My name is Amanda, and I just gave birth to my third son 12 days ago. I have struggled with breastfeeding all three of my boys.
With my first, his latch was bad, and I dried up by the time he was five days old. He would scream every time I would try to feed him, so we took him back to the hospital and found out he had lost two pounds. I started bottle feeding him and pumping to get my supply back. I ended up getting my supply to about 24 oz a day and exclusively pumped for 5 months. He never latched on as he had gotten used to the bottle flow. I had to pump every two hours the entire five months as my supply would never stabilize. If I tried to go three hours, my supply would drop almost in half in one day, and it would take weeks to get it back up.
With my second, he was in the NICU until he was five days old, and was only allowed to finger feed as his blood sugar and o2 levels would drop too low when breastfeeding. I got a bunch of plugged ducts when my milk came in, and could not get them out. As a result, my supply plummeted. I was able to get my milk supply back up (and really well on one side), so that my second son would breastfeed from one side. He still needed to be topped off afterwards, but he always started at the breast. I breastfed/pumped for four months. He ended up in the hospital at four months with pneumonia and RSV, and after an entire day at the ER, an ambulance ride, and a trip home before I could get my pump, my supply vanished.
As you can imagine, I was very fearful that I would have issues breastfeeding again(I was mostly fearful that my supply would be too low again), so I started pumping in between feedings before my milk even came in. My newest son has a great latch (according to my LC), so I never thought I would be writing this. My milk came in right before the third day. He was nursing well the first day or two. I started getting lazy about pumping after every feeding, and ended up only pumping about four additional times a day (on top of the 8-10 nursing sessions). By the time my son was 7 days old, he was "nursing" for three hours, and then acting as though he was still starving afterwards. I realized that he was only sucking for a minute or two, swallowing maybe once or twice, and then sleeping for 15-20 minutes. When I pumped afterwards, I was getting about an ounce an hour, so I knew my supply was okay (since the highest supply I ever had really). I knew he wasn't getting enough to eat because he stopped having wet/poopy diapers. I went to see my LC (she is board certified) as I wasn't sure if this was normal. She called it cluster feeding at first, but after watching him nurse, she decided that he was a lazy nurser. She gave me an SNS to use when feeding him to encourage him to actually breastfeed at the nipple as opposed to napping through his feedings. I have been using it for three days, and nothing has changed. It still takes hours to feed him. He is only eating 1/2 ounce to an ounce from the SNS, and I really don't think he's getting much more from my breast. I have to constantly prick and prod him to get him to eat even that much!
After thinking about it, I realized that all three of my children did this - even the first. He didn't start crying when I tried to feed him until he had starved for five days. Before that, he was content to use me as a pacifier.
I spoke with my LC today, and it almost sounded as if she was ready to give up (although I don't think I am just yet). She said that for my sanity I needed to feed him for 25 minutes at the breast only (NO MORE), and then pump for twenty minutes while my husband bottle feeds him (he'll down a 2 ounce bottle in a matter of minutes). My husband works during the day, so I'll have to give him the bottle most of the time, and I REALLY don't want to. My OB called in a prescription for Reglan for me just in case increasing my supply makes it so he can actually empty the milk from my breasts, but to be honest I have enough milk. I haven't had to use any of my stash in the freezer from the first few days. I have been able to pump exactly what he needs (a little more even) every day.
If you've made it this far, I guess I'm just looking for encouragement, stories like mine, or any advice you have to offer. I just don't know what to do. I can't be attached to the pump like I was with my first son. Back then, I only had him to worry about, but I am home for the summer with my older two children now, and they need more from me.
Thank you in advance for your help. I am feeling very discouraged, frustrated, saddened, and as though I have failed my son - yet again. I just wish this was something that came naturally to me.