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Thread: Getting my bottle fed baby back on the breast

  1. #1

    Default Getting my bottle fed baby back on the breast

    Hi! I'm new here. I have a beautiful 2 month old baby girl who has been exclusively bottle fed since about 2 weeks old and I would like to get her back on the breast.

    I had a breast reduction almost 5 years ago, which has caused some supply issues. I also had some latching problems in the early days at the hospital which caused me SO much pain that I ended up needing to give her some donor milk in a bottle, which didn't help the latch issues. I was nursing, pumping, and supplementing with formula since we came home from the hospital, but getting her to latch was taking so long that by the time I tried to nurse, then pump, then top her up with formula it was time to nurse again and I wasn't getting any sleep, so I stopped trying to nurse.
    (I did have a few days where I tried to EBF... She was at the breast for hours and would fall asleep, but she didn't cry much so I thought she was getting enough. Had her weighed and she had lost weight so that made me stop nursing altogether... so that I could know exactly how much she was eating by pumping and bottle feeding)
    She's 9 weeks old now and has been gaining weight beautifully, she's 12 pounds now and happy as a clam. But lately I've been feeling guilty about not breastfeeding -- like I gave up too easily. This and my midwife telling me that if I EP that I won't be able to keep up with her increase in demand made me decide to put her back on the boob. Its been going pretty well so far except for a couple things. She doesn't seem to do the open, pause, close sucking that all the articles I've read have said is so important. She just does the small sucks, but she does swallow a fair amount. I've tried compressions, which help when I'm pumping but make her fuss when she's nursing. Because of this she never empties my breast no matter how long I let her nurse, and she seems to need a bottle too. Also she pulls and shakes her head a lot while she's feeding which hurts me so much and I don't know why she does it! It seems like she's not getting anything but whenever she pulls off I hand express to make sure there's milk in there and there always is.

    I've ordered some tubing to make an at breast supplementer which I really hope will help. I've also taken her bottle nipples back down to level one. I offer the breast at every feed, any time she roots and most of the time when she wants her pacifier I give her my boob instead, if I can. I take domperidone, fenugreek, blessed thistle, and I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost everyday and I drink as much water as I can. I am so determined to make this work! I feel like I'm doing everything I can! Can anyone suggest anything else that will help?? How can I get her to drink?

    I'm sorry for the essay lol I always do that. Thank you to those that have stuck with it this far haha

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Getting my bottle fed baby back on the breast

    Hi, welcome, it sound to me as if you have made significant progress and are doing really well with getting baby back to the breast. This is a process and it can be a frustrating one. I have a couple thoughts.
    There are many reasons a mom will have the desire to nurse her baby, some that can be explained easily and some that are kind of hard to put into words. You will never need to explain to us here why you would wish this for yourself and your child, because we already get it, that is why we are here. But I do want to offer a different perspective on a couple things you mentioned.
    Do you think you can stop feeling guilty about your baby not nursing? We moms (actually women in general) tend to feel guilty over things that are outside our control. You had some pretty serious breastfeeding issues, which you solved in the way that made the most sense at the time, and despite those issues have been providing your baby with your milk. This is a major accomplishment and certainly not a reason to feel guilty.

    Also, your midwife is incorrect or maybe there was a miscommunication. A baby's milk need does not increase after about 5-6 weeks of age. If you make enough milk for your two month old to gain normally, that will still be enough for your baby to gain normally at 6 months and beyond. This is mostly because as baby grows, their rate of gain slows, cancelling each other out. It also may be that the milk itself changes over time to meet baby's needs, but I am not sure the science on that explains why milk amount does not need to increase. We just know it doesn't.

    Yes, it can certainly be very difficult to maintain milk production when pumping instead of nursing, but if a mom is making enough, she does not need to increase her daily milk production as baby ages. If she does not make enough, she can try to increase it, and if she is a mother who is not going to entirely meet her child's nutritional needs, then she can maintain her production at wherever she is able to, and supplement as needed. And that can happen whether baby is nursing or not.

    As I said you have made significant progress. I think that at this point your best bet is to see an IBCLC, if that is at all possible. Or see one again if you already have. First, you have to figure out if baby is really not transferring well at the breast. Just because the breast does not feel empty or baby seems to need more after nursing is not enough evidence to know if baby is really not transferring milk properly. Many babies get plenty of milk without "emptying" the breast, it depends on how hungry baby is at the moment and how much milk is in there! Plus it is normal for a baby to fuss after nursing. When a mom is confident baby got enough, mom will do many things to comfort baby, including simply putting baby back on the breast to comfort nurse. But when a mom has no confidence that her baby is getting milk, she offers the bottle which of course baby will take and drink down simply because this is comforting and baby wanted comfort.

