When I was stilll pregnant my biggest fear was if I was going to be able to produce enough milk for my two boys. Sometimes I still worry because all of a sudden they seem to be hungry all the time and are extra fussy. But after my countless hours of tears and research I found out why and I know yes I can provide enough milk for them.
From birth to 6 months babies grow 1/2″ to 1″ per month and gain 5 to 7 ounces per week. Then from 6 to 12 months babies grow 3/8″ per month and gain 3 to 5 ounces per week. By 5 months old they have doubled their birth weight and by the time they are one they will have tripled their birth weight. Babies go through 7 main growth spurts in their first year. It is not just physical growth that triggers these growth spurts, they go through a lot of developmental changes too. They are learning to sit up, roll over, talk, walk, and are constantly taking I’m their environment and putting together how things work and react to actions.
Luckfully their growth spurts are somewhat predictable when they will happen for all babies, they tend to occur between: 7 to 10 days, 2 to 3 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months. Each growth spurts only last a couple of days but can last up to a week.
My boys just turned 4 months old so I know I am going to have a rough few days sometime soon. Sleep regretion, crying, moody, seemingly unsatisfyable hunger… it sounds scary but it also has a plus side, a lot more cuddle time, which makes it so worth it! Yeah I know I will be physically and mentally exhausted, but I know it will go by in a blur so I enjoy every moment, good and bad.
When I was in the hospital with the boys I ended up needing to supplement. That broke my heart because I wanted to be exclusively breast feeding from the start. But one of my boys had troubles latching and he was easily distacted and my other boy was loosing more weight then the doctors would like so I was told to supplement him too. This was great to help the boys gain some weight back but it was taking my milk longer to come in.
They brought a hospital grade breast pump to my room, but I was so exhausted I didn’t use it after every feeding. The were bringing the boys to me one at a time and I was told to do 20 minute each breast for each boy. So after cuddling, checking diapers and feeding each boys it was about 2 hours later I just wanted to take a quick nap before starting again or before visitors came. (Soon after coming home I started tandom feeding. I eventually got a twin nursing pillow which made life a whole lot easier.)
No one at the hospital described to me that that breast feeding is supply and demand. Ok well, maybe they did, the hospital staff was amazing, I was just so tired it may not have sunk in. Looking back, duh, it makes a lot of sense. Your breasts need to be emptied in order for them to fill up again and increase supply. If you supplement you are not giving your body the signal to make more, so it is going to think you have enough and not increase to meet your babies needs.
About a week after coming home the boys seemed like they were always hungry, were extra fussy, and I would cry and cry thinking I was not making enough for them. I was still supplementing so I thought I would never be able to be exclusively breast feeding because I can’t make enough. Little did I know that the boys were going through their firdt growth spurt and supplementing was actually the problem.
Growth spurt are the babies way of telling your body how much they need. I talked with a WIC peer counciler and she gave me some amazing advice and the encouragement I needed. This lady breast feed two sets of twins, so i knew it was possible and took any advice she she had to share. She explained how supplementing was actually hurting my milk supply and she suggested I pump more often to help increase my supply. Even if I didn’t get much at first pumping was like placing an order for my body to make more milk.
She gave me a lot more advice on how to increase my milk supply and there are a lot of other tips I’ve learned along the way, but I will share those next week in my next post. Thanks for reading and check back next week for more of our adventure.
P.s. I have been exclusively breastfeeding for over a month now and it feels so good!