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Urgent help needed must wean 4 month old quickly

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
I fought for breast feeding to work and it was very hard. Now it is firmly established at four months and I just found out that I need to have chemo therapy. My oncologist said that ideally I would be starting in two weeks, however, if my blood test comes back stable in two weeks I might have 1-6 months at the most but most likely on the 1 month side.

Needless to say I am completely devastated. My son won't take a bottle. Since we heard this news we are trying every day to get him to take one and to try to get him to take a cup.

I could use any and ALL advice regarding how to get him to take a bottle and also PLEASE tell me how to make weaning the least traumatizing possible for both baby and mom. What should I be trying to do? For instance when he wakes up at night he SCREAMS until he nurses then he is out like a light. Sometimes he eats every 1-2 hours. Last night I fed him at four and he woke up screaming at five. I tried to sooth him without nursing him for 45 minutes while he screamed (under the theory that I won't have the breast for long and will need to sooth him without the breast so trying to get him used to being soothed without the breast.) Finally after 45 minutes I gave up and let him nurse and he was out within five minutes.

I am trying to do this while not translating to him the depression and anxiety and failure I feel at not being able to breast feed him for AT MINIMUM a year. Or the fear of chemo, etc.

Any advice about what steps to take and when and what would help make this easier would be so great.

Thank you!
post #2 of 32
Couldn't read and not give you a .
post #3 of 32
Oh, mama. I can't offer any advice on weaning a babe because I didn't have to do it. But, my heart is breaking for you and your little guy.

There are some amazing women here on MDC, but I'd also recommend checking out the forums on kellymom.com. You may be more likely to get some help there. I just did a quick search and there are definitely moms there talking about breastfeeding and chemo.

GOOD LUCK!
post #4 of 32


Knowing that you have at least two weeks, I think I would concentrate on weaning during the day first.
So, this first week you could work on bottle or cup feeding during the day, but let your son nurse at night.
Once he has gotten used to the bottle you could start to offer it at night.

Have you tried leaving the room and letting dp or someone else give the bottle? Different types of nipples?

I hope someone will have some more advice for you.
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link to kelly.mom I'll head over there after this. We are trying different nipples and my partner is feeding him. Sometimes he seems to accidentally get some in his mouth but he doesn't really suck. And I can tell that he is freaked out by this and thinking what the heck is going on????

Right now she tries to give him one oz which usually takes 1/2 hour with bottle then 1/2 cup to get down. After that we pause so that he doesn't think that if he waits it out he gets the breast. Then after 10 minutes or so I give him the breast b/c I don't want him to starve. I have no idea if this is a good plan...

Thanks for the hugs and support.
post #6 of 32

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Edited by oiseau - 9/27/13 at 6:24pm
post #7 of 32
mama.

It sounds like you're doing everything right, gradually and lovingly. I know it's really hard, but he'll be ok soon.

I'm sure you've thought of this... but how long will your chemo be? Would it be possible to wean temporarily, and start up again? Sorry if it's an ignorant question.
post #8 of 32
Hi Stel,

I'm so sorry you are going through this After your last post I had a thought. Would you and your partner be open to the idea of inducing her to lactate? I know it would take awhile for her to establish her supply but she could supplement with an sns(which would feed your son formula from a thin tube taped to her breast while he is nursing). It may not be for you, but I thought I'd put the idea out there. Will be thinking about you.

Jenny
post #9 of 32
I am so sorry. This must be so hard for you.

Even if bottles don't work right now, you do have options. You could have your partner use an SNS. http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com...ing-system-sns (If she has had a baby before maybe she could even produce milk.) The sns should also work on your finger Or maybe try a finger feeder? A local lactation consultant may have some more ideas for what to try and timing. They should know all about infant feeding, different bottle types, and especially how to get an infant to try something new.

When chemo is over, you could even use the sns on your breast(s) and have a chance to re-induce lactation.

If you ask around in your area, I bet you can find donor milk

best wishes.
post #10 of 32
I was diagnosed with cancer when my son was 9 months old. I had to start chemo 4 weeks later. I heartbrokenly weaned my son during those 4 weeks. Night weangin was most difficult. We did it by having me sleep in another bed and put my partner in charge of night time parenting. He did it with lots of snuggling, love, holding and walking, and offering a bottle over and over. (We had a bottle warmer by the bed.) Sometimes he would take the baby into the shower. The techniques used to calm a baby with colic were helpful references. (www.askdrears.com was a great resource for that.)

Our son never would take a bottle, but we found ways to sneak mama's milk (from a generous mama who pumped for him!) into his food. Firstly, it is unlikely that your son will take a bottle from you at first. He might not even take the bottle if you are in the house! Someone else has to do it for him. If he won't take a bottle, what about a cup? (kellymom talks about this a lot). Your local LLL might be a great source for help with this. Perhaps someone local can give you pumped milk. My son, at 10 months, was able to go without formula. It will be different for your son. I hope you can be proud for the gift of breast milk you have already given him! He has already nursed longer than many babies in this country.

