mixed bag weekend

February 26, 2018

Note – contains nursing-related woes – sharing some feelings / struggles.  if this is triggering for you please just ignore this post!

There were highs:

Wild Kratts live + a meet & greet after the show!
It was awesome and thrilling and the kids loved it.

. . . And there were lows.  There was a particularly harrowing swim class episode which left me mildly traumatized and not excited to take all 3 to the pool alone for a while.  But more painful and emotional was that for both Saturday and Sunday, G seemed completely unsatisfied in the evenings.  She screamed the entire time we were out to dinner after Wild Kratts.  She screamed again yesterday evening, seemingly insatiable.  Josh had made me promise we’d offer a bit of milk via a bottle if it happened again (after Saturday night’s misery) so we did, and she sucked it down, and I cried.  A lot.

I KNOW breastfeeding isn’t everything.  I KNOW I am 100% lucky to have 3 healthy children, 3 healthy pregnancies, and much more.  But #)*&$ it, I really wanted nursing to work for this last go-round.  I can accept that pumping will be challenging — and it’s GAME ON in one week — but it’s harder for me to deal with the idea that I might not be able to satisfy G even when that (huge) variable hasn’t been introduced.

I also don’t get it.  My medical/scientific brain is just . . . confused.  She’s a chunk (85% weight at last check, and doesn’t appear to be any lighter now!) and I’ve been able to pump 4-5 oz every day right after her early AM feeding — this morning it was 6!  I guzzle water.  I eat 3487374 calories/day (not that I actually know, but it seems like a lot).  I feed on demand – often every 1-1.5 hours during the day.  I use compressions when she eats (well, I have to – I have slow flow breasts and it’s the only way they work most of the time).  I eat oatmeal every morning.  I have purposely NOT ramped up exercise much because I fear that might decrease supply.  I have remained ~3-4 lb over my pre-preg weight (you know, due to the 3487374 calories daily) and have not tried to lose any.

SO WHYYYYYY!???

Kellymom seems to think my supply is just fine.  But it’s hard to argue with a hungry-acting baby and breasts that feel empty, and then appearance of total relief after a couple of oz of milk from the freezer.

A good friend of mine thinks I am driving myself crazy and should just supplement from my stash (and then formula, when it runs out) when needed.  I do find myself spending way too much time repeatedly feeding and stressing over feeding right now, which is taking away from my ability to be a good parent to A&C, not to mention a present partner for Josh.  That said I’m still left with anger and confusion about my body’s seeming inability to do what it is supposed to.

I’m open to advice / commiseration.  I put Guinness on the grocery list, ordered some supplements to try (though I didn’t have much luck with this in past years).  I’ve never been a great pumper but also never had supply issues this early, or supply issues that are this confusing (particularly the amount I can pump each AM contrasted with insufficiency in the PM).  I’m continuing to just feed her whenever she acts like she wants it.  But if she’s acting absolutely desperate again tonight, I’m going to give her some of what I pumped this AM.  Not sure what else to do . . .

(Please don’t comment that you pump 12 oz in 3 minutes and that oversupply is just a drag.  Please.)

70 Comments

  • Reply Michelle March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    I”m sorry to read about your frustrations! Here in Canada, we prescribe Domperidone for supply issues, and I”ve seen it work well over and over again throughout the past few years. Might be worth checking into. Also, there”s a Mother”s Milk tincture that”s herbal-based (Motherlove More Milk Plus) that some women find helpful. Good luck!

  • Reply Meghan March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Could it be a growth spurt? I don’t remember how likely that is at 3 months, but it sounds like how my babies acted those earlier weeks when they were trying to stimulate increased production.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this, and with such bad timing right before going back to work! She’s adorable!

  • Reply Morgan March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I”m so sorry – supply stress is the worst. Do you have a local Breastfeeding Center or lactation consultants that make home visits? This was incredibly helpful for me. Maybe someone could come at the time your experiencing difficulties and weigh her before and after feeding to try to do some troubleshooting? Good luck.

  • Reply Dr. Hbar March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Cheering you on as you handle this and think through all the different factors. It’s so hard!

  • Reply Julia March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Is she a lazy feeder/does she have a good suck? Maybe the milk is there but she’s not working to get it out? I felt that my 2nd was very distracted when eating during the day…not sure if that is an issue for your daughter.

  • Reply Irene March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I”m so sorry to hear this! I have had a complicated relationship with nursing/pumping with my first (milk didn”t come in until I pumped for 2 weeks due to a difficult delivery) so I had to make peace with supplementing pretty early on. Then eventually things worked well for a few months until they just didn”t for too many reasons to go into via comment and then my daughter was 100 percent formula after about 6 months. And honestly that was hard! Because I wanted to breastfeed her because of the whole breast is best thing and also because I”d already put in so much work to make it happen! And that”s ok – it”s reasonable to be disappointed when you are hoping for something and it doesn”t work out. For what ever reason I am saner about it this time and promised my husband that I would not resort to round the clock pumping if we had the same problem with our second because it took SO much out of me (thankfully we didn”t).

