Schroeder went to his six month checkup a little over a week ago, and my concerns were verified. He hadn't gained any weight since his four month checkup. He had gotten taller, but not chunkier. I had been concerned that he wasn't getting enough during what seemed to be our increasingly shorter nursing sessions. It wouldn't flow fast enough for him and he would, like a normal six month old, get distracted.
I've nursed both D'arcy and Julian to the age of one. One was my goal, and remains my goal with Schroeder. I breastfeed primarily because it's inexpensive and low maintenance. I see these mommies with their well prepared diaper bags full of snacks and bottles filled with water. That looks like it takes a lot of organization! I on the other hand leave the house with a thin, black nursing cover thrown into my purse and a burp cloth in the car seat. If either two don't make it somehow, I improvise. I also know that breastfeeding can alleviate digestive problems such as constipation commonly associated with formula fed babies. They say breastfeeding helps keep babies from getting sick with common colds and such. That seems to be true for my kiddos. They've all been relatively healthy. Schroeder has only had two days of fever in the last six months. But, of course, one can never be certain that my babies wouldn't have been just as healthy formula fed. And certainly, I breastfeed for the bonding experience it presents. By a year, I've been ready to reclaim my body and space, though.
I've never had a problem with production. From day one, I'm pretty strict about my babies only eating every three hours unless it seems to be a "growth spurt" day. On those days, I let the baby eat on demand. I've never really quantified how much I'm producing, but just been satisfied to see that my babies have grown at a steady pace, seem satisfied, and are continually using diapers.
So finding out that Schroeder was not keeping pace in the weight department made me do a little research. Why was my production not keeping up, and what could I do to jump start it? I thought the answer would be in my diet. I thought maybe I wasn't eating enough dairy, or maybe not drinking enough milk. I've been on Weight Watchers, but they have a Nursing Moms program that I even used after D'arcy's birth. And besides, I've only lost about eleven pounds in the last six months.
I went to the La Leche League's website looking for suggestions, and was surprised to discover that nothing was mentioned on the page entitled "How do I Increase my Milk Supply" about the mother's eating habits. Instead, all the suggestions centered around the baby nursing more regularly. And they mentioned that pacifier use may hinder the baby from prompting more frequent nursing sessions. In fact, the La Leche League's website suggests that pacifier use correlates to earlier weaning.
Our other two kids didn't use a pacifier past the first two months, but we have encouraged it with Schroeder as a way to prevent thumb sucking. It seemed like something we could take away at nine months or a year. We haven't found a way to detach Julian's thumb, yet. He loves his pacifier, knows how to pass it back and forth between hands, and will speed across a room to retrieve it. But no doubt, he was spending too much time sucking on that thing and not enough time nursing in order to build up milk production.
So, we've temporarily taken the pacifier away from Schroeder during the day. Well, maybe it will be a permanent switch. And I'm nursing him on command, and whenever he just needs an opportunity to sooth himself. We are supplementing with eight ounces of formula during the day, as well. I'll keep you posted.
I'm still not anti-pacifier. I think they serve a purpose for a short time, but I'm learning you must use them with care so that they don't mask other needs that the baby might be experiencing.