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Thread: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Dearborn, MI
    Posts
    9

    Default Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    Hello. I'm looking for any assistance I can get. I apologize in advance for this being a long post and I'm not sure if this should be in a Pumping thread, Supply thread or just a general breastfeeding isn't really working well thread. I am a first time mom and my baby was in the NICU for 19 days. I pumped like a mad woman when they took him from me at 15 hours old and when they finally let him have food, I nursed him every chance I could (he was on a strict schedule). This averaged to 4 nursing sessions a day followed by a bottle of pumped BM or formula until he was done. For the other 4 sessions, he was strictly on a bottle. When observed by a lactation consultant at the hospital, they said his latch was good and he was eating properly so I figured we were off to a good start even though he was getting bottles too. FYI….he was full term and had infant apnea. He's fine now and hasn't had an episode since he was 2 weeks old.

    When he was in the NICU I only got .5 ounces from each breast when I pumped after a feeding. I figured that was normal and didn't worry about it. When my son came home from the hospital, I switched to nursing him exclusively because I knew he would bring in the milk supply faster than pumping and after all the bottles he'd been given in the NICU, I wanted to establish a strong nursing bond with him. 1.5 weeks after leaving the NICU, he had a weight check and it was going up properly. He also had the proper number of wet diapers and stools so I believed he was getting enough to eat. At 7 weeks old he had another weight check and was up a pound from his 1 month weight check so I felt things were going well. He did fall asleep during nursing routinely and seemed to eat constantly. Several calls to the lactation helpline at my hospital were returned with a "your baby is perfectly normal and is doing what all nursing babies do" response so I figured everything was great.

    I started back to pumping a week before returning to work and was only getting the same .5 - .75 ounces out of each breast when I pumped but blamed it on it being post feeding. Well, when I started pumping at work last week (3x / day 3 hours apart for 15 - 20 minutes) I was not getting any more and it wasn't after a feeding. I of course freaked out. Concurrent with this low pumping supply, he had his 2 month check up at 9 weeks old. He had lost weight from his 7 week weight check and I was devastated. They immediately had me start giving him a bottle after each nursing session to make sure we was getting enough to eat. He nurses 30 - 45 minutes w/ me trying to keep him awake and then he downs between 2 & 5 ounces of pumped BM or formula afterwards. Clearly he's not getting enough from me. He gained a pound in 5 days eating like this and I have another weight check for him this Monday. He's currently 11 weeks old.

    Pumping Problems: When I pump I have an okay let down (that I can't feel) that lasts for 2-3 minutes and then nothing for the remainder of my pumping…even if I pump for 20 minutes I just get a drop or two out each minute after the initial let down. Even when my breasts feel full, I really don't get much out after the initial let down unless I press hard on my breast. I have no idea if this is normal but can't imagine it is. I have the medela pump in style and don't think there is a problem with suction as I can't hardly stand to put it on max…it is quite painful. At any given pumping session whether it is at work or at home, relaxed or stressed, I don't generally get more than one ounce per breast..generally less than an ounce.

    Nursing Problems: My son has great suction if you put your finger in your mouth, but doesn't suck as hard on my breast as the pump does. Is this right? I'm not sure if he's supposed to or not. He has never really sucked that hard even when he was in the NICU. I can hear him swallowing in the beginning but after that not so much…he just falls asleep (even now at 11 weeks old). My breasts are really large with a silver dollar sized areola. I generally use the cross cradle hold as that's the only way I can really grab my breast to comfortably put it in his mouth. As soon as Dad puts a bottle in his mouth after I'm done nursing him (i.e., he falls asleep) to make sure he's getting enough to eat he instantly wakes up and sucks down the formula in a matter of minutes.

    I'm to the point now that I cry nearly every time I pump or nurse because I feel so horrible that he lost weight and am so frustrated and disappointed that nursing isn't providing him with what he needs. With all the extra fluid he is getting via the bottle, he's gaining fine now so at least I don't have the weight issue to worry about now. I really want to be able to provide the nutrition for him directly though, either by pump or by nursing. As it is now, I am only pumping enough during the day to get him through one feeding session while I'm at work. He's consuming more formula while I'm at work than breast milk and given the amount he eats from a bottle after I nurse him, he's getting more of his nutrition from a bottle of formula than me. I'm currently taking 6 capsules of fenugreek a day, drinking 3 cups of mother's milk tea, pumping in the morning after nursing, pumping 3 x during the day, nursing 2 -3 x after work and pumping just before bed. Heck, I even pumped in the car yesterday on the way to my stepsons baseball game. LOL. I don't know what else to do to get my milk supply to increase, to make pumping work better, or to get him to suck better. Most of the time it seems like he's just moving his mouth up and down. It really looks like he's working his jaw but I can't hear swallowing past the first 3-5 minutes.

    *sigh*…sorry for the long post. I sent an email / phone message to my LLLI people locally but haven't had a return call or email from the end of last week. I feel at the end of my nursing rope unless things turn around. I'm not willing to give up without a fight as I really want to nurse him until at least a year, but I can't go through life crying all day, being consumed by this either. It's not good for my son or my family.

    Thanks again for your help!!! It's very much appreciated. Well I'm off to pump!

    Frustrated and discouraged,

    ~Nikki

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    8,018

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help


    I'm so sorry you are having all these issues! What kind of pump are you using? What kind of bottle and nipple are you using?

