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Old 03-16-2013, 08:16 AM   #1
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Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

My little one is only 2 weeks old and we have been struggling with breastfeeding the entire time. He was born at 36 weeks, 5 days so technically he was premature. Because of this, he was taken to the nursery immediately and I didn't get to attempt to breastfeed him for the first time until he was 2 1/2 hours old and tired. The first attempt he would latch on, but not attempt any sucking & would eventually fall asleep.

The next two days in the hospital were more of the same. I'd put him on & he would not suck, just lick or lay there with his mouth open. The nurses/lactation consultant tried a number of things and the only thing that would work was using a shield. He was doing pretty well with the shield and we are making progress towards eating without it, however, we had to introduce a bottle when he was 3 days old.

He had a high level of Jaundice shortly after birth, so we were told to have him finish one side, then offer formula to help with the Jaundice & I was told to pump after every feeding. He did great going from bottle to breast & back and last weekend we got the ok to go back to strictly breastfeeding. The last couple of days I have been weighing him before & after a couple feedings to see how much he is eating & I notice he is only eating about an ounce from me before he is full. There is more milk, but he stops at 1 ounce, either on his own or because he fell asleep. I pump after so I don't lose my supply and I always get a few mL out of each side.

Then at night he seems to require 4 ounces and I end up feeding him for 2, sometimes 3 hours almost continuously and he still acts like he is starving. We end up getting to the point where he is sucking, but I am empty so I end up giving him an ounce of pumped or formula & pumping for 20 min. He is also more & more frequently just chewing on the shield instead of sucking. I offer him the bare breast & sometimes he takes it, otherwise I just keep trying. I'm worried he is not getting enough during the day because of these frantic cluster feedings at night, but he is still getting an average of 10 wet diapers per day. Anyone have a similar situation? I'm trying not to resort to using a bottle, but after 3 or 4 hours of continuous feedings I am running empty & he is getting frustrated. Any advice?

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Old 03-16-2013, 08:18 AM   #2
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Re: Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

There is absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing if you have to. I know exactly how you feel. I think it will get better eventually but if supplementing makes him happy and full I would keep up with what you are doing.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:41 AM   #3
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Re: Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

It sounds like you are making more than enough. Remember babies have their days and nights mixed up many times. Sounds like he is perfect and no supplimenting is needed. He also may be using you as a paci at night, my babies did that. An ounce per feed is very normal at his age. He has a teeny tummy.

Some babies cluster feed at night due to laying down more and refluxing. Makes them want to nurse more for comfort. I would watch for that. It is common. My newbies had to be on an incline to nurse to not reflux. Two even needed meds to feel better.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:17 AM   #4
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Re: Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

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He had a high level of Jaundice shortly after birth, so we were told to have him finish one side, then offer formula to help with the Jaundice & I was told to pump after every feeding. He did great going from bottle to breast & back and last weekend we got the ok to go back to strictly breastfeeding. The last couple of days I have been weighing him before & after a couple feedings to see how much he is eating & I notice he is only eating about an ounce from me before he is full. There is more milk, but he stops at 1 ounce, either on his own or because he fell asleep. I pump after so I don't lose my supply and I always get a few mL out of each side.

Then at night he seems to require 4 ounces and I end up feeding him for 2, sometimes 3 hours almost continuously and he still acts like he is starving. We end up getting to the point where he is sucking, but I am empty so I end up giving him an ounce of pumped or formula & pumping for 20 min. He is also more & more frequently just chewing on the shield instead of sucking. I offer him the bare breast & sometimes he takes it, otherwise I just keep trying. I'm worried he is not getting enough during the day because of these frantic cluster feedings at night, but he is still getting an average of 10 wet diapers per day. Anyone have a similar situation? I'm trying not to resort to using a bottle, but after 3 or 4 hours of continuous feedings I am running empty & he is getting frustrated. Any advice?
Just a couple things. To the bolded it looks to me like you are doing great!
With my first he used to fall asleep at the breast ALL THE TIME, especially during the day. I got to the point where I nursed him with just a diaper on and I actually put cold water on his feet to wake him up to nurse. (My house wasn't freezing cold or anything.) This helped get him nursing better during the day and he slept better at night. I was also a meanie and I woke him up every 2 hours at least to nurse during my waking hours. If your nipples can bare it I would probably let him nurse for comfort as well. Watch his weight gain and his diaper output and follow your gut instinct.
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:11 AM   #5
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Re: Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

You do have a premie, he is a near-term premie, and they often have issues with breastfeeding and jaundice, and because the aren't "tiny" ther isn't a big deal made about them. But feeding issues are very common with babies born before 38 weeks.

