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Thread: Need some advice - weaning 6 month old?

  1. #1

    Default Need some advice - weaning 6 month old?

    Hi everyone,

    Warning: Wall of text. I need to rant a little and to seek some support...

    Bfing has been tough for me from day 1 and I have faced many challenges along the way. I have had low milk supply from the very start due to poor latch during the first week when my milk came in. Baby was losing weight and my midwife advised that I start supplementing. I hired an LC who suggested a rigid nursing/pumping schedule to increase supply, and to take all supplements (fenugreek, blessed thistle) and domperidone to increase milk supply, and finally after 6 weeks of this tiresome schedule of nurse/pump 8-10 times per day, I was finally able to exclusively breastfeed. I was totally ecstatic feeling that my hard work has finally paid off!! I began to slowly wean off the domperidone and my supply stayed up. Baby was gaining weight really well too. Unfortunately, his latch stayed shallow despite consulting an LLL leader, 2 LCs, and my continual efforts to change it. 3 weeks of EBF and I had developed an abscess in my R breast (high producer) the size of a kiwi and after the I&D and 11 days of IV therapy, the incision finally closed. By that time however, my supply had dropped by 75% and since I am quite petite in size, the abscess affected more than 50% of my breast. Usually at this point, I would try to exclusively breastfeed on my L breast, but unfortunately, not enough glandular tissue has matured in my L breast and less than half the breast is producing milk (I know this because when baby was starting to skip a night feeding and I was engorged, only the inner side of my L breast was firm with milk while everywhere else stayed soft).

    After the I&D, I was only able to pump 20mls from each breast, which is hardly enough to feed a 3 month old baby. Despite the fact that I did not produce a whole lot of milk, I have since then experienced at least 3 plugged ducts, a bleb, and a plugged nipple pore due to a calcified bit. Anyway, I was supplementing by bottle for the next 2.5 months, which surprisingly, baby was willing to first take both my breasts (and emptying them) and then take the bottle afterwards. Even though I was not able to EBF, our BFing arrangement was still wonderful. I was able to nurse, baby gained comfort, and supplementing was done afterwards. He would stay at least 15-20 mins per breast, sucking away peacefully.

    October rolled around and during a Thanksgiving dinner, my DS contracted Hand Foot Mouth disease from one of the children that attended. Poor DS, 5 months old and couldn't suck due to the blisters in his mouth. First, he refused the breast for a couple of days, and then stopped taking both breast and bottle entirely due to the sores in his mouth and around his lips. I too contracted the disease and I was affected quite badly!! (I actually had all the symptoms and its quite rare in adults!) I was pumping still to maintain supply. It was hard work pumping while having blisters all over my hands, feet, and sores in my throat, running a fever, and trying to take care of a sick baby who couldn't even suck for comfort. After a week, DS has recovered and started to take the bottle and breast. However, it appears his attitude towards nursing has changed. 3 weeks later, he no longer wants the breast anymore and only wants the bottle. I believe it is due to the flow preference. I noticed I do not let down quite as fast anymore to keep baby on the breast. Even with my low supply prior to the illness, I was able to let down within seconds of baby sucking. Now, it takes at least a minute and sometimes even longer...

    So I am now pumping during the day to continue providing EBM. At first, it was an emotional turnmoil for me to discover that baby does not want my breast anymore after all the challenges that we've been through. Baby has come to only nurse at night before bed, and in the middle of the night when he wakes up.

    Looking back, I know I have made mistakes along the way--supplementing with the bottle and giving him a pacifier (only at nap/bed time)... but either way, it is what it is right now.

    DS is currently 6 months old and solids have been introduced. He's highly distractible. I have tried Dr. Smilie's (sp?) method of supplementing first to quench baby's thirst so baby will have more patience in sucking at the breast, but I feel overwhelmed as I will need to, through trial and error, figure out how much supplementation to provide at the start for baby to finish at the breast, not to mention the fact that each nursing during the day will be different as our supply also fluctuates. Mild success is an overstatement. This has been going on for 3 weeks and the situation seems to have worsened. He has now stopped nursing for his middle-of-the-night feeding as well and I find myself pumping to relieve myself at 5am in the morning. This is tough. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up, not to mention breasts never empty well with pumping.

    For DS, weaning doesn't seem to be too bad. I'm on maternity leave and spend a lot of time with him so it doesn't appear he's needing the breast for comfort. He's also falling asleep on his own by watching his mobile and listening to soft music (with a pacifier though). He's taking his formula fine and doesn't have a preference for BM. I'm not sure I'm up for trying an SNS (both emotionally and financially). My husband thinks that if bfing is not working for DS and I, that I should wean as bfing to 6 months has already provided a lot of benefits to DS. My mom thinks I should wean due to my poor track record of getting plugged ducts (she's constantly worried that I'll develop another abscess). Everyone else keeps telling me that formula fed isn't *that bad*. It now feels like the need for nursing is for my emotional sake. I understand there are a lot of benefits of BM, and there are probably a few more things to try (continue Dr. Smilie's method, SNS, feeding by sippy cup instead of bottle, taking away pacifier--this one is gonna be hard). But I'm not sure if I'm up for the challenge at this point. I guess I'm just looking for some assurance that weaning is OK or that this downward spiral will one day miraculously get better.

