There is so much I could say about breast feeding triplets. It has been and continues to be a wonderful yet challenging experience. If I could make one thing about triplet motherhood easier it would without a doubt be this. I very much envy the mother who can exclaim, "Oh, she seems hungry" and plop the baby on for a nice feeding and bonding session without any worries. Despite its challenges though, I have not once thought of giving up.
There are lots of things people claim will help with milk production. I have tried some herbal supplements. I couldn't really tell a difference. I am very committed to the "whole grains" theory of milk production: I have a bowl of oatmeal and a beer everyday (not together, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Depending on how the day goes indicates which I have in the morning). I have not seen how this makes a great impact on my supply but it makes a great impact on my enjoyment of the day, so I stay very committed to these whole grains.
The only thing that makes a substantial impact on my production is middle of the night pumping. For the first three months I pumped after every middle of the night feed. Since we dropped that feed, somewhere between three and four months of age, I have set my alarm and gotten up at two a.m. to pump for thirty minutes. When the babies got colds this last time I got pretty tired. We had two weeks of someone being up for varying lengths of time throughout the night. I got worn down and dropped a few of the nighttime pumping sessions. Unfortunately this habit quickly took hold. I haven't gotten up to pump in the middle of the night for two weeks now and my milk production has taken a big hit. It is hard to know how big of a hit because I have been breastfeeding Lucia a lot more lately. But I can tell the production is off substantially. For the past three nights I have told myself I would start back, but so far I have gotten up at two o'clock to check the babies and then gone back to bed. We'll see if tonight is my start back.
We took Mazie off breast milk when she turned four months old. She was having horrible gas pains much too often. All three babies were getting one-third to one-half breast milk in every feed. We had already switched Mazie's formula to a soy formula with Lucia and Elliott. When that did not seem to help, we switched her alone to a pre-digested/broken-down formula (yes it smells horrible. think elementary school lunch room where a kid has just gotten sick and the janitor has just spread that saw dust over the pile) and that helped. Still, she would have these episodes of complete inconsolable torment. They were almost as painful for H and I because there was nothing we could do to ease her pain. They got unbearable for me once we began to suspect that it was the breast milk causing her such strife. I had already gone off dairy six weeks earlier and that did not help her, though it did help the bit of trouble Lucia was having. Mazie's episodes were getting so bad and we were at a loss. At four months we stopped all breast milk and she has not had an episode since.
We were so happy with this improvement, but as time has gone by I have become increasingly uncomfortable with Mazie not receiving any breast milk. I want to see if her system has developed enough now that she is five months adjusted age to handle digesting the breast milk. I have decided to stay off of dairy and also eliminate all soy products from my diet. Then, Monday we will try giving her a little bit. I will probably start with about a half an ounce once a day, and we will evaluate after a week.
So, tomorrow I am going to try Mazie back on the breast milk. I very much want this to work, but I don't want to be so invested that I don't pay attention to her. Ultimately I want to do what is best for her. I know that it isn't worth it for her to be on breast milk if it torments her digestive system. The main piece of advice my mom has given me since I've become a mother is to trust my instincts when it comes to my babies. My gut tells me that she would benefit from being back on breast milk.
The photo is of Mazie with her Tia Karen at Grandma's 90th birthday celebration.