Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Breast vs bottle

I want to write so much but I don't quite know where to start because the noise in my head is loud!

Okay, some background.

I'm very goal-oriented but have never been hung up about the how to get there. If one way doesn't yield results, I'm very happy to try another and another until I get to my goal.

E.g. we wanted to have a baby, it wasn't working out the way it works for 90% of the population, so we went the IVF route.

Tried one protocol - chemical pregnancy.

Tried another - TWINS.

No problems because the outcome is the same - there's a baby.

So too with the feeding.

Our goal is to grow them big and strong; I'm again not real hung up about the how we get there.

Plan A is breastfeeding. Plan B is feeding breast milk by bottle. Plan C is formula.

As you know the babies were early at 32 weeks. I was still dealing with the pregnancy loss and didn't even THINK about breastfeeding and whatnot, until people started asking me the same questions all the time.

  1. Are you planning to breastfeed?
  2. Do you have milk?
  3. Can you actually breastfeed preemies?

I have a confession. I deleted about 5 text messages with well-meaning questions because I was just so emotionally drained.

Eventually on the morning of day 2, I asked my doctor when he did his morning check-up, "when is this milk supposed to appear?" and he said on day 3.

So then what was everybody fussing about?! It's only day 2.

Well, we started "stimulating" the b**bs that day (with the hospital breast pump, 20 mins per side) - not a drop.

Nothing had changed by day 3 - the day I was discharged.

So I sent D to the baby shop to buy a breast pump. R2000 later (divide by 7.5 for US$), I had my Phillips Avent but still not a drop.

On the Saturday there were a few drops and then they went rock hard and ginormous on the Sunday (day 5). My pregnant belly was the 8th wonder of the world; these were the 9th!

I chatted to the nurses on Sunday afternoon - they felt my pump might be too weak! So phoned a lactation consultant who phoned me back the next day.

Monday 13th
Lactation consultant phoned back. There's no point in her seeing me now before the babies are out but "you need to get that milk out". Try warm compresses and cabbage leaves.

Since we don't eat cabbages, tried the warm compresses and hot showers - nothing but drops.

Tuesday 14th
Sent my friend a text message and asked her if she had cabbage. She didn't but was at the shops so she bought me one. Well, it's winter here and those cabbage leaves were ICE cold but they seemed to do the trick as my breasts were softening and now I was getting a tablespoon of liquid. I'd put a cabbage leaf and then use a piece of kitchen towel over that and then pull down my bra. And you said I wasn't a fashionista :)

Tues pm
Went to maternity to use their breast pump to see if there was any difference. None so it's not the breast pump; it is, in fact, my defective body!

Same story Wed and Thurs and Friday - only about a tablespoon of milk

On Friday night, my husband says, "don’t you want to stop? it looks like it is such a lot of work for so little reward".

I said, "well first of all, R2000!!!! And secondly, today’s just a week."

It takes about an hour to get maybe 2 tablespoons of liquid and you can do nothing because you have to hold that pump in exactly the right position, not one degree off. It only does one b**b at a time.

So I saw the doctor and asked what he could give me for the milk.

He gave me a prescription for Es.piride which is a generic of Eg.lynol.

I thought it was for lactation first and then secondly, an anti-depressant. However, I see it's first an AD and then has the side effect of helping along the lactating.

Okayyyyy then....

I've never been on AD's and really, I don't need it but I'm staying on for a couple of weeks just to persist with this milk thing.

So is this what ADs feel like? (this is day 5 on Esp.iride)

I'm a bit numb – I don’t feel myself – way too calm and dispassionate, like there's a filter between me and my emotions. I’m usually quite passionate and feel really strongly about things. But I'm not a moody person and I'm generally (80% of the time) very optimistic, the other 20% realistic.

I don’t feel depressed – yes I do cry, but it feels normal to me because it’s less than an hour a day, on the days when it does happen, so I feel it is unnecessary but am doing my bit for the team by staying on the meds for a bit!

On Sunday I was allowed to undo Kendra's foot monitor and take her to D to hold so the twins could have their first pic together. Normally I'd be so excited and in my head I am. It's just that I can't really feel that excitement, you know?

A work friend actually said to me on Saturday “you’re way too calm for someone with two babies in the ICU” and I feel exactly that.