    If there IS a milk transfer problem, and of course there may be, trying to figure out why your baby is not transferring well at the breast and what to do about it is going to be hard to do on your own. I have breastfed 3 babies and helped, in person, many many moms and new babies, and IMO the "suck pause swallow" pattern so many talk about like it's as clear as day, is actually incredibly difficult to recognize and looks very different baby to baby. Also, if your baby is not doing that, the question becomes why. In other words I doubt the issue (if there is any issue) is the lack of a pattern but rather that baby is not extracting milk well, probably because baby is not latching on quite right, and thus has very little milk at a time to swallow.

    It can be very hard to make the leap confidently from bottles to the breast. This is another reason to see an IBCLC, as a good one can give you a workable plan to make this transition safely and with more confidence.

    If you cannot see a professional lactation consultant, what about local LLL or other breastfeeding peer counselor?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Getting my bottle fed baby back on the breast

    Hi, thanks for your reply. I've been trying to get rid of the guilt, I know much of what happened was completely out of my control but it is hard to let go. My birth experience was not what I wanted it to be, which was also completely out of my control, but I still am holding onto guilt over having a c-section too. I know its unreasonable and I am really working on it but its been very difficult. Breastfeeding is something that is so very important to me, and each obstacle I've run into has been very hard to deal with but I'm so determined that I've been able to push through. Trying to stay positive through it all!

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I feel like I don't have anyone who really understands what I'm going through or is particularly supportive. My boyfriend is supportive in the sense that "whatever you want, I want" which is AMAZING and I love him so much for it but it doesn't really help me when I need advice, you know what I mean? My mom exclusively formula fed and has been pushing formula on me since the day we came home from the hospital; my sister stopped breastfeeding at 2 weeks and formula fed; and my only other close friend with a baby ended up formula feeding after a week or so, so I don't have many people to talk it out with because they haven't been through it.

    After what you told me about my milk not needing to increase I looked up some articles about it and that made me feel better too. It seems over the last few days that I've been making enough milk to not supplement with formula! I think maybe babe went through a long growth spurt because I was having to do almost half and half, but her appetite has gotten a bit smaller now and I've been able to just give her milk. Yay! Her nursing has still been off and on so she mostly bottle feeds, but from everything I read, I've expected a "2 steps forward, 1 step back" kind of thing. She will latch and suck a couple times then fuss, shake her head, and unlatch herself and then cry. Still trying to give her the boob at every feed and pumping tons to maintain my supply. I've looked up some numbers of some IBCLCs in my area and will be contacting them after the weekend.

    I realized that a tongue tie may be contributing to (if not the root cause) of all our feeding woes. My midwife mentioned it at an early pp appointment but she said it didn't look like it was bad enough to cause any problems. I was so tired at the time that I basically forgot all about it and it was never addressed again. I was doing a little research on it the other night and it seems all of the things on the "signs of problems" lists are things we have been having happen: clicking sound when sucking, even with a bottle; frequent breaking of suction while feeding; nipple pain caused from chewing rather than sucking (I think this is the "small sucks" I was talking about -- my nipple often looks flattened out after she's finished nursing). I am going to call my midwife tomorrow to see what I should do about having it looked at and possibly clipped. Hopefully a combination of seeing an LC and getting this tongue tie figured out will help us to be successful at nursing! I'm feeling really good about this now.

    I will post again after I speak to my midwife and/or an LC with an update. I really hope my story turns out to be a success story!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Getting my bottle fed baby back on the breast

    Ok great. the science regarding tt and breastfeeding is by no means settled. To sum up what is generally agreed on by most breastfeeding experts:
    1) Visible (or classic) TT affects some breastfed babies as regards breastfeeding but not others. There may also be other types of TT that also negatively affect nursing.
    2) The degree of the tie as regards breastfeeding cannot be ascertained just by looking at baby's mouth and possibly not even by feeling in baby's mouth. Breastfeeding depends on tongue mobility and so breastfeeding (or sucking if baby is not able to nurse) must be observed when a diagnosis of tt as it affects nursing is being sought.
    3) When tt is negatively affecting breastfeeding or this is a reasonable assumption based on observation and other factors (nursing pain, weight gain, ability to transfer milk) then surgical treatment is a reasonable, usually pretty non-invasive, and often (but not always) helpful intervention. Some experts suggest body work - certain types of soft tissue therapies- are helpful both when a tie is treated surgically and also as a way to solve a poor latch issue without surgery.

    So I think investigating tongue tie as a possibility makes good sense.

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