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Thread: Discouraged about Supplementing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Unhappy Discouraged about Supplementing

    I posted this in another area, but thought it might be appropriate here, too. Maybe I'm not producing enough?

    Here's the facts. DS was born 8 weeks early and is now 4 months old (2 months adjusted). He SCREAMS and fusses a lot all day long and would probably nurse around the clock if I could accommodate him - I do a pretty good job of giving him ample time on the breast, though. He nurses on demand and I generally let him suck until he falls off - usually about a half hour. He actively sucks on and off for about 15 minutes total, and many times I will let down twice. I have been offering the same side for a few hours to make sure that he gets hindmilk (his poops were green for a while before I started the one-side deal). We are pretty sure he has reflux, and he's very gassy - he tends to swallow lots of air, both when he's eating AND from the crying. We started Zantac about 2 weeks ago, but he still screams and fusses a lot. He likes to be held ALL the time. He's still sleeping ON me at night, and if he falls asleep and I try to put him down in the crib he usually wakes up within 5 minutes.

    We had a pediatrician's appointment this morning. In the past 6 weeks he gained a pound and a half - he's 8.5 lbs now, which is about 3rd percentile compared to other 2-month-olds. He has gained about a pound a month since we brought him home three months ago. Lengthwise he's 22", which is around 25th percentile. He spit up what looked like his entire morning feeding right before we left the house and I had to clean the car seat and put him in a new outfit before we went out. He was really screaming when we were at the doctor's office. The pediatrician asked me all kinds of questions about baby's breastfeeding (how long is he actively sucking, one side or two, etc.). He commented about how it would help to know how MUCH the baby is eating when he nurses and how pumping could help determine how much I was producing. But I pumped for two months (1 month while baby was in the NICU, and baby's first month home), and I never got more than an ounce per side. From what I've read, pumping isn't a really good way to tell how much baby gets, anyway. Doc said that he's concerned about baby's relatively low weight and, combined with the fact that baby screams a lot, it could mean that baby is HUNGRY. So he recommended supplementing with 3 oz. of Alimentum every other feeding. I like the dr. and he's very supportive of my breastfeeding, but I understand why he suggested supplementing.

    But I'm so discouraged by this advice. I breastfed my first born exclusively for a year and he was also on the thinner side - still is. But I think it's just his body type - he's three years old and he's STILL tracking at 3rd percentile for weight (only 26 lbs!), but 75th for height. I'm thinking the baby might just be growing the same way. He's doing fine in terms of dirty and wet diapers, and I can hear him swallowing and feel myself letting down. If I supplement, then my supply will go down unless I pump, and I HATE pumping. The baby extracts the milk so much more efficiently and comfortably. Supplementing just feels WRONG for me. Instinctively, though, I feel that my supply should be, and IS, matching baby's demand. But I don't want baby to be hungry, either, and the fact that he was premature adds to my insecurity about what is the right thing to do.

    Sigh. Thanks for letting me cry on your shoulders. :-(

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Lightbulb Re: Discouraged about Supplementing

    Check with your local LC. They can weigh your baby before and after feeding each breast and that can give you a great idea of how much they are actually getting. You really just need a scale that will measure those small amounts. If baby is getting enough, it may be somthing else causing the crying. My baby cried for 3 months straight. Everyone called it colic. She had terrible gas, screamed and slept very little during that time. (maybe 8 -10 hours every 24 hours) At 3 months old she turned into a different baby. She is now 6 months and is the sweetest and cuddliest baby ever! Don't supplement just yet. You may be feeding enough but other things are causing the crying. And if your other child was also small, supplementing may not help the weight issue. Hope you get some answers!!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Discouraged about Supplementing

    Hi Tish,
    I can understand your concerns...a crying baby is not always an easy thing!

    You already know this, but, crying is not necessarily a sign of hunger. You have all the signs of having plenty of milk. The two main ways to know you are producing enough is that the baby has wet/dirty diapers (which you said he has plenty of) and baby is growing. You said he gained 24 oz (1 1/2 lbs) in the last 6 weeks and regularly has gained a pound a month since he's been home. That equals out to him gaining a consistent 4 oz./week since birth. LLL suggests that AVERAGE weight gain for the first 3-4 months is about 6 oz. per week, but it is considered acceptable for some babies to gain four or five oz. per week. (Ref: LLLI's BAB pg. 148)

    You also already know that supplementing will decrease your supply which is something you of course want to avoid.

