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Nursing Troubles

Aside from our first week of waiting for my milk to come in, Dumplin’ and my nursing relationship has been really good. He’s a champion latcher, and I have no pain from regular nursing (only at the beginning when he would cluster feed over night). My supply went crazy at about two months in because I was pumping to create a stash, only to find out that I have really high lipase content, so my milk would taste soapy within 6 hours. The oversupply caused me to have plugged ducts and then mastitis. After that, I decided that the stress of always having to grab my pump (rather than just breastfeed on demand wherever, whenever) at the perfect time- when Dumplin’ was already going for a feed, was too much for me, so I ditched pumping all together. Eventually, my supply levelled out, and now I seem to rarely get engorged, and have the perfect amount of milk for what he needs.

However…

There’s always a however, isn’t there?

Lately he’s been really distracted at the boob, and not eating as much. He’s also going long periods between nursing- like 4 hours now, compared to 2-3 hours.

Worst of all, he’s been having shitfits on my boob. Like this morning, he hadn’t eaten since about 4am, and was due for a nursing. I had tried multiple times to feed him, but the exact same thing kept happening:

He would latch on, suck suck suck, and then pull off in frustration. Then try again, and same thing, over and over again, never staying on long enough to actually eat. I tried different positions- side lying, cross cradle, football… Each time, the same reaction.

So it’s now 10am here, and he hasn’t eaten since 4am. He’s screaming at the top of his lungs, and I’ve just put him in his swing to chill out and hopefully take a nap. But- I feel really uneasy about the fact that he hasn’t eaten since 4am.

Now, there are other concerns that I have too:

1. Is my supply dwindling? My mom said her breasts “dried up” at 3 months. I’ve also heard that from several other women. Is that a “thing” that commonly happens, and why?

2. I’m working out about 5 days a week right now, just lifting weights- no cardio at all. I keep my workouts under an hour, and am conscious not to burn too many calories, but is this affecting my supply? I’m also consciously refeeding- so I’m consuming between 2500-3000 calories a day, and drinking lots of water.

3. Wonder Weeks says he’s in a stormy time right now. Leap 4 is long too…. Is this why he’s so fussy and has gone on a hunger strike?

4. The little man refuses to take a bottle now. I still need to try different nipples, but he just flat out refuses. I’ve tried the Philips, the Playtex, Medela Calma. No dice. And this is with freshly expressed breastmilk.

5. When I pump, I get less than 1 ounce now. It’s feeling pretty futile every time I try to pump. I don’t want to be pumping again, but it just seems unfair to leave Dumplin’ with DW and nothing to feed him if I’m gone for more than an hour and a half.

6. Boobs don’t seem to soothe him as much anymore. It used to be that if he was having a crying fit, nursing was the instant way to calm him down. Nottasomuch anymore… Damnit.

Any thoughts?

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27 thoughts on “Nursing Troubles

  1. Charlotte did this BIG time, and the fussing lasted for over a month. It drove me nuts. Has he been drooling a lot yet? The lactation consultant suggested that for Charlotte it was likely related to pre-teething… where the teeth are starting to shift around in the gums. Her suggestion was to give her something cold to numb the gums about 30 minutes before she was due to nurse. I was taking a bit of frozen breastmilk chopped into little cubes and putting it in a mesh feeder for her. It actually really helped our nursing when I would do that. As for the high lipase, did you find that it bothers Dumplin’? I have it too and my frozen milk smells so sour, but Charlotte doesn’t care one bit. I’m sure you’ve read about scalding your milk prior to freezing if you have high lipase, but I’ve never bothered since Charlotte doesn’t care.

    • Yeah, I think it’s preteething too. He’s been biting down on my nipples when he fusses too, and is super drooly for over a month now. He’s also been chewing his hands a lot. I might freeze a wet face towel or something and see if that helps. I don’t have any frozen milk left- we threw it all out. He refused to drink the frozen milk, so I was scalding it, but it was such a hassle for me and was another stress on top of all the others of being a single mom by day. Anything else help the teething? Have you tried the amber necklaces?

      • We have the amber necklace and while I can’t say 100% that it helped with discomfort (she’s still had plenty of discomfort) I will say that it did seem to reduce the amount of drool fairly significantly. I wish I had more teething advice, but Charlotte was really difficult about teething. The ONLY cold thing she was interested in was frozen milk. I couldn’t get her to take a frozen washcloth or a cold teether. It drove me insane. There were times when we were going through the boob battle that I would give up and pump instead of nurse. She took bottles just fine–it was only the nursing that seemed to cause her trouble.

      • I just gave him Tylenol, because he’s been screaming for 2 hours straight. We’ll see how it goes. I’m also gonna walk to the drugstore and get some Camilia, which are homeopathic drops for teething. Some local moms have said that it has worked well for their teething babies.

  2. I feel like all mamas go thru this stage and it’s all still a mystery to me. He must be fussy bc of something but I am sure it is not your supply. Hang in there. This too shall pass. :).

  3. Pumping is never a accurate assessment of your supply so don’t stress. I agree this is just a weird phase. If he’s hungry he’ll eat. Bean now at a year has had many phases where she’d feed all day andand then others where I had no idea how she was alive because she ate so little.

