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Thread: Am I doing the right thing?

  1. #1

    Default Am I doing the right thing?

    Hi all! I have been lurking around for a few weeks and doing lots of reading. I don't know if it helps or just confuses me more. So here is my story and I appreciate any and all feedback/help/suggestions or just flat out encouragement.

    My baby girl is 6 weeks old. We have had a breast feeding problem from day 1. She has a tiny little mouth and I've got ginormous nipples and so she has had a problem latching. To make matters worse, my left side is a 'flat' nipple. So in the hospital we used a nipple shield to help her latch. I have since stopped using the nipple shield after reading how it can affect supply. We were exclusively BFing for the first 2 weeks but she did not gain any weight so I was told to pump and supplement if needed.
    Here is my current routine - when she shows signs of hunger I will nurse her, then give her 2oz of either formula or breast milk, then I will pump. I don't know if this is the right way to do things or not...

    Now, at her 1 mth appt she gained a lb and so the Dr was happy with that. It was about an oz a day weight gain. I asked her if I could start eliminating bottles. She doesn't want me to since were weight gain is just ideal not over the top.

    Baby girls latch is getting so much better on the right side and she actively sucks for about 3-5 minutes. After that she will do the occasional suck. As for the left side, well I've started using a nipple shell to help pull it out. This seems to help a little but it's still new and she doesn't seem to suck like she does on the right. I should say that she's always been a lazy nurser and always falls asleep straight away. Now that she's sucking a little I see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel.

    I guess my question is - how do I know if she's getting enough milk from nursing? I don't think she is since she doesn't really seem to get much from the left breast.
    I want so bad to EBF but I don't know how to get her to actively suck and get anything from the left side. When I pump I always seem to get 1-1.5oz from the left side. That's another thing, I don't know if my supply is good or not. I've been taking fenugreek and mothers milk tea.
    She has gotten better and so that's what makes me stick with it. And I have read from other mothers who have it work after a couple months. I want to stick it out its just so hard and takes so long for a feeding. I love nursing her but my Dr has said it's not so good to just let her sit there and use me as a pacifier (as she does sometimes) since she will burn more calories than she's taking in.

    I just don't know. I would love any input from you wise ladies! This is my first baby and I'm just on my own with this. My husband is pretty supportive but the rest of my family just doesn't understand why I don't just give her a bottle. I'm sorry this is so long and rambling - too many questions of the unknown! I just need some reassurance that I'm doing the right thing or a push in the right direction.

    Thanks for any help you can provide!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    New York

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    greetings tater12!
    i am so happy you reached out to LLL.
    It can be hard to tell if your LO is transferring milk when she nursers but there are a few tell-tale signs.
    1. Does she suck and swallow during a nursing
    2. Do your breasts feel softer after a feeding
    3. can you see little drips of milk on her mouth or chin

    are you breastfeeding her 8-12 times per 24 hours?
    are you supplementing with mostly expressed milk?
    If your LO is not nursing every 2-3 hours are you expressing to keep up your supply?

    Infants require 24-28 ounces of breastmilk per day. The more often you nurse/express the more milk your body will produce.

    Some mothers preferr to supplement 1-2 ounces before offering the breast. this way the baby is not fully satiated but is not crazed with hunger and is more likely to settle down and latch on.
    Started my family in 1986
    Finally done in 2001

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    How much formula are you giving per day? Have you thought on backing off on the amount of supplement you are giving her? The problem with bottles is that she doesn't have to work for it...

    I don't really understand why your daughter would burn more calories than she is taking in if she comfort nurses.

    Your supply sounds good to me, but you need to get to the point where you are not giving her any formula at all. If you are only giving her an ounce or two, you could drop the formula entirely. Then you could either go cold turkey with the bottles - you are producing all of her milk, after all, if you cut out the formula supplements - and suffer through a day or two while you guys figure it out and she doesn't have the easy bottles. Or you could back off on the bottle supplementation by half an ounce per day if you didn't want to go cold turkey.

    You tell if she's getting enough by watching her output.

    Again, how many ounces of formula are you giving her PER DAY?

    Mommy to
    Lilah 10/08 nursed 25 months
    Beatrix 01/11 nursed 30 months

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    I love nursing her but my Dr has said it's not so good to just let her sit there and use me as a pacifier (as she does sometimes) since she will burn more calories than she's taking in.
    Comfort nursing is part of normal nursing behavior. All babies comfort nurse, it is an important part of the entire breastfeeding 'system." It allows a baby to get more milk (your body is always making milk) and encourages your body to make more milk. So-called “non-nutritive sucking” at the breast is only a concern (sometimes) with very ill, very tiny, premature infants who are sucking and sucking but not ever getting enough milk to eat, so who are losing weight. This has nothing to do with normal comfort nursing.

    An ounce a day is good weight gain. It is normal, average weight gain. Is your doctor suggesting you wait until baby is gaining too much before weaning off supplements? It does not make sense. Weaning off supplements can be done safely and gradually, but you need support and some oversight to start the ball rolling.

    You tell a baby is getting enough by weight gain. How a baby acts and baby taking supplements when offered means little if anything. If baby is pooping enough, that is a good sign to, but since your baby had issues with weight gain I would suggest you stick with that as your measure just to be sure. This does not mean weigh baby every day, as that may be too stressful and weight gain is seldom that steady. Maybe weigh once a week or twice at the very most ?

    Weight checks must always be on the same reliable infant scale with baby naked or in a dry diaper.