You can consider pumping to preserve lactation and then reintroduce nursing on the other side, which is what bitsofmyself did...but for me, it would have been only another heart break because I was full of toxic drugs for a very long time and would never have been able to reintroduce nursing. Plus, producing milk does require resources, and at a time when your body needs all its resources, perhaps it is not such a great idea...but each to her own! You can figure out what is the best decision for you!

At the moment I'd work on weaning your son but pump and freeze so if you have another month before starting chemo at least you can bank a bunch of mama's milk for him!

Chemo is hard but you can do it and come out whole on the other side. For example, I've done 4 rounds of 4-6 cycle chemo. 3 different types. I've also taken a drug that was considered chemo but was not intravenous. I've had 2 thoracic surgeries! This cancer fight has not been easy, but here I am, hoping to be able to offer help to you. My 3 year old son sits beside me, waiting for his promised bike ride as I type this.

It is so hard when you are first diagnosed and it seems bad news comes tumbling from the sky to bury you. Please PM me. I'd love to help you navigate and to share my stories if you want to hear them. If I can do it, you can do it.
post #11 of 32
I don't have any ideas for weaning (although I love the though of SNS and your partner if she is up for it!). I want to encourage you to take care of your health once you have weaned - especially if you go cold turkey you'll have to express for some time to prevent mastitis. There are medications that will help to dry up milk (pseudoephedrine, for example) that you may want to talk to your doctor about to see if it is compatible with your chemo.

post #12 of 32
oh, mama! i am so sorry you are dealing with this!

i would def recommend having your partner attempt nursing your db. that sounds like a potenitally perfect solution imo.

best wishes!
post #13 of 32
You've gotten some great advice on weaning already, but I wanted to suggest you check out milkshare and see if you can connect with some mamas in your are who may have extra milk for your little one.
post #14 of 32


No advice, but wanted to give you a hug.
post #15 of 32
What we did:

(1) Starting around 4.5 months. We bought a pump and bottles and the most premium brand of formula we could find. I had read the Avent nipples were the closest to the breast, so those were the ones we chose, and he liked them. There is a lot of variation in nipples, so experiment to find which works best for your baby.

(2) I started by feeding my son on the breast, followed by 100 ml of formula as a followup (doctor's instructions). He usually ate every 2 hours during the day. I also started with the slow-flow nipples (1 or 2), then moved up to faster ones. My son was always impatient with feeding, and liked when the milk came fast, once he got used to it.

(3) I also pumped when he was asleep, so he could get used to drinking from the new delivery system without also the shock in taste. This was especially helpful in the first few days, when he pushed the bottle of formula away. He would take the bottle with breast milk, however. Eventually, he got used to the bottle, and even liked it with formula.

(4) Once he got used to the formula, he slowly began drinking more and more of it. Eventually, he did not want the breast anymore, and would only drink a couple minutes before screaming for a bottle. This might be different for you. I had almost no milk starting around 4.5 months, so he was starving, and as soon as he realized he could get fed faster from the bottle, he never looked back. It broke my heart, sure, but that's just how it was. I wasn't about to let my baby starve.

(5) I always started with the breast, to try to get at least a few drops of the wonderful breast milk into him for as long as possible. By 6 months, he was only on bottles. It will be very emotional when your baby stops completely. I'm tearing up just writing this now, though I supposedly made peace with it months ago (my son is 10 months old now).

Back story, if anyone's interested:

I had pretty much the best start into breastfeeding possible. During my after birth stay in the hospital, the nurses helped me many times a day, day or night, whenever my son had trouble latching on. Once home, a lactation specialist visited us daily, then every couple days, until we had everything right. My son gained weight marvelously.

In short, I had everything anyone could ever have needed to breastfeed successfully. But sometimes, sadly, it's not enough.

Then, at 4.5 months, at my son's doctor visit, they discovered he had lost 500 grams (that's ~1 lb) in 2 weeks. The pediatrician weighed him again because he could not believe it. So, our little one had gone from the 25 percentile (his curve since birth) to, well, is there something below 0? The doctor advised 100 ml of formula after every feeding.

I fought my husband on this one. I was going to have a breastfed baby! No stupid formula, only the good stuff! Sure, I had painful cuts all around my nipples (I suddenly realized he had been biting me b/c he was hungry) and it was agony every single time my son ate, but I would suffer for him. It was only when I realized my baby was suffering so much more than I was that I gave in.

