nurse him for 5 minutes, and weighed him again. Interesting enough, in 5 minutes, he had taken on 25 grams, which means he took about 25 ml of breast milk from me. I said that’s not possible, because I can only ever pump 25 ml at the most with two breasts together. She explained that Joshua is much more efficient at sucking milk out than the pump will ever be.
I nursed him on the other breast for 5 minutes, and he added another 15 grams (i.e. 15 ml of breast milk). Amazing!
Ok, so now I’m convinced that I produce a bit more milk than I was lead to believe by the breast pump. That still doesn’t mean I produce enough to sustain him. She agreed. She said that I may always need to top up a bit, but it’s possible to reduce the amount we feed him. Apparently it is possible to over-feed a baby, and we’re on our way there.
She recommended that every other day, we reduce the amount of formula we give him by 10 ml. He may not gain weight as fast as he has so far, but he will still be healthy and get the proper nutrients. She also recommended that we remove his scratch mittens, cut his nails really short, let him suck on his hands, and give him a soother to suck on when he wants it.
That was a lot of information to process. I went from totally believing that I just don’t produce nearly enough breast milk, to seeing that I actually produce more than I thought. All of a sudden, I was having dreams of exclusive breastfeeding (and no more bottles!!). This is completely the opposite of what everyone else has been telling me (that I don’t produce enough, formula is the answer, give the baby as much as he wants, etc). And giving him a soother before 8 weeks is the opposite of what books recommend.
Now I’m not 100% sure who to believe. But at least I know that if we start reducing the formula we give him, and his weight gain slowed down a little, he is still healthy and getting proper nutrients. So that plan now is to start reducing his formula in-take by 10 ml every other day, and monitor his weight.
I wish there is a set of instructions someone can give me on how to raise a child properly, so nothing gets screwed up. Now I believe what mom always tells me–there is no end to the “homework” your children will give you in life. It’s a continuous process of problem solving and figuring out what is best for your own child.
First time using a soother yesterday:
Auntie Liz came to visit for the first time today:
Hanging out with Daddy:
Daddy’s feet are HUGE:
The most beautiful thing Mommy has ever laid eyes on: