How Much is Too Much?

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This post is all about my experience with breastfeeding so far. Let me first say that breastfeeding is a lot more difficult than I ever could have anticipated. I completely understand why some women give up on it or can no longer do it. Breastfeeding is hard! To all of those moms out there who are still breastfeeding, keep it up and hang in there! It does get easier!

When Warren was born, he was looking around and wanted to eat right away. It was a little awkward at first getting him positioned, but things seemed to be going ok. The first breastfeeding session went relatively well. After that first session, things got a lot more tricky. Warren was really sleepy and had a hard time latching on. I tried many different positions to get him to latch effectively, but nothing was really working.

By the time we brought him home, I hated breastfeeding. It was very painful and Warren never seemed to be getting enough to eat. Nights were the worst. Warren would wake up screaming and want to eat, but it then it would take him up to 20 minutes before he got a good enough latch to eat. My nipples started to bleed and blister and I could tell that Warren was not happy.

When the nurse came for the home visit check up, I told her about my issues with breastfeeding. She watched me nurse and suggested that I try a nipple shield. The nipple shield was a lifesaver for me! Warren was able to latch on and eat a lot more effectively. Breastfeeding was no longer painful!

We have now gotten to a point in our breastfeeding relationship where I no longer depend on the nipple shield. I will use it in the middle of the night, or if Warren is clamping down while eating in an attempt to try to slow my crazy flow of breast milk.

Which leads me to our next challenge. I have an over-abundant supply of breast milk and an overactive letdown reflux. No one ever told me that this could happen. I have heard of not having enough milk, but never having too much milk. I found out about this issue when reading through the book “Babywise” when Warren was having a particularly hard day. He was screaming and nothing would console him. I was starting to suspect that he had reflux, or some gastrointestinal disorder, so I was reading information on that.

Warren was/is spitting up constantly. I do not mean regular spitting up, either. When he spits up it’s basically everything he just ate. He will spit up when he’s eating, after he’s eating, and while he is sleeping. This poor little boy spits up all of the time! I never knew a child could spit up so much and still gain weight. He was also having green foamy/watery stools on a pretty regular basis. This symptom was the key to his “diagnosis.” Apparently if a baby consumes too much of the foremilk portion of the breast milk they can have a reaction because they are consuming too much lactose. This problem causes a foremilk to hindmilk ratio imbalance. The symptoms are spot on to what Warren was experiencing.

  • Baby cries a lot, and is often very irritable and/or restless
  • Baby may sometimes gulp, choke, sputter, or cough during feedings at breast
  • Baby may seem to bite or clamp down on the nipple while feeding
  • Milk sprays when baby comes off, especially at the beginning of a feeding
  • Mother may have sore nipples
  • Baby may arch and hold himself very stiffly, sometimes screaming
  • Feedings often seem like battles, with baby nursing fitfully on and off
  • Feedings may be short, lasting only 5 or 10 minutes total
  • Baby may seem to have a “love-hate” relationship with the breast
  • Baby may burp or pass gas frequently between feedings, tending to spit up a lot
  • Baby may have green, watery or foamy, explosive stools
  • Mother’s breasts feel very full most of the time
  • Mother may have frequent plugged ducts, which can sometimes lead to mastitis (breast infection)

The above information is from the La Leche League website. Check out this link for more information on breastfeeding and oversupply: http://www.llli.org/faq/oversupply.html

I had taken Warren to his doctor the day before I made this discovery in “Babywise.” The doctor basically just dismissed all of Warren’s symptoms as colic. He actually asked me if I was a first time mom and then said that what he has is obviously colic. I was so frustrated with the doctor. I should have argued and said that I could tell that Warren had something wrong with him and that it was not just colic. So I took matters into my own hands. This is when I discovered that my oversupply of breast milk was most likely the culprit.

When I say that I have an oversupply of breast milk I do not simply mean that I just have extra milk. I have so much extra milk that I actually spray out breast milk all over my poor little baby every time I feed him. It literally shoots out everywhere! I have tried so many different things to try to tame my supply. Some people say that I should pump so that I can get rid of the extra foremilk, while others say that pumping will just cause my body to produce more milk. I have tried lying down while nursing and allowing my initial flow to spray into a burpcloth. I have also tried blockfeeding where I nurse on one side for 2-3 times and then switch to the next side.

I have found that I really cannot decrease my supply, no matter what I do. Instead, I have discovered that pumping as much as I can in the morning before I feed Warren for the first time and then blockfeeding for the rest of the day really helps. I am donating my extra breast milk to a friend who cannot breastfeed. If I am extra engorged before I am about to nurse, I will pump a small amount (1-3 oz.) before I feed the little guy. The middle of the night seems to be the worst for engorgement. I will wake up with my chest throbbing and it feels like I have bricks lying on my chest. When this happens I have to pump. If I don’t pump, the flow is so incredibly fast that Warren spits up almost immediately.

Breastfeeding has gotten much easier. Warren is not as incredibly fussy and he recently started sleeping 6-7.5 hour stretches at night! He is sill spitting up, but now he is what the experts call a “happy spitter.” He doesn’t seem to be in as much pain and he can nurse more efficiently. He still eats every 2-2.5 hours, but I know that won’t last forever. Sometimes I can tell that he just wants to eat for the comfort it gives him, and that is ok. If nursing him will make him feel better, then I will nurse him earlier than the 2 hour mark.

The best advice that I can give is do what works for you. Breastfeeding is one of the healthiest things that you can do for your baby. No matter how difficult it gets, don’t give up!

Warren Matthew 057 (2) Warren in a “milk coma” shortly after eating

 

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