I have tried to make peace with the situation by focusing on what I did give him rather than what I could not. Sure, it was only 6 months (4.5 exclusive), but that's more than many other babies get. And then I look forward to getting another chance with baby #2 someday, and probably stuffing into me every breast milk stimulating supplement under the sun.
post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the continued support and ideas. I will pm you sugarlumpkin and oiseau- if baby stays asleep long enough.. my partner is post menopausal and doesn't feel comfortable using an sns on her breasts but she and I both would be fine using one with fingers so I'll pick one up and see if we can work on that. I would love to find someone to donate breast milk. I called the breast milk bank for my area but no one has called me back. Is there another place to call. Unfortunately the chemo he is recommending is for 6 months and he thinks that "maybe" the hormonal changes due to post partum and breastfeeding are what turned this cancer on in the first place. He said I could have the option of a 7 day 24 hour chemo but I might end up in the hospital afterwards and it has more side effects and more likelihood of a secondary cancer in the coming years. He also offered to do a splenectomy which he said might buy me 1-2 years before chemo or might only buy me a month. I'd be in the hosp for two days and then without a spleen = immune suppressed for life. On the cancer website I went to they were all saying do not get rid of a body part. If I KNEW that I could delay chemo for 1-2 years and still be as healthy I would choose that in a second. But he said we might do it and then I'd still need chemo in a month or two. It is really hard to know the right thing. Should I prioritize breast feeding and risk dying younger??? Yikes. I'm starting to pump but it is slow moving b/c my body doesn't know how to respond to it. Luckily we have a little milk frozen from occasional times that I pumped and we are using that to try to teach him to take bottle.

Another technique I'm trying is to sooth him to sleep without nursing and then nurse when he wakes up. My hope is that he will learn to respond to soothing and not have the only thing that works be breastfeeding. But this is so fucked up b/c I just spend 4 months teaching him that breastfeeding IS the soothing thing and best thing.

Another thing I'd like feedback on - we were planning not to introduce solids until 6 mos. But does it make sense to introduce them sooner so that he has alternate means of getting nutrition? Will this risk his health later?

Thanks for sharing your stories. Thinking about doing the night weaning with my partner in there and me in the other room and him up all night crying is breaking my heart.

Where can I go to find donated breast milk besides the milk bank? It would make me feel better to know that he was at least getting bm until a year.

I'll check out those blog links - thank you!

Sorry I am all over the place. But yeah I am all over the place.
post #17 of 32
I am the writer of motherhoodandcancer.blogspot.com

Yes, sweet lady, weaning your darling child, especially after fighting so hard to make breast feeding happen, will be hard. It will. (I am not going to dwell ont hat and please, don't you dwell either since that will only make it all more difficult and horrible.) However, you must choose your longevity and health over breast feeding. Breastfeeding is important and amazing but having a living mother is more important. Choose the road that is easiest on you. Cancer treatment is very difficult. Choose the one that is most likely to keep you around and in your child's life for years to come. Breast feeding is important but having his mother is much more important! Give yourself credit for the excellent job you've already done! Don't discount the fabulous head start your breast milk has already given him!

Yes, the idea of the crying child in another room with your partner is awful. Perhaps that is not the right path for you. Perhaps you can figure out another method. It is what worked for me and my family, which is why I share it with you.

Do as you were planning and wait to introduce solids till 6 months. Formula, while not as wonderful as breast milk, is designed for exactly situations like this: a mother's health prevents her from nursing her baby. It will nourish your son an provide the nutrients he needs till his gut is ready for solids. I think that your post will see a lot of views in the next few days and perhaps someone will quietly contact you to offer pumped milk. I think it is not allowed to actively solicit or arrange for it on this board. It might help if we knew your location.
post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by stel View Post
Where can I go to find donated breast milk besides the milk bank? It would make me feel better to know that he was at least getting bm until a year.
milkshare.com - we've managed to keep our LO on BM for the last 4 mos, mostly via milkshare. Also your local LLL leaders are good resources - I attend meetings in 2 different locations and have received milk from each. And pass the word to everybody you know - you never know who has milk. My grandmother's hair-dresser's daughter is one of our donors.
post #19 of 32
hugs mama. i am thinking of you.
i wanted to reiterate what sugarlumpkin said:

living mama trumps breastfeeding EVERYTIME. make the choice that will give you the longest best chance at life. your son needs YOU so much more than he needs to breastfeed. you will get through it, and it may be a hard fight, but you will get through it. but he needs you to be there for him more than he needs to breastfeed.

i would definatly contact milkshare.com. i know a lot of people who have been feeding their babies human milk since they were newborns (and past a year) using this website and the generous mamas who help. i think that especially n your case you would find at least one mama who would be willing to help you.

in terms of soothing at night- have you tried a pacifier? it may take a while to get him to take it, but, like formula, it is an alternative when the real thing is unavailable. and babies need to suck. pacis let them suck when they need too. also, maybe having your partner wear him in a moby wrap or a didymos while he has the paci? it would be hard, but it may help him sooth back to sleep.

good luck mama.
post #20 of 32
i would love to hear that you try the SNS, and a cup during the day. this iwll make it easier when you have ppl over, etc and baby will learn a new skill. and so you dont always have to use the SNS in public too.
my kid won't take a bottle either. the cup was what worked including a sippy.
get well mama!
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