Emotional Mama: Milk Supply + Daycare

Wellps, the high of celebrating my big 3-0 has definitely faded, as the past week has been a bit of a tough one for me. Emotionally speaking, that is. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen some of my posts about my milk supply plummeting in recent weeks. I’m not sure if it’s because as work has gotten busier I’ve been less able to breastfeed Penny during the day anymore, if it’s because I started my weight loss efforts back up, if it’s because I’ve been sick lately, or if it’s because I’m just not responding to my breastpump the way I used to — probably a combination of all of the above, actually — but my milk supply has been slowly decreasing since shortly after I returned from my Atlanta visit last month.

Penny hasn’t acted fussy or like she’s still hungry after nursing or anything, so I wasn’t really that concerned about it… until a couple weeks ago when it hit me that Penny is going to be starting daycare a couple of days a week (her first day is today! Wah!), and I need to have enough milk to send with her every day. And of course, along with my milk production slowing down, Penny’s appetite’s also been ramping up! She used to drink 3 – 4 ounces of milk at a time from the bottle, but now she’ll easily down 5 – 6.

Even her increased intake wouldn’t really have been an issue before, since pumping sessions used to net me 5 – 6 ounces of milk. But lately? It’s been a struggle to get more than 2 to 2.5 ounces. Cue me suddenly freaking out about not being able to keep up with her anymore and scrambling to get my milk supply back up.

And it’s just, you know, nursing… pumping… feeding your baby… it’s all so very emotional. I fully recognize how fortunate I’ve been to have had almost 8 strong months of breastfeeding already — not having it hurt, not having latch issues, no big production issues until now. But even with it having been on the easier side for me, I’ve still had many moments of self-doubt and mental anguish — the slightest dip in supply, the slightest amount of fussiness at the breast, and suddenly I found myself second-guessing everything. Why wouldn’t she nurse? Was she getting enough to eat? Was my milk of high-enough fat content and quality? Was she gaining enough weight? I mean, when it comes to your child’s sustenance, over-analyzation is simply second-nature.

And that kind of thinking happened before I ever even had a true supply dip that lasted longer than, like, a day, and with my 80th percentile, very healthy, little chunkster of a baby. So if it was like that before, you can imagine what it’s been like in my head the past couple of weeks.

There’s just so much emotion tied up in feeding your baby (no matter how you choose to do it!) and for me, this idea that my body is suddenly not doing what I want it to anymore has been tough. I, of course, have absolutely nothing against formula, and we have already started supplementing, but it’s important to me to try and get my supply back up if I can. Tbh, I really appreciate the convenience and ease that formula offers (just don’t appreciate the cost, lol), but my fear is that my supply will continue to decrease to the point of going away completely if I start to rely on formula too heavily. And I cherish my nursing relationship with Penny so much, I’m definitely not ready to let that go yet. So life lately for me has looked a whoooole lot like this:

Adding extra pumping sessions, trying to nurse in distraction-free environments, lots of Mother’s Milk tea, staying hydrated, taking supplements, power pumping, replacing parts on my pump, examining my flange sizes, comparing my yield from my home pump (Spectra S2) to the pump we have at the office (Medela Symphony)… phew. I mean, you name it, I’m trying it.

And hey, for what it’s worth, it seems to be paying off! I’m seeing a small increase to closer to 3 oz and even have gotten 4 ounces a couple of times now. But I’m having to pump for a much longer amount of time to get it, and it’s still not quite enough for my hungry girl… plus, as you can probably imagine, it’s been very draining both physically and emotionally. So that’s played a big part in me doing a bit of doldrum-dwelling lately. Well, that, plus the fact that I’m still fighting this furshlugginer cold… and then there’s the whole Penny-starting-daycare thing, which I’m obviously being crazy about, lol.

I know that it’s probably silly to make such a big deal out of her starting daycare. I mean, she’s almost eight months old, and she’s only going a couple of days a week (my parents and MIL each still have their day with her, and we also still have our nanny one day a week right now as we transition). Moreover, most working parents that I know have had their kids in daycare — full-time — since they were like, 12 weeks old. I know. But I can’t help it. This is still a big change for me, and you can’t deny that there is a very real difference between having your baby taken care of in your own home versus dropping her off somewhere.

 
But, that being said, I realize this is just my own baggage, and that Penny’s probably going to love it there. I was able to spend some time with her at the daycare a couple of times over the past week to help her get acclimated, and she did so great. She really loves watching the other kids and I think it’ll be really wonderful for her to have even more varied social interaction than she does now. So I try to remind myself of that, along with the fact that we looked at many daycares and chose this one for a reason. And also that I’m an insane person who literally still cries when I watch The Greatest Showman even though last night was my 706th viewing sooooo I should probably take everything I feel with a grain of salt.

ANYWAY. So that this post isn’t all me complaining (just, you know, mostly complaining), I’ll give a quick update on how my healthy living stuff (I’m hesitant to refer to it as my weight loss efforts, since that’s not really what it’s supposed to be about, but I digress) has been going. In betterish news, kind of, I’ve been making good on my endeavors to move more and clean my eating back up. I actually am back down a few pounds, although I’m officially moving weight loss back to the backburner, as even though I didn’t set out to specifically count and cut my calories, I definitely was doing so and feel that probably has been another contributing factor to my supply dip.

