Saturday, March 17, 2012

breastfeeding update: 8 months

I haven't written an update on this blog about our breastfeeding journey, and it's because there is so much I want to say but don't know where to start, and my thoughts jumble up and interrupt each other, so I end up distracting myself with something else and putting it on the back burner.

So, how's this for a start: we're going strong!

When I think about how hard it was at first, and how once we estimated that I spent 12 hours a day in my nursing spot, I get a tad emotional. The last eight months have been the hardest but most rewarding of my life, and most of it has revolved around their feeding schedule. You can read my breastfeeding beginnings post, which covered the newborn/NICU/pumping stage of our lives, or my interview at Milk-Friendly, but a lot has happened since then.

Maybe I could reign in my thoughts and break it down more effectively by just using bullet points, instead of trying to tell a story, because that story would go on and on, and on, and probably bore you all to death....

3-5 Months

- Still using nipple shields, but attempting to go without a few times per week. Sometime around four or five months, the girls decided that they didn't need the shields anymore and quit using them altogether. It was amazing how fast it happened. They were ready.

- The time it takes to feed slowly shortened, from an hour to about a half hour. I was still in the chair a lot, but it's because I started feeding them individually. They just do better by themselves: they take in more, are more relaxed, and it's not so hectic. If they were both starving or freaking out, I pulled out the big pillow and fed them both, but usually ended up feeding them individually again a short time later.

- One night while visiting my parents, I sat in bed and cried because I was so tired and the girls kept waking up every 2 hours. My mom came into the room to help and said, "Why don't you just lay down and feed her?" A light from heaven shone down, and my life was changed. If your babe(s) like to lay down and nurse, do it.

- I started pumping again, 1x per day, so some nights Andy could bottle feed one of them.

- Dealt on and off with soreness but didn't go see an LC. I should have.

- Their bodies were less floppy and easier to feed in the car or on the go.

- Sometimes I would get a "restless leg" attack while feeding and it felt like I was going to jump out of my skin, and my legs felt uncontrollable. I researched RLS and discovered that it's a vitamin B deficiency, so I bought a good B-Complex and tried to remember to take it every day. It's the weirdest feeling! I asked my mom about this phenomenon and she knew what I was talking about, so I'm wondering if it's a hereditary thing. Anyone else experience this?


6-8 Months (currently)

- Must get rid of all distractions when feeding! This means quiet room, laying or reclining on the bed. They don't eat much when we're out and about or at other people's houses, usually just enough to get by. If all is quiet, they finish in 10 minutes. I still feed them individually, unless they are both starving at the same time.

- They are still eating every 3 hours, and I'm ready for a longer stretch of sleep at night!

- Not pumping regularly, but I try to keep a stash of 10-15 ounces in the freezer.

- Afton doesn't like bottles anymore; she'll drink one ounce and then chew on the bottle nipple.

- They are busy little bees while eating - swatting, petting, rubbing their eyes, stroking my skin...

- I AM HUNGRY ALL THE TIME!

- Experienced my first "nipple clamp" while Ruthie was having a bad teething day. Um, OUCH!

- I still get "restless legs" occasionally, which sometimes is so distracting and unbearable that I actually have to unlatch whoever I'm feeding and get up to walk around (happened last night). I pop a B-Complex at this point to try and take the sensation away.

- I try to nap or lay down with them for at least one of their three naps. The short rest has made a huge difference.

- Still dealing with off-and-on soreness, shooting pain, and blanching, and wondering if I have Reynaud's Phenomenon. I finally visited the LC and she gave me a couple different treatment options. Reynaud's is treated with a therapeutic dose of Vitamin B6, so the restless leg syndrome problem makes sense! Anyone else have experience with Reynaud's?

- Contemplating becoming a milk donor. When the girls were born at just shy of 35 weeks, donor breast milk was available until my supply came in, and I am so thankful every day that the option was available to me. I'd like to give back, and I know that there are always babies who need breast milk. It's a commitment of 50 ounces over a period of time.


Maintaining Milk Supply

- I'm still trying to eat 3,000+ calories per day to keep up with high-quality milk for two babies. Good fats like coconut oil, full-fat coconut milk, Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil from Vital Choice, cod liver oil from Green Pastures, Kerrygold grass-fed butter, eggs, gouda cheese, and organic heavy cream (not UHP) are staples. I fill in with vegetables, grass-fed beef, chicken, fish, and sourdough bread. I can tell a difference in my supply when I skimp on these foods.
(disclaimer: I'm kinda a crunchy-traditional-foodie-nerd, and if you're interested, you can learn more about it here, or you can email me. I don't talk about it very much here because people take food choices very personally.)

- If I eat well and stay hydrated, I don't have to use any lactogenic supplements, like Fenugreek, although I know they work for so many people and are thankful they are available if I need them.

