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Thread: Do I have any hope?

  1. #1

    Default Do I have any hope?

    Hi. Sorry for the long post but this is my story. I had cosmetic breast surgery about 15 years ago and when my little girl Anya was born at 39 weeks I was told it would be very difficult to breastfeed her. The fact that she was classified as 'low birth weight' scared me and made me very anxious about her health. When my milk didn't make an appearance on the 3rd day (I had a bit of colostrum only that I collected and gave to her using a syringe) and she was getting increasingly hungry and the Paediatrician said 'she needs the calories', so I decided to give her a bottle with formula and started pumping to see if I could produce any milk for her. Anya was good at latching and was doing a fantastic job but when the bottle was introduced she lost interest in feeding from the breast, even though she still sucks for comfort.
    I stayed at the hospital for a week and when I got home I was producing around 50-60ml per pumping session, and gradually that increased to 90 - 110ml, suddenly from week 3 Anya was only having expressed breastmilk, no formula, and I was very happy indeed, BUT she would not take it from the breast. I went to a Lactation consultant that gave me nipple shield. Anya started to take the breast again but wouldn't nurse properly, she would stay for 5 minutes and sleep and then wake up every 10 minutes for a feed. She wouldn't just take a full feed no matter what I did. I could not ditch the bottles altogether because of my anxiety and fear of not producing enough milk, even though I was producing it by expressing, I couldn't shake off the fear for her health as she was still at the bottom of the growth percentile. Anya did not have a problem latching, I was producing milk but for some reason she wasn't getting it! So, at the top of my frustration on week 5 I decided to take a leap of faith and feed her of the breast ONLY for a full day. That day was awful, she cried and fussed all day, she would take the breast but once again for 5 minutes at a time, her nappies weren't as wet and at the end of the day I threw in the towel and decided to switch to formula altogether as pumping was taking so much of my time. I felt guilty, I cried for 3 days and suffered the engorgement and leaking while my milk dried. On week 6 and 7 Anya had basically only formula but her tummy paid the price with bouts of watery poo and a lot of wind, which didn't improve until I bought a hypoallergenic formula.
    Her response to formula made me feel so guilty I decided to re-lactate but I wasn't prepared for my milk drying up so quick! I rented an Ameda Platinum and started pumping again, got a few drops only. It's been a week now and I am getting about 30-45ml per pumping session (I had one episode last night of 65ml but that was a one off). I am also taking Fenugreek and blessed thistle. I also got a Medela SNS but that has been a nightmare and Anya was so stressed out because of the latching on and off to make sure that tube would be in her mouth that she started refusing to suck the breast even for comfort, she refused to touch it for 2 days so I ditched the SNS to save my baby girl's tolerance towards my breasts. I am pumping every 2-3 hours and once overnight, I am trying to pump 8 times a day, but no less than 6 but things are progressing very slowly. I am still giving her the breast for comfort but I do have hope that once my supply has come up again she will do better as she is 9 weeks old now and much more alert and capable of staying awake for a full feed. So this is my plan, when I am managing to pump about 200ml per session I will ditch the bottles as I love when she feeds from me and my heart aches for that closeness again. Is there any hope that I will reach that mark, with my breast surgery and after not pumping at all for 2 weeks and letting my milk dry? If I am not pumping enough milk I will always feel that anxiety about not having enough to feed her so unless I am 'flooding' with milk I won't feel comfortable getting her off the bottles. Is 30-40ml ok for a week's frequent pumping? Should I be making more? Do I have any hope? Also I'm starting Motilium soon, will that make a difference? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    For any one else who thinks in ounces, as opposed to mls, here are the conversions of the amounts listed above:

    30-40mls = 1.01-1.35ozs;
    200mls=6.76ozs;
    50-60mls=1.69-2.02ozs;
    90-110mls=3.04-3.71ozs

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    To answer the question in the heading-- YES, there is so much hope. I think what this means depends on two different things, though-- (1) how success is defined, and how open you are for reevaluating how you define it as you go along, and (2) the sort of murkiness unknowns of how different people's bodies respond differently. From what you are describing, to me, I see so much success already; your baby is getting your milk (this is a big deal! even if this is what she's getting in addition to other milk), and she has a mom who is putting in a lot of effort to make this happen. I know this reply isn't hugely helpful-- I'm hoping that others who have had experience with relactation can chime in with some more specific ideas (if they don't, I'll offer some)-- but I want you to know that you are already doing a really wonderful job. What you are pumping now, and that you've seen it increase, is a great sign.

