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k_dub

Breast Feeding and Low Milk Supply

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k_dub

Hello T1 ladies:

 

I'm wondering what your experiences are with breast feeding.

 

Nicholas and I are struggling. My breast milk did not come in until about the 5th day post partum. We had had success with latching and bfing in the hospital, but once we got home and my milk hadn't come in, he was starving and we started to having latching problems. We saw a lactation consultant who suggested supplementing with formula until my milk came in. That whole thing side tracked us.

 

Out of desperation, we gave him the bottle. I had also tried a nipple shield.

 

This week, I worked with a lactation consultant from La Leche and finally got him to latch well again. We went about 36 hours without formula. Things seemed to be going well, and I *thought* I was producing enough milk. Until last night...

 

He will feed on each breast several times over and still will not be satiated. He will be frantic, gnawing at his hands, panting like a dog, freaking out and screaming. He acts like I haven't fed him in a week. It's heart breaking. I am questioning whether I am making enough milk. I do not seem to be producing on demand like most women do. I am also pumping to try to encourage my supply and only a scant amount is coming out in the past two days.

 

I've read that Type 1s can be prone to low milk supply.

I've also read that high BG can cause excess sugar in the breast milk and can make baby act hyper, hunger and irritable. My BGs have been mostly good, although I had a very rare and unusual 360 mg/dl yesterday.

 

For those Type 1 mommas out there, were you able to breast feed exclusively?

Did you have to supplement?

Did you have problems with milk supply?

What other challenges did you have with bfing?

Any tips?

 

I am so reluctant to continue to supplement with formula. I know that formulas with larger protein size have been associated with Type 1 (and Type 2) later in life and also with other autoimmune issues. I'm just heart broken over the idea that I'm not able to produce an adequate amount to keep him satiated and growing appropriately.

We had our 2 week doc check up today and he is not gaining enough weight...

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mom24grlz

Not type 1 but i have 12+ years breastfeeding experience between all my kiddos. I did child led weaning with them. How old is he? Babies go through growth spurts usually in 3's: 3wks, 6wks, 9wks, 12wks, ect. During these times they'll want to nurse constantly. It ddoesn't mean you're not making enough milk. They're just building up your milk supply to meet their needs. Remember the more you offer bottles the less milk you'll make. Breastmilk is supply and demand. the more they nurse the more milk you'll make. If you think your supply is low here are some suggestions:

 

Nurse on demand. Do not do scheduled nursings

Wear your baby in a sling

Pump in between nursings

take fenugreek (pretty sure it's 3 capsules 3 times a day) you know you're taking enough when you smell like maple syrup.

 

I know you saw a Le Leche leader, but going to actual meeting are invaluable too. The moms' there might have some great ideas.

 

Also do not be discouraged if you don't seem to get very much out with the pump. Remember a pump is a machine, a baby is much better at expressing milk from your breasts. A thought, have you checked to make sure he's not tongue tied? That could make it hard for him to nurse.

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Lizzie G

Hi Kelly,

 

Was thinking about you today and wondering how you were getting on with little Nicholas!

 

I'm sorry to hear you are struggling with feeding. This is not an issue unique to type 1s....of the many new Mummies I have known and know, there are basically none who have had a breeze with feeding. However, what I can share is my own experience and perspective, and hope that helps a little.

 

Well, when I was pregnant, all I heard was the usual 'breast is best' and 'you must breastfeed otherwise you wont pass on immunity to your child, he will develop x,y,z'. I have to say, from the outset I was open-minded and intent on seeing how it went and potentially doing mixed feeding from the outset: I dont have any family support locally, and also, I know that my mother has very flat nipples and as a result struggled to feed; my nipples are unfortunately the same, coupled with large breasts, and I didnt have high hopes from the outset!

 

When Sam was born, I had had an awful birth, was fairly numb from emergency spinal, and he had little interest in my breast. I had had an awful few days in the hospital with a very slow induction, and I have to be honest and say, my priority was to get the **** out of there. Some midwives were trying to get him to latch, others to encourage me to use formula. He wouldnt latch, and I just wanted him not to be hungry, to get home, and decide what to do when I was feeling more clear headed. So in the hospital we used formula, and he basically had very little colostrum.

