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Thread: Ending Supplements — Help!

  1. #1

    Post Ending Supplements — Help!

    The day after my little one's birth, our pediatrician told us I had to supplement with formula to make his jaundice go away. Four months later and I'm still supplementing. We're now up to 12 oz of formula a day.

    I've read all kinds of stuff about increasing my milk supply and dropping supplements (kellymom, this forum, etc), but I'm kind of discouraged and wonder if I can actually do it. I need encouragement. Any success stories?

    Also, I have some questions. I really don't want to take him off his 3 hr schedule by feeding him every 2 hrs — if I just make sure my breasts get drained 12 times every 24 hrs, whether by him or by pump, will that do the job? How long will it take me to drop all supplements? Days or weeks? I feel like I'll never get away from formula.

    Anything you can say or links you can direct me to will help. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,346

    Default Re: Ending Supplements — Help!

    Wow, first of all I have to raise an eyebrow at the advice from the pediatrician. Unless your baby was born with severe jaundice, which seems unlikely, formula supplements to flush out the bilirubin were probably completely unnecessary. Most babies clear their bilirubin just fine on colostrum and breastmilk alone. So I'm sorry you got thrown into that particular "booby trap."

    I can totally understand why you don't want to budge from the every-3-hours feeding schedule. It's probably really convenient to know exactly when your baby will need to eat. But that schedule is sabotaging your ability to breastfeed. Breastmilk is produced on a supply = demand basis. When you restrict demand in order to space feedings out to some artificial interval, you will also restrict your supply. Your body will read the long intervals between feedings- and 3 hours is a LONG interval for a breastfed baby- as a cue to reduce supply. Also, every time your baby gets topped off with a bottle after her nurses, he's getting the message that he does not need to work particularly hard at nursing. If he feeds really poorly, really lazily, he's still going to get his needs met. So babies who get formula supplements often become poor nursers, which really complicates the job of getting the baby off supplements.

    Draining your breasts 12 times a day will increase your supply, whether you do it using the baby or using the pump. But I strongly suggest using the baby. Babies typically drain the breast more effectively than the pump, and the more opportunities you give your baby to nurse, the better he's going to get at it. Best of all would be to use both the baby AND the pump- nurse the baby as much as possible, even if that means you're nursing every hour or so, and pump after feedings. More demand = more supply.

    You're using a fairly large amount of formula right now. Maybe about half your baby's intake is formula- breastfed babies usually take about 19-30 oz of milk per day. So you're going to have to follow the advice on kellymom and drop the supplements a little at a time. If you're offering about 1.5 oz supplements, knock that back to 1 oz at a time and if the baby seems fussy after finishing the bottle, put him back on the breast to finish the feeding. If he works hard, he'll be able to take that .5 oz from you, and that will immediately give you a supply boost.

    Please don't get discouraged- you CAN do this! I'm thinking you can do it in a few weeks, provided you ditch the schedule. I know it seems like a lot of hard work ahead, but people start with less and achieve the same goal you want to achieve. My mom is a good example- she was forced to wean my little sis at 3 months of age, due to some bad medical advice. 3 months later, when she was finally given the to-ahead to nurse again, she had no milk left. Zero. But by putting my sis to the breast as often as possible, she was able to regain a full supply and she went on to nurse until 18 months, which was longer than she went with either of her other kids.
    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

    Default Re: Ending Supplements — Help!

    Mommal, thanks ever so much for that reply! Love the story about your mom, she's amazing. I talked about it today with my husband and he's all supportive, so beginning tomorrow morning I'll be working like crazy to get my supply up!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,346

    Default Re: Ending Supplements — Help!

    Let us know how it goes! I'm for you, and we're all here to provide support as you get through this period.
    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!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,709

    Default Re: Ending Supplements — Help!

    Your story sounds very similar to mine with DS, 6 years ago today. Supplementing due to jaundice (he was hospitalized), and a domino effect leading to low supply on my end. My experience was that the biggest impediment to weaning off the supplements was the doubt that was instilled in me about whether I could feed my own baby. YOU CAN DO IT. If there is no underlying medical condition, there is no reason that you can't wean off the supplements. You just have to do it slowly, keep an eye on your baby, nurse every chance you get and TRUST YOURSELF.

    My success story: I was able to fully get off the supplements, and even to pump extra to donate milk to a milk bank. DS nursed fully until 2.5 years, when he weaned during my pregnancy with DD. I also had no problems with nursing DD1 or DD2.

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