Monday, March 22, 2010

Milk For Two and More

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I looked forward to the day when I would have enough milk to provide for all of my adopted daughter's needs. I wasn't exactly sure about the process and spent some time researching and asking around. While nobody had any real specific ideas for my situation, a number of concerns were raised. Some the concerns were resolved in January when it became apparent that I probably wouldn't be nursing Christiana. Here are the rest of the concerns and how I addressed them.

First of all, I knew the new baby would need colostrum. I thought I would pump after each feeding the hospital to simulate having twins, but the nurse said Tali would provide enough stimulation and frankly, I was tired. I didn't start doing any pumping until my milk started to come in on the Friday night after she was born.

The second concern was getting Tali on a good schedule. My doctor and the hospital nurse were worried that I would pump and then Tali would need to eat. However, since I use the principles from Baby Wise* and wake my babies to feed them every three hours, Tali was on a good schedule from the first day. I also used the techniques I learned from the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic to make sure Tali was taking a full feeding each time I nursed her. I made sure she nursed for 20-30 minutes with a good suck/swallow pattern and could be confident that she was getting enough to eat. Then, I would pump after nursing Talitha and used massage and pressure to help bring my milk down when I became engorged.

Finally, I was concerned about a fore milk/hind milk imbalance. As my supply increased, I was concerned that if I always nursed Talitha first on both sides, she would only get the fore milk. So, I began to vary whether I nursed her first or pumped first. Or I would only nurse her on one breast and then pump both breasts after the feeding.

My strategy seemed to work and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pump enough milk by the fourth day for all of Christiana's feedings. That made all the nausea worthwhile. Obviously, holding Talitha for the first time and welcoming her into our family made all the nausea worthwhile, but I was able to welcome two babies without the eight months of nausea. My only disappointment in adoption was not being able to provide a full supply of breast milk for my girls.

My milk supply continued to increase and I began to think about donating to a sick little boy I had "met" in blog land. The post his mother wrote about his rash helped us identify Christiana's rash. However, her little boy was still suffering from allergies and rashes. She had tried to find dairy-free breast milk for him, but hadn't found a donor. I had planned to go dairy-free for Christiana because she showed signs of being intolerant to dairy, too. Even though Christiana seemed to be tolerating breast milk with dairy, when this little guy's mom said she would gladly accept the milk, I decided to cut out the cheddar cheese which was the only dairy I had been eating. My heart goes out to this family because of what I went through with my food allergies and because I know how much work she put in trying to induce lactation for him.

I think it is wonderful and amazing that I have been able to produce 50-60 ounces in addition to what Talitha drinks. I knew it was possible based on the success of some of the moms who have posted on Milkshare but I'm thankful that I have been so productive and can provide milk for two adopted babies. I'm not sure how long I can keep up at this level, but I'm happily eating lots of extra calories, drinking lots of fluids and taking good supplements. I'd like to tell you I'm getting plenty of rest, too, but you know better than that! :) Right now, I am pumping every three to fours hours. I'd like to reduce the number of times I need to pump but I try to pump before nursing Tali these days because otherwise my let down is overwhelming for her. As her schedule changes, mine will change too.

*As a disclaimer, I don't agree with everything in Babywise. I prefer to balance our approach with the advice found in Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. While Babywise suggests that you should always put your baby down awake, Healthy Sleep Habits just encourages you to make sure everyone is getting as much quality sleep as possible. Depending on the baby, the parent and the household situation, sometimes that means co-sleeping and sometimes that means letting the baby cry it out. We have used principles from all three of the resources I've linked to in this post to help us have well-fed, well-rested babies and avoid the crazy nighttime problems that lingered well into the school years with our boys.


Lysana said...

That is awesome. You have done an amazing job of providing milk to your babies - and even another baby who needs it! Truly amazing.

I am interested in your methods for building up your milk supply. I have to go back to work a few months after my babies are born (in each case; they've all been singles!) and I'm wondering whether there is something I can do to help with milk production this time. I've always struggled with production once I've gone back to work. I may look into some of the resources you've linked and see if I can get some information that will help me.

Thank you! And congratulations. :)

jodilee0123 said...

wow, sweetie! You are busy! Keep up the good work. I can relate to your foggy mind. . . as we have two sick kiddos with disrupted sleep and a newborn. Ummmm. .. can you say Dt. Mt. Dew? I know, you won't drink that. . . but I'm not pumping breast milk.

Nancy said...

Wow, that is wonderful you can provide for your children and the little boy in blogland! It just amazes me what the human body can do. LOVE the Healthy Sleep Habits book. It was the BEST shower gift I received.