Sunday, February 26, 2012

Supplementing to Exclusive Breastfeeding


 After approximately 2 weeks after delivering my daughter I started having breastfeeding complications. I was in so much pain that I just couldn't have her on my breasts, I had to start giving her the bottle. Following the recommendation I received from a lactation consultant, I rented a hospital grade breast pump to keep my supply until I was ready to breastfeed again.

It is important to mention that not even the best breast pump stimulates the production of breast milk as a baby sucking on the breast.

Our body is a perfect machine. The production of breast milk is proportional to demand. Every time we skip one breastfeeding or pumping session and supplement with formula, we are "telling" our body that the baby doesn't need breast milk at that time. This decreases the breast milk production.

Even though the lactation consultant advised me to pump at every feeding session, I have to be honest and admit that I didn't do it every time. During that period when I was only giving my daughter the bottle, the amount of breast milk that I was pumping wasn't enough to satisfy her and therefore, I had to supplement with formula.

Once I recovered from the breastfeeding complications, I wanted to go back to exclusive breastfeeding. I knew that it wouldn't be an easy process, but I was very determined to do everything I could to stop supplementing.

One day when I was doing some research on the internet about this subject, I was lucky to come across to a VERY helpful breastfeeding internet forum (ivillage), where I could post questions/concerns and have them answered by an experienced lactation consultant.

After some posts exchange, I learned what I had to do to wean from formula. The lactation consultant advised me to monitor my daughter's weight every week throughout the process to be sure she was getting enough milk.

The process would have to be slow to give time to my body and my daughter to adjust to the new routine. As I mention before, the production of breast milk is proportional to demand. I had to slowly increase the demand to increase the breast milk production.

I observed my daughter's feeding schedule and wet/dirty diaper count for a couple of days. It was important to know exactly how much formula (oz) I was giving her and how many wet/dirty diaper she had per day before starting the weaning process. I also had her weight checked. After I had all the information written down, I started by reducing 1 oz of formula per day (not per feeding) every 3 days.

According to my notes, I was giving her approximately 24 oz of formula per day (4 oz per feeding, 6 formula feeding sessions) and having 4 - 5 breastfeeding sessions. I was also pumping just after the formula feeding sessions (as often as I could) to help increase breast milk production.

These were the steps I followed to wean from formula feeding:
  • Step 1 (days 01 - 03): Reduction of 1 ounce of formula from one (1) feeding session and then breastfeed. All the other feeding sessions were kept the same as they used to be. I checked the number of wet diapers per day and they were the same or more than used to be, so I went ahead to step 2. Otherwise, I would have stayed couple more days on step 1.
  • Step 2 (days 04 - 06): Reduction of 1 more ounce of formula from the same feeding session and then breastfed. All the other feeding sessions were kept the same as they used to be. I checked the number of wet diapers per day and they were the same or more than used to be, so I went ahead to step 4. Otherwise, I would have stayed couple more days on step 2.
  • Step 3: After 1 week, I took her to a local breastfeeding class and had her weight checked to make sure she was getting enough milk and gaining weight. Everything was fine, so I went ahead to step 4.
  • Step 4 (days 07 - 09): I reduced 1 more ounce of formula from the same feeding session and then breastfed. All the other feeding sessions were kept the same as they used to be. I checked the number of wet diapers per day and they were the same or more than used to be, so I went ahead to step 5. Otherwise, I would have stayed couple more days on step 4.
  • Step 5 (days 10 - 12): I reduced 1 more ounce of formula from the same feeding session and then breastfed. All the other feeding sessions were kept the same as they used to be. I checked the number of wet diapers per day and they were the same or more than used to be, so I went ahead to step 6. Otherwise, I would have stayed couple more days on step 5.
  • Step 6 (days 13 - 15): I reduced 1 ounce of formula from another formula feeding session and then breastfed. All the other feeding sessions were kept the same as they used to be. I checked the number of wet diapers per day and they were the same or more than used to be, so I went ahead to step 8. Otherwise, I would have stayed couple more days on step 6. 
  • Step 7: Weight check at breastfeeding class.
  • Step 8, 9, 10, ... : Same as step 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

    On the 12th day I had completely reduced 4 oz of formula (1 formula feeding) and substituted by a breastfeeding session. I kept reducing 1 oz of formula every 3 day until my daughter was completely weaned from formula.

    As I mentioned above, every week I would go to a breastfeeding class to check my daughter's progress (weight and growth). During the classes, the lactation consultant would check my daughter's weight (using a very sensitive scale) before and after the breastfeeding session to check the breast milk intake. It was important to know if my breast milk production was increasing and my daughter was getting enough. Every week she would write the results down and compare them to the previous week to make sure we were doing well.

    According to Kellymom's website, the average weight gain for a breastfeeding baby should be:
    • 0 - 4 months old baby should gain 5 - 7 ounces per week 
    • 4 - 6 months old baby should gain 4 - 5 ounces per week
    • 6 - 12 months old baby should gain 2 - 4 ounces per week

      The whole process took more than 2 months. It wasn't easy, I really had to be persistent and determined, but at the end I was thrilled. I just couldn't believe my accomplishment. My daughter was healthy and growing thanks exclusively to my breast milk!

      I exclusively breastfed my daughter until she was 6 months old, as it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), when I then started to introduce solid foods.

      I continued breastfeeding until she was 30 months old. The AAP recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire and the WHO recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.




      Image source: Duron123




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      12 comments:

      1. I give you so much credit for really giving you and your baby the gift of nursing. I nursed exclusively with my first for 6 months and then added solid foods, I nursed my second for about 2-3 months then started to supplement with formula and bottle fed my third from day one. Each experience was special, and had it's highs and lows, but I will say that those first few months, when it was just my first baby and I and our nursing it was extremely sweet. I'm so glad you got to experience it as well!! Thanks for such an informative piece!

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        1. Once we learn how to breastfeed, it is really special. About a week ago, my daughter who is almost turning 5, told me that sometimes she dreams she is being breastfed! I couldn't believe that she still has memories about it. It is really a very strong bond!

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      2. Where were you when I was breastfeeding? I lived by Dr. Sears and a breastfeeding book, but otherwise, went it alone through pain and frustration, determined to keep breastfeeding my children. Which I did, but boy was it hard for a while! I am impressed with your vigilance! Be sure to keep this post in her baby book to remind her what you did for her when she is a teenager and questioning your every move. ;)

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        1. Breastfeeding is REALLY hard!
          I will definitively keep this post. It is interesting that you said that because one of my friends, who knows everything I went through, told me that one day she will tell my daughter about it!

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      3. This is a fantastic story, and if you don't mind, I'm going to bookmark, and refer to it when I need to. I sell the Feeder Frock nursing cover online, and exclusive breastfeeding is so important, but not always easy to accomplish. Moms need to know that what you did is possible!

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        Replies
        1. I don't mind at all, actually I would be happy if this post would help a breastfeeding mother in need.
          I checked the Feeder Frock nursing cover on your blog and it is really nice, it doesn't look like a nursing cover!

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      4. Only breast fed for about 5 months but I do wish it lasted longer. Great post :)

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        1. Breastfeeding for 5 months is still great. Thank you!

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      5. Replies
        1. Breastfeeding for one year is a lot more than most moms do. It is great!

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      6. I so needed to read you when I was breastfeeding. My three kids are now older ... but I only breastfed about 6 months...for each... Hello from bloggy moms!

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        Replies
        1. Breastfeeding for 6 months is still great! Thank you for visiting!

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