 

I got home, continued with the formula. and suddenly, on about day 3, my milk came in with a vengeance, much to my surprise! still he showed little interest in latching, but to be honest, I was in a lot of pain, and just wanted it to be easy for us all, for him not to be hungry, and me not to be fretting. I started pumping. (if there was a little cow emoticon here, i would use it!). A few days later, I went along to a breastfeeding clinic. We tried a nipple shield and all that stuff, and again when we got home. I decided then and there that this was OUR time, I was going to no more of those clinics, and that I would do what felt right for us, despite all the 'breast is best' comments. From then on I continued to express, and for the first 6 weeks, he had a mixture of breast and formula. It actually was wonderful, as my husband got to share feeding our son and bond with him.

 

WHilst on paper there are all the wonderful benefits to breast feeding and all these links made about formula causing x,y and z, in my mind, the truth is, that women all over the world feel guilty about their struggle to feed, be it due to whatever reason, and that many of these alleged problems such as formula feeding and type 2 diabetes, are far outweighed by other lifestyle choices that a family will make. By far the most important thing, is that you do not feel stressed, pressured, unhappy, and your baby isnt hungry, everything else comes second. Don't beat yourself up at all, you are doing brilliantly. Even if your son just gets a little breast milk, it is good for him, and there are plenty of healthy adults walking around that have been formula fed.

 

My second son is due in just over 2 weeks time, and once again, I enter this with an open mind. Perhaps this time I will have a less traumatic birth and I will be ready to fight the uphill battle of establishing breastfeeding, but to be completely honest, I doubt that I will feel strongly enough about it to persist as hard as I know i will need to, and will probably makes a similar choice to last time. I think it would be nice to feel my son suckling, something which I didn't get to experience the last time, but I genuinely feel like that is more about me than him; he had warmth, love, affection, a few antibodies here and there, and didn't go hungry, and really, that is all that matters. Don't beat yourself up xxx

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Lizzie G

I just realised I didnt exactly answer the bit about supply, just felt it was important to share the whole 'dont feel bad' perspective as i know how much these things can get you down when you are already hormonal and sleep-deprived!

 

in terms of supply i dont know how it would have panned out had i approached it with full vigour, i definitely could have expressed more to encourage supply, but i didnt go full throttle and was kind of happy to produce enough milk to give him 50% of what he needed.

 

If supply is an issue I know there are various prescription drugs that are safe to use and improve it, so as well as any other suggestions, it is worth visiting your family doctor, I know someone who found this really helped.

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jwags

I was not diabetic when I nursed my 5 kids, but had all the problems you described. It is very common in the beginning. Even though your milk came in slowlymthe baby was still getting nutrition from the colostrum. It is so frustrating when you don't know how to solve the problem. My DIL went through the same thing last August. I told her to give it a little time. She had to experiment with different positions and using pillows to support the baby. Some babies have difficulty latching. I had an inverted nipple which made it worse. But I nursed most of my kids until 14-18 months or until I got pregnant with the next. They usually tell you not to use nipples on bottles because the baby will get nipple confusion. Back in the dark ages when I nursed my babies our pediatricians recommended beer and wine to build up milk supply. I am not sure how they feel about it now. The most important thing is to be relaxed.

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k_dub

I drink tons of water. I have the mug the hospital gave me. It holds 28 oz. I have 6-8 cupfuls per day. Plus some juice since I'm having lows.

 

I am wearing him 24/7.

I am offering him the breast 8-12 times per day. I let him stay on the breast as long as he wants.

 

I know everyone says that it's supply and demand, but this has not been my experience.

Like I said above, I'll feed him on each breast 3x over a 2 hours period - he will latch, suck continously, seem to be swallowing - and after all of that will not be satiated. He will have crazy behavior. Like he is starving. He is fully draining me. I have nothing else to give him. If I offer the breast again when this happens, he freaks out worse.

Gnaws at his hands, breathes frantically, pants, kicks, claws, and screams.

I will try to hand express milk and there will be nothing there.

 

I am feeding him as much as I can via breast. But typically in late evening and overnight, I just don't produce enough.

He gives a great effort. He wants the breast and the milk. He will try and try and eventually gets utterly frustrated.

 

People keep telling me that there is enough, but i'm telling you - there is not.. he is still hungry after hours of feeding on the breast.

I feel extremely inadequate

 

I am offering the breast every 2 hours.

I am pumping between feedings.

I am taking fenugreek and brewers yeast.

I have had the latch checked.

I have no problem with the frequency of the feedings or being up all night.

I have a problem with him not getting enough even after all of the effort and all of the time at the breast.

 

He is not gaining weight as he should...

 

When I give him supplemental formula, we are using our pinky finger (to make him suckle) and a syringe.

 

I literally don't know what else to do.

I want him off formula, but at this point I'm not sure I can do without it - it's always our absolute last resort. I cannot ignore him gnawing at his hands and panicking after we've fed on the breast for 2 hours straight...