    My only thought for you is that we have learned from my very perfectionist daughter that we need to praise effort where we see it, not the result. The thinking is that you can control what you put in to something but not necessarily what comes out. This is a fundamental principle of my parenting philosophy and it”s actually started to change some of my own control/ perfectionist tendencies for the better . So I hope you can focus on how incredibly hard you are trying to work on this both for G and for yourself. There”s essentially nothing else to do so maybe you can let the chips lie where they fall on this, while still giving yourself space to be sad or disappointed if the result isn”t what you hoped for.

    And for what it”s worth I would give her the bottle too. It”s probably a growth spurt but even if it isn”t listening to your kid scream is just horrible if you can prevent it.

    Good luck. I really hope you gain some peace on this.

    • Reply June March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      You nicely phrased what I have been struggling to type out all day. This might be particularly hard for you Sarah because you are a perfectionist who is able to achieve so many goals. Want to achieve goal X? Just try harder, try every possible angle. What so many of us grow to expect from all of that effort ("I’m doing all of the right things! And so many of them!") is that the results will match.

      It’s tough to disconnect the effort from the results, but to do so – not just for breastfeeding, but for so much of life – is so important for overall well being.

  • Reply Marissa March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Successfully BF 2 babies now, so I have some experience. It doesn”t sound like a supply issue to me. Our second daughter was similarly fussy like that, & she”s gone through MANY nursing strikes for unknown reasons. If I were in your shoes, id continue nursing & NOT offer anything else. She”ll likely get back on the wagon. Best of luck. It”s hard, scary, & everything else!

  • Reply Bec March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I’ve found in the past that stress can impact on my milk supply. So the stress of going back to work and worry about pumping might be contributing. The body doesn’t seem to have logic when it comes to milk production. I pumped from the beginning for my first due to feeding issue, my second I was alternating due to his bad latch and my body refused to give up milk to pump it was like it was holding it out for my little man. So remember it’s so not logical.

  • Reply KaitReece March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Pumping and nursing issues are so difficult!

    Is there an IBCLC you could see that could do a weighted feed to determine how much G is transferring each feed? I used weighted feeds quite a few times over our nursing journey both for peace of mind AND to help me figure out how much to send in bottles to daycare.

    If it is helpful, I remember feeling "empty" in the evenings right around 12 weeks too. This was short-lived and we went on to nurse for 12+ months.

    Also, is it possible that your cycle is returning and that is why you are experiencing a dip in supply?

    Finally, I also wonder if maybe G was overtired? Our daughter was very fussy in the evenings from 8-12 weeks and looking back, I think she was getting overtired and would have benefited from an earlier bedtime.

    Best of luck and hang in there!

  • Reply Noemi March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I just wanted to say that breast feeding is really hard and the dominant narrative in this country refuses to recognize that, which makes it even harder for women who struggle. I struggled too (with different issues) and was appalled and dismayed by the way I was treated when I was struggling. I”m sorry you are struggling and feeling so much stress. I hope you find relief soon.

  • Reply Katharine Stevenson March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I drove myself nuts in EXACTLY this same way. My supply was "fine" but my baby needed more, and I had a lot of guilt and spent a LOT of time, energy, and even money trying to increase my supply after I went back to work. Breastfeeding was pretty much all I could think about. You’re not alone!

    Things got so much better once I just ramped down breastfeeding and went to formula at 6 months. I suddenly felt like myself again. Just my experience! But when I have Baby #2, I only plan to breastfeed while I am on maternity leave, and even then I will supplement as needed.

  • Reply Tabitha T. March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Add Brewer’s yeast to your oatmeal and take fenugreek and drink mother’s milk tea like it’s going out of style! It made a big difference when I was pumping!

  • Reply Kayla March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I don’t have any advice, other than PLEASE do not feel guilty. When my daughter was born, I struggled a LOT with breastfeeding, and we supplemented early. Fairly quickly I realized that it wasn’t working for us and we went to all formula. My daughter is now 17 months old, and has only ever had one fever in her life and is in the 85% for her weight and 98th% for height. I realized that I wasn’t being a good mom, and I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby being a newborn when I was so worried about feeding her. I know you wanted to nurse as long as possible, but is it really worth all the stress? You said you are having a hard time being a good parent to the other two and a present partner for your husband. I would say nurse as much as you can, but don’t feel bad about giving her a bottle (whether it’s pumped or formula). A FED baby is best, for everyone.
    Most of all, remember, you are a GREAT mom!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Mara March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Sarah! I would really really recommend talking to a Lactation Consultant. Mine was fantastic and always helped to put my mind at ease with any breastfeeding concerns. She had great suggestions for helping with the physical parts of it, but she was a gem and also helped with all of the emotional parts of it. G’s fussiness may or may not be a nursing/feeding issue, but if it is, a LC may be able to determine the cause quickly, and it may be a quick fix! Alternately, she may be able to help ease some pumping stress or suggest ways to supplement that you feel better about. I would say it’s just really worth a shot. I saw mine many times, and every time I left I felt better and more confident. Good luck!!