If the nipple shield works sometimes, don't hesitate to use it. There will be plenty of time to wean him off of it once he is a better nurser.

The thing about having a baby who has special needs in the beginning is, it can b really hard to just go back to the status quo, which would be stopping the supplementation and going solely with the breast.

Did you rent a smart scale? If you are using anything other than a smart scale, which can weigh a single sheet of paper, I wouldn't trust the scale.

It is very common for babies o revese-cycle their feedings and want to eat more at night. It is also comon for babies to just be fussy at night (the witching hour) and act hungry but then not latch and arch off the breast and generally act like they don't know what they want. It would be hard for you to be empty-empty; milk is made from your blood. So while you may not feel as full somtimes, and you may not be able to pump anything out, truly being empty is unlikely. Not all women respond well to pumps, and if the flanges aren't the right size, or the pump is used and the suction isn't as powerful as it was before, or any number of things, how much you pump is not an accurate picture of how much milk you have. And if you can tolerate him at the breast whenever he wants, that is telling your body to make more milk.

Breast compressions might help to kep him nursing longer: http://www.prha.mb.ca/Publications/P...May%202011.pdf

Also not sure if you read through the "Laid Back Breastfeeding" thread, but you may find some helpful info there, too.

Did the hospital set you up with any after-care with the IBCLC? To follow you guys along?
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:53 PM   #6
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Night cluster feeding is TOTALLY normal. Mine usually did at least 3 hours straight every evening for the first 2-3 months at least. My first was a 36 week 4 day preemie. She once nursed 7 hours straight with burping and changes then nursing the . Whole. Time! I almost lost it!! That was 4 weeks.

Toss the formula and nurse your baby. You will make it through. When you breasts feel empty is when your body gets the command to make more milk. Let him feed and you will make enough. Good luck!!
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:11 PM   #7
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Re: Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

Right now your baby is trying to make your body match up to his demand. Let him nurse nurse nurse. Try to wake him more during the day so he can switch those
Times of ultra demand but ultimately your body WILL catch up, so let him have those high demand times so your body and his will ultimately match up. The same thing happened to my 40wk+10 day baby because he was in the NICU his first week. It took about 3 weeks at home (often with some crazy all-night feeds) for our supply and demand to fully match up, but it did eventually. All that pumping/bottling really IMO can mess things up. As much as possible go skin to skin, nursing.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:17 PM   #8
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I think what you are going through is totally normal. My baby was 37 weeks and cluster feeds at night to this day (he is 4 months old now). The first two months he way so sleepy at the breast, I used to strip him down and tickle his feet too. He would nurse, sleep, wet a diaper and repeat every 2-3 hours.

Stop supplementing with formula and keep pumping. Sleep when the baby sleeps. And nurse as much as you can. As the baby's tummy gets bigger, you will have longer stretches between feedings.

Good luck and hang in there!!!
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:05 AM   #9
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Re: Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

any update OP?
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:29 AM   #10
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Re: Struggling to breastfeed my newborn

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Originally Posted by eliz7 View Post
Night cluster feeding is TOTALLY normal. Mine usually did at least 3 hours straight every evening for the first 2-3 months at least. My first was a 36 week 4 day preemie. She once nursed 7 hours straight with burping and changes then nursing the . Whole. Time! I almost lost it!! That was 4 weeks.

Toss the formula and nurse your baby. You will make it through. When you breasts feel empty is when your body gets the command to make more milk. Let him feed and you will make enough. Good luck!!
yes! I wouldnt worry about pumping or bottle feeding/formula feeding just put baby to breast as much as possible and its totally normal for baby to nurse all night long if you can nurse laying down on your side you can rest/sleep while baby is eating. even nursing in an empty breast is great bc its telling your body to make more milk. everything sounds like you are doing great!
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