Thursday, January 20, 2011

Less Is More

I've been mostly happy with our daycare (granted, Ella was there for the first week, and then home or at work with me for the second week when we were both sick).  But I'm running into a little bit of a problem when it comes to feeding Ella.

It turns out that Ella is only one of two breastfed babies, so I feel like there is a bit of a lack of knowledge--or at least a lack of appreciation--when it comes to feeding her.  Their policy is to have the parent bring in five clean and sterilized bottles everyday, and then bring them home to clean and sterilize them each night.  They provide formula if the parents want it, or we can bring in our own breastmilk.  They are fine with us bringing in milk in the storage bags and they will prepare the bottles for us--which seemed like a great time-saving strategy to make my life easier.

But that's where we're running into a problem.  Back at her two month appointment, our pediatrician said that based on Ella's birthweight and growth, that she should be taking in 2-1/2 to 3 ounces in each feeding (on roughly a 2-1/2 to 3 hour feeding schedule).   I obviously don't know exactly how much she is getting when she feeds straight from the breast, but from what I understand, what I produce in an independent pumping session should more or less match what she normally gets in a session straight from the breast, based on the elements of breastfeeding supply and demand. 

I have shared this 2-1/2 to 3 ounces every 2-1/2 to 3 hours with the daycare providers, but we're running into problems.  First, the bags I had held 5 ounces, so I was just filling them up with the assumption that they would only pour out 2-1/2 to 3 ounces at at time (and use the remaining milk in the next bottle), but this ended up being troublesome for the providers.  So I suggested that I would just add 2-1/2 to 3 ounces per bag so that they could just pour it all into one bottle and not worry about the remaining milk.

But before I had a chance to transition to the small bags, they insisted that Ella wanted more than 3 ounces, and started to fee her 5 ounces.  They were amazed that Ella finished off her bottles so quickly--and I agree that she does drink it really fast.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that she's still hungry.  They also pointed out that she cries a bit when she finishes the bottle--but I think that's simply because her bottle is empty, and not that she is still hungry.  She's easily distracted and happy enough after a moment.  So they were rushing through all of my hard-earned milk at a pace that I couldn't keep up with--even with pumping every two hours at work.

I did the math, and during the 9-1/2 hours that she is at daycare (I have an 8 hour work day, with an hour lunch break, plus a half hour for travel), they were feeding her 25 ounces (5 bottles that were 5 ounces each).  When she is home with me, I figure that she is getting closer to 12 ounces in the same amount of time (2-1/2 to 3 ounces every 2-1/2 to 3 hours).  That's more than double what I'm giving her!

So I talked with the morning care provider in the infant room this morning.  She was the one who had initially said that Ella wanted more, but when I shared my concern, she agreed that 5 ounces was probably too much, and she assured me that she aims to feed Ella at around 3 hour intervals.  I felt a little bit bad that I was telling her how to do her job, but this is my daughter that we're talking about here!  We essentially compromised that they would feed her 4 ounces in each bottle until I can talk to the pediatrician at her next appointment in two weeks.  Who knows--maybe she really is hungry?   An extra ounce isn't going to hurt her...but I still fear that I'm not going to be able to keep up.  I'm getting right around 3 ounces each time I pump, and I'm pumping as much as I can at work.  Today I squeezed in five pumping sessions, and went over to feed her at lunch.  I had initially planned on trying to get over to nurse her once per week, but I feel like I need to try to get over there as much as I can in order to save as much milk as possible.  I know that I can introduce rice cereal at four months, but I was hoping to wait to six months.  I just hope I can get enough milk to get us through the next two months!

Any thoughts?  Should I have just listened to the caregivers?  Should I have insisted on only 3 ounces?  How much breastmilk should a 4 month old drink?  When did you (or when will you) introduce rice cereal and other solids?

Today's blessing was the chance to see some of my students again.  It's been very rewarding to reconnect with them (in between all my pumping sessions).  If I can't be with my own child during the day, at least I get to work with all my great "kiddos" at work.


  1. Interestingly, today on NPR there was a report from the surgeon general encouraging breast feeding only until 6 months, that the majority of new moms still work full time. I don't know how they do it. Employers are required to provide time and a private place for pumping. Wow. Its nice to hear (seriously) the government supporting moms and babies. It has all kinds of benefits for the child. I know its a challenge, but hang in there, and let the housework go. . . love Mom

  2. I think there's a lot of controversy around how much BF babies should eat. My pediatrician told me 1/2 their weight in ounces. A lactation consultant told me 1 ounce for every 2.5 lbs of baby. Other places say 1 oz for every hour. Who's right???

    So I sent him with 7 oz bottles (3 per day, about 1 bottle for every 3 hours) when he started daycare at 11 weeks because I didn't want him to go hungry. He didn't finish them, so I started sending 5 oz and that was good for a while. I bumped up to 6 oz bottles when he was finishing every bottle that I sent.

    HOWEVER, I was getting 5-6 oz out every time I pumped, so that was about what he was drinking from me and that's what he was used to. I wish boobs had little gages on them so we could see exactly what they were eating!

    I think it might take a little while to find out exactly how much she wants during the day. Keep talking to the ladies and work it out from there. It took us a few weeks to get comfortable. And every baby at our daycare gets different amounts. One little boy has 6 little bottles (they take up the whole fridge!). W has always had just 3 bottles.

    Do they provide you with a daily report saying how much she ate and when? That is the only way I was able to get our amounts right.

    Now that we're on formula, I'm a LOT less stressed about getting the amounts perfect. I don't mind when he doesn't finish them!


I love to hear what you think!