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,