  • Reply Jamie March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Here to commiserate. 5 years ago my son never latched and I Exclusively pumped for 5 months until my supply just dried up due to a move from Tallahassee to Ft Lauderdale that put a lot of stress on me. I promised myself and my husband I would not go the EP route again bc it was taxing on me. This time around my daughter (just shy of 6 months) latched but seemed disinterested in eating for the first two weeks and lost too much weight (she was born 9 lb 2 oz so her weight loss was fairly dramatic). I started pumping and supplementing with BM bottles and found out at 7 weeks old she had a tongue tie. By then she took a preference to bottles and though she still likes to nurse, for her its only a comfort thing. I have slow flow and multiple let downs and she hates it. She actively seeks the boob when she is tired or needs to poop but otherwise wants nothing but a bottle. I have been pumping, almost exclusively since I returned to work and making about 30-35 oz. Recently my supply dipped to 28-30 oz and her appetite has ramped up so I’m hitting my freezer stash pretty hard and trying to accept the fact that we are probably weeks away from needing to introduce formula. I’m mad, I really wanted to nurse this time and i wanted to make it to a year and here we are, close to the elusive 6 month mark and probably coming to an end of this breastfeeding journey again. I’m frustrated but I also look at my 5 year old son and see how much he is thriving, and how much he thrived as a baby and I realize it is not the end of the world. That being said, the frustration is valid and I’m sorry you’re going through it. I’ll mirror what others are saying, it could very well just be a growth spurt. My daughter has gone through multiple rounds of similar behavior and complete nursing strikes and after a few days her appetite will level off again and she’ll return to wanting to nurse on occasion. I will also say that the Legendairy Milk supplements have helped my supply and seem to make my milk more fatty (and I assume more satisfying) so you might consider checking them out. (Fenugreek did not work for me so I sought other supplements and I have tried all the Legendairy Milk ones and found a few to be better for me than others).

  • Reply Caroline March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    It’s NOT a supply issue, just a hungry, cranky, tired baby. My first son was like this. I just kept switching breasts and stubbornly fought through it until he fell asleep. That being said, it was incredibly stressful and tiring. I dreaded it. It caused a lot of anxiety. It did get better once he was on solids and not in the throws of those early growth spurts. Try not to let this consume you. Do what works best for your mental health. Your worth as a mother is not measured in ounces!!!!

  • Reply Andrea March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Hugs. Im the same way. Logically i know it”s perfectly okay to formula feed, and I tell my patients that all the time … “fed is best” (I refuse to say “breast is best” .. yuck). but I STILL have that awful feeling of “failure” or guilt associated w formula.

  • Reply Ali March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I also wonder if it could be just general fussiness/being tired. My kids went through that stage at night at around that age. Once my kids got out or they sleep-all-the-time newborn stage, from then until 6 months they couldn”t handle more than 90 minutes-2 hours of awake time (no 2-3-4 schedule here). Several books recommend different sleep schedules, but that is what worked for us.

    Good luck! If it is supply, I would suspect it will even out and maybe self-adjust since sounds like you are over producing in the mornings. (FWIW, I always felt empty after feeding except for first session of the morning—was the only time I could pump after nursing!) Good luck!!

  • Reply Caroline March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I don”t really have much advice to provide, but I just wanted to chime in and say that I completely understand the struggle. I was an under producer from the start with Caleb, and my stubbornness resulted in him being at a very low weight by three months. Ultimately I just gave him what I could and supplemented with formula.

  • Reply Rebecca March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I’m sorry to hear you are struggling! Breastfeeding is so HARD. Im also in Canada and was prescribed Domperidone. If it helps, here is my story in a nutshell..I had low milk supply from the start with both my babies. So low that I had to take Domperidone to help with my milk production. I had two c-sections without labour so this could be why but truthfully I am not sure the reason. With my first I was so devastated that I had to supplement with formula despite doing everything I possibly could to increase my supply on top of taking the medication. I cried a lot over it. It was a huge drag. But in the end I went on to breastfeed her for 15 months part time and supplement with formula part time. It worked great, she was healthy, happy, thriving and we still enjoyed a breastfeeding relationship. I realized that the most important thing was that she