- I hope to put together a list of the best lactogenic foods to share with whoever is interested. Foods that most people wouldn't think of - like quinoa and coconut water - are proven milk-makers! If you're interested, you can email me and I'll send you a copy when I have one ready.

Advice

My advice at eight months is this: relax, be flexible, and stick with it. Breastfeeding gets better the longer you do it. It becomes an art instead of a struggle, and with twins, it's a relaxing way to have one-on-one time with each girl. Keep eating, keep drinking, and just enjoy your growing babe(s)!


I love hearing others' stories and advice. What is your favorite (or least favorite) thing about breastfeeding? Did it get better for you as your kids grew older? Oh, and have you ever experienced the restless leg sensation?


14 comments:

  1. Love this post! Great choice on the bullet points! Very inspiring! ( TTC for 17 months and trying to prepare for when I am blessed with babes!)

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    1. Thanks, Tara! I'm going to email you something...

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  2. Great post Megan! I wish I'd have started coconut oil and quinoa back then! I did oatmeal and lots of butter. I remember not being able to quench my thirst either!!

    And it's your blog and you should talk about your food choices! I love learning new things, and gleaning from others! I got the quinoa and coconut oil from ya!!! :)

    Being a breast milk donor would be amazing...an incredible gift !!


    You have done fabulous!!

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  3. OH! And I heard also Magnesium deficiency can be a cause for RLS. My friend is a PCP and had to take a supplement, but it worked.

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    1. Oh, thanks!! I have some CalMag powder laying around, I'll start taking it and see if it helps, too!

      About food stuff - It's easy for me to say to other people, "it doesn't matter what people think!" but the pleaser in me has to keep embracing that, too :)

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  4. Megan I am so unbelievably impressed that you are still breast feeding them both at 8 months! Oh my goodness are you a rock star or what?! I started out breast feeding both my girls but Blake never did well on the boob so I started pumping for her at 6 weeks and carried on breast feeding Keena till she was 4.5 months old at which time I got a horrible stomach bug and had to pump my milk and dump it out for 5 whole days! It was like watching liquid gold go down the drain:( Anyways, because of that I got in the habit of pumping and then just carried on till they reached 6 months. Just like you said, definitely one of the toughest and most rewarding things I've ever done.

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    1. Thank you, Ruth! Oh man, I can't even imagine having to go through the pump and dump for 5 days! Pumping is so intense, in my opinion. It's awesome that you carried on for that long!

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  5. You are inspiring, Megan. I can't even imagine the strength of will it must have taken -- still takes -- to breastfeed both your girls. I'm proud that L and I have made it to (almost) 10 months so far, because our first few weeks were really horrible. Right now I hate how distracted she can be and so, even though waking up in the night is really unpleasant, the wee hours nursing sessions are my favorite because she is very snuggly and focused.

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  6. Such wonderful advice and a great update. I'm linking to you in a post I've got coming up just highlighting this post as a good one for breastfeeding tips.

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  7. i would love to see your list of lactogenic foods! kudos to you!! i know its hard to talk about food choices when they're different than the norm, but i think you have earned the right to tell the world what's carried you through :) thanks for being un-dogmatic and respectful, at any rate. so inspiring!

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    1. I would be happy to send my list to you! What's your email? Mine is meg.kimmelshue(at)gmail.com - I looked but couldn't find it on your blog (which I LOVE, by the way!) Thanks for the encouraging words!

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  8. I would love to hear your list of lactogenic foods as well! Nursing 2 growing twin boys here, and I'm loving your readings and resources. You encouraged me to feel ok about eating a healthy dose of good fats for my babies!! I have a question for you. I was taking a great prenatal vitamin through out pregnancy, and stopped when I ran out. It's so expensive, and thought I may not need it now. I eat really well, but I often think if I should go make to a multi, or just do separate supplements instead...like Cod liver oil, magnesium, etc. I know it's a personal choice, but I'm curious on what you do. ???

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    1. Hi Christy! I'm sorry I didn't see this comment until now, and I couldn't link through to your email address through Blogger, so hopefully you get this!

      If you'll send me your email I can give you a copy of the list!

      Also - I definitely supplemented with Cal/Mag, I got let cramps at night really bad and that is a mag deficiency. The Cod Liver Oil is from Vitacost and is the Sonne's Brand, it seems to be the most pure for the price, besides forking out for the Green Pastures Fermented CLO.

      I would sometimes take a multi if I remembered, but I found the CLO and the CalMag to be more to my liking because I knew my body was absorbing those nutrients. I also took a B complex :)

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I appreciate your comments and conversation - please leave your email address when commenting so I can respond! If you want a direct response, you can also email me at meg(dot)kimmelshue@gmail.com.