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Phoenix

i had this problem. the doctor called it "let down". he gave me lanolin for my nipples to keep them from toughening, and he gave me a nasal mist that was supposed to help the milk come out of the glands where it was produced.

 

none of that helped me. sorry to say. my kid was starving. i tried expressing it with a manual breast pump. all for naught.

 

he went on formula. today he's 27 years old. it all works out, hon - even if you have to do it the way you would not prefer.

 

on a personal note, i was disappointed in myself. i'm a busty girl, so i was completely disgusted that they turned out to be more ornamental than functional.

 

also on a side note, i continued to lactate for a year and a half. not enough to feed a kid. just enough to ruin everything i wore. :P

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jwags

My DIL got an electric breast pump and it really helped her once she figured how to use it. She even has this contraption she wears that you hook the bottles to. These new ones are so much better than the manual ones we had 30 years ago. If you pump you can fill a bottle for your husband to feed the baby. My son usually does the 12:00 feeding so my DIL can go to bed early, since she wakes up around 2 am to do the next feeding.

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Lizzie G

you sound so stressed out; please try going to the doctor and asking about drugs to stimulate your supply, iv no idea whether the same products are licensed in the us as the uk but im sure theres somethjng similar.

 

in the meantime please please please dont feel like this; many women go through this, you are absolutely doing everything within your power to maximise your milk supply, keep doing that, but if hes not gaining enough weight and hes hungry you need to give him formula, and to be comfortable with that.

 

im sorry if i sound blunt, and its not what you want to hear, but once that little boy has a full tummy it will take the pressure off you and it will make it easier to relax yourself, see whether you can get anything to help improve your supply, and make you feel a bit more in control again.

 

i know you are someone who is used to putting in the effort and getting great results in life. im kind of the same. iv learnt with my son that sometimes taking an easier option is better for everyone and doesnt make me a bad mother (and besides i have plenty of outlet for my perfectionist tendencies at work!).

 

hugs xxx

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rubidoux

Breast feeding is way harder than it should be! I always wonder how the cave women did it.

 

With my first, I would say that I didn't feel confident in my ability to feed him until he was about 3 months old. After the first month or so it was a little easier, but still didn't feel like I could take it for granted. I was super committed to it, though, and really wanted to make it happen. I think in order for it to work without making you crazy, you have to have some odd mix of being totally insanely committed and somehow knowing when enough is enough. I do believe that a nursing relationship is very special and important, but also that if nursing has become so miserable that its getting in the way of loving and enjoying your baby, it may not be worth it.

 

You should trust your gut that he's not getting enough to eat. I suppose it's possible that you're wrong, but if he's not gaining... Ugh. In your shoes, I would be supplementing, too. My first had a fair amount of formula in the beginning, maybe the first ten days or so. Our problems were different. I wasn't worried about how much I was producing, but he just was not that interested in nursing at all. It was so hard to get him to latch and then he'd lose interest or fall asleep almost immediately. I could feed him some formula even if he wasn't working for it, but I couldn't really get him nursing unless he wanted to. In the very beginning I was just too scared to trust that he'd nurse if he needed to and they scared me at his first weight check, said he wasn't gaining enough. But the upshot is that I really don't think the formula was a bad thing for us. And if your little guy is hungry after nursing, I would not feel bad about giving him formula. I think there's a very good chance you'll be able to switch to 100% breast milk eventually, probably sooner rather than later.

 

Have you already talked to your doctor about meds that might help? I love to go a more natural route, but there's a very safe med called Reglan, I think. I took it while I was pregnant for heartburn, but it's also good for milk production, and it's supposed to be super safe. I would google or ask your doc about it asap.

 

Nursing can be really difficult and I think it takes a lot of us longer than you'd think to figure it out. My heart goes out to you, though, I know it feels so important and awfully tenuous. But I think it'll work out for you!

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Hooterville

Reglan is not all innocent. Do google it along with tardive dyskinesia. Yes, the risk increases with longterm use but still, that's a very serious side effect.

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Tanikit

I did not have a problem with supply - in the early days I did struggle to express more because I did not know what I was doing and because I was not used to it. It got better with time. I fed my baby way more than 8-12 times a day - in fact there were times where she was attached to me almost non stop and I sometimes fed hourly through the night too - especially in those stages when she was having growth spurts.

