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Thread: Tummy troubles related to breastfeeding?

  1. #1

    Default Tummy troubles related to breastfeeding?


    I'm a first time mom of a 16 day old baby girl born by emergency c section who seems to be having tummy troubles, mostly at night. Whenever we put her on her back in her bassinet, which is set with a slight incline to elevate her head, she doesn't last more than a few minutes before she starts grunting a wiggling as if she's having painful gas or tummy issues. She isn't screaming in pain, but if we leave her, she'll grunt and wiggle for hours and never fall fully asleep. This lasts all night long, and none of us get any sleep at all unless she's being held upright or if we sit her in her bouncy chair, which has a bit more of an incline. She does pass very loud gas at times, but almost never when she's lying on her back.

    I'm breastfeeding almost exclusively, with the occasional (1 a day or so) bottle feed of ebm. I was pumping almost exclusively until she was 1 week old because we couldn't get her to latch, and she had been losing weight rapidly, but the latch fell into place on day 8, so I switched to bf almost every feed and only pumping once every day or two.

    Here's what made me think that her tummy issues could be related to breastfeeding or my milk: Over the past couple of days, she began choking on the breast and spitting up at almost every feeding, which made me think that perhaps I have an forceful letdown or supply issue. I started laying back when feeding her, and that seems to have stopped the choking and spitting up for now, but the gas/tummy discomfort on her back persist. I have also tried offering the same breast again after she unlatches, if she's still hungry. Sometimes that satisfies her, sometimes no. I have noticed that she's feeding only on one side more frequently, whereas a few days ago, she would almost always want both at every feed. I also read that I could unlatch her and try letting some milk into a towel, but that doesn't seem to work for me: I don't feel an obvious let down, and when I do unlatch, I get drips, not a strong spray.

    Also, I sometimes have trouble burping her: sometimes it comes right out, and other times, I try multiple positions over many minutes with no luck. This happens especially frequently when she falls asleep on the breast.

    As of her last weigh-in a week ago, she was gaining weight rapidly: 85g a day, and we're due for another weigh in today. She eats about 8-10 times a day and has about 8 wet diapers, 6 dirty. The dirty ones are sometimes yellow, sometimes a bit greenish yellow.

    I have tried cutting dairy out of my diet to see if that would help. Anything else I can try? We're desperate for a couple hours of sleep!

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Tummy troubles related to breastfeeding?

    Hi and welcome and congratulations on your new baby!
    It is normal for newborns to not like to be laid on their backs, whether the surface is at an incline or not. Many babies object to this. Biologically speaking it is an unnatural position. Yes it is much safer than placing baby on their front in a crib to sleep, but that is not a natural sleep scenario either. Most babies prefer to be held snuggled against mom or dad's or grandma's etc. chest, with their head above their tummy., and will sleep very well in that position. Is your baby generally comfortable and will sleep well in this position?

    What you are experiencing with baby choking etc. at the breast is likely due to something called forceful letdown or overactive letdown. Basically this means the milk is coming faster than baby can easily handle. In a more extreme case, fast letdown will also cause unusual tummy upset, green poops, etc. It is not causing ANY damage to baby, but it can be a little temporarily irritating to the digestion.

    To help a baby deal with a fast flow, there are a few simple remedies that usually help a lot.
    1) Nursing very frequently. Your baby is eating with enough frequency to gain fine, but not enough to lower the effects of fast letdown. I would suggest encouraging baby to nurse 2 or 3 more times in 24 hours. This will NOT increase how much milk your baby gets overall. It will act to decrease flow and make each feeding slightly smaller. This will help baby's digestion.
    2) Nursing with mom in a reclined position and baby somewhat 'on top" so gravity helps baby handle the flow. Nursing in a sidelying position can also help with this. More: http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/...milk-flow.html
    3) Try taking baby off after the milk begins to flow, let the flow go into a cloth, and then re-latching baby. An alternative is to hand express into a cloth before latching baby.
    4) Time. Milk production increases the first few weeks and then, as long as you are not confusing the body with unneeded pumping or increasing milk production some other way (such as by taking galactagogues) the body figures out it is making too much milk - more than baby needs- and milk production calms down to an amount baby can handle.

    I would also suggest that if possible, stop or reduce pumping and bottles for a few weeks. Pumping and bottle feedings increase the issues of fast letdown and overproduction.

    Sometimes milk production needs help to reduce. This can be done effectively with block feeding. But that is something usually best not attempted until baby is at least a month old, is gaining really fast, and continuing to have clear problems with milk flow despite above measures, and/or mom is continuing to have issues due to a much too high milk production. Block feeding reduces production, so you want to be 100% sure there is need for this and it can be safely done. The suggestions above are all benign and will not harm milk production.

    It is fine if baby nurses on one side at a time, as long as baby is nursing frequently and gaining well. In fact this is also likely to help fast letdown.

    Do not let anyone tell you that you are causing health problems for your baby by breastfeeding. This has been disproven without a shadow of a doubt. The science is solid- breast milk and breastfeeding are only beneficial.

    As far as sleep, I would suggest a couple things.
    Who is we? I hope you have another adult there (or more than one) helping you at least part of the time. If so, adults can sleep in shifts day and night. This will not be forever, but a baby who wakes frequently and who prefers to be held is entirely the norm for this age.
    Try nursing baby to sleep, then holding baby "upright" (Head above tummy) for at least 30 minutes after nursing and try laying baby down when baby is in a deeper sleep. Learning how to lay a baby down without waking them is a bit of an art, and every baby is a bit different. As soon as baby is down, try to immediately get in bed and to sleep yourself because it may not last long.
    After researching how to do it safely, consider bedsharing at least part of the night and/or for naps. The resource I suggest is the well researched book Sweet Sleep. Here is a little info about that: http://www.llli.org/sweetsleepbook/tearsheets
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; January 14th, 2016 at 11:12 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Tummy troubles related to breastfeeding?

    with the PP!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tummy troubles related to breastfeeding?

    Thank you so much for the advice! Luckily, nursing in a reclined position has pretty much solved the choking/spit up for now. Sleeping is our biggest challenge. LO sleeps comfortably in our arms or in a bouncer: it's only on her back that she grunts and squirms. It's reassuring to know that this is totally normal! My husband and I are going to work harder at sleeping in shifts and will call in help from the grandmas more often. It's hard to know if we're doing the right thing by holding her so much, but it feels right, and she's generally so content when she's not on her back.
    Thank you again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Tummy troubles related to breastfeeding?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*hidanya View Post
    It's hard to know if we're doing the right thing by holding her so much, but it feels right, and she's generally so content when she's not on her back.
    If it feels right, it probably is right. Any advice that is telling you to ignore your maternal instincts to hold or respond to your baby is advice to ignore. As my grandma- mother of 9!- told my mom when I was a baby: "If the baby is hungry, feed it. If it is wet, change it. If it is crying, hold it. If the clock is telling you that it's not time to feed, change, or hold your baby, throw the clock away and keep the baby."

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