08 July 2010

Breastfeeding Blues

Rough day today. For about a week now I have worried that my milk is low. Josiah has been waking up 45 minutes into his naps, crying and wanting a full feeding. He'll also start crying mid-nursing, letting me know he's not getting what he needs, and wants! I called the lactation consultant at the hospital yesterday and told her my concerns, and she asked me to come in today.

She started by assessing Josiah's latch. Sure enough, it was a poor one, and was probably not getting the milk transfer he needs. It's probably been okay up to this point, but with a huge growth spurt coming on, the demand for milk is high and momma needs to produce the good stuff. She asked me if he was getting the hiccups? Yup. Pooping only 1 or 2 times a day? Yup. Spitting up? Yup. She properly latched him on and told me it would solve all of the previously mentioned problems. I sat in her office in a rocking chair and he nursed for over an hour...nonstop. I could not believe how hungry it was. I only made it about a half hour until I broke down crying, realizing I was probably putting him down for a nap hungry and obviously let him slip into a very bad habit.

I left with the confidence I needed to increase my milk supply and help him get a full tummy every feeding. About 2 hours later, Josiah was showing signs that he was hungry so we got comfy on the couch and started to nurse. All signs of a good latch. 15 minutes later, he was out cold. He must've given up on me and went to sleep. I woke him up, tried to nurse and barely got another 15 minutes. He spit up and got the hiccups, showing me I probably did it wrong again.

You would think breastfeeding would be the most natural thing in the world. Most of my reading pre and post baby has been on breastfeeding, and if you asked me last week I'd have said everything was going great.Never have I thought of giving up breastfeeding, even through mastitis...until now. I am really discouraged and I think the least I will do is supplement with formula until my milk supply increases (that is, if it does). Any words of encouragement or wisdom would be much welcome and appreciated.


The Paulk's said...

Oh Kristin, hang in there! It's def. not your fault so don't feel guilty. It's hard to know if the baby is getting enough and it's his own fault he's not latching on correctly :)!

I haven't necessarily been in that situation b/c my babies were good nursers (maybe this next one won't be though), but I may have a couple of suggestions. First of all, drink and eat a TON that will help your milk supply. Also if you feel like that's not helping there is something called "Mother's Milk" you can get it at natural food stores and it helps increase milk supply (it's like a tea that you drink a couple times a day). I had a friend who quit nursing but 3months later wanted to try again, she took it and her milk came back...of course, ask your doctor, but it is all natural!

Also, have you tried pumping? I used to pump between feedings even (to have to freeze for their cereal and/or bottles). AND if you pump often enough (every two hours-ish) it will increase your supply. If you are really concerned about how much he's getting you could try pumping for a while and giving him the milk in a bottle then switch him back to the breast when you think your supply is adequate--that way you know exactly how much he's getting through a bottle...

As far as a pump goes, I have a manual (Avent Isis) and an electric. Some insurance companies will cover all or part of an electic pump so look into that if you don't have one and don't want to spend $250-$300 for one.

If he's going through a growth spurt your body will respond to that and increase/decrease your supply as necessary. Good luck, I'll say a prayer for you. No one tells us how difficult/frustrating nursing, etc. can be when you have a baby! I would get mastitis so bad I'd have to go to the ER! Hopefully one of those suggestions will work! Good luck and I'll be praying for you!

Nikki said...

Hey Kristin! It's brave of you to share what's going on with BF. I felt like giving up at the beginning, but I've been so glad to stick with it. I'd encourage you to stick with it and keep practicing the good latch. It probably will take him a little time to "re-learn" a latch. I sometimes worry I don't have a good latch going. It's hard to know. But I think there are always "hiccups" with BF that pass. Using a pump is a great way to increase your supply, too. Yvonne encouraged me to pump for several minutes even after a feeding to fully drain the breast and increase the supply.

Lately, Lily has only been feeding from one side and really not eating that much, but refuses to eat more. You're not alone! I'm trying to wait it out a little and see if things change in a few days.

Yes, drink lots of liquids, too! A few weeks ago my supply seemed low and I started drinking more and it seems to have gotten better. Also, are you stressed/anxious? That can also affect your supply and let-down. But, I'm sure the lactation consultant gave you lots of good tips and advice!

Hang in there! You're doing great even when you don't feel like you are!

Glad to share the mommy experience from a distance!

sarth35 said...