 

It is hard with the first baby as you do not know what to expect and what is ok. You do however need to decide what you want and what will work for you as giving formula will make the decision for you - if a baby drinks formula then your milk supply will automatically drop as the baby will not feed off you and you start a vicious cycle as he will need more formula. At the same time if having a baby attached to you literally 24/7 is too much and you decide that the formula makes you feel better as you know he is getting enough nutrition then that could also be a way to go. And it is hard when your baby is young and you are tired to make those decisions - try talking it out with Le Leche and then talk it out with someone more pro formula and see what you can do. But get some support whichever way you go - you will have both options - it is highly unlikely you are producing too little milk even if your baby says so. I did find however that I had less milk when I went really low.

 

I agree with rubidoux that you need to be insanely committed - I was and went to consultants to help, did not listen to nurses in the hospital, had my baby with me all the time, never tried a bottle except once and that was with expressed milk because she was jaundiced and had not drunk for quite a while and was not latching properly.

 

It was worth it with the first. When my second arrived attached to all sorts of tubes in the hospital in ICU, I just picked her up and fed her and the nurses were amazed that a kid with so many tubes could do so well with the breastfeeding - I think it was just that by then I knew how, but it had taken one huge fight with my eldest and a lot of stress and self doubt.

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rubidoux
Reglan is not all innocent. Do google it along with tardive dyskinesia. Yes, the risk increases with longterm use but still, that's a very serious side effect.

 

Wow, Hoot. Thanks for posting that. I'd hate to think someone took on my advice. (Sorry, k_dub!) The TK thing was discovered the year after I took it and, of course, after I took it I wasn't watching for news on it. Sigh... The stuff I read was oddly incomplete, though. Like, they say that TK can happen even after you've stopped taking the drug, but it doesn't say how long after. I have no idea if I'm free and clear at ten years out or have the same risks as immediately after stopping. Also, nothing that I read said anything about risks to the fetus or breastfed babies. But Reglan was given to a lot of pregnant women and as used for increasing milk supply so you'd think a lot of people would be interested in that. And I scoured three different websites talking about it and none of them said anything about what proportion of users get it. Maybe that's bc a lot of the users are currently still alive and you can get it any time during the whole rest of your life so they don't know??? Cripes. I guess this does explain why my perinatologist was so positive about it when I saw him in 2003 and then gave me something different for my pregnancy related heartburn in 2008.

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Hooterville

Rubidoux, I took it. Didn't know about the lifetime risk thingy, uggh. Now I'll have to read some more. I had a gastroparesis diagnosis in 2011 (have since been undiagnosed - cured! Thank you DF!). Those warnings on the 'net aren't just blowing smoke. The gastroenterologist who prescribed it to me warned me sternly to get off of it due to the tardive dyskenisia risk. I've got enought problems! Don't need uncontrollable facial ticks! So, I just can't let mention of Reglan go without comment.

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jwags

My geandson is 5 1/2 months old now and my DIL has just started some cereal and soft veggies. She told me she went on a lower calorie diet a few weeks ago and her milk supply almost dried up. So she is back to a higher calorie diet and sure enough milk supply has increased. Electric breast pumps should be included in your health insurance, my DIL got hers free. With my first I was clueless how to breastfeed and really didn't have much support besides books that I read. At least now there are so many online support groups. I know this is hard to believe but it does get easier, just stick with it. It is so good for the baby.

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GrammaBear

Kelly -

 

It has been a long, long time since my son was the age that your Nicholas is now. My first 3 weeks breastfeeding had me ready to quit and give up!!! Since my son was our second and there probably would not be a third child, I don't know how exactly - but I kept trying and trying some more. I thought how hard can something so natural be, but it was - at least in the beginning. Try hard not to give up and don't forget that Nicholas is a beginner at all of this too. I was told that if the baby has 10-12 wet diapers during a 24 hr period, then he is probably getting enough milk. Be sure to drink enough water yourself and feed yourself well also. Best wishes to you and that little guy. The memories I have of breastfeeding successfully for 18 months are one of the most precious things I have.

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mom24grlz

how much weight did he lose after birth? With my daughter Emely she was born weighing 8 pounds 14 ounces. I think When we were discharged from the hospital she was down to 8 pounds 6 ounces. It took her 3 weeks to get back up to her Original birth weight. I know you were worried that your baby is not getting enough to eat, have you taken him to the doctor for Weight checks? what does his pediatrician say is he concerned?

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Kathryn10

Hi Kelly,

 

I think breastfeeding is the most stressful thing about pregnancy and having a baby!

