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Thread: Is my baby starving??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    470

    Default Is my baby starving??

    Good morning,

    My baby girl is 13 days old. She was born 3 1/2 weeks early and had to stay a couple extra days in the hospital because of jaundice.

    My milk did not come in for over a week, and we had to feed her formula at first. We started out feeding her Similac Advance w/Iron. It was making her spit up a lot, so we switched yesterday to Isomil. She seems to tolerate that much better.

    Anyway, I really want to breastfeed, and I've been trying to get her off the formula...but I'm not sure if it's working.

    I was feeding her this way: breastfeed, then breastmilk that I had pumped earlier, then formula to finish her off.

    The last two days I've been trying to do breastfeeding only. But during the night, she will breastfeed and then immediately still be acting hungry. We will wait about an hour to try and calm her, and then we will give her a bottle of formula...and where she had been drinking just 1/2 bottle, now she is drinking the whole thing before she is satisfied.

    The first night I tried no formula, she drank formula just once, and bf the rest of the time. Last night she needed formula twice.

    Is she starving? Is she not getting enough from me? What can I do? Do I need to get her off the formula more slowly? Do I still not have enough milk? When I do bf her, I can hear her gulp and swallow...but only for a couple of minutes. Then I just hear sucking. She seems to latch on real good, and it doesn't hurt me at all...but it just seems that she is not getting very much to eat.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    265

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    I only have a minute, but a breastfed baby will sometimes eat non-stop at that age, especially in the evening/night time. The best way to do it is stop the formula, just leave baby at the breast (you may get nothing done but feeding your baby ) but it is the way to get her off formula. Now is the best time to do it!

    Your doing a great job! She isn't starving...she just wants to be close to her mommy and suck...it is what they do!

    Sarah

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    Hi Catherinesmommy -- congrats on your new daughter, and welcome!

    Sounds like you two got off to a difficult start with the slight prematurity and the extra hospitalization. But it also sounds like she is latching and nursing well (no pain for you, and visible/audible swallowing at the breast) -- so you are already several miles down the path towards successful breastfeeding. Give yourself a pat on the back for what you have already accomplished, and trust that the rest of it will be worked out in time as well.

    Nursing, then EBM, and then formula is definitely the way to proceed, so again, you're doing a great job there.

    To get past the need for formula supplements, the basic strategy is for you to spend more time nursing, perhaps more time pumping (how often are you currently pumping), and gradually reduce the amount of formula. A baby will often scarf down a bottle's contents whether she is really hungry or not, because the milk just drips into her mouth, which triggers a swallow, which triggers more milk to flow, and so on. So don't put too much weight on how many ounces of formula she takes at each feeding. You take charge of that, gradually reducing the quantity, and then when she next cues hunger, put her back to breast even if she just finished eating.

    The way to know whether she is getting enough to eat is to track her diapers -- there should be six good wet dipes and about 3 dirty ones in every 24-hour period.

    It may take a few days or a little longer to completely get your milk supply up to meet her demand, but if you are doing enough nursing and pumping, you will eventually get there. So hang in there -- you're doing great!

    Let us know how things are going. There's also a forum on these boards called "Increasing Your Milk" that you may find helpful.

    --Rebecca

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    470

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    Her doctor and LC told me to just feed her every 2-3 hours. I thought this was right...because isn't that how she will get the most nutritious milk??? I thought feeding every hour or less would not give her the nutrition that she needs...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    18,063

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    its normal for them to want to eat alot in the 1st 6 weeks!
    Feeding on demand is sometimes hard to figure out. Breastfeed babies tend to cluster feed too, they want to nurse alot in the eve and sometimes during the night too. And they will want to nurse more when they are growing.
    Count diapars like pp said. watch the baby not the clock! SOmetimes she is going to be ready to eat before the 3 hours is up, breastmilk is easy to dijest in her little tummy! Thats normal, and the more you feed her the more milk that you are going to make.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    1,168

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    The basic guideline is that we want to see a newborn nursing AT LEAST 8-12 times in every 24-hour period. Where there are concerns about weight gain or milk supply, we want to see it more like 10-12 times at a minimum. More frequently is perfectly fine, too.

    So in practice, this means that during the daytime, you need to try to get your baby to breast about two hours after the START of the previous feeding. If this is happening well throughout the day, then it's okay to let her sleep a longer stretch at night, perhaps 3-5 hours at most. And, if she cues hunger less than 2 hours after the start of the last feeding, there is no need to wait -- just go ahead and nurse.

    Your milk is NOT more nutritious if feedings are spaced further apart. Your breasts are making and releasing milk even as your daughter nurses. I'm not sure why your doctor or an LC told you that -- was there any concern that as a premie she not tire herself out by nursing? I would presume that, if she is at home with you now and doing well, this would not be a concern now (if it ever was).

    --Rebecca

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    470

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    Yea, they were concerned about her getting too tired while eating. I do feed her right now probably every 2 hours from the start of one feeding to the next. At least that's how it's gone today so far.

    Another thing is that she spits up pretty much every time she eats...seemingly everything she just ate. I hold her up for a good 15-20 minutes after eating and after burping, etc. Is that normal?

    This past time, she ate 10 minutes on one side. Then I pumped to see how much I could get from the other side...it wasn't even 1/2 oz. She ate that, but she still seems hungry.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    1,168

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    I want to reassure you that as she is getting bigger/stronger, your output at the pump may well decrease noticeably. This just means that she is drinking more of your milk "at the source," which is a good thing. The time you spend pumping at this point is more about stimulating your breasts to produce more milk than it is about actually collecting EBM. So don't get discouraged if you pump for 10 minutes and only get 1/2 oz or even less.

    The spitting up is normal -- it always looks like much more than it is, and you should also remember that breastmilk is digested very quickly, so more of it is getting into her system than you realize even if she spits up a few minutes after finishing a feeding. Her tummy is still really small and her digestive system is immature, so stuff comes back up quite easily. It's normal, it's not hurting her or depriving her of essential calories, and she will outgrow it in time.

    Do track her diaper output, as well as the ounces of EBM and formula supplements she takes -- this will help reassure you that she's getting enough and that your own supply is increasing over time, and it will also be a useful record for her doctor or an IBCLC to use if there are any concerns about her weight gain etc.

    It's great that she's been nursing every 2 hours today -- keep up the great work, momma! Let us know how you are holding up.

    --Rebecca

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    470

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    Sorry to keep asking questions...I'm just really worried.

    Up until today her diapers were really good.

    But now she hasn't peed (noticeably) or pooped since 11am this morning. I can tell that she keep trying to poop, but she hasn't yet.

    Oh, this is so frustrating!!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    1,168

    Default Re: Is my baby starving??

    OK, don't panic, it's good that you are noticing and will keep a close eye on those diapers.

    I don't know what time zone you are in, but my best guess is that 11 a.m. was about six hours before your post. That's kind of a short time frame to be making any solid conclusions about her intake. Keep nursing, pumping, and offering supplemental feeds in small amounts, and let's see how the diapers go over the next 12 hours or so.

    Young babies don't have much abdominal strength or coordination yet, so they may strain and fuss and have a really hard time with their bowel movements. That doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem with their digestion. Since she's been getting formula, you may not see the typical seedy-yellowbrown-yogurt-consistency breastfed poops just yet.

    Hang in there! I know it is overwhelming and exhausting just now. If you persist in your efforts, you guys will get through this and go on to a happy and rewarding nursing relationship. Keep us posted -- we're rooting for you!

    --Rebecca

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