Supplementing with donor breastmilk (in bottles)

Hooray, I finally started feeding my baby.

I have a wonderful friend who is a board-certified lactation consultant and works in a hospital, where she sees lots of c-sections mamas recovering and tries to help them breastfeed. She came over to help me. While Porcelain napped, we discussed a million things: my breast-reduction surgery in 1995, my nursing experiences with my first four children, my weight loss surgery, my vitamin regime post weight loss surgery, and of course Porcelain. Her nursing, her sleeping, her peeing and pooping, her general health.

My friend, we’ll call her My Lovely Linda, was certain there was something wrong with Porcelain, maybe a posterior tongue-tie or low tone or a palate issue.

Then Porcelain woke up. We weighed her on a scale My Lovely Linda loaned me, a breastfeeding scale that goes down to grams. I nursed her. My Lovely Linda said that she had a great latch, her tongue was doing whatever it was supposed to be doing, and she nursed perfectly. Then we weighed her. She’d taken two ounces. I tried to nurse her more but she refused.

And with that, we realized it wasn’t Porcelain’s problem but mine.

Porcelain does a fine job getting milk in — she’s a little distract-able but she’s also four months old. However, she should be taking in more than two ounces at a time. The problem is I only make about two ounces at a time. Furthermore, Porcelain has gotten accustomed to my two ounces at a time, and that’s all it takes for her to feel full. Which means–

OHMYGAWD MY BABY IS ANOREXIC!!!!!

(Dear parents who put laxatives in your baby’s bottle, aren’t you jealous of me????)

I’ve spent the last week nursing her, then offering her a bottle, so her intake is up to six ounces per feeding. At first it was hell: she refused the bottle even though I knew she was hungry; she had a cold and was all snarfly and refusing to nurse at all; I cried.

Then slowly she got a little better with the bottle, and now she takes four ounces after at least three feedings a day.

And yes, she’s… happier. I hesitate to say happier because she was always smiling and cute, but she has become more content. She sleeps easier, she doesn’t need me to have her in my arms 24/7, she poops like crazy, and she just seems more at peace.

Giving bottles sucks, but at least it’s breastmilk she’s receiving, and not powdered chemical substitute for breastmilk, also known as formula. Again, props to my wonderful lactating Jugs: Nice-Nice, Mary F. Poppins, The Happy Mathlete, and Lady Beaver of Syllables. They make tons of milk — and more importantly, they’re willing to pump for me. Those are friends. Pumping is a pain! I’m grateful to all of them for helping my baby grow and thrive.

Hopefully as she starts eating solids, I can do less donor milk and more of just nursing, because she still loves her num-nums. I love giving her num-nums.

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2 Responses

  1. I would send you some milk if we lived closer! I’m so glad you have Lovely Linda and your Jugs~and I’m very glad you write about this! I’m a breastfeeding counesllor [not as my job, but to help my doula clients and friends] and it is good to hear stories from various womens’ lactating experiences, particularly problems they encounter, how they feel about it, and the solutions they come up with. I thought of the SNS for you, but when you posted about the mechanics of using it, I laughed pretty hard, and I realized how impractical it can be!
    I really like your solution, to have several friends help you feed your baby human milk. It is low tech, and draws on a community of women whom you know and who are local to you.
    When I had my fourth baby eight weeks ago, I had a friend pump me a stash of milk to take to the hospital with me. I have diabetes, I knew my baby was at risk of blood sugar regulation problems, and I didn’t want formula anywhere near her. We didn’t need it in the end, but I was so glad to have it on hand.
    I had a birth plan and then a “postpartum plan” on a separate page which outlined what I did and did NOT consent to as far as NICU treatment and infant feeding. This would make it much easier for me to enforce my wishes! Thankfully we didn’t need it. She never left my arms for the entire eight hours we were in the hospital post partum, til my midwife discharged us and we could go home. =)
    Anyways, props to you for your Porcelain feeding solutions! And thanks for sharing them!

  2. Oh and p.s., I saw you liked The Glass Castle!! Cool! Did you read her more recent book Half Broke Horses? I just read it this past weekend and it rocked. Only in a different way than TGC. And it shed some light on Jeannette’s mother for me; I never could figure out why Rosemary was the way she was, and why she was so….relaxed about her kids’ safety and her husband’s bipolar behavior, and HBH allowed some insight into that. Great book too! TGC was better, but HBH was still excellent. Have you read it?

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