On the bright side, no more crying! But how weird – I prefer the crying!!!

Like I said to the girls at the IF support group last night, I am WELL aware that my body's defective and have made my peace with that long ago. What bugs me is people's expectations. and I am battling with this – my body’s failed in so many other ways – at least I carried the twins okay and they are healthy! – because this b/feeding business is not endearing itself to me at all.

Although I am now armed with some knowledge - that it can take up to 3 weeks, even longer. That I need to give this medication a chance to regulate within my body, at least 10 days. I was ready to stop the Esp.iride after a week because I feel too weird.

Am I making too big a deal about this? Is it me wanting to be in control of my emotions?

Any tips on the breast/ bottle thing? And on the AD's?


  1. I have yet to experience this, and I already have quite a bit of colostrum that my body produces, so I'm not sure that I'll have a problem, but I've heard that breastfeeding can be EXTREMELY difficult. Oftentimes, babies don't latch on like they are supposed to (although this isn't an issue with you right now). Other times, your body doesn't produce enough. It's quite possible to get from insufficient funds to working completely properly, but it does take A LOT of work. I've constantly heard to not give up and give it weeks, even more than a month. I think what you're experiencing with that is still normal and still has potential.

    As far as the anti-depressants, I think the "baby blues" are totally normal. When you have a baby, your hormones kinda go crazy like your body doesnt know what to do with them. So, being overly-sensitive or emotional is really normal. I've never heard of anyone being put on AD's except for when their sadness turns into true depression and/or they begin to have thoughts about hurting themself or their baby. I can understand if your doctor put you on them because of the dual side-effects, though. Therefore, I can also see why they'd make you feel numb. They are blocking your brain receptors from receiving certain hormonal influences, which can be why you aren't responding to normal emotionally-stimulating situations (like babies in ICU) in a normal way.

    I know that I wouldn't like feeling out of my body or disconnected from my emotions, but I do think it might be worth it to wait it out if it does help with the breastfeeding. If it does help, then you could probably quit taking them and not only would you be able to feel emotionally back to normal, but you also would've solved one very emotional issue.

    I hope this helps.

  2. Of course I haven't experienced this yet. But from what I've heard ---
    1. You need to pump EVERY 2 hours. You need to keep at it until your milk flows. It sounds like your ducts are producing the milk, but the flow is an issue.
    2. Apparently you can find herbal teas.
    3. Go to a lactation consultant. Here there are free groups you can find associated with hospitals. Or talk to other moms.
    4. Apparently it is hard... but only you can figure out how long you want to try for because it's your sanity in the end.

  3. Oh - and one more thing - if you can, find (borrow) a pump that can pump both boobies at once...

  4. Leigh, after my preemie c-section I got out a ridiculously small amount of milk for over 2 weeks and my gosh it took all my willpower to keep it up... but then at the end of 2 weeks it was like someone turned the taps on! Lots of sleep and copious amounts of water in too... but I'm sure you've had lots of well meaning advice telling you that already :) You're doing well - don't forget that!

  5. First off, congratulations Mom! I know...nice to hear. I too had trouble and had a baby boy 2 years ago!

    Breastfeeding...we all know it i right...I was 100% for it! I had trouble though...my mom didn't have any issues with it and I had 2 other siblings. I pumped and fed what I could get with a bottle and supplemeneted with formula. I did this for an exhausting 6 months. Now, I only had one baby so my situation was different than yours. I would say give them what you can and do not stress over not being able to be a buffet! :)

    My doctor gave me a prescription to produce more and it helped, but not that much. I was sad at first, but it's OK.

    SO so so happy for you...what a blessing...boy girl twins...so cool!

  6. First, it's just so nice that the babies are here and doing well. Great job! As for the breastfeeding, the whole experience is hyped by a lot of folks that many of us feel, before we try it, that since it's totally natural it should be as easy as falling out of bed. Wrong! It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to achieve success. And success doesn't exlude supplementing with formula. Whatever works for you and your babies is success. You are so right not to give up yet. Kuddos to you for hanging in there!

  7. I'm only reading your posts now on bfeeding.. and I'm so sorry it didn't work out for you. I don't know how one would bfeed twins at the same time. It's exhausting doing one baby. I think you have made wise decisions and not setting yourself up for failure is very very wise.


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