    Thank you for reading my long story. I usually try and work things out myself, but after all that has happened, this is just too overwhelming for me. Your responses are much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    21,358

    Default Re: Need some advice - weaning 6 month o

    Weaning now is okay.

    And continuing to nurse is okay.

    There are advantages to each, and the only person who can decide which choice is right for you... is you. I think in your shoes, I would put aside the concern from your mom and your DH- they want to protect you and that probably means they are going to push you away from nursing. Because if you stop nursing, it's going to feel like "problem solved, over and done with" to them.

    Okay, here are the pro-weaning facts, as I see them.
    1. Your baby will do just fine on formula. Plenty of babies do.
    2. 6 months of breastmilk provides lots of health benefits.
    3. Weaning now means no more struggles for you.

    And here are the anti-weaning ones:
    1. The longer you nurse, the more health benefits accrue to both you and the baby. (Decreased risks for breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc.)
    2. At this point, you're unlikely to come down with a second abscess. Abscesses, mastitis, plugged ducts- those tend to be things that happen when babies are small, their mouths are tiny, and their latches are poor, and when moms are just starting out with nursing and their milk supplies are generally more abundant.
    3. Your baby is distractible, and that is tough- but it is also usually something that can be fixed if you just continue to try to nurse. It may help to nurse when baby is hungriest, , before offering solids, to keep the amount in the bottles minimal, to wake the baby in the middle of the night for a dream-feed... If you are interested, we may be able to give you some useful techniques.
    4. As you already know, nursing doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can continue to nurse a few times a day and continue to use formula, and just allow nursing or weaning to proceed at its own pace, without having a specific deadline in mind.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    4,894

    Default Re: Need some advice - weaning 6 month o

    I agree with Mommal. There really is no right answer. You have to go with your gut. And, in my opinion, stop worrying and let it happen naturally. If you treasure the breastfeeding relationship, don't give it up so easily and certainly don't let others who are not a part of the relationship influence you. So many babies go on nursing strikes and take breaks. It doesn't have to mean he is weaning. If it were me, I would continue to offer the breast. I would work on rediscovering that bond - forget what food or nutrition comes from it for a moment - and just gain my baby's trust again. It doesn't need to be a challenge. Ditch the books, forget tracking it all and just offer the breast. Because you will drive yourself crazy and it's not meant to be that. Reenact your babymoon. Take a few days where you forget about life and the outside world. Take baths with your baby, do as much kangaroo care as a 6 month old will allow. Sleep with your baby - yes without the pacifier! It can be done Wear him in a sling around the house, with your top off. It sounds crazy, but you have to let his instincts be remembered as well. Allow him to use you as a pacifier, shallow latch or not. But make your breasts a positive experience for him. The reward doesn't have to be about food. It can just be about the mother/son bond. And I get the feeling that's what you are missing.
    If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. - Katharine Hepburn

  4. #4

    Default Re: Need some advice - weaning 6 month o

    @Mommal - thanks for helping me analyze the situation more clearly.
    @kst.7399 - thanks for the suggestions and the encouragement.

    I've spent the last few days debating whether to wean, my mind going back and forth between weaning and not weaning... Like kst.7399 said, I would miss bonding with DS too much if i weaned! So i finally decided to try out the SNS system and using a different way to feed DS (using sippy cup). I also took the suggestion to just spend some time with DS in bed and making the breast available for him as a pacifier. I was playing games with him, tapping him on the cheeks, nose, forehead with the nipple so he'll associate "fun" with the breast and not cry every time he sees it. And then wiggling the nipple in his peripheral to get his attention. Eventually he would latch on for a few seconds, and then unlatch. We did that for like half hour for several sessions. I've learned to worry less and just to accept that if he really refused the breast, then i'll just continue pumping. With that mind set, I felt a lot more relaxed when DS would actually latch. My letdowns came a lot quicker with my being more relaxed and over the last 2 days or so, he's willing to nurse again! He doesn't nurse as much as he did before, but he's willing to nurse 2-3 times a day, so I'm happy! Finally after 26 days, we're somewhat back to where we were prior to his illness. *phew* what a sigh of relief for me! Thank you guys so much for listening. I really needed that!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Need some advice - weaning 6 month o

    Yay what a great update. Relaxing is tough under this circumstances but helpful! Keep it up!
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Default Re: Need some advice - weaning 6 month o

    Really great to hear! You are so right, relaxing is the key. But how difficult when we are hormonal, exhausted, frustrated and afraid for our baby. So you accomplished an unbelievable feat this weekend! Amazing job!!
    If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. - Katharine Hepburn

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,358

    Default Re: Need some advice - weaning 6 month o

    That's wonderful! Well done. I love your playful approach to getting your LO back to the breast.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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