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Thread: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    7

    Unhappy Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Hi. I have a five week old son that I started to supplement with formula at 3.5 weeks. I didn't want to, and have been totally depressed/obsesssed about it since, but really believe it's what he needed. He nursed FOREVER but most of the time wasn't swallowing and was very unhappy when he tried to eat from empty breasts. I wish wish wish I could have and will in the future exclusively breastfeed, but really think he needed more nutrition.

    I did it on the advice of my lactation consultant who watched us nurse and concluded that he emptied my breasts very quickly and was still quite hungry. She also noted that my breasts are "tube-shaped" which is often associated with less glandular tissue for milkmaking.

    Also, my pediatrician recommended it due to slow weight gain. He was 10 lbs 1 oz at birth, 9 lbs 3 oz at lowest, 9 lbs 7 oz at 2 week visit, 9 lbs 11 oz at 3 week visit and... wait for it... 11 lbs 3 oz after a week of supplements. I believe he did some big time catch up and is taking less formula now than he did that first week.

    My routine for supplementing has been feed him until he stops swallowing, hand to sister/DH to supplement, and pump 10 minutes. I'm also on Reglan.

    Now I'm home alone with DS and can't pump as readily if he's wide awake after eating and won't accept being put down. I will let him nurse longer in this case to stimulate milk production.

    What else should I do to make sure I can bf as long as I want? Any tips to make sure I don't stop producing?

    Many thanks!
    Last edited by 10pounder; October 16th, 2006 at 05:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Welcome! What a cutie! I can understand why you feel bad about supplementing with formula, but based on your detailed description of Cyrus's weight gain, it does seem quite clear that this was the best choice. We're all huge breastfeeding advocates here, but rule #1 of successful breastfeeding is "Feed the baby!" He was slow to regain his birth weight, and yes, he clearly did some serious catching up once he got some extra calories with the supplemental feeds -- gaining 24 ounces in a week! So you can rest assured that you have received good guidance from your lactation consultant and pediatrician, and that your baby is getting the food he needs to grow and thrive. That's a good thing, not a bad thing! And, as you note, there is every reason to believe that in time you will be able to meet his needs fully at the breast.

    We've had several posters here who have succeeded in doing just that; the first one that springs to mind right now is North_of_60; she hasn't been a very active poster of late, but a few months ago she was dealing with chronic low supply, giving a lot of formula supplements, doing a lot of pumping. She gradually was able to decrease the supplemental feeds and finally achieved 100% breastfeeding with her daughter. It was an inspirational story -- I don't know if her posts will be archived that far back, but you can search for her userid and view all her posts that are available.

    As far as tips or advice go ... what kind of pump are you using? And what is your nursing/pumping schedule like through the night? Our bodies are more sensitive to milk-production stimuli during the wee hours of the morning, so if you're going to add a feed or a pumping session, I would start there.

    With all the extra labor of bottles and pumping, it can be hard to find time to just relax with your baby. Try to rest with him skin-to-skin as much as you can -- baby in just a diaper against your bare chest. You can wrap a warm shirt or blanket around the two of you to stay warm. The skin-to-skin contact is good for your milk-making hormones.

    Along the same lines, some mothers find that a "nurse-in" turns around a low-supply problem very quickly. Basically, you take your baby to bed on a day when you have another adult helper. You stay in the bed, resting and nursing as much as possible -- no clock-watching, just keep your baby skin-to-skin and put him to breast any time he seems remotely interested. You can get up for bathroom visits, but otherwise your adult helper should do everything else, including bring you food and drink and handle diaper changes, so that you can just rest and nurse, rest and nurse for 24 hours straight.

    I hope others will post with ideas and encouragment. Let us know how you are doing!

    --Rebecca


    Quote Originally Posted by 10pounder View Post
    Hi. I have a five week old son that I started to supplement with formula at 3.5 weeks. I didn't want to, and have been totally depressed/obsesssed about it since, but really believe it's what he needed. He nursed FOREVER but most of the time wasn't swallowing and was very unhappy when he tried to eat from empty breasts. I wish wish wish I could have and will in the future exclusively breastfeed, but really think he needed more nutrition.

    I did it on the advice of my lactation consultant who watched us nurse and concluded that he emptied my breasts very quickly and was still quite hungry. She also noted that my breasts are "tube-shaped" which is often associated with less glandular tissue for milkmaking.

    Also, my pediatrician recommended it due to slow weight gain. He was 10 lbs 1 oz at birth, 9 lbs 3 oz at lowest, 9 lbs 7 oz at 2 week visit, 9 lbs 11 oz at 3 week visit and... wait for it... 11 lbs 3 oz after a week of supplements. I believe he did some big time catch up and is taking less formula now than he did that first week.

