Monday, 21 July 2014

Diary of an expressing mum: #1

I've been feeling a bit anxious for the last few days. I must admit that my heart wasn't in my last blog post. I really wanted to write a fun post about bath time but, when I actually came to it, my head was too busy thinking about whether I should express or whether I should give my body longer to make more milk.
Joseph was grumpy today. Hopefully my anxiety hasn't rubbed off on him.
I literally can't explain how or why giving Joseph breast milk is so important to me but, for some reason, it is and I can't help but think about it every day. So when I notice a dip in my supply, it really bothers me and it seems to affect everything... which then probably affects it more.

Yet I'm also a bit worried about whether I'm overfeeding Joseph. I've not had him weighed recently, but he seemed to be a really similar size to his girl-friend who is six months old, and that seems a bit wrong to me. I don't know if his size is a legitimate worry or if it'll just mean he's not on the 25th centile anymore and will now be right up the top, but the possible issue of overfeeding is real, right?

I've heard you can't overfeed a breastfed baby, but I've read that the same is not true for expressed breast milk. If Joseph were exclusively breastfed (by way of the pump) then according to Kellymom he should be eating around 25 ounces per day, and if he were exclusively formula fed, according to the side of his formula box for his current age, he should be having 30 ounces per day. But he's neither. Joseph has consistently eaten around 29-32 ounces of food per day since he was four weeks old; and the amount he eats now hasn't changed since he dropped his night feed because I increased the amounts he eats per feed during the day because he seemed to want it. It was totally just something I did without looking into whether it was the 'right' thing to do and I figured that those extra ounces makes up for the 'lost' night feed that he doesn't wake up for any more, so I guess I wonder whether other babies just 'go without' that night feed, i.e. those ounces are just no longer needed, or if it's 'normal' to have increased the amounts served during the day.

Going back to the milk supply worry... Amazingly, my body has managed to produce enough milk, despite having increased the amount he has per feed without having to increase the number of pump sessions per day. But in the last week I've been starting to struggle to keep up since I've stopped waking myself up in the night to express (I carried on for about a week after he slept through for the first time). I now just pump when I wake up at around 6-7am, then again at 9-10am and keep my other pump sessions at roughly the same times as I used to.

I don't know whether I'm due a period (I'm pretty sure the last one I had was just pill-induced), or if I've been affected because I skipped my porridge over the recent hottest days of the year (in England), or whether my supply is genuinely dipping meaning that unless I start waking myself up at 4.30am then he will need to have more formula per day. So, the dilemma I wrote about a few posts back is at the forefront of my mind again.

I feel I must reiterate how much I cannot explain the desire I seem to have for Joseph to have as much breast milk as possible. I don't really know where it has come from and why it's so important to me, yet how much I totally do not judge anyone who chooses formula for their kids. In fact, most of my friends feed their kids formula and I almost feel bad about talking about expressing in case they think that I'm undermining their choice, or if they think I'm taking expressing too seriously.

Maybe I do take it too seriously, but I'm just so aware that once you lose your supply, it's really hard to get back and that once you 'dry up' there isn't really any going back so I just want to make sure that I'm ok with any choices I make regarding breastfeeding and ensure I've done everything I can.

On the sort-of flip side, perhaps my perspective should be that he is having the same overall amount of food that he used to, and over the last couple of weeks or so I've managed to make a larger proportion of it breast milk. So, really, if 4-5 ounces of that was formula, then it's no more than it used to be prior to his sleeping through so it's not really 'lost' supply.

Whilst I'm sure this post is of no interest to anyone, it has actually been quite therapeutic for me to write this. I think I just need to chill out and go to the Health Visitor clinic to get him weighed and to ask about expressed feeding.

It has also just dawned on me that Joseph was really ratty today and it might be because I was beating myself up all day about my, sort of, dwindling milk supply yet also worrying about whether I'm overfeeding him. Gah!!

N'night x

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Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It really means a lot! Nicki x