  4. Oh ps. The reason why many feel they dry up at three months is that that is usually when your boobs stop feeling full. In the beginning you can tell when you have milk but around that time they become soft. Doesn’t mean anything

  5. I agree with these ladies. The only thing I can suggest in addition is if it might be let down related perhaps try breast compressions while nursing to see if that frustrates him less… For the distraction, I found that, when at home, feeding dd1 in her room with the lights dim helped, as she had nothing to be distracted by. I doubt it’s a supply issue. If you’re concerned, you could keep offering several times between regular feeds to see if he’ll take small amounts here & there. You’ll know within a day or two if your supply is reacting to the increased demand.

  6. Sounds like a short term nursing strike while he’s going through a rough time. Possibly rolling over or some other development?
    Have you tried bf’ing while walking around or going topless while he’s in a carrier? Those two helped us when N pulled that shit. It is unlikely that your supply is the cause at that age. Is there an LLL person you could call?

    • Interestingly, a LLL friend suggested it might also be the return of my period- apparently that can cause your milk to taste weird and babies sometimes don’t want to drink it. When did your period return? Did you notice that too? Good idea with the carrier. I need to figure out a carry that helps him line up with my boob though.

      • For N it definitely wasn’t period related, I just got that back this year, at 16.5 months or so 😜 He didn’t care one bit, he loves his bobbies more than I would like.
        If the carrier doesn’t work and you can’t hold him for that long (good workout though) there is also the option of taking a bath together and latching him there. Thats often very soothing for babies.
        Have you checked for weird spots, sores or such in his mouth? N has also caught a couple of illnesses in the past where he didn’t want to nurse because of pain.
        Don’t despair, what you’re going through sounds fairly common and luckily little Dumplin is well fed.

  7. We went through that off and on from about 5/6 months to 9/10 months. I was desperate enough to actually give her expressed milk through a needless syringe a couple times when she wouldn’t take a bottle or nurse for over 7 hours and stopped having wet diapers. That seemed to help Jumpstart nursing one time which was nice. The only thing I found helpful was to remain calm and sometimes have a couple days where we didn’t leave the house for more than a walk. Destress the nursing in public where everything was distracting.

  8. I’m a novice at this, but I have read that distraction from feeding happens as they get older and are interested in the whole world. Feedings space out and they won’t stay at the breast as long. Also, growth spurts are a really big cause of making mums feel like their milk is drying up when in fact it just needs a day or two to catch up. Could he be coming down with something and restless/feeding less because of it? I don’t think you are working out excessively if you are taking in decent calories (which you are). Unfortunately SO many things in parenting are clear as day with hindsight, but are a mystery at the time. Hope things settle for you soon.

  9. Please make an appointment with an IBCLC so you can hash it all out with an expert. Don’t wait. Find one and set up a time.

    As for milk “drying up,” that doesn’t happen without outside influence. Anti-galactogogues, bottle feeding formula, sleep training, not nursing on demand, insulin resistence, the baby not latching and nursing right are a few that come to mind.

    High lipase: you can scald it before freezing but it kills some of the good stuff. Some babies don’t mind it, Wallace didn’t, so don’t toss what you already have. It could turn into a stash for Mochi or donated to a baby who doesn’t mind it.

    Pumping: check the membranes and hoses and all the little parts. If one starts to wear out or gets a crack then it stops working. It could be good to have a once a day pumping to keep your stash growing and your body used to it.

    For the right now, you could try spoon or cup feeding him (clear glass is easiest). When Wallace got like that, I would put him in the carrier and he would stay latched on and not get so mad. Most babies won’t take a bottle from the parent who breastfeeds them. It can be hard to keep them interested and not distracted when they get so into the rest of the world.

  10. Loved reading all of the comments. Wyatt seems to need the boob less to nap now and has frequent strikes especially with my left boob. I’ll pump it off after he strikes, but usually he will eat from the right if I switch boobs. I am keen to see if he gets his lower right tooth first. Does Dumplin prefer one boob to the other? I also spike with a LLL leader and she suggested trying that side more as he’s waking up. I’m going to try the amber necklace and we have the Homeopathic remedy as well.

    • It’s great that W and Dumplin are so close in age- for these kinds of shared challenges! Dumplin doesn’t have a preferred side, at least not that I’ve figured out yet. I need to get an amber necklace. Do you know where you’re getting one from?

  11. Ah this is tough 😦
    I can resonate with some of your issues like my now 9 month old started refusing the bottle around 3 months. He took it a few times after that but never after 5 months. I tried all bottles but the one that he accepted was the simple medela bottle and nipple. At birth I didn’t get to nurse for the first 10 days. He finally latched that day. I can never get much when I pump so I gave up pumping except when I’m at work which is a 4 hour shift three times a week. I get about 2-3 ounces in one session and I use a medela hand pump rather than the double electric one I previously used and hated. It’s been going well except I have no use for the milk. At 6 months he started eating some solids. He’s not eating that much still but it helps when I’m at work. Before that he would just go 4+ hours without eating because he just didn’t want a bottle. I can’t tell you how long between feedings because I have never counted (the first week home after a week in the nicu, I was keeping the nicu schedule, putting my alarm on every 3 hours, until I realized it wasn’t working). He feeds on demand and I have no clue how often. He also sleeps in our bed so that helps.

    Not sure any of this helps but that’s my experience haha.

    Same sex couple French + American in California.

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