 

With my baby Liya (who is 5 months now), I breastfed exclusively for 2 months and then pumped until 5 months when my supply dropped like crazy. Now she's getting formula but I feel pretty good about the amount of breastmilk she was able to get. In the beginning I felt that she wasn't getting enough so I'd supplement once in a while. When they're so little it seems like they're on the breast 24/7, and want to eat all the time. I've read that low milk supply is a very rare problem but that a lot of women jump to the conclusion that they're not making enough too soon. With his frantic movements and gnawing on his hands etc., it makes me think that you're either right about the low supply part; or, he could be picking up on your stress. Babies are so tuned in to your stress level and mood and it really affects them.

 

If you can go to a LLL meeting or read up on kellymom.com I think it'll help you a lot. Lactation consultants didn't help me too much. I bought Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle but read that Fenugreek lowers blood sugar level, and I was having so many issues with my bgs that I didn't want to take a chance with it. My supply did end up leveling out and I had no concerns after about a month or so. I was also able to pump exclusively after the 8 week mark for 2 more full months until my supply dropped during the 4th month.

 

With my first baby, I was so stressed out about the whole breastfeeding thing that I pretty much gave up after we got home from the hospital and ended up pumping for 6 week until I produced so little milk that it wasn't worth it.

 

My now 6 year old is perfectly healthy (knock on wood).

 

Please don't stress yourself out about studies done regarding babies and formula being at higher risk for developing diabetes. All those studies out there will drive you crazy. It's hard not to stress out when emotions aren't back in place yet and you're so sleep deprived. I'm sure baby Nicholas will turn out perfectly healthy.

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Peggy_TX

I didn't read the whole thread, so maybe this has already been suggested…. call around and see if you can find a good acupuncturist!

I have NO experience being a mom, but I bred horses for over a decade. We had a great acupuncturist who we'd call any time we had a low producing mare.

And just so you don't think I'm experimenting on you -- I suggested this to a human friend with low milk production a few years ago, and she said it really helped

I think there's an accuPRESSURE technique too, which a good acupuncturist should be able to teach you to do yourself

 

(we also put Guinness in our mares' feed…. does that work for humans?!?)

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mom24grlz
Kelly made a good point how many wet diapers a day is he having? how are his poops ? are they Loose consistency and look like seedy mustard? here are some links that I found maybe they can help.

 

http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing/

 

LLLI | Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?

 

Ha Ha oops i meant grammabear :) Kelly's the original poster.

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mom24grlz

BTW i think those studies that say babies who are formula fed are more likely to get diabetes is hogwash. That is just my opinion but i have spoken with many parents of type 1 diabetics, some kids were exclusively BF some were exclusively formula fed and some got a mixture. But the they all were dx with diabetes. Ashleigh was exclusively BF until 6 months and then continued to BF until a month before her 3rd birthday. She started on cows milk at 12 months, did not receive a drop of formula. She was still dx with diabetes. My other kids had a combination of breast milk and formula (Emely was exclusively BF, but both Madisyn and Catie got both breast milk and formula) so far none of them have been diagnosed.

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Lady Imp

I didn't breastfeed my son, I struggled to get him to latch and I ended up giving up and feeling that formula was just the way to go, so I really don't know anything about low milk supply or anything like that. What I do know a lot about, however, is feeling guilty about it. DO NOT let yourself feel bad about this situation, it happens. And if you find yourself supplementing with formula, or even switching to formula altogether, it's COMPLETELY ok. We're fortunate to live in a day and age when we have choices on how to feed our babies, and that we have the ability to chose what works best for us and our children. In the end, go with what works for you and your child so that you're both happy.

 

I agree with mom24grlz, I doubt those studies quite a bit...I was breastfed until I was about 8 or 9 months old (when I chomped on my mama with my first tooth and she decided that was it), and I still got diabetes. Maybe it was karma getting back at me for trying to take a chunk of her nipple, who knows. By that point in time breast milk was the supplement, but I never was on formula nor that Gerber baby food in the jar stuff either (Mama always just put stuff in a blender, she never saw the point in spending the money on the jarred stuff). But I digress, worrying about studies with likely statistically insignificant sample sizes is not going to help you any, all it will do is stress you out more.

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2high

Congratulations, Kel... I've been MIA and just saw this.

 

I had issues with supply with Riley, and he was fully FF by 4 weeks. This time around, I've had lower supply on and off, but managed to up it again with lactation cookies and domperidone, although I have no idea if domperidone is allowed in the US or not.

The lactation cookies make a huge difference for me. They contain brewers yeast, oats and flaxseed meal, all of which help boost supply. Taking prenatal vitamins can help, too. Koby is 13 weeks now, and still exclusively bf

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