The Episode in Which Michelle is Milked Like a Cow

>> 11.30.2009

I don't believe that you have to be a cow to know what milk is.
Ann Landers

So.. yesterday, I walked into the NICU and heard the 5 words I have been dreading for some time now: "We are out of milk."
The freezer was packed with frozen breast milk for Liam.. however, his feedings have gone up and up and up and, obviously this is fantastic, but on the other side of things- my milk supply has gone down and down and down and as I watched the frozen backup dwindle away, I knew the day was coming when I would have to start attempting to actually keep up with him. Ug.

Liam does NOT want formula!

I am not entirely sure what to do. Advice is welcome. I am pumping every 3 hours for 15-20 minutes. I am drinking like a fish. I am taking Fenugreek and doing my best to eat a nutritious diet.. and I consider myself lucky if I get an ounce at every pumping. I started out doing very well.. but now my body seems to be doing it's absolute best to dry out. I tried increasing pumping to every 2 hours but this didn't do anything except make me ridiculously sore. They have already had to cut Liam's milk with formula once and I hated it. He spit up way more than usual and... the entire concept of putting fake milk into his little body makes me uncomfortable. I plan on talking to the lactation consultant today or tomorrow if things don't pick up.. but I will take all the advice I can get.

Other than being a hungry little sucker and stressing his Mama out, Liam is doing FANTASTIC. He has been completely off his cannula for two days now (pictures of his precious cannula free face soon) and has only had a couple of mild spells. His oxygen saturation hovers between 90-100% most of the time.. with absolutely no help at all! He is kind of amazing.

His weight is still hanging out around 3 lbs. because he is a little bit too wild for his own good. They have started swaddling him to try to reduce his movement and keep him from burning so many calories- they are also supplementing my milk in an attempt to fatten him up.

We have been holding him every day.. and loving every minute of it- something tells me he enjoys it too.

We know that it is highly unlikely.. but we can't help but hope that we will have him home for Christmas- what a present that would be!

I hope everyone has a blessed holiday and is looking forward to this wonderful season!


Becky,  November 30, 2009 at 1:48 PM problems. I battled this, too. I took fenugreek and something else...I think it was milk thistle? the lactation consultant can tell you. Also, a friend of mine suggested a soup her mom made her when she was breastfeeding. It's basically papaya, water and a little bit of sugar or honey for sweetness. You have to like melons to like the soup. I'm not a fan of melon and couldn't get past the melon-y-ness of it to eat it as often as I should for it to her really helped. I don't know if there's something in the papaya that really helps or if its just adding to your liquid intake. But try it, it might help.

BTW, I love the look on Liam's face when mommy is holding him! He knows who his mommmy is!

Anonymous,  November 30, 2009 at 2:08 PM  

I had a little boy in the NICU too and my supply was GREAT until he got home and I was so exhausted with feeding him every 3 hours, then pumping every 2, and then dealing with other issues. I got stressed and nothing I did saved my milk supply.

I felt totally guilty for WEEKS but decided that I should just be happy that he got 7 weeks of breast milk and that I am still able to feed him (even if it is fake milk).

I took Fenugreek (haha isn't it funny how it makes you smell like maple syrup?) and Mother's milk tea. I talked to a lactation consultant and I just couldn't keep up.

Don't get discouraged, just keep your head up and try to pump as much as you can. Everyone is different.

Also, if your nurses at the NICU allow you to do a little Kangaroo Care it might help your milk supply. 30 minutes of this a day and then the NICU might also have a pump you can use while you are holding him. Kangaroo Care stimulates your breasts (and don't let the nurses tell you he needs to be in the incubator to keep his body temperature stable, your breasts warm up if the baby is too cold and cool down if the baby is too warm. It's science)

I hope everything works out, but just stay positive and if you have to go to formula then he is still getting fed :)

~gretchen~ November 30, 2009 at 2:27 PM  

hes so handsome, i cant stand it!!! about your supply, i dont know if anyone has said anything about this yet, probably not because it took them forever to let you even hold him, but there should be no reason at all why liam cant start "practcing" breastfeeding. have you done kangaroo care yet? if not, you need to!!! tell the nurses that you are going to because its important and they should let you. but back to the practice feeding... do it! just let him lick your nipples (lovely, i know) he probably wont actually feed, but him being there stimulating you will definetly help your supply and his comfort level. we did this with my son before he even hit 3 lbs. and was still on high flow cannula. do it 2x a day no matter what the nurse says. ask a dr. about it if you need to. im telling you this because we had no idea until a caring nurse came around one day and mentiond it. i never would have thought it would have been ok, but it was. i know its intimidating, but you are allowed to take charge and be a "pest" for your baby. just keep mentioning it if they have a problem with it for some reason, but it should be ok.

