Slow weight gain and oversupply
Hello. So, this is kind of weird, but here it goes:
DS is 5 months old, and was an extremely colicky baby through week 12. Milk has always and still does spray out of my breast with the first letdown and leak copiously from the other breast. DS had green, watery, frothy, explosive stools for the first 6 weeks, and then the color got normal, but the frothiness/wateriness/explosiveness has continued periodically to this day. DS also gained weight rapidly at first, 3 pounds in the first 6 weeks. Then his weight gain levelled off to a more normal rate. All classic oversupply symptoms, right?
So, here's where I'm confused: I discovered info. about oversupply when DS was 4 weeks old and began block feeding. I would do 6-12 hours on one breast sometimes. My supply tapered off at about 8 weeks. Sometimes it would even seem a bit low to me b/c DS would suck for long periods of time without swallowing and would fuss at the breast. So, around 8 weeks I started using both breasts at most feedings (would switch him when he started to suck a bunch with no swallow and fuss, usually there had already been 2 letdowns by then). At this point, I was in the throes of trying to identify what was making him cry all the time still. He was fussy almost constantly, but was always much worse when he needed to poop. He would cry and strain for hours, sometimes refusing to eat, until the poop exploded out of him, and then he would immediately eat a good meal and fall asleep. I was constantly looking for GERD symptoms, changing my diet around a whole bunch, etc. Around 12 weeks, the contant crying stopped, concurrent with me going on a rice/chicken/pears diet (that was fun) and concurrent with me consistently pulling him off of the breast to spray the first letdown into a cloth, even though he would complain when I did this. I breathed a sigh of relief. He still had trouble pooping, though, with alot of straining and fussing, and I often had to help him go. If I didn't help him every few days or so, his belly would swell up and he would get fussier and fussier until I finally helped him poop and then he would settle down for awhile. The poops were still very soft, often watery, and sometimes frothy, always accompanied by copious amounts of gas.
So, here is where we are at today: I had long ago stopped worrying about oversupply/overactive letdown. By about 3.5 months, DS actually seemed to like the fast flow and would fuss and complain when it slowed. He will only take a bottle with a fast flow nipple, I think just b/c he is so used to having milk shoot down his throat. My breasts still spray with letdown, and still leak somtimes, but generally leak a lot less than they used to and feel much softer. DS is a much happier baby nowadays, but has continued to have problems pooping. I was still having to help him at least every other day to avoid a very upset baby. I have been gradually adding things back into my diet since the rice/pears/chicken days, watching for reactions. So far, I thought I saw reactions to gluten and dairy, but both times I wasn't entirely sure since he sometimes has fussy days regardless, and he always has trouble with poop no matter what. These days, he is actually gaining weight a bit slowly, which has me a little concerned, but he is active, bright eyed, and meeting all of his milestones so I'm not that worried about it. Our biggest concern of late has been his terrible sleep. He would often eat for only short periods during the day (5 minutes or less), and would pull on and off the breast, and frequently bite the nipple, but would happily wake every 1-2 hours at night to suck away contentedly, half asleep, for long nursing sessions. I have never been able to sleep through a nursing session, and he was starting to get so sensitive to any movement and noise while sleeping, that we finally gave up on co-sleeping (we had been co-sleeping since birth). I was going crazy with exhaustion, and so bought a crib and began a sleep training routine last week (believe me, this was a desperate response for me, I never thought I would be sleep training my baby).
So, here's the question: Since I started the sleep training, I have been feeding him twice/night. This is in contrast to the 6-8 times/night he was eating before. Lo and behold, he is all of the sudden not having pooping problems! He seems to only need to go about every other day, but does so on his own with minimal discomfort. I don't even know he's gone sometimes! This is shocking after 5 months of holding the crying, screaming baby who is trying to poop. I have actually been worrying about him not getting enough to eat during the sleep training since his weight gain had slowed over the past month or so, although the doctor didn't seem concerned and just told me to keep an eye on it. Just tonight, it occured to me that maybe I was still having oversupply/letdown issues after all this time! I had heard that some babies actually gain weight slowly with oversupply. Why is this, by the way? Is it b/c they are having trouble digesting all the milk, or b/c they are refusing to eat enough?
Could it be that DS got used to having a very full belly, and got used to fast letdown, and so was overeating at night while trying to comfort nurse back to sleep? BTW, since we started the sleep training, he is also eating better during the day, more relaxed, longer nursing sessions. His belly is no longer swollen either, and he seems more content during the day, despite the fact that I'm sure he is tired and stressed from the challenges of the sleep training. He continues to have 5-6 wet diapers/day, and doesn't necessarily even eat that voraciously for his two night feeds, so I do think he is getting enough milk. Actually, he used to have more like 10-12 wet diapers/day, and would often have leaks. So, he must be getting less milk than he was, but maybe that is OK, even a good thing?
What do you guys think?
Re: Slow weight gain and oversupply
I had never heard this, but if anything mamas milk is easiest to digest, unless they are extremely lactose intolerant. When they are bf babies will eat what they need, not less or overeat. However, if OS is an issue, I can see how a baby would gain slowly if they're getting more foremilk (watery milk) compared to hindmilk (fattier milk)=milk imbalance which cause gassiness, fussiness, not sleep well, crankiness, constipation, green watery stools, etc and resemble a "colicky" baby. However, green frothy stool and these symptoms more than likely are due to diary intolerance from mama's diet. But, going poop is something LO's learn to do so I think I'd avoid "helping" him, IMO.
Originally Posted by @llli*carmelite
Sometimes babies prefer a faster flow or get better at tolerating a forceful flow like with OS (which is why they sometimes bite, pull on/off the breast, and fuss) causing them to swallow less air and have less gas. If he's "tanking" up during the day for the long sleep stretches at night, that may be how he's balancing out the amounts of foremilk/hindmilk he's getting, making his tummy more comfortable and not necessarily that he's getting "less" milk. If he's gaining weight and having a normal diaper output then he's getting enough milk. Maybe he's just getting less of foremilk or hindmilk that seems to be helping in addition to the changes you made in your diet. Good job on picking up on those reactions mama :clap
Originally Posted by @llli*carmelite
What do his poops look like, now that he seems less uncomfortable and more relaxed/content during the day?