    If your doctor is not able to help, Can you see an IBCLC who can assist you as you try to wean off supplements? In any case, it may help you a lot to talk your particular situation out one on one with an IBCLC or a LLL Leader.

    Here is an article about weaning off supplements.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    I have heard the calories thing with preemies but comfort nursing not only provides comfort for baby, it stimulates your body YO make more milk. If it were me I would read the links Tracie posted about weaning from supplementation and nurse as often and for as long as she wanted. Also if you still need to supplement you may want to use a supplemental nursing system so she is at your breast. At thing int she is used to not really working for food and you want to make her actively nurse for longer.
    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
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    I would start with a supplement, just a bit, and then finish at the breast.

    I was told the same thing about comfort nursing my cleft baby....and I do not believe it to be true. If a baby can and has extracted milk, then comfort nursing is actually GOOD for them and for you. It's practice nursing, and practice makes perfect.

    Check out those links!
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    Thank you for your help ladies. Sorry I haven't had a chance to get back and answer your questions. Tonight has been a doosy - she was fussing so I tried nursing. That worked for a while. But as soon as she would unlatch she would start fussing again to a point I couldn't get her to stay latched. So I gave her a bottle with formula and she's been happy since. So that makes me think she was hungry but not getting anything from me. It just kills me to think I'm not enough for her!

    So to answer some questions.
    I have been giving her about 6-8oz of formula a day. The majority of the bottles are breast milk. Today I haven't been able to pump so much because she has been pretty much nursing most of the day and when I do get a chance to pump I really only get about an 1-1.5oz.
    1. Does she suck and swallow during a nursing - on one side yes for about 2-5 min, longer with some encouragement by waking her up. On the other side she seems to just knaw on it. I don't know if this is because of the flat nipple or if she is just tired from the first side. But even if I start the flat nipple first, she doesn't really suck. So I'm afraid she's really not getting much from that one.
    2. Do your breasts feel softer after a feeding - again, on the one side, yes it does feel slightly softer (not as soft after pumping though). But I find she can sit there for 20-30 min with the occasional suck. After that time it's definitely a lot softer. But I find this is going to get old real fast!
    3. can you see little drips of milk on her mouth or chin - I have never seen milk on her mouth or chin except for when she drinks from the bottle. I don't know if that means she's not transferring milk?

    I am definitely feeding her 8-12 times a day and I try to nurse at every feeding at least for a little while. At night she's so sleepy she doesn't want to nurse but takes the bottle effortlessly. I still try but just don't get very far.

    I will read the article on weaning from supplements. I just worry about not giving her the formula if I don't have enough expressed milk and the poor girl being hungry. I think there is a IBCLC near me that I will try calling and see if she can give us some hands on pointers. I would love love love to be able to breast feed and that be enough for her. I don't like going out right now because I always worry about our feedings - nursing for so long and then giving her a bottle and then me pumping if possible. It's like by the time we get through it all it's time to start again. I get so envious of the ladies who can nurse for 20 min and be done with a completely happy and content baby. Oh well, I'm trying my darndest to make it work. It just gets so frustrating wanting it so bad and not being able to do it.
    I appreciate your help and I will get on with reading the articles. If I do a weight check every week or so I'll have to get her Dr on board with us so I can get her weighed on their scale.
    Thanks again!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    Read the article about weaning from supplements-you will see it advises a very gradual and conservative approach and there is little chance your baby will go hungry following such an approach. Of course if your baby requires supplements and you do not have enough expressed breastmilk, you will supplement with formula.

    I strongly urge you to hire an experienced IBCLC and have breastfeeding assessed. This will require an appt of at least 90 minutes so the IBCLC can take a history, examine baby, watch baby nurse, maybe do a befor and after nursing weight check, and give you a plan for going forward. From your description of what is going on it sounds to me like there may be a milk transfer issue, these are usually solvable, but until baby can nurse effectively at the breast you will not be able to totally wean from supplemental bottles of breastmilk or formula. Frankly you should have been advised by your pediatrician to see an IBCLC as soon as the weight gain issue was identified, but instead doctors too often just throw formula at the problem with no attempt to get to the bottom of what is going on. It's infuriating to me. However, this is still very early days and you have been keeping up your milk supply at least partly with pumping so your chances of getting this figured out and ebf are quite good. But you really want to get hands on help sooner rather than later.

    Look up IBCLCs here: www.ilca.org I always suggest moms call at least 3 IBCLCs (if possible) before hiring someone, you want someone with experience with the issues you are having and who you feel you can communicate with. if you have a local LLL Group contact them as well for suggestions/support.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    Thank you lllmeg! I do appreciate the encouragement. I too am a little annoyed at the pediatrician looking back on it now. At the time being a first time mom & hearing that my baby is basically starving I was going to do anything. They even gave me formula & I couldn't get home fast enough to give her some. I felt so bad for my poor baby. But now after so much reading I realize there were better steps to take. I don't know that we have many IBCLC around me but I will certainly call as many as I can & start getting this fixed.
    Thanks again!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    middle of IA

    Default Re: Am I doing the right thing?

    good luck tater12! if you're only giving 6-8 oz of formula a day, you really are very close. you should feel optimistic about your chances of success in getting back to the breast entirely!

    and remember - these LONG nursing sessions that newborns have - they are temporary. babies get faster as they get older and better at nursing. it's a phase, you'll need to settle in for some long nursing now (get a book, set up a computer, watch some good netflix series, whatever) and know that almost for sure your baby will be down to 5-10 min nursings by a year. so hang in there!
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

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