Lindsey November 30, 2009 at 4:22 PM  

Look at that adorable smile!! I had a dream lastnight that I delivered at 26 weeks. You were there, just as an image, no talking or anything. I think it has something to do with reading your blog. HA! I'm so glad that your little guy is getting stronger and stronger and I hope you get to bring him home for Christmas too!!!

Becky November 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM  

Hi Michelle, I'm sorry your milk supply is down! I know its frustrating, I never got more than one day ahead of Isaac. Try pumping just a bit longer if every 2 hours only made you sore (that was my first suggestion). If you put a little longer it should tell your body it needs more. You can also get a prescription from your doctor for reglan(sp_ that can give you an increase. I've also heard email. Lots of kangaroo care, maybe put a pic of Liam on your pump, water, oatmeal. The lactation consultant is probably your best bet. Hang in there. An appetite gain is a great thing! We supplemented Isaacs formula too and it helped tremendously.

Becky November 30, 2009 at 4:58 PM  

I've also heard email - I have no idea what that was supposed to be. Whoops.

Julia November 30, 2009 at 5:31 PM  

Oh your baby is so adorable. He makes the absolute cutest expressions!!!!!!!!

Lisa November 30, 2009 at 6:30 PM  

Hi Michelle,

I found your blog in the preemie parenting on Babycenter when we all traded blogs. :) I've been following Liam especially close because he was born around the same time and gestation as my Elisa was. We also are hoping to be home by Christmas.

Here's what I was told when I ended up with that problem.

1. Pump every 2 hours
2. Don't pump for a certain "time." Pump until they are empty. I go for a minimum of 15 minutes, but if it's still actively producing, I keep going
3. Don't go for more than 5 hours between pumps overnight.

For the sore nipples, it was suggested to me to use the Lansinoh cream (LOVE IT! Your NICU should have samples they can give you.) Also, don't put yourself away "wet." Wipe the nipples with a wash cloth to get the milk off as it's high in sugar and can irritate the area.

The combination of this stuff really helped me get my production up!! It was really annoying though as well because I could hardly stop pumping by the time I started again as it could take up to 45 minutes a session when I could only do one at a time. But it got me to over flowing the bottles so it was well worth the effort!!

And I love the photos of Liam. He's gorgeous!

Jennifer December 1, 2009 at 3:25 AM  

Hi, I'm also from Babycenter. I just wanted to echo the Kangaroo Care (also called skin-to-skin therapy). That REALLY helped me when my twins were in the NICU. The nurses also brought me a pump to use at their bedsides (which was so nice!!) My doctor gave me a prescription for Reglan, but I never used it as I was too afraid of the side effects. Be sure to drink enough water, but not too much. Drink to satisfy your thirst, but don't drown yourself. Too much water can cause your supply to drop too (or so I've been told). Also like someone else mentioned-oatmeal. Not the instant kind, but the old fashioned oats kind that comes in the big cylinder boxes. That seems to help me. Oh, and don't look at the milk while you are pumping, try to get distracted by something else so you aren't stressing over the amount. Good luck.

Toni December 1, 2009 at 6:11 AM  

First off, I'm loving that gorgeous smile!

Also, I think a few of the readers have already said it, but letting him "practice" nursing is a great idea. And, while you're there with him, could you also pump there. Just seeing him while pumping may help to increase the supply or you could ask to take home one of his blankets, a hat, something that's he's worn so you can smell him while you pump. I always try and look at a pic of Maddie while I'm in the office bumping. And, I'd try to stick with every 2 hours but maybe turn down the tensity of the pump. I have issues with this myself.

You're all in my prayers that he's home by Christmas!!!!

Toni December 1, 2009 at 6:12 AM  

I just reread my last comment and needed to clarify that I dont "bump" in my office, I actually pump. :) But anyway, make it a great day!!

Becky B.,  December 1, 2009 at 12:45 PM  

reglan...mentioned by the other Becky. I forgot about that until I read her comment, but I tried that too. That did work. But you'll have to make your own decision on that. there is the potential for some very serious side effects, but I never had a problem with it.

KarmaPearl December 1, 2009 at 1:53 PM  

I don't have any advice, just wanted to say that I LOVE THESE PICTURES, and wanted to gush at you over how adorable he is.

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