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Thread: He's not emptying me and still hungry

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Question He's not emptying me and still hungry

    Hi all,

    My 7 week old (born at 37 wks) was on the low end of weight gain, so I rented some scales and have been monitoring his intake.

    I've noticed a few odd things. He only wants to eat 6 or 7 times per day. He often only eats 1.5 oz. He totals about 12 oz per day. I thought my supply must be low (i'm never engorged, never feel full, and he often sucks without drinking, making it seem like there's nothing there) - so I started pumping several times per day. I can usually get between 1 and 3 ounces after he eats - which I've been offering to him and he usually takes (some of) it. So, why isn't he emptying me himself? I'm doing massage and compressions, he seems to latch ok - I have no pain except on initial latch.

    Any ideas on how to get him to work a little harder?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    I'm gonna bump this because I have the same issue.
    FTM to Abigail Dell 03/18/2011
    SAHM
    we are FINALLY a fully breastmilk baby (after 14 weeks of struggling!)
    Om nom nom

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Landof2toddlers, Oregon
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    are the babies sleepy still? how are they doing otherwise? are they night nursing much and you weighing overnight too?

    a good way to get a baby to work a little harder is to annoy the heck out of them while they are nursing. tickle their feet. take their clothes off. do a diaper change.
    proud but exhausted working mammy to two high needs babies

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  4. #4
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*durhamgrrl View Post
    are the babies sleepy still? how are they doing otherwise? are they night nursing much and you weighing overnight too?

    a good way to get a baby to work a little harder is to annoy the heck out of them while they are nursing. tickle their feet. take their clothes off. do a diaper change.


    Also, strip him down when it's time to nurse, switch him from breast to breast every time suckling slows, use a wet washrag on the soles of his feet or against the grain of his hair... An annoyed baby is often an alert baby.

    Breast compressions help, too.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    I agree with the other ladies. When DD1 was in the NICU, the nurse said that nursing time is not snuggling time. We opened her sleeper, unwrapped her, we talked, I stroked her hair.... It was enough that by the time she did conk out, she had a very full tummy.
    Mommy to our DD1 early bird (34 weeks, 2 days, 7lbs, 14oz)! Oct. 2nd, 2008 Emergency C-Section, Frank Breech, HEALTHY Girl!
    Weaned @ 17 months
    Our DD2 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 12oz) Aug. 10th, 2010 Our Successful VBAC, growing like a bad weed!
    Weaned @ 15 months
    Our DD3 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 6oz) Feb. 16th, 2012 Our 2nd VBAC and lightening speedy birth!

    Loving being a Mom of 3, 40 months apart!!
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  6. #6
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    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    Have you seen a lactation consultant?

    My second seemed to latch okay (so said the hospital nurses), and it wasn't really painful, but he didn't transfer milk successfully enough. I understand that when a baby does things properly but doesn't succeed for some reason, sometimes he will change techniques to an even less successful one. Mine developed a disorganized suck. He would nurse for over an hour (so it seemed), but he was really only comfort sucking and not actually getting nourishment.

    We had a struggle learning to nurse appropriately, but we did succeed. I did have to use bottles of expressed breast milk for a time, because he simply needed calories to grow well enough to be able to tackle the challenge of learning to nurse.

    I may be misunderstanding your situation, but if you think you're still having issues, I'd definitely want someone professional to evaluate matters. It is possible for babies to spend a lot of time at the breast but not be feeding effectively. I'd want to double check for his sake and yours.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    I used an 'annoying shampoo'-type motion on the side of the face, ears, and neck to perk up LO.

    How about cup feeding some expressed breast milk? Then there's no suck needed, and you save all of his inborn need to suck for the breast.
    Katharine
    Be the change you want to see in the world--Mahatma Gandhi
    mid-August DD (2010) & DS (2011 VBAC)
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  8. #8
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    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*duaeguttae View Post
    Have you seen a lactation consultant?

    My second seemed to latch okay (so said the hospital nurses), and it wasn't really painful, but he didn't transfer milk successfully enough. I understand that when a baby does things properly but doesn't succeed for some reason, sometimes he will change techniques to an even less successful one. Mine developed a disorganized suck. He would nurse for over an hour (so it seemed), but he was really only comfort sucking and not actually getting nourishment.

    We had a struggle learning to nurse appropriately, but we did succeed. I did have to use bottles of expressed breast milk for a time, because he simply needed calories to grow well enough to be able to tackle the challenge of learning to nurse.

    I may be misunderstanding your situation, but if you think you're still having issues, I'd definitely want someone professional to evaluate matters. It is possible for babies to spend a lot of time at the breast but not be feeding effectively. I'd want to double check for his sake and yours.
    I think this is what is happening. How did your baby learn to suck effectively again?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*annalog View Post
    I think this is what is happening. How did your baby learn to suck effectively again?

    I have a lot to say, and I don't want to overwhelm you. I'll try to organize it into what was really helpful to me.

    1) Several consultations with a lactation consultant and phone conversations with a La Leche League leader. The lactation consultant was helpful in evaluating what was going on and referring us for help. The La Leche league leader was more encouraging. I felt discouraged by the professional consultant, I'm afraid, but the problem was even beyond her scope. At the same time, her tips and information were really helpful to us.