    You are right in pointing out that this weight gain may be absolutely normal for him, as it is for your older son. The wonderful thing about BF is that it allows babies to grow at a rate that is NORMAL for them. If you are offering the breast when ds shows hunger signs, not allowing a lot of time on a pacifier, and just all around being attentive to his needs, then you are managing BF well for the two of you.

    You sound like you are fine with things in your heart of hearts. So hang in there. You are doing the right thing.

    Now, onto the crying baby. I had two babies like this. One was a marathon nurser (45 min-an hour at the breast, every other hour) the other was a speed nurser (done in 10!). Both were high-need. My older dd cried a lot the first few months until I discovered the sling. I couldn't believe the difference. I put it on and put her in-and our life turned around. We could go to the mall-her happily snuggled in next to me. I could cook dinner, do housework-all with her happily next to me. With my second daughter, I just used it from day one and she didn't cry much at all. Never had the chance. Because she was always in the sling. Always. People used to comment when I was out in public how "happy your baby is!". I thought "yeah-if they could only see her when she is not in this thing!" But then I realized that to her (the baby) being close to me was normal. Not "happy", just normal. They had no expectation of being separated from me at birth. They just couldn't comprehend it. (Now, I understand one must shower occasionally, but you know what I mean!) So, I guess what I am suggesting is to do whatever works at this point. Wear him all day in a sling, co-sleep, etc. He will eventually be able to be put down!

    Here is another idea that moms in your situation find works well for them. Instead of nursing the baby and them laying *him* down, lay down with him to nurse, and then *you* get up. It is less disturbing and lots of moms find it buys them a little down time. My girls were the same with waking as soon as I laid them down. Once we were co-sleeping I found that I could get up in the morning or after getting them to sleep at naptime by laying to nurse in my bed and then rolling away from them. Often I would leave a t-shirt nearby that smelled like me-preferably one on which I had leaked milk!

    Here is a link on co-sleeping:


    Here are some other links on "fussy or high-need babies":


    Also, Dr. Sears has some wonderful info on "high need" babies. He has a wonderful book out called "The Fussy Baby Book". I read it and I realized that my baby was OK the way she was. It is very comforting and has other suggestions in it.

    I hope some of this info is helpful to you. You are not alone...we are here. And if you interested, it might be very enjoyable for you to attend a local LLL meeting. The support you would receive would be great and you might meet other moms who have been in similar situations. You can find a local group here:


    Hang in there!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Default Re: Discouraged about Supplementing

    Thank you SOOOO much for all the suggestions, support, and validation. Sometimes you wonder if you're really doing what's best for these little ones, and it really helps to have others confirm our gut feelings and relate their own experiences.

    I'm no stranger to high needs babies - my first was the same way! And since #2 is also high needs, I was beginning to wonder if maybe I was the cause or the enabler! I feel so much better having read your responses, though. I just happened to have two of them, that's all. Unfortunately for #2, though, I can't just sit around in bed or in the glider nursing and holding him all day like I did with my first! I am going to make some changes, though!

    I spoke to hubby about my concerns about supplementing and we agreed to speak to the dr. on Tuesday about trying to fix any breastfeeding issues before we go the formula route. Since DS was so fussy and gassy, I thought maybe we had a fore/hind milk imbalance so I have been block feeding him. Instead, I have been letting him finish one side and then offering the other - sometimes back and forth for an hour! I figure if he's hungry as the dr. suggests he might be, then this should increase my supply and keep baby's tummy full. (Haven't noticed any green stools that would indicate a milk imbalance, but HAVE noticed watery, browner poops instead of the seedy yellow ones. TMI?) I have also been offering the breast more frequently whereas before I might have thought "There's no WAY he could be fussing because he's hungry - he just ate a half hour ago! There must be something else that's bugging him." It's tough to nurse him so much and still take care of my very active 3YO, but we'll figure something out. It won't last forever!

    The support of this forum really gave me strength and made me feel more confident about these decisions. Thank you so much!

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