My Wife Can Produce Over 700 Pounds of Breast Milk a Year and I Can Prove It

My wife and I are analytical people, so when she came across an app called Baby Connect, which would allow us to track our son Duncan’s daily feedings, sleeping hours, diaper changes, etc., we were all-in.  It allowed for multiple users to update concurrently, so even if one of us was out and the other person was watching him, both people would be able to see the updated data in real time.  Over time, as we built up a database of information, which also included my wife’s nursing times and breast pumping yields, we were able to track progress and see trends, adjusting accordingly for anything out of the ordinary.  #babydata  #babymama

Now I, like I’m sure many other new fathers, have witnessed firsthand the incredible amount of time, dedication, sacrifice, and love that a mother puts into taking care of her child, particularly if she is breastfeeding, as my wife is doing.  The work my wife puts in to keep this kid flourishing is nothing short of a miracle — it’s like a full-time job.

Given that we’d been using the Baby Connect app since the beginning of November, I decided to download 90 days worth of data (11/3/16-1/31/17) to actually quantify the ridiculous amount of work that my wife, and other moms, put into raising their newborns. The results, which I’ll share below, are truly astounding; not only do they put into perspective the massive amount of work my wife performs — without a complaint — to sustain Duncan, but they also make me appreciate her and her infant mother brethren even more.

Let’s start with breast pumping — a necessary evil for all breastfeeding mothers who go back to work.  Over the 90-day period that I analyzed, my wife pumped her breasts 431 times for 7,159.0 minutes, which yielded 1,372.3 ounces of breast milk.  If you back into the math, each pumping, which she did an average of 4.8 times per day, lasted an average of 16.6 minutes, or a total of 1.3 hours per day.  That means that my wife, over the 90-day period I looked at, spent the equivalent of 5.0 full days doing nothing but breast pumping.  Ouch.  Wow.  Thank you.  #donaldjpump

We also fed Duncan over these 90 days 1,645.1 ounces of pumped breast milk over 455 separate bottle feeding sessions.  While we didn’t time each of these (we just logged the time when we started giving him the bottle), I am estimating, based on experience, that each bottle feeding took, on average, conservatively 20 minutes.  This means that we spent 1.7 hours per day feeding bottles, which is the equivalent of 6.3 full days over the 90-day period.  Further, the 1,645.1 ounces of milk that my son drank, just from bottles and excluding any nursing he did, equates to 102.8 pounds of milk in just 90 days!

Since my wife is breastfeeding, our son, of course, also nursed.  Over the 90 days I looked at, my wife nursed Duncan 358 different times for a total of 10,997.0 minutes, which equates to 30.7 minutes per nursing, or 2.0 hours per day, or the equivalent of 7.6 full days.  Seriously?  While there is no easy way of telling how much milk Duncan consumed during each nursing, if I use his average per bottle consumed from the above data, which is 3.6 ounces per bottle feeding, then he consumed 1,288.8 ounces, or 80.6 pounds, of breast milk via nursing over the 90 days!  #nurseratched

Of course all of this milk that Duncan consumed had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was found mostly within the 590 diapers that we changed over the 90 days, 79.2% of which were just wet, with the other 20.8% being poopy.  This equates to changing 6.6 diapers per day, or the equivalent, over the 90-day period, of 1.2 full days of doing nothing but changing diapers (assuming 3.0 min/diaper change).  Further, at the start of the period I analyzed, Duncan weighed (at less than two months old) roughly 10 pounds; at the end of the 90 day period he weighed roughly 15 pounds.  So, over the 90 days, while he drank 102.8 pounds of breast milk via bottle, and 80.6 pounds of breast milk via nursing, for a total of 183.4 pounds of breast milk, he gained roughly five pounds of body weight.  This means, over the 90 days that I analyzed, that within the 590 diapers that we changed, there was 178.4 pounds of waste (183.4-5.0), or the equivalent of my body weight!  #heatedaddysweight

Duncan also slept…a freakin’ lot (#ripvantinkle).  In fact, over the 90-day period, we “put him down” (we told him he looked fat) to sleep 480 times, or 5.3 times per day.  Over the 90-day period, he slept for 73,072.0 minutes, or the equivalent of 50.8 full days, which was 56.4% of the 90-day timeframe.  Put another way, of the 24 hours in a day, Duncan slept, on average, for 13.5 hours per day, meaning he was awake for only 10.5 hours per day.  Of those 10.5 hours per day that he was awake, 1.7 of those hours were dedicated to drinking from a bottle and 2.0 hours were dedicated to nursing on my wife’s boobs.  Put yet another way, he spent 35.2% of the hours that he was awake doing some sort of eating; this is equivalent to an adult sleeping for eight hours per night, and spending almost six hours per day eating their breakfast, lunch, and dinner (almost 2 hours per meal).  What is this, Europe?

