Breastfeeding

Supplementing: or the thing you probably start because your doctor scares you into thinking your baby is underweight

We’re so excited to share our first real post with you! Here’s the deal – both of us have our own unique experiences about mom stuff (like all of you), so we’re both going to chime in on some posts. This may mean we’ll throw a lot of text at you, but we both want our say…so too bad.

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Kristin


Something you may not know (yet) is that babies lose weight quickly after being born. This is totally normal, but if baby loses 10% or more of their birth weight then your pediatrician will start to worry. Generally all babies will get back up to birth weight with no problems, some taking a little longer than others. (Now, here’s the disclaimer for this post where I say we’re absolutely not medical professionals and each baby is different).

Both of our babies took longer than 2 weeks to get back to birth weight, and both of us as moms were horribly stressed about it. Why? Doctors scared us into thinking our babies were basically not thriving and we needed to work harder to get them to gain weight. As if being a brand-new parent isn’t stressful enough.I was told to start doing what is called “triple-feeding” – breastfeed until baby is full, then pump any remaining milk I can, then feed that to baby right away. This is a pretty effective way to increase the amount your baby is getting, but damn it takes up SO MUCH time! My son was a slow eater at first, so this means I’d nurse him for at least 45 minutes, then pump for about 10 minutes, then feed him a bottle – only to start this all over again in a half hour or so when he got hungry again. No one warned me that literally my entire day would be taken up by feeding my new baby. I barely had time to eat anything in between feedings!

So here’s the thing – triple-feeding works. It does. Finn gained more weight more quickly in those few days I was doing it. What wasn’t working was how crazy it was making me and in turn my husband too. Because of that he convinced me that we should try just supplementing with a small bottle of formula after breastfeeding instead. I was really hesitant because it made me feel like I was “failing” at breastfeeding and that I wasn’t able to properly feed my baby on my own. But off to Target we went and tried giving him a small bottle of formula…and Finn took it like a champ. That was our new strategy for another few days until he was getting enough while he was breastfeeding, and it worked great!

Now we don’t have to use formula but guess what – we do anyway. Kris still gets up once in the middle of the night with Finn to feed him a bottle. This lets us trade off nighttime feedings which is amazing for me! The other huge bonus is Kris gets to be involved in feeding the baby, which gives him and Finn some nice dad time together (plus there are no worries if I’m out of the house and there isn’t any pumped milk around!).

So call me a mostly breastfeeding, combo feeding mom. It was tough to get past the dumb guilt of not exclusively breastfeeding but to be honest not having to get up for every feeding in the middle of the night is so worth it. I called that feeling “selfish” for a while but it’s not selfish. I need rest to be the best mom I can be, not to mention just to be able to function like a regular human.

Want some more fun info about formula? I love Adam Ruins Everything and this one is particularly awesome. Adam Ruins Everything – Why Baby Formula Isn’t Poison

(By the way – if you think you may use formula, sign up for the mailing lists of any major formula brand. We use Enfamil and get TONS of coupons in the mail!)

Karen


When I learned I was pregnant and that my due date was in mid-May, almost immediately I began planning my entire summer off. I mean, there aren’t many careers out there that allow for someone to have summer break – so the fact that my maternity leave was the entire summer was great news to me. I was so excited to have all of summer to travel and get into shape, maybe train for a half marathon (I barely can get that out without gagging a little). Any of you reading this who are already moms are laughing your asses off at me right now, aren’t you? Well, as you can guess, that sure as hell did not happen.

To begin with, Ellie was born 6 days after her due date and was a big baby at 9 ½ lbs. This alone should have provided me a little comfort in knowing that she was a big baby, but as she slowly started losing weight and all the medical professionals seemed to grow more concerned, I began to freak out. As with all newborns, I was nursing her every 2-3 hours on demand, but that just never seemed like enough for her and all I can remember is her crying a lot. We were told this was colic. So, not only was my baby losing weight, she was also colicky. This is just what every new mom wants to hear.

When we were discharged from the hospital, we had to schedule an appointment to come back and see the pediatrician two days later because Ellie had jaundice. When we saw the doctor, we were met with great concern, that our baby was still not gaining weight so we were informed that we needed to begin “triple-feeding”. This was awful, I won’t lie here. Some people only need to do this for a couple days and then can stop. We had to do this for much longer. What our pediatrician had us do is nurse Ellie, then feed her with a syringe – yes a syringe (Zach coined this “topping her off”), and then I needed to pump until I was empty. Feedings would last anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. Anyone who is keeping track, that means feedings would start all over an hour later. I can honestly say, I have never been more exhausted in my life. After going through this, marathon training was a joke in comparison.

After two weeks, Ellie was really turning around and was getting close to her birthweight again. Thank goodness, because after about two weeks, I very seriously looked Zach in the eyes and said, “Can I please go back to work now?”. Not even an ounce of me was joking. Oh, and the whole piece about Ellie being colicky? That was bullshit. I had a number of medical professionals tell me that Ellie was colicky and the truth of the matter was that she was just hungry and I just was not producing enough milk for her 9 ½ lb little body yet. Lesson learned: I should have either just sucked it up and nursed her more often or have been ok giving her a bottle of formula to “top her off”. But, as Kristin stated, formula feeding seemed like I was failing and that I could not do best by my child.

At almost 9 months old, we are still trying to figure this breastfeeding thing out. Just last night I had a yoga class that started at 7:30pm. Ellie goes to bed at 7:00pm. Normally I nurse her to sleep but last night Zach and I decided he would take bedtime routine so I could get to my class on time. Usually I feed Ellie when we get home and she wakes up from her car ride nap, around 6:15pm. Then we feed her some solids. I pumped last night at 7:00pm so Zach would have a bottle to feed her and was astonished to see I had only pumped 2 ounces. Um, duh. I had just nursed her. So, NO WONDER she was waking up grumpy at 10:00 or 11:00pm every night. She hadn’t had enough in that final feeding. Zach ended up giving her an additional 3 ounces and she slept all the way through the night. I guess this goes to show you we always are learning. Once we seem to have a rhythm, the little creature goes and changes the rules of the game on us. I share this story because there is a ton of pressure surrounding feeding babies. There is an assumption that this is all innate to us, that we should instinctively know how to feed our babies, that breastfeeding comes as naturally as parseltongue does to Harry Potter (you’re welcome). I’m here to say it doesn’t. While things have become easier, I am still learning something new all the time. And I am finally ok with that (mostly).

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