 
I’ve been trying to take advantage of the nice weather we’ve been having lately (as well as fight against my innate laziness) and get Penny outside and moving around more often. On Sunday I went for an awesome walk around Burke Lake with some of the wonderful mommy friends I’ve made since Penny was born. There really is nothing like being with other mamas who truly understand firsthand being obsessed with your baby, hehe.

Sadly, today is supposed to be overcast, rainy, and dreary… just like my mood (ha!) so it’s looking like I’ll be a bit of a hermit today. The good news on that front is that hopefully that just means I will be RIDONKULOUSLY CRAZY PRODUCTIVE since Penny’s going to be at daycare anyway, and I have ugh soooooo much to do. At least that should hopefully keep me nice and distracted instead of staring with baited breath at my phone for photo updates from the daycare? Hahaha, here’s to hoping, at any rate!

And just in case all of my whining throughout this post has turned you off of reading this blog ever again, here’s my argument for you to keep sticking around: just look at this picture of Penny eating eggs.

You’re welcome. TTFN, ta-ta for now!

7 Comments

  1. Katesays:

    Long time reader, first time commenter! Daycare has been SUCH a blessing for me as a working mom. My kids’ teachers have become an essential part of my village and their school is like a second home. I remember being so nervous when my eldest daughter started. It really is a huge change. I hope that you and Penny both have a smooth transition!

    I also wanted to mention that she may be so interested in all the exciting things going on at daycare that she won’t eat as much while she’s there. Both of my kids ended up drinking less milk at school as they got bigger and more mobile. I tended to send more bottles with smaller quantities of milk so that it wouldn’t go to waste until I figured out the ideal amount.

    • Thanks so much Kate! Good to keep in mind about her possibly eating less too — I’ve mainly been preparing myself for her not to nap while she’s there, hahaha! I’m pretty sure I TOTALLY overprepared with food and bottles today, lol, so for next time I think I’ll do what you suggest hehe.

      I’m definitely trying to stay positive and see all the good this is going to bring to our lives and schedule — as predicted, she didn’t even seem to care when I dropped her off, I’m the one who was a mess! Gahahaha

    • Alicesays:

      I agree with this too. Also, by 8 months my daughter had dropped her two mid-day bottles because she was eating much more food. Penny’ll start eating more and more food so she’ll end up drinking less and less milk. It’ll work out!

  2. Carriesays:

    Agree with everything Kate said above, I have really come to see what a blessing daycare is. My daughter learns so much and has so much fun and just does sooo many fun things there that I would never be able to do for her if I stayed at home with her. Which doesn’t make it any easier for you now of course, but you’ll get through it!

    I feel like 8 months and just the second half of the first year in general is really hard, because she’s old enough that you feel like you should have it all figured it out/it should be easier now, but it really isn’t. Pumping sucks. It never feels like you’re winning at that. But looking back on my year of pumping (my daughter is 2 now) my biggest regret is not being more relaxed about it. A few more oz here and there of formula won’t make a difference for her but can make a huge difference in your stress level. My supply dropped a ton when she was around Penny’s age but luckily it never really impacted our breastfeeding when we were together, so hopefully you will have the same experience.

    You’re doing a great job! Being a mom is just so hard in so many ways it’s impossible to explain until you go through it. Someone told me once that no matter what you do (sahm vs daycare, pumping vs formula, etc etc) the mom guilt will find you, it will just find you in different ways.

    • Thank you Carrie! I do think it’s going to be great for her to be around other kiddos, especially since right now most of the other kids in daycare are older than she is, so they’ll give her something to aspire to lol. But you soooo nailed it on the momguilt. You really feel like you can’t win no matter what you do. So I try to remember that, and that we’re all just doing the best we can! It’s hard af tho, lol.

  3. If it makes you feel any better, my supply fell long before yours, and little A is down to just 3 ounces of breastmilk a day. My 400 ounces of frozen breastmilk is all gone. 🙁 I don’t consider myself an emotional person, but I have felt horrible about transitioning her to formula. As my friend said – like caulk at the bottom of the swimming pool. So apparently the feeling is normal.

    Anyway, if Penny sleeps well at daycare, I would consider that a personal victory! A doesn’t do well with change, so she slept less than 30 minutes her first day at daycare. They called us to pick her up 4 hours early and A was so overtired that when I got home, it took 90 minutes of her screaming while I tried everything I could think of to soothe her to sleep.

  4. Oh, I feel you! (Btw-hi! First time commenting and my second daughter is just about exactly Penny’s age had Penny been born on time!) the one thing that kills me with breastfeeding is how many mental games it plays with your head! I wish I could tell you the number of times a day I count how many times I have nursed or pumped. I hate that it occupies such a large space in my head. I mean, this is all left over from her newborn days when we had to keep getting weight checks done because she could not stay awake to nurse. She’s 7 months now and knows how to communicate (scream bloody murder) for milk, but I still freak out if I nurse or pump under 6 (a somewhat arbitrary number but what I think she *should* get or what I *should* pump to maintain) times a day. I’ve stopped freaking out about my output because every day is different and I have a flexible work schedule so some days she nurses more or less. Anyway, I wish I had better knowledge/advice, but it sounds like you at doing exactly as you should and just know that we are here for you! I wished I lived closer to you and believe me, I have so much complaining about the mental toll of parenting and breastfeeding, I could complain for hours! Hang in there!

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