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Thread: Too much and too little

  1. #1

    Default Too much and too little

    I'm considering supplementing just a bit with formula, but I really don't want to and am looking for advice.*

    My baby is 3 mos. She's been exclusively breastfed since birth, has never been fed formula. I can't remember when this started, but very early on I developed oversupply and hyperactive letdown in the morning. She started sleeping well at night really early, so that contributed because I had so much milk stored by the time she woke up. It took me a while to realize this was why she'd choke and cough, why she fussed at the breast, was gassy and had greenish stools. So then I took the recommended steps to fix it. Block feeding to reduce supply and baby on top position when letdown was particularly forceful. It helped a lot. I still get some coughing and milk gushing everywhere, but not nearly as much, and she seems more content eating, for the most part.

    I had a second problem right from the start, though. By late afteroon my letdown would start to slow. By the time we do bedtime feeding, it's extremely slow. It's always been that way, even when I had way too much milk. The baby tends to cluster feed at night, which makes it worse. I've lost count of how many nights I've tried to feed her and she gets too frustrated to wait for letdown, pulling off the nipple every few seconds to cry.

    This has gotten a bit better lately, since I started following some rules. No feeding for two hours before bedtime, and I make sure to take a really hot shower before the last feeding. It's the only thing that consistently helps, and we've had many peaceful nights lately. The problem is, we don't follow any kind of schedule. I feed her on demand. And last night she was so hungry and fussy that I broke my rule and fed her after the "cutoff" time. The result was a baby at bedtime who was hungry but cried and cried because my milk wouldn't let down fast enough, and she didn't go to sleep until an hour later than usual.

    So it's clear that we'll still have some nights like these, and it drives me crazy not to be able to feed her when she's hungry. I can't take steps to increase supply; that would bring back the oversupply, and it wouldn't help at night, anyway. I'm scared of pumping, think it will increase supply too much.*

    So I'm considering trying a bit of formula when this happens, just enough to get her to calm down and become patient enough to suck until the milk lets down. She doesn't take a bottle very well--chews on it instead of sucking--so it's unlikely this will result in us getting lazy and replacing bf'ing with formula.

    This makes me feel like a failure and a Bad Mom, though! Weight gain is not a problem. She's gained an average of 9 oz per week since birth. So there's no reason to do it other than the fact that it breaks my heart when she's hungry and I can't satisfy her.

    I also have to confess that I've found exclusively breastfeeding to be the hardest thing I've ever done, and I don't enjoy it at all. Aside from the oversupply and slow letdown issues, the baby being so absolutely dependent on me has been extremely difficult. I long for the ability to be able to be separated from her for more than an hour at a time, and not worry that she'll get hungry or just need me for comfort. Being able to take a break just once in a while would help me recharge. I know my husband also is looking forward to being able to feed her and take care of her in that way. So that makes me feel that I'm just looking for an excuse to give her a bottle now and then, for the convenience, and then I feel selfish.

    Anyway, I've searched the Internet a lot for women with a similar experience of hyperactive letdown in the morning and too slow flow at night, but it seems I might be alone in this?

    Any advice or even just a "hang in there" would be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Too much and too little

    What makes you feel like you don't have enough milk at night?
    Tracie

    Mommy to
    Lilah 10/08 nursed 25 months
    Beatrix 01/11 nursed 30 months

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Hang in there! It gets easier, I promise. Everyone has to find what works for them, so of course do what works for you, but I'd caution you against following any "rules" too closely when it comes to timing feedings. Feed the baby when she's hungry, even if she gets impatient with your slow let down. She should learn to suck so that she stimilates the let down and it sounds like she just hasn't yet because she hasn't needed to so far, what with your overactive letdown. You might try giving her more time to figure it out on her own without helping her. My son went through a phase too where he'd pull off frequently to fuss, but I just kept letting him get back on to nurse and eventually our bodies synced and he stopped fussing during feedings. Remember you don't always have to actively fix things- sometimes they will even themselves out.

    if you really feel you need to do something though, you could try pumping before she nurses to get your flow going. Assuming slow let down is the issue, that should help. And it wouldn't necessarily cause an increase in supply since you aren't getting milk, you are just getting yourself to the point of letdown. If you do that, a quick suction (like a baby sucking frantically) works best to stimulate let down.

    As far as wanting to be able to get away/have DH feed baby etc, those are normal desires so don't feel bad about it. At this point you should still be pumping when you miss a feeding, but going out for a few hours here and there should be OK. It would be best to pump some EBM for those times rather than giving formula though. That way you aren't sabotaging your supply.