Most shocking, to me, however, is when I extrapolate these data to reflect one year versus just the 90 days that I analyzed.  Assuming the status quo regarding all of his activities (eating, sleeping, diaper changes, etc.), which is probably conservative in some aspects and bullish in others, my wife will produce 733.6 pounds of breast milk for this kid in one year, all of which he will consume (#liquidgold).  Because of all of this breast milk consumption, our son will go through 2,360 diapers this year, which if we buy the big, 72-count pack, which comes to $.333/diaper, we will spend $785.88 this year on synthetic plastic that we will ultimately throw away hours after we use it.  Further, I will have to lug 713.6 pounds of discarded, urine and poop-filled diapers to our building’s trash shoot, contemplating with every step about a way to cut out this $.333 “middle man”. This all seems like a lot to me, considering that if Duncan continues his current sleep habits, he will only be awake for the equivalent of 162 full days in the full 365 day year; or, put another way, he’ll have been asleep for the equivalent of 6.8 months in a full year.  All of this is nothing, however, in comparison to if Duncan continues to gain 50% of his body weight every 90 days (he went from 10 pounds to 15 pounds in my 90 day study), because if he does, five years from now, according to my math, he’ll weigh 14,779 pounds.  #seventonson

If my wife maintains this super-human pace providing for Duncan over the full year, she will have spent 25.3 full-day equivalents feeding bottles, 30.5 full-day equivalents nursing, 4.9 full-day equivalents changing diapers, and 19.9 full-day equivalents pumping her breasts.  All told, this comes to 80.6 full-day equivalents out of a 365 day year, or 22.1% of the entire year; in other words, she will have spent the equivalent of 2.7 months of the year doing nothing but nursing, changing diapers, feeding bottles, and pumping her breasts — non-stop, with no sleep, time off, eating, or anything.

In the opening, I mentioned that all of the work that my wife, and I’m sure most other baby mamas, put in to raise a child is like a full-time job — I was wrong, as the data actually show that it is more like two full time jobs.  If you combine the 37.6 hours per week that my wife spends on giving bottles, nursing, changing diapers, and pumping her breasts, and the 44.9 hours per week that Duncan is awake and not nursing, getting his diaper changed, or consuming a bottle — yet obviously still needing to be tended to — my wife is spending 82.5 hours per week, or the equivalent of more than two, full-time, 40-hour per-week jobs, taking care of our son.  #doesshegetaw4?

So, while all of these data are great, I guess, I fear that it may turn into some sort of Moneyball type of scenario, leading to statistical competition and chaos among parents.  “What’s your nugget’s poop-to-diaper ratio (PDR), and if it’s above 20%, would you be willing to coach Emma, Isabella, Ava, Somethingwithana in exchange for two Portuguese lessons from my nanny and a meaningless playdate offer in the undefined future?”  “Hey, do you see that cutie over there with the striped onesie?  His mom apparently averages 9.3 ounces per pumping and she has fake boobs!  Word is that she’s creating an app that will allow lower yielding moms to crowdsource her breast milk.”  #siliconevalley.

Sure, my wife has help — in the form of yours truly — but trust me, my meager assistance pales in comparison to what she has done, continues to do, and will do into the future.  My wife is a hero, as are the millions of other mothers out there who are putting in this thankless work, day-in and day-out.  As I type these words, I hear the faint sound of her breast pump, like a copy machine making thousands of milky copies, in the background.  It has become normal, almost comforting — I’m sure that is because deep down, in some way, it makes me feel like I know this kid is in good hands, both of which are not mine.  Not only did she push, at the time, a seven pound kid out of her body, which I’m certain I couldn’t have done, but she now is clearly owning motherhood.  #stayedabovetheequator

So to my wife and all of those other mothers “in the struggle”, and on behalf of all of the other baby daddies out there, I offer a heartfelt thank you.  While I’m certain that you have felt unappreciated for your efforts at times, please know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed.  What you do is truly amazing, not only biologically and physically, but even more so, mentally and psychologically.  I admire your determination, stamina, and far-sightedness, as the work you’ve put in for all of these countless hours (except that I did actually count them) every day is truly benefitting our son in innumerable ways — and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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