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Thread: 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

  1. #1

    Default 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

    When I first found out I was pregnant, I was worried about labor. I thought breastfeeding would be natural and easy. Well was I ever wrong. The birth was simple and sweet. But what followed was a nightmare.

    I have inverted nipples. My baby was born with a small mouth. He just couldn't latch on. After 3 days of desperate trying (with a nipple shield and careful observation from our midwife) our baby born at 7.5 pounds had dropped to 6.5. Eeek! We got donor breast milk and bottle fed him while I pumped around the clock to get my supply up. At 2 weeks we were feeding him 100% my milk from a bottle. At 3 weeks he finally latched on (with the nipple shield) and nursed well. It took him until 3.5 months to nurse without the nipple shields and now I'm wondering if they might have hurt my milk supply.

    At his 4 month check up he weighed in at 11 pounds 4 ounces dropping from the 20th to the 10th percentile in 2 months. Our pediatrician said we should keep an eye on it but because he's meeting all of his developmental markers and his head is growing fine, there isn't much concern. I do feel concerned though because he seems not that much bigger in a month. He is not chubbing out at all and his stomach looks so thin. Like really thin - you can see his ribs. He seems satisfied after nursing and refuses a bottle full of extra pumped milk. Both my husband and I are small people (5' and 5'6") and skinny to medium build.

    I am under a lot of personal life stress (moving, work stuff, am I making enough milk??) and I suppose that could be affecting my milk supply. I have never been a naturally relaxed person (childhood abuse survivor -not sure if that can also play a role with milk supply).

    One more thing to add. Fennugreek does me wonders! It really helps my milk supply stay steady. Unfortunately it also gives me diarrhea. I've tried playing around with dosage levels and that doesn't seem to help. Any other ideas for lactogenic supplements would be awesome.

    Thank you so so much!

  2. #2

    Default Re: 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

    Just realized I should note that I nurse him on demand. Even at work (he comes with me) Which play out to about every 2 hours during the day (at least) and 2-3 times per night.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

    It sounds like you have been doing really well despite those early challenges.

    Personally I am not going to argue if a pediatrician is saying all is well. In many cases, as long as weight gain remains consistently in an upward trajectory, jumping down the charts a bit is no more alarming than jumping UP the charts.

    But no reason to not try to increase milk into baby, as that certainly will not hurt.

    1st, have you ever had nursing assessed by an IBCLC? And if so, when was that? This is important because not all weight gain issues have to do with milk production or only milk production. Baby must be an efficient nurser as well.

    Have you ever tried other techniques for increasing production-switch nursing, breast compressions, pumping after nursing, nursing vacations, etc?

    There are many other galacagogues but I am not sure what would be the best "replacement" for fenugreek-and you might want to try a blend...
    The best source I know of for milk production issues is the book (The breastfeeding mothers guide to) Making More Milk. www.Kellymom.com also has many good articles.

    Even severe stress would only interfere with us on a hormonal level, and milk production is almost entirely no longer hormonal and instead, driven by frequent, effective milk removal at this age.

    HOWEVER, letdown is hormone driven. So it is possible stress can cause letdown issues. Pain also causes letdown issues. And if breastfeeding causes you stress and pain (emotional pain is often experienced physically) due to your history, that might be something to consider working on.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

    with all the above.

    I just want to add that there's an excellent book out there for moms in your shoes: "When Survivors Give Birth" by Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus. Childhood abuse does not, to my knowledge, cause supply issues- as LLLMeg said above, after a certain point supply much less about hormones than it is about milk removal, and the hormones associated with stress (e.g. adrenaline) may inhibit/delay letdown but typically cannot interfere with milk supply. But childhood abuse can definitely cause issues around breastfeeding. The responses are very variable- some moms never have a breastfeeding issues related to abuse, others find that they experience feelings of repulsion while nursing, others simply find the whole experience upsetting and stressful, others will experience intrusive thoughts while nursing... Anyway, the book gives some strategies for coping that can be very helpful.

  5. #5

    Default Re: 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

    Thank you for both of your responses!

    It was really thanks to an amazing IBCLC and a very supportive husband that I am still breastfeeding today! The IBCLC really helped me with the nipple shields (which were essential with my inverted nipples) and was so so positive throughout all of my challenges. I just contacted her again today to re-look at our latch and what not.
    I always do breast compressions and today I've been pumping after I nurse. A nursing vacation sounds lovely! Because I am a small business owner it's hard for me to take any more time off this year, but I wish...

    I do think let down is hard for me. In the first few weeks I would take a quick hot shower before nursing/pumping to help with letdown. Now that my baby is 5 months I don't often feel letdown or my milk coming in in the same way, but I heard that's normal thorough kellymom.com.

    I have found breastfeeding to be stressful! I long so much for that relaxed connection time with my son! I feel like he knows that I'm stressed and it's getting in the way of our relationship. I'm embarrassed to say that I sometimes need to put on a funny tv show or movie to get me through the whole process. Especially at night. (And I am not normally much of a tv person at all, but hey at least I'm finding a way to cope!) He's just getting to the age where he wants to pop off and take a look though, so this coping method may need to be replaced with something else soon.

    I did read "When Survivors Give Birth" when I took Penny's childbirth class earlier this year. Penny was a huge resource for me. Between her class and that book and my wonderful midwife, I really was given the tools to have the wonderful homebirth experience that I had.

    Baby seems a little unsatisfied nursing today. I just realized that I may have a minor nipple infection. (These inverted nipples are really getting a thorough workout). I hope that my lactation consultant can come later today and take a look at it.

    That you again for all the suggestions.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

    According to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, the herb fennel is useful in targeting letdown issues specifically. But I don't know anything else about it! I suggest ask you IBCLC.

    A "nursing vacation" just means, getting in bed or on the couch or wherever is comfortable, with baby (and whatever else you like-TV, book, phone etc.) and doing nothing else but cuddling, resting and nursing-basically, it means, letting go of "I should be doing XYZ" and taking down time with your baby. It can be as short as a couple hours... working moms may do it for as long as a weekend- but it need not be anywhere near that long to be helpful. It's one of those mom wisdom ideas passed down for many generations for stressed out, busy moms who are concerned nursing is not going well or that baby is not getting enough milk.

    Is this your first baby?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: 5 month old not gaining weight. I'm STRESSED.

    Also I don't think you should feel ashamed of watching TV while you nurse! In my family, we make a concerted effort to avoid ALL screen media for my older kids, so I am no fan of TV for babies OR kids. But I usually nurse in front of the TV in the evening (after older kids go to bed) when I am just exhausted and done and have done this with all my kids... Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I switch to talking heads or something else slow moving and turn the sound down if it's causing distraction.

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