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Thread: Overactive letdown and swallowing a TON of air

  1. #1

    Default Overactive letdown and swallowing a TON of air

    My son is 3 weeks old. For the past 3 weeks I have been working on getting my supply down (had way too much milk) and thanks to getting mastitis the first week that really helped bring it down. I block fed for a while and I'm now to the point where I feel like I only make a little more than he needs (just because of how much I pumped yesterday so I could try giving him a bottle). He still struggles a ton when he nurses. Gulps, coughs, cries, and arches away from the breast after only a couple minutes...and then once that starts the rest of the nursing session is like that. He also has acid reflux (on Prevacid for almost 2 weeks now for that) and we're pretty sure he has a milk allergy too because after day 3 of staying off of dairy his stools went from green to yellow. I'm trying different positions and burp frequently. I have tried anti-gravity but he doesn't like that because he likes to arch away. Because of this I am feeding him all the time because he won't eat a lot at one feeding. This has been extremely hard because I have a 2 year old that is having a really hard time adjusting to having a new baby in the house, and I'm not getting much rest because he doesn't sleep well at night because he gets so gassy and doesn't eat much at one time. I want to make this work more than anything though! I had to pump & feed the whole first year for my daughter and I do not want to go through that again. Is there anything else I can do? And just as a side note when I did give him a bottle yesterday he fed so much better so I know right now the issue is getting him not to swallow so much air while feeding. I have met with a lactation consultant and his latch is fine too. I feel like there's not anything more I can do.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,843

    Default Re: Overactive letdown and swallowing a TON of air

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby!

    It sounds like you've made some tremendous advances in just 3 weeks. Your supply is better matched to baby's needs and you're seeing some yellow poops. Still struggling with fast flow and gas at 3 weeks is very normal- remember, teeny-tiny babies often have trouble coping with milk flow even when it's coming out at a "normal" speed. You just have to wait for baby to grow bigger and stronger, and he'll be able to handle any sort of letdown. Eventually you're likely to reach a point when he suddenly decides that he likes a fast milk flow, and starts to fuss because the milk is coming too slow!

    Frequent feedings are textbook normal for such a young baby. Many breastfed babies eat every 90 minutes, or even more frequently. Remember, infant tummies are tiny and breastmilk digests fast. Because breastfed babies are completely in charge of their own intake, they tend to eat somewhat less at a feeding than bottle-fed babies, due to the mechanics of bottle-feeding. When a nursing baby is no longer hungry, milk flow will slow to a trickle or stop altogether, and baby will be able to get his comfort sucking needs met without ingesting a lot of extra milk. However, a bottle delivers the same fast flow of milk regardless of whether the baby is sucking eagerly for food or lazily for comfort, which means that a baby who is merely comfort sucking will get a lot of additional milk and will eat more at a sitting than a baby who nurses directly.

    At this pont, the best thing you can do is to nurse on demand and hang in there as much as possible. Your baby will eventually get easier to nurse, I promise! Focus on regaining your strength, getting in a groove with the baby, and if you let your toddler watch a lot of tv right now no-one will blame you! Do you have help around the house? A babysitter or helpful grandma could really be a lifesaver right now!
    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
    May 2011
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    Default Re: Overactive letdown and swallowing a TON of air

    3 weeks is still very little. It can take a little time for babies to grow big and strong enough to cope with a really fast flow. The good news is that even if you do nothing at all now your baby will likely do fine with the fast letdown as he gets bigger, but there are still some things that you can try now to help him. By "antigravity" do you mean nursing in a relined position? Nursing while leaning back on a few pillows can work very well, but it can also take a lot of adjusting the position to find something that works for you. Nursing in a side lying position can help with the overactive letdown too. You might want to also try the opposite, nursing very upright. My son would often nurse more calmly, without the fussing and arching, while upright in a sling or carrier. This would also help you keep him more upright in a sling/carrier after the feed, which helps a lot with reflux too. The sling/carrier also helps you get some things done while retaining the frequent feedings, which are actually much better for overactive letdown than are more spaced out feedings. You can also try removing your baby from the breast at letdown, letting the milk spray into a towel, then relatching your baby.

    ETA: and Mommal is, of course, absolutely correct as usual. Getting some help if you can for the few weeks is a great idea.
    K. Sophia - Mama to my little lactivore, the amazing Mr. X (11/10).

  4. #4

    Default Re: Overactive letdown and swallowing a TON of air

    Thank you so much for the input. And thank you for letting me know that frequent nursing is normal! Family members and others have told me it should at least be 2 hours, and closer to 3 and I've felt this whole time that I've done something wrong. That sticky about thinking your baby is nursing too much was very helpful as well. The tough thing about all this is doing it with a toddler. I do have family around but they are all really busy so we just try and get through the week and love the weekends when Daddy's home. Sounds like I just need to push through the next few weeks and things should workout themselves. Do you think the change to yellow poop is actually because my son's now getting a better balance of foremilk/hindmilk instead of a milk allergy?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,843

    Default Re: Overactive letdown and swallowing a TON of air

    2-3 hours in between nursing sessions with a newborn? That's silly. Older babies sometimes go that long, or longer, between nursing sessions, but not newborns. Is your family more accustomed to bottle-fed/formula-fed babies? They tend to go longer between feedings because they get stuffed to the brim pretty much every time they eat, and that can throw off people's perceptions of what is normal.

    It's very, very possible that the reason you're seeing yellow poops is because you now have a supply that's better matched to baby's demand (i.e. a better balance of foremilk and hindmilk), and not because of removing dairy from your diet. Oversupply can cause green poops, lots of gas, and discomfort and is often mistaken for allergies and for reflux, though it is more common than either of those things.
    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!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Default Re: Overactive letdown and swallowing a TON of air

    My baby is also about three weeks old, and she nurses very frequently, coughs and sputters at the fast flow of my milk, and generally is a lot like your baby! But having been through this once before, I now know this is pretty normal. If you're seeing yellow poops, you're on the right track with managing your oversupply. I also agree with Mommal on that one - I think a lot of women think they are dealing with allergies when simple ol' oversupply is the more likely culprit (of course, sometimes allergies are a real issue too). You may not need to eliminate dairy at all.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

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