I was hoping someone could analyze my breastfeeding routine and my babys behaviour and tell me what is going on. I know sometimes I can give advice simply bc I have been through similar and maybe someone here can help.
I am afraid of losing the battle, and I don't have easily solved newbie questions I believe. :(
I have been EBF since my sons birth Aug. 19th, I was leaking a lot in pregnancy, had bottles full of colostrum (still have some frozen) and when my milk came in I was never empty and my baby always happy and milk drunk.
At 2 weeks I had a day where my son cluster fed all night and my flow slowed down. But it went back to normal. At 4 weeks he was cluster feeding day and night, always bringing the milk flow down to a minimum. When I am almost empty he gets so frustrated he just screams his head off.
I upped my supply with fenugreek, went off when I felt I had a lot and my supply dropped again. Way way low...it is rarely ever enough to just get him full and thats it. Mostly feedings go like this:
He acts hungry or fusses. I get ready to feed him, often he fights with me at the breast and won't latch on right away like he is hoping the milk will magically flow into his mouth. When he latches on, he is often not patient enough to suck until he gets a let down. My left side has not been having let downs on its own lately, so I have been unable to start him there. On the right it takes 5secs to 2mins. He eats like he has not eaten for days, seeming really stressed. After 1-6mins the milk flow slows down, sometimes he will keep sucking and get another let down, but often he just pops off and screams. I switch him over to get the let down on the left which I collect in a nipple shield (no drop is wasted), then continue feeding him. Sometimes the milk flows for a bit longer than just the initial letdown, sometimes that is all there is.
While he nurses he tends to tug, pull or even yank on my nipple, bite down on it, punch and kick me, grab my breast hard (babys act like that when they dislike a slow flow right?)
He often gets so frustrated he starts screaming and refusing to even try nursing any more. So we take him for a walk outside in the yard, which calms him best. Sometimes he will fall asleep and seem full or refuse eating when woken up but then wake and fuss again, more often he will last a half hour until I attempt feeding him again. I will have a bit more but be out after a few sucks.
Sometimes he screams on the top of his lungs until he turns purple and coughs, it makes me cry because I can''t just feed him.
I have spoken to Lactation cosultants, WIC, La Leche League Leaders and noone has been able to help. They think my supply MUST be good because he is gaining weight well. I think he may just be gaining well because I am feeding him 24/7, no joke. I often only get 2 hrs of free time. If he is not nursing he wants to be held and entertained 24/7 because he is rarely really full and may want to nurse again within a half hour. I have thought of so many games and things to do because he is hard to please. Things he may like one day won't work the next. I feel sore from nursing all the time, my back...my body, I try to keep my head up. I have started taking fenugreek again, 4 days but no improvement, I pump once in a while (although I do have a bad hand pump and don't really like pumping), it does not work as well as the hospital pump I used to rent but can not afford and I only get a few drops.
I eat a diet high in fat and cooked paleo with a little bit of grains, am a bit worried it might be messing with my milk supply, my husband made me switch to paleo 2 weeks postpartum because he is worried about my auto immune diseases (controlled Hashimotos, Pituitary Tumor) and HPV/ pre cancer that won't clear. I understand his worries but maybe it is bad timing?
He says I can control what happens with my body and I will have milk if I just believe. I don't think that is all true, the whole time I have been very positive and cool about all breastfeeding challenges, just today I broke down bc my baby almost choked crying for milk (I ended up giving the saved let down through the nipple shield).
I don't believe he only nurses for comfort and not milk, whenever I give milk through the shield or have a let down he eats like there is no tommorow and gets a bit happier. If I fill his belly with unlimited pumped milk he is happy, lazy and goes to sleep or at least is happy awake.
If not he stays up and fusses the whole day.
He nurses very often during the day, every 1-2hrs, some days he goes 3-4hrs without eating and those are the days when the milk flows well, same at night when he sleeps at least 3 hrs.
I had hopes my supply was just low because of the nipple shield, that was given to me in the hospital, so I started working on him taking my almost flat nipples, after 3 days he is willing, feeding alright but maybe not great?
He needs the nipple to be drawn out and breast compressed to latch, once latched I need to hold the breast. I hear him suck and swallow better than with the shield actually but I am not sure my nipple is far enough in for him to milk it good.
Once I run low it is hell without the shield though, when he tugs and pulls and bites. When he comes off he maintains a firm grip instead of just letting go, it hurts.
For 2 days I have been using 50% shield and 50% nipple and no increase in milk yet. I would be ready to go without the shield fully if he would not be biting down and tugging in frustration...was counting on fenugreek to up my supply and then have him happily feed on the nipple.
EDIT: Since yesterday no more nipple shields needed, so I weaned from the shield within 5 days when I learned it can be bad.
Now I feel discouraged, I get funny looks for being so persistent despite the problems, people suggest pacifiers and bottles to me, say I have a fussy "bad baby"... even my mom said "at least you were able to do it for 6 weeks". Everyone thinks I simply dried up..
I refuse to give him a bottle of formula, if I only picture it I want to cry. He deserves to be fed by the breast.
Here are things I have been doing to increase my supply, help the flow:
- Lots of water
- High fat diet (snack on nuts, avocado)
- Skin to skin
- We co sleep so that helps too I have heard.
- Warm bath and compresses
- Have tea or nuts when nursing to signal my body its nursing time, like a ritual.
- Some pumping, often I don't have time or I am afraid I pump off the milk I may need in 30 mins.
Sorry for the long post, but if you see anything I could do to improve my nursing experience please help!
I just want my baby to come off the breast happy and milk drunk, like he used to...he is a very happy baby when full. I don't believe he is "just fussy" like some have said. I don't want to see him so sad.
He was weight today and has not gained weight this week. The pediatrician thinks my milk supply might really be low and suggested to see a lactation consultant. Will do that.
Edited by E m i c h i e e - 10/3/11 at 5:56pm