I'm a first time mom, with a beautiful 5 week old son. I should start this by mentioning that he has a cleft lip and a tongue tie, but is gaining weight (6# 11oz at birth, 7# at 5 days, 9# 1oz at 3 weeks, and ~11# today).
Like many other moms here, we are having trouble with fussiness during feeds, seemingly due to rapid let down/oversupply. He often (not always) coughs, sputters, arches his back, pushes/kicks, and cries, usually within 1 minute of latching. Sometimes, this won't happen until 5 minutes or so into a feed. If we decide to stop feeding, he usually cries his hungry cry as soon as I put him down. Once he calms down (the only thing that works is dancing, with lots of spinning!), I try to feed him again. Sometimes he'll eat, but often it starts the cycle again. These cycles happen usually 2-3 times per day, and can go up to 3 hours until he falls asleep.
I try to feed him every time he starts looking hungry or cries. I get the sense that he is easily frustrated and sometimes seems to have a sense of foreboding when he sees the breast. We were working with it until 2 days ago, when I developed a mild mastitis in my less productive breast. This seems to be clearing up, but he is now completely refusing the more productive breast - I started pumping just that side once a day, which seems to have made things even worse!
So, lots of questions -
1) When should we throw in the towel and decide to stop feeding for a while? Are there any cues I should look for to decide if he is truly hungry or wants to comfort nurse? I've developed a "three strikes" rule, that if he cries/pushes off three times (with soothing to a relative calm in between) then we're done for the time being. I gave him a pacifier for the first time when I was in bed due to the mastitis and couldn't dance around with him...it seems to help, but I'm uncomfortable about becoming dependent on it.
2) I know pumping can increase supply, but can it also increase the velocity of milk ejection? This problem seems to be worse since I've started to pump, but at some point I'd like to start freezing for when I return to work.
3) Even though he is gaining weight, I can't help wondering if his anatomy is making things more difficult for him. We have spoken with 3 doctors here about the tongue-tie (we are not in the U.S.), and it seems like frenectomy is not something that is routinely done. If it could be contributing, what are the downsides of the procedure? We will be in the U.S. when he is 4 months old for his cleft surgery - would it be worth trying to get it done at the same time, or is it too late?
OK, he is napping now, so I should do the same. This is way longer than I intended...thanks for reading if you made it this far. Any suggestions about any of these issues would be hugely appreciated!