I could really use some advice. My 6-week-old son and I have had a hard time nursing. Basically, I have been forced to supplement from his fifth day of life due to weight loss and because he was unable to transfer enough milk from me. We have never given him a bottle or pacifier. Right now, he is breastfed for 30 minutes, supplemented via finger feeding/syringe with pumped milk and formula, and then I pump. He is an active baby who is growing well, but only when he has enough supplements.
Here's what is going on now:
- He is a lazy nurser. He starts out great and gives up after a few minutes. He often pulls off my breasts just as he triggers letdown.
- I had his tongue tie and lip tie revised via laser two weeks ago. He now has a stronger suck. My LC told me to continue using a nipple shield, which I had to start using when he was born due to a latch that severely damaged my nipples.
- My breast pump is more efficient than my baby. When I have taken him for weigh-feed-weighs, he gets anywhere from 1/3 of an ounce to 1 ounce of breastmilk in 40 minutes.
- I am pumping about 7 times a day. I can only pump 1 ounce total in 20 minutes. My breasts do not seem to run out of milk -- they continue to drip slowly for as long as I pump them. The longest that I have tested this theory for is 50 minutes.
Here's what we have tried:
- Supplements. I have been taking Go Lacta, Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle for weeks. I am currently upping my Fenugreek intake as I do not smell like maple syrup yet. I do not believe that any of these supplements has increased my output. I've eaten plenty of oatmeal and have drank some Mother's Milk tea with a side of lactation cookies. No change, as far as I can tell.
- Waking the baby up. Even if I am very aggressive in waking him while he eats, he still only maxes out at an ounce during a feeding if I am lucky.
- Asking all of the right questions. I do not have any markers for not producing enough milk, like PCOS or a lack of breast changes. The only thing that I dislike is that my breasts (no IGT here) do not become engorged. They either feel soft or slightly less soft. They have gotten bigger since I gave birth.
- Testing my thyroid. It's normal.
- Pumping with a Medela Symphony. It increased my output from 1/2 ounce per 20 minutes to 1 ounce per 20 minutes since I picked it up nearly a month ago. My pumping output has stayed the same ever since.
As I see it, one or both of these two things is happening:
- My baby is a terrible nurser. He has just started figuring out how his tongue works. He falls asleep on the job all of the time and gets frustrated at my slow-flow nipples.
- I have a low milk supply.
I go to my midwife for my six week checkup tomorrow. I'm planning on asking her to check my prolactin levels on the theory that it might tell me if the issue is me or not.
Am I missing something? If the issue is my baby, will he actually grow out of lazy nursing now that I have fixed his TT/LT? If the issue is me, how much longer do I have before I cannot increase my milk supply?
I would appreciate any suggestions or guidance that you have. I have a wonderful LC, but at this point, I feel like she is out of suggestions.