    Molly

    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,285

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    . Well all I can say is you are one determined mama. It sounds like you are doing everything right. The only advice I can offer about the pumping is do you have the right size horns? The original ones I had that came with the pump were too small for me. Once I found the right fit I got a better output. Also, check out this link for some pumping tips (if you haven't already). http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/p..._decrease.html
    I would keep trying my local LLL leader until I get a response as well. Good luck and keep with it .
    Loving mama to S - 11/06, and F - 1/09

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Dearborn, MI
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mollyb View Post

    I'm so sorry you are having all these issues! What kind of pump are you using? What kind of bottle and nipple are you using?

    I am using the Medela Pump In Style and the Medela Low Flow nipples and Medela bottles.

    Thanks Molly for your help!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Dearborn, MI
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    Sebsmommy, Thanks for the link! There is a lot to read through and I'm excited for the directed information! My original horns were to small (24 mm I think) and the lactation consultant at the hospital gave me 30mm's. They were perfect for when I delivered and was so puffy from fluid retention but now the 30's are too big. Is too big bad? BTW...my step son's name is Sebastian...cool name. We call him "Sebby".

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Sunny Arizona
    Posts
    3,171

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    If the horns are too big you might not be getting enough suction, kind of like a bad latch. I know some women have better results if they only pump one breast at a time vs doing them both.
    When we did use a bottle we used the Playtex drop-in nursers with the slow flow nipple. I've noticed that nipple is a little wider at the base then the medela so that might help him open his mouth wider when he's latching on to you. Also I've heard that babies will suck down a bottle even if they are full from the breast, I know my son would. So maybe he is getting enough from nursing when you are able to

    That's all I have, sorry I'm not more help.

    Amy married to my bestfriend since 10/30/04

    Proud SAHM to DS born 2/17/07 and DD born 9/11/08 Both weaned together 11/2011
    Currently milk, peach, peanut and tree nut free. DD has outgrown her wheat, cheese, egg, garlic, and citrus allergies

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    Have you taken any supplements to increase your supply, like lactaflow, mother's milk or fenugreek? I find I can pump more when taking lactaflow. Good luck!
    EDD 6/21/10
    BF Madeline Grace since 2/5/2008
    Blake 9/23/00
    Cole 7/16/03
    Alex 9/19/04

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    Big hugs mama! You sound like you are having a rough time. First, you should know that pumping and breast feeding at the same time is incredibly challenging. Anyone who can do both deserves a medal, IMO. And a box of chocolates or whatever your heart desires.

    I had to pump too, so most of my ideas are for that... Wrong size horns was also my thought. Our nipples are about the same size and I use the 27 mm.

    One other thing that might help is breast massage before pumping and compressions during. There's a video at this link that shows the technique: http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastf...roduction.html

    Also, it could help to rent a hospital grade pump like the Symphony and do a few days of short frequent pumping sessions to mimic a growth spurt. The Symphony has a much smoother suction and is gentler than the PIS so you can use a higher suction and still feel comfortable. It's normal to have only a trickle of milk between the two letdowns. My second letdown on the pump was always ~20 minutes after the first one.

    My last thought about the pumping was that you might add a session around 2 am because that can be a very productive time for milk extraction, but if you're working too it might be too hard. I set the pump up next to my bed with a cooler so I didn't have to get out of bed when I was done pumping. Wierd as it sounds, the 2 am pumping became my favorite after a while. It was quiet and I had some time to read.

    Do you use the Kassing method for bottle feeding? It makes the baby work a little to get the milk so they don't get lazy about eating. Here's the link: http://www.bfar.org/bottlefeeding.pdf

    Good luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    392

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    Nikki ~ I am so sorry that you are having such a tough time. I just wanted to send you some big hugs because I had a NICU baby (25 days) and I know that it is so hard. He was also full-term. He had pulminary hypertention. It is so important for the nursing staff to feed with bottles so they can keep track of how much the baby is getting. But, it can be hard to transition back to the breast. The funny thing is, now my son is almost 9 months and won't take a bottle at all! Luckily, my hospital was very pro-breastfeeding and they also offered lots of support. It sounds like you have some good resources at your hospital too. Having a sick baby is a very scary thing. It is certainly important that you do whatever it takes to get your baby well. But, I am sure that you will be able to get your supply up so you can get back to feeding your baby just BM.

    Anyhow, I wish I could help you with your milk supply issues. It sounds like you are doing everything you should be doing. There is a low-supply section of these forums and I'm sure that you will get some responses from some wonderful mamas. This place has AMAZING support. If your baby is getting formula, you are probably going to have to pump a lot. See, he won't get hungry as often as if he were getting BM because formula takes longer to digest. This is how formula turns into a slippery slope. Do you have any days off where you can pump every 2 hours or so? Even overnight? I know it is exhuasting, but it might be necessary to get your supply up.

    I will offer this advice ~ breastfeeding only gets easier as time goes by. So, the hard work now...definitely pays off later! Plus, of course...breastmilk is AMAZING for your baby. Especially, if you had a baby that was sick. Lots of luck to you. Congrats on your new LO!
    Becca SAHM to
    Veronica 10/31/05

    and Preston 10/28/07


    <--- me!
    (I love this smiley!)

    I finally got on Facebook! If anyone wants to be my
    friend.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    392

    Default Re: Breastfeeding is not going well, please help

    I just found some good information about weaning off formula

    click here.
    Becca SAHM to
    Veronica 10/31/05

    and Preston 10/28/07


    <--- me!
    (I love this smiley!)

    I finally got on Facebook! If anyone wants to be my
    friend.

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