The short version of my question is: I'm following the instructions on this page for reducing my milk supply in hopes of alleviating green poo, gas, distress and crankiness in my 8-week-old. I started yesterday and overnight, my breasts became so engorged that they're literally rock hard, all the way down to the nipples. Is this normal for this process? Will my LO ever possibly drink enough to alleviate the engorgement and get anything other than foremilk?
Here's the long version:
My LO is 8 weeks old; my first. I had intended to have immediate post-birth skin-to-skin and start breast feeding, but medical necessity intervened and it was nearly a week before I was able to attempt breast feeding, although I was pumping and giving by bottle before then.
When my milk came in, I became very, very engorged. Pre-pregnancy I was an A cup at best, and my breasts became rock hard all the way down to the nipples. So engorged that the lactation consultant at the hospital gave me a nipple shield so that the baby could even latch a little bit, but advised me not to use it and instead to pump until there was some improvement in my nipple flexibility before attempting to breast feed.
We continued using the nipple shield and pumping to feed with a bottle once or twice a day when home (what I had read about nipple shields recommended pumping after every feeding when using them, so I made sure both breasts were emptied one way or the other every feed). At about three weeks, my LO started having one greenish poo a day, which I realized was correlated with periods of extreme crankiness and tummy upset. My LO has been eating like a champ and growing huge and chubby.
Then last week, at 7 weeks, poo turned exclusively green, ranging from grass green to a yellowish-but-still-green dark khaki and accompanied by extreme crankiness and gas that required straining to pass. After four days or so, it seemed to be escalating, not improving.
At this point, I started Googling and realized I was probably dealing with a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. In an attempt to stabilize things, I started pumping exclusively, to ensure LO was getting at least some fat with every meal. The amounts I pump range from 1-1/2 to 5-1/2 oz per breast (3 to 11 oz total) per session, depending on the time of day and length between sessions. A typical bottle feed for my LO is around 2-4 oz.
Doing this, most of the bright green poo went away, and it started tending toward the darker, yellowish and the crankiness seemed to abate. Still, I never saw a good orange-yellow poo like what we used to have and things weren't back to normal entirely with the gas. I called the pediatrician, who was not terribly concerned, and suggested we burp more thoroughly, but didn't mention any possible issues with my milk.
It seemed to me that I had confirmed I was overproducing (5-1/2 oz from each breast at times -- remember I'm an A cup normally, so that's a huge amount to store in there!) and that a foremilk-hindmilk issue was causing LO's issues (LO was responding well to getting exclusively pumped milk, which guaranteed at least a mid-level fat every meal, but didn't entirely correct things). So yesterday, I went back to exclusively breast feeding following the first-level protocol on the LLLI page about oversupply. I'm not sure if it's relevant, but we're still using the nipple shield because of a tongue tie that was just resolved with surgery last week.
Overnight, my breasts have become more engorged than they've been since my milk first came in. They're literally like rocks all the way down to the nipples. I was able to get LO to feed using the nipple shield, but it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt, including birth. Feeding alleviates the engorgement a tiny bit, but LO isn't getting anything but foremilk (I can tell because I'm still dripping watery foremilk after the feeding) and there's barely any change at all in my breasts after each feeding.
To compound my stress, I have to go back to work in two weeks, and so I have to be pumping enough to feed her all day while I'm gone by then. I'm concerned about being able to do that.
Is this level of engorgement normal for this process? What should I be doing? I know I've caused my own problems, and I just need to know how to get out of this milky hole I've dug. I'm sorry if this all sounds neurotic and hysterical -- it's been a stressful few weeks.
Thanks for any experience/advice you can share. We need it!