    2) My baby was willing (most of the time) to come to the breast. There was a period of refusal, but we didn't make it a battle, and I was able to coax him back. I did have to hold him in a sling and rock or bounce to get him to latch, though. Boy is that challenging for a mom who's new to the whole latching thing anyway. (The La Leche League leader e-mailed me tips for dealing with a nursing strike, and that helped give me ideas for coaxing him back. I'm afraid I don't still have them, but if it's a standard sort of document, maybe someone who sees this post can post a link.) Babies learn to breastfeed by breastfeeding, so as long as he's willing, keep practicing.

    2) We got him as many calories as we could, even using a bottle when a lactation consultant pretty much insisted that we had to or we'd get in even worse shape. His suck was so bad that it took usually ninety minutes to two hours to get a couple of ounces in him with a bottle!

    3) Even though we did use bottles, I almost always tried him at the breast and when he was willing to try, I used a Medela SNS (supplemental nursing system) to coax him. They are pricey and rather a pain to use, but I think it was a very valuable tool for helping him with his suck. He had developed flow confusion (didn't want to wait for a let down), and the SNS allowed there to be milk immediately, and that helped him settle at the breast. One of the purposes of an SNS is to help babies with their suck. I also sometimes used a nipple shield when he wouldn't latch on any other way.

    4) If he tired at the breast, we often just used the SNS to finger feed him so that he wouldn't develop nipple confusion. Sometimes his suck was so bad that he couldn't succeed that way, and we did use Playtex Dropins with NaturaLatch nipples (that's what the Lactation consultant pretty much insisted on for his particular case).

    5) We had him evaluated by a chiropractor at the Lactation Consultant's recommendation. (She actually recommended a cranial-sacral therapist, but there wasn't one locally, and I already went to a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal and pediatric adjustments.) I actually didn't know why I was going and felt like an idiot writing on my form that I was there because my baby had a "disorganized suck." I was floored when the chiropractor said she had experience in that area. The first thing she and her colleague pointed out was that my son's parietal bones (sides of the skull) were overlapping his forehead. He had always had a furrowed brow since birth, and they suggested that he had a headache. They started massaging the bones back gently, and he took a 4-oz bottle in 30 minutes! We had never seen anything like that. We had several more adjustments, and during that time we did see marked improvement.

    6) Dr. Jack Newman's book Ultimate Book of Breast Feeding Answers or something like that (www.drjacknewman.com) was helpful. He also has videos on his website about using a lactation aid (SNS), proper latching, good sucking, and finger feeding to latch. I kept his book beside me most of the time while I tried to nurse. (I will say that when I was having nursing trouble with my first child and ended up being an EPer, I found his material a little too painful to read. He's supportive of expressed breastmilk, of course, but the emotions were too raw for me to see that. Just a warning.)

    7) One thing that might not apply at all to you but was important for me was that I eventually only had my son nurse on one side. My nipples and breasts were too different, and he couldn't really handle changes. When we started being sure that he could get enough at the breast in combination with the SNS (we rented a scale and weighed before and after every feeding), we dropped the bottle and let him nurse solely on one side. I kept pumping the other, but it was two more months before he could nurse on that side. What we figured, though, was that we would choose one nipple for him to master and let him master that. It was two months when we made that choice, though, since he had to be strong enough to do it.

    8) I PUMPED! I was doing it anyway because my baby needed expressed breast milk, but I made sure that my supply was more than he needed. That ended up being a life saver when he was a one-sided nurser for two months because the supply didn't have to build up, but many babies with weak sucks benefit from an over-abundant supply because it helps them get more food in less time. If you might have a low supply, try to build it up. (That's also one advantage of supplementing with the SNS instead of a bottle if you can do it. It builds your supply while you're feeding.)

    I hope this makes sense and isn't too overwhelming. Your LC or pediatrician might be able to refer you to someone like a chiropractor or even a therapist for Down Syndrome babies who may be able to help with his suck.

    That just reminded me, the LC also told us to support our son's chin with a finger or thumb while he sucked or nursed. That helped him get less fatigued and persevere a little longer.

    I keep thinking of things, but I don't want to overwhelm you. Please keep asking questions if I've confused you. Your situation might not be the same, of course, but perhaps this gives you an idea of some things that might help. Maybe it will just help encourage you to keep on trying. Your baby's definitely young enough that he may just need a little more time and growing to learn.
    I breast milk fed my Blossom for fifteen months (after exclusively pumping for thirteen). My Bud (nineteen months) is still nursing directly (after a rough start that included a few months of pumping and supplementing with mommy's milk).

    TwoDewdrops: Nursing Dresses and Tops for Discreet Breastfeeding (and Pumping)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: He's not emptying me and still hungry

    Awesome information. Very surprised at the success of using a chiropractor! I am going to talk to a 2nd lc soon, get her input. The 1st one suggested the cranio-facial expert, but really wasn't sure what was going on so I didn't do anything with that. I'm sure I'll have some questions - please keep an eye on this post!

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