Hi Kristin, my name is Alicia and I don't think you will remember me but I went to Costa Rica with John on a missions trip and am still good friends with his sister Sarah.We all went to church together when John was a teenager, I was one of the youth workers. Anyway, BF is a tough and emotional job that I don't think anyone can prepare you for. My little girl is now 14 months old but we had a really hard time nursing at first. She lost over a pound her very first week and then it took her a full 6 weeks to gain it back. I was going to the lactation consultants every week and spent lots of days crying and feeling like we were never going to get it. But, she did finally learn how to latch and my supply did increase. I did what the other 2 ladies mentioned - I drank lots of the mother's milk tea, I pumped after feedings and I did lots of skin to skin time. I am sure you have heard of it but it is where I would lay Cadie on my bare chest with her in only a diaper. I did an exercise where we did skin to skin time for 12 hours - I only moved her to change her diaper and when I needed to go to the bathroom. It was a big commitment but paid off with an increase in supply. Hang in there - you CAN do this!! It is really hard, but don't give up, be encouraged that you guys can get through this. I successfully nursed my little girl for the full 12 months and am still nursing her in the morning. We never had to supplement with formula but instead I would pump and then feed her breastmilk in a bottle when I couldn't nurse her.

Erika said...

Kris...don't feel guilty or bad! Hang in there because it's a hard thing to do. I had to start pumping a lot (maybe I even overdid it here) and feeding from a bottle to make sure he was getting enough. It was a nice way to help transition to go back to work too...then his nursing time would be bed time/morning time...kind of the best of both worlds. I hope you find something that works for you! Good luck!

Alison said...

Kristin you are doing awesome. It is so hard being a mom. I had a really tough time with lincoln the first 6 months and I later found out it was all from my breastmilk. I had went on a strict diet and that didn't even help. But, once we started formula it all went away. He had colic so bad and cried 14-16 hours a day and only slept about a total of 6 hours. I remember crying and calling my support person Melinda. She gave me so much good advice. You are doing an awesome job with him but you also need to do what is best for you. It is easier said than done. There will be tougher and harder decisions and choices later on in his life.

If you ever need anything or just someone to talk with feel free to get ahold of me. I didn't understand how tough it would be but looking back the six months of no sleep and numerous tears shed flew by.

If you are still having problems call the lacation consultant again. They are there to help and they are awesome at their job. I know some that even make house calls.

But, most of all DO NOT feel bad if you are giving him formula!!

Allison said...

We have all been there,Kristin. You are not alone in your struggle but I would encourage you to call that lactation consultant back up and see her again. She will not get annoyed. It is their job and they are happy to help you gain back your lost confidence. Obviously you DO have enough milk, (since he was able to nurse an hour straight) it is just Josiah who is not doing it right! Silly boy:) I remember having trouble with the latch at the beginning too and crying because I was worried I'd never get it right. You are training your baby to do it correctly so naturally it will take some practice.
Pumping is always a great way to up your supply like mentioned. I've only used the electric heavy duty pump but I know you can even rent them from the hospital if you don't have one and would like to give it a try. Just don't do it too often, that's how mastitis starts:) They always told me to pump for like 10-15 minutes on each side after nursing. That will at least increase your supply for his demanding and growing needs. Then once you have the latch set, he will be good to go with a good let down.
It is easy to see you are an awesome momma and your boy is in love with you for it!
You will get past this with your head up!

Cathy & Lauren Jones said...

Hold off on suplimenting... it can confuse the baby- bottles are much easier to drink from and may be harder to get him to nurse if you do. My mom is an o.b. nurse and she tought me to sit my babies up, hold the head up and let them lap from a cup. It is amazing, cuz they do it like a pro! Your baby is likly just building up your milk supply. I remember thinking something was terribly wrong with me or with Sarah when that first growth spurt hit. She seemed to do nothing but cry and eat! I carried the La Leche Leque handbook with me everywhere, and it answered every wierd question I came up with, lol. (You can read it isn spanish, too! lol.) They have a great website you might want to check out, lots of info and lots of "trouble shooting"!
Nursing is a dance and the baby usually leads- some of the steps are a little more complicated than others! You are doing great! Your instincts are great and you go for help when needed. It will be fine. Drink, drink, drink. Keep your feet up- we tend to get busier when we start feeling better and that can influence the milk supply. I will be praying for you guys! This is normal! It will be ok!
Cathy Jones

Specks said...

Hang in there...you just have to figure out what's best for you and baby. I'll say a prayer! This mom stuff can be really tough sometimes...just know you're not alone!

Alaskiana said...

Hi Kristin. I'm friends with your sister Rebecca, and have been keeping up with your blog through her site. We just had our first baby 2 weeks ago, and what a blessing she has been!

As far as nursing goes, we are still working on a good latch. But I have a friend who lived in Africa for awhile, and all the ladies there told her to drink chocolate milk to keep her milk supply up. I can't say that I have solid proof that it works, but I started drinking CM our first night in the hospital and my milk came in the next evening and has kept up a pretty strong supply. Emery is big girl with a hearty appetite - at our 7 day lactation consulation she ate 3 oz, which according to my DR is a world record for a 7 day old. So for now I'm drinking lots of CM and hoping I can keep up with her. It is a delicious habit if nothing else:)

Hang in there!!

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