    My routine for supplementing has been feed him until he stops swallowing, hand to sister/DH to supplement, and pump 10 minutes. I'm also on Reglan.

    Now I'm home alone with DS and can't pump as readily if he's wide awake after eating and won't accept being put down. I will let him nurse longer in this case to stimulate milk production.

    What else should I do to make sure I can bf as long as I want? Any tips to make sure I don't stop producing?

    Many thanks!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    4,893

    Default Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Hello and welcome to the forum!

    I don't think that I can offer anything more to Rebecca's great advice, but did want to cheer you on. Pump, pump and pump some more. Stimulation is key to increasing supply. And my favorite, spend a whole day in bed with Cyrus with plenty of skin-to-skin contact. That should help increase your supply, get Cyrus interested in the breast and nursing and really just help with the whole bonding experience. Not to mention it is a great excuse to spend the day in bed cuddling with your little one! Enjoy and come back often!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    5

    Post Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    I have had production of milk problems with my two older children and the leader I had then told me o try an herbal suppliment called fenugreek it helps to promote milk production and is safe for breastfeeding mothers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    7

    Default Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Thanks all. It feels great to hear all this encouragement. And one minor correction--he gained 23 ounces in 10 days (not 7).

    I am using a Medela Pump in Style.

    As for overnight, I decided to give myself that time off to rest, but maybe that is a mistake? He typically sleeps 4-6 hours overnight in a two or three chunks, so I wanted to take advantage. I bf when he wakes up and go back to sleep when he does.

    I've noticed he's slowed down his supplements the last couple of days and is only nursing overnight. Hopefully it's a combination of him needing less and me making more.

    I think I might also give Fenugreek a try. Tomorrow's goal is to get to the natural foods store and pick some up.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    7

    Question Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Oh, I just remembered that I wanted to ask this more specifically the first time but baby needed me. I'm not sure how to pump and not interfere with his bf'ing. For example:

    Say he eats at 1:00 for 25 minutes, needs formula after (or will scream) so I make that and give it to him, comfort him, and am actually able to put him down to pump say around 2:00. Do I pump and risk not having much next time he's hungry at 3:00 or 3:30? Or do I wait and only pump when it won't interfere with him eating?

    This isn't easy!

  7. #7
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    Feb 2006
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    1,168

    Default Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    That's a good question. I would say go ahead and pump even if it's been a while since he ate and he might want to nurse again in another hour. Frequent stimulation and emptying is the way to boost your supply, so if you are skipping a lot of pumping sessions, that will only slow down your progress.

    Remember that you can offer any EBM you get as the next supplemental feed -- it's all good!

    --Rebecca

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    68

    Default Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Another good question to add to this issue is how long does it take for your breasts to fill up after being emptied? My DD was 6 weeks premature and was in the NICU for a month. The nurses there told me it only takes an hour for your breasts to refill, but one, I don't know if I believe that from experience and two, I'm not sure how much the nurses in a NICU know about that specific issue. Does anyone know the answer to that? Because if it is just an hour, then you pumping at 2 and your LO wanting/needing to nurse at 3 shouldn't pose any problems. But if it takes longer....well that's another story.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    124

    Default Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Removing milk frequently and fully draining the breasts is what's important for establishing a good milk supply. It sounds like you're doing it frequently enough, perhaps fully draining your breasts after nursing will help you boost your supply.

    Using your example, at 1:25pm, while you're making formula and bottlefeeding it, could you pump using a handfree method? That way you'll be done by around 1:45pm, giving yourself plenty of time to "refill" before he wants to nurse again.

  10. #10
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    Apr 2006
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    Default Re: Advice to keep up supply while supplementing

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosiesmom View Post
    Another good question to add to this issue is how long does it take for your breasts to fill up after being emptied? My DD was 6 weeks premature and was in the NICU for a month. The nurses there told me it only takes an hour for your breasts to refill, but one, I don't know if I believe that from experience and two, I'm not sure how much the nurses in a NICU know about that specific issue. Does anyone know the answer to that? Because if it is just an hour, then you pumping at 2 and your LO wanting/needing to nurse at 3 shouldn't pose any problems. But if it takes longer....well that's another story.

    This is a very common question among new moms. In reality, there is no need to wait for breasts to "fill up" to feed. Breasts are constantly producing milk. When we say "empty" the breast this is really a misnomer, as the breast is still making something--it just slows to a really small trickle. When a baby nurses, much of the milk the baby takes is actually produced DURING the feeding, rather than made ahead of time and just stored in the breast. It's not the same as just filling a container and then emptying it. The more the baby nurses the more milk the breasts will produce.

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