    It sounds like you are doing a great job so far, mama. Don't stress too much about it and try not to overthink it.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Not a whole lot of advice but just a thought- could you pump just enough in the morning or during the day to have a bottle for her in the evening? That way she would still be getting BM, at least. I doubt your supply is truly too low in the evenings esp since you have syptoms of oversupply at other times- just lower/slower than the rest of the day which is very common. Your lo might just be frustrated with the slower flow since she is used to it being faster. This doesn't necessarily mean you're not producing enough.

    Also, just a thought..hopefully others with more experience can correct me if I'm wrong, but...wouldn't "cutting her off" in the evenings tell your body to make LESS milk at that time, not more?

    I've had some oversupply issues, but I do have DH give my 2mo a bottle of EBM 2-3 evenings a week. When I do this I pump just enough to replace the feeding, preferably around the same time the bottle is given, and it doesn't seem to negatively impact my supply either way.
    Sharon
    SAHM to my boys:
    Z, my land-lubber born 11/09
    Nursed for 22 months, 18 of those with a tongue and lip tie
    Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts

    E, my water baby born 05/12
    Currently nursing through the aftermath of a tongue and lip tie revision, still trying to work it out

    We , , and !

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*llamas.mama View Post
    Also, just a thought..hopefully others with more experience can correct me if I'm wrong, but...wouldn't "cutting her off" in the evenings tell your body to make LESS milk at that time, not more?
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  6. #6

    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Thank you for the quick replies, ladies!

    Firstly, it's definitely slow letdown at night. I can feel my letdowns very well--often it still hurts, in fact. Also, when it lets down, her sucking slows and she swallows. So it's fairly obvious when she's not getting any milk. I know the milk is there. It's just shy!

    Secondly, the rule of not feeding two hours before bedtime is what's actually helped. My breasts need that break at night, it seems. When I break the rule is when we have problems.

    I think I will try to pump a little during the day. That should work okay, because I definitely have more than she needs at that time. Hopefully she'll get better at eating from the bottle. She's a boob baby all the way. Doesn't really understand the bottle or a pacifier, and is only just starting to figure out how to suck her thumb. I've been her pacifier so far...which doesn't help with oversupply!

    Thanks again. I'm going to try and solve this without formula.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Can you explain the two hour rule? It's not one I'm familiar with and I'm not sure I actually understand what you mean.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  8. #8

    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Oh it's just my own rule, nothing official! I nurse her to sleep. It's the only way she'll go to sleep, and it's as much about comfort, at least after the first few minutes, once she's full. But to avoid fussiness, I have to stop feeding her two hours prior to that bedtime feeding. My breasts need that two hour break at night. If I don't take that break, it can take as much as three hours of fussing before she gets too exhausted and falls asleep.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Sounds like you're already on your way to finding something that works. But I would definitely give EBM rather than formula if you need to, and I thought what pp said about giving her a chance to learn to stimulate the letdown even if she's a bit frustrated in the mean time made sense. 3 months is still so young and she's just figuring stuff out! You're being respnsive which is what counts, and her getting frustrated over a slower than usual letdown doesn't make you a bad mama AT ALL!!
    Sharon
    SAHM to my boys:
    Z, my land-lubber born 11/09
    Nursed for 22 months, 18 of those with a tongue and lip tie
    Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts

    E, my water baby born 05/12
    Currently nursing through the aftermath of a tongue and lip tie revision, still trying to work it out

    We , , and !

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Too much and too little

    Hey Mama! You're doing well. You're facing your challenges quite nicely rather than quitting which is fantastic to see. My info / suggestions:

    As I understand *most* ladies' production drops in the evening hours. Your little one could be cluster feeding at night to help bring it up and could be doing the same thing because she's 3 months old and could be having a growth spurt. If this has been happening all along and not just around her 3 month mark, I'd say she just really likes to get a lot of calories at night.

    I think that you'd be better off using an SNS or a LactAid rather than giving her a bottle of formula. That way your nipples still get stimulated while she's nursing, and she gets satisfied by the faster flow from the SNS. You also don't have to worry as much about her developing a nipple preference this way.

    I understand your fear of pumping . . . perhaps just pump a few minutes after a nursing session in the late afternoon and early evening? That could give you some Mama milk to put in the SNS/Lactaid.

    On that same note . . . in order to give yourself a break and give hubby a chance to feed your little one, perhaps you could use a fingertip nurser instead of a bottle. I *think* you can use an SNS as a fingertip nurser but I'm sure other ladies can correct me if I'm wrong.

    Good work Mama - hang in there!
    Wife to DH February 17, 2004.
    First time mom to my precious baby girl, welcomed to this world August 3, 2009!
    Birth: 6 lbs. 6 oz. and 18.5"
    6 months: 14 lbs. 14.5 oz. and 26"
    1 year: 20 lbs. and 30"

    Woohoo! We made it one year!


    Learn more about us at my blog.

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