Unfortunately, it turns out the supplements I've been taking to increase milk supply (Fenugreek & Blessed Thistle) may have actually been causing, or at least adding to, the toot-a-thon taking place in Preston's pants. How do I know this? Well, I am not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure it was causing some of the tummy trouble.
This week, we had a couple really good days as far as mood and lack of fussiness goes. I thought maybe it was because I'd been able to give so much breastmilk those days, but then it continued into a day in which I'd given quite a bit of formula as well. Maybe he's just growing up into a completely well-balanced mature child already?! Ha! Doubtful at this stage in the game.
I realize it could all be due to chance, but it just so happens I'd run out of my milk making supplements and was awaiting a new shipment from amazon. I didn't think anything of that piece of the puzzle at the time. Then, the new supplements arrived, and I began taking them again as usual. To my chagrin, the tummy trouble seemed to begin again almost immediately. I could literally hear the air pinging in Preston's belly. One night at the wee hours as I was snuggling him, our bellies growled really loud at the exact same moment...which is when a light bulb went off!
Could it be more than coincidence that the worse of this ceased when I stopped taking the supplements and re-emerged once beginning them again? Why were we both having rumbling in there? It wasn't bothering me much, because I'm a grown adult and growling isn't that big of deal. But to his tiny tummy, it could be a pretty painful feeling I'd imagine. I just had this intuition it might be a factor.
From then on I became a fart detective and was noticing every little reaction to eating and how his belly was doing. I starting googling more about tummy trouble related to both Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle and wouldn't you know it; it's a very common side effect to have increased gas and watery stools...both things we've commented on several times as a concern. I already cut lactose out of my diet weeks ago, so I knew it wasn't that. Apparently, these supplements are well-known to be hard on the stomach, in both adults and breastfeeding babies (even though Blessed Thistle is also touted as a "digestive tonic") and even though it's so highly touted for milk production.
Strangely, I learned a couple other things I hadn't initially noticed...like the fact my pee smelled like maple syrup? Yes, very weird! Apparently, fenugreek can cause false readings of maple syrup disease in babies, and sure enough I realized I smelled like maple syrup every time I hit the loo. I am not being a hypochondriac either. It's like when you eat asparagus and can clearly smell it in your urine...except I actually smell like an IHOP! It's unmistakeable and so very strange.
Needless to say, I decided it's simply not worth taking these supplements if there's any chance it's causing any doo-doo disdain for Preston. They have definitely helped increase my supply, as I went from pumping only 0.5/1 oz. on both breasts per session, to now averaging 3 oz. However, many times a supply can be well established by 6 weeks, and we will be 6 weeks on Monday. Worth noting that I also rented a hospital grade pump for a month (Medela Symphony) to help bring in my stubborn to flow milk.
It's equally important, if not more important, to just keep creating the demand for milk by pumping, and that is something I'm continuing to do of course. I just returned the Symphony yesterday, because we don't need the $75/month rental fee. Instead, I will still be using my spiffy little Medela Pump In Style Advance that I got for FREE thanks to the Affordable Care Act. It's a $300 pump itself, so I will take what I can get even if it's not the very best available.
And because I'm one of those people who feels they need to be doing something more, I began searching for other natural ways of increasing milk production through nutrition alone. I made these Major Milk Makin' Cookies last night for the first time. Jackpot!!!
These cookies are seriously good, and I would feel pretty good about eating them even if I wasn't lactating. Outside of being full of galactogogues, they are pretty healthy for tons of other things...heart health for one. Maybe I shouldn't have told hubby they are for makin milk, because he needs these in his life too! I'm hoping he likes them, because unbeknownst to me, the recipe made almost 5 dozen. We've got some cookie eating to do!
|This could be dangerous.|
The magic milk making ingredients are oatmeal, brewer's yeast, and flaxseed meal...
You can read about all of the amazing properties of these foods here if you're interested. The blogger who posted this recipe @ DrMomma.org gives some fantastic info on how it works to increase prolactin, the key hormone related to milk production.
Only time will tell if/how my supply is affected, both from the dropping of the fenu-fart and discontinuation of the hospital grade pump, as well as the addition of the cookies to hopefully balance it all out. I couldn't help but notice after making the cookies last night (and proceeding to eat a few more than I'd planned) that my next pumping session I got 5 oz! It could be coincidence, but I rarely ever get 5 oz, so I'm hopeful they're a decent enough replacement. Hopefully I won't turn into a total cow eating them like candy either. Cow's are good for milk making yes, but not good to fit in my shorts. ha!
We've been using this really convenient iPhone app to track Preston's feedings and my pumping sessions. There are a ton of apps out there, but if you need something to help organize I highly recommend iBaby Feed Timer.
This is what the log looks like...
This is what data for our last 24 hours, week, and month look like...
Fingers crossed I won't see a huge decline in supply due to the dropping of supplements and downgrading my pump, but if I do, I'll just drown my sorrows in cookies and almond milk.