    Would you be open to trying the SNS (or maybe trying the Lact-Aid instead) now that she is a little more wakeful and does less of the stop-start?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    I bet you've already been doing a fair amount of research on relactation? If you haven't already looked through this selection of kellymom articles, there are many good ideas:

    http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

    Here is an LLLI article with one woman's story:

    http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbiss56-09p28.html

    Here is another woman's story of relactation. I think it's really inspiring, and also shows how much work and how hard it can be (I like the "war room" she made.):

    http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/relactation.html

    Here are more resources on relactation:

    http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbrelactation.html

  5. #5

    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*erin.in.middletown View Post
    To answer the question in the heading-- YES, there is so much hope. I think what this means depends on two different things, though-- (1) how success is defined, and how open you are for reevaluating how you define it as you go along, and (2) the sort of murkiness unknowns of how different people's bodies respond differently. From what you are describing, to me, I see so much success already; your baby is getting your milk (this is a big deal! even if this is what she's getting in addition to other milk), and she has a mom who is putting in a lot of effort to make this happen. I know this reply isn't hugely helpful-- I'm hoping that others who have had experience with relactation can chime in with some more specific ideas (if they don't, I'll offer some)-- but I want you to know that you are already doing a really wonderful job. What you are pumping now, and that you've seen it increase, is a great sign.

    Would you be open to trying the SNS (or maybe trying the Lact-Aid instead) now that she is a little more wakeful and does less of the stop-start?
    Thank you, your message is very encouraging. The SNS was a recent experience, I tried last week. I have trouble getting her to latch and get the tube in her mouth and she gets frustrated and sometimes refuses to keep feeding. I tried again today without the second tube and without the thing that goes around the neck, trying to make breastfeeding about us instead of the SNS and she took it a bit better. I just held the bottle under my chin and threaded the tube into her mouth after she latched, she complained a bit but she fed. There are 2 things that bother me about the SNS:
    1-she doesn't take both breasts because trying to re-latch her is nightmare so I just give her one breast and alternate for the following feed, can it be done that way?
    2- she takes less milk (about 20-30ml) with the SNS compared to the bottle, my guess is because the bottle flows and it's effortless? She always falls asleep leaving some milk behind. I can insist but that causes protests!
    3- how do i use that in public?
    I will give the SNS another try. I can't buy the lact-aid because my husband is already quite upset I've been spending so much money renting pumps, buying the SNS, etc. This morning I pumped 140ml in one session of 30 minutes, but throughout the day I'm getting no more than 30-50 ml in 10-15 minute sessions. It's so inconsistent!
    thanks for reading.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    BUMP! I'm bumping in hopes that some more experienced mamas, either with experience with relactation or with supplementation or with the SNS or with pumping to increase supply, can chime in. I'm a research nut, but I wouldn't be speaking from personal experience, and I think that would be really helpful.

    Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    Breast and bottle are different, so that breast fed babies are generally getting less at a time but more often.

    I re-lactated too. My parents were sabotaging with formula so it wasn't terribly successful, but my son was breastfed to 14 months when he self weaned. I remember sitting at my computer reading on kellymom.com or these forums while pumping or expressing. However my son was happy to comfort suck.

    If you are supplementing, can you bottle or syringe feed a portion first so she's not feeling desperately hungry and frustrated before giving the breast? I don't know if that is good or correct advice, it makes sense to me.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    "I will give the SNS another try. I can't buy the lact-aid because my husband is already quite upset I've been spending so much money renting pumps, buying the SNS, etc. This morning I pumped 140ml in one session of 30 minutes, but throughout the day I'm getting no more than 30-50 ml in 10-15 minute sessions. It's so inconsistent!"

    I think continuing to try the SNS is a great thing. Don't make it drive you crazy, but it does have a learning curve, and a new day is a new day. And of course work within your own budget! Of course! All this stuff is expensive-- too expensive! (Try keeping in mind, and maybe remind the hubs that formula is expensive too, and the more breastfeeding can work for you guys, the less formula you will need to purchase.) Would you say he is generally supportive of all of this, outside of the expense?

    I would really encourage you to not stress AT ALL about pump-to-pump output differences. That is really, really, really normal. If you want to compare, try to compare day to day and look for trend lines. I've been breastfeeding little one for seven months, but pump once a day for milk share. I usually do so first thing in the morning. Without me doing anything different, that pump has varied from 1.5 to 7 ounces. If I pump at another time of day, it is less, like 1-4 ounces. So that's just me, but I really, really think that variation in time of day varies for most ladies (we are not machines!).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    1-- If you and little one can get more comfortable with the SNS with use, perhaps this will change, and you'll be able to switch sides. I'm of the opinion that any feeding at the breast is awesome, so do what you can do, and make sure to give yourself credit for each and every success. And if one side at a time works for you now, do that, and just be monitoring how you're feeling about it, because maybe later you'll feel able to do both sides. No harm in trying.

    2-- Is weight gain currently an issue, or is baby gaining sufficiently? If weight gain is fine, if baby is full, baby knows best! Have you heard of paced feeding? It is a bottle feeding method. If you haven't heard of it, LLL has a good article(s); any bottle that babe gets should be given this way. Basically, it is a method that tries to make bottle feeding as responsive to baby as possible-- sometimes there can be a conscious or subconscious push to get a baby to finish a bottle, even though if given the opportunity, baby would be done.

    3-- Do what you are comfortable with! I would offer that I didn't grow up around breastfeeding, and though people have been neutral or supportive, breastfeeding in public is something that I am still getting comfortable with (not others doing it-- just that the logistics of me doing so are still something I'm learning). So I think for different people, there can be a learning curve even for that. If you want to use a cover, use a cover. If you want to go to a separate room or the car, do that. If you want to stay where you are, do that. Whatever makes YOU comfortable is what is right (not what is comfortable for other people). To be honest, most people probably have not seen an SNS before. But that doesn't mean that they'll even notice, or that if they do, that they'll be unsupportive.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Do I have any hope?

    Thanks erin and vanne, you have been very helpful. I am a bit frustrated as I went to my Doctor who would not prescribe Motilium for that 'purpose' as it's not made for that! :/ Very angry! You try to do things right but the system doesn't help so I bought it from the internet but it will take 2-3 weeks before I receive it.

    vanne, I am glad it worked for you. I do sabotage myself as I complement with formula if I think she hasn't had enough from SNS and breast, I know, I always worry as she is not a very big baby and was born weighing only 2.5 kilos! I think I have to let that anxiety go and just trust she is taking as much as she needs and the only reason she gets more from the bottle is because I put it in her mouth and she doesn't have to latch, maybe she is taking more than she needs? She drinks 90-150ml per feed (less than recommended on the can of formula which says 210ml!!!), so when she only has say 80ml with SNS it bothers me. She is also happy to comfort suck and actualy 'asks' for it when she is really tired, which is a good sign I guess. I could give her some from bottle before SNS but I don't know if it would make any difference with her as she fusses at the end of the SNS feed, not at the beginning. It's when she lets go or loses the latch and I try to re-latch her, that's when she cracks it, and boy is she feisty!
    And thanks erin for the tips re:expressing, it is pretty inconsistent, so I'm trying to focus on what I get per day other than per session, yesterday I got around 400ml (12oz) so she had 3 feeds of breastmilk, and I consider that a success, since last night I pumped another 230ml (around 8oz) so I think it is happening, I just wish I could speed it up, even though it's been nearly 2 weeks only and I read you don't get a full supply for at least 6 weeks! I will go for another 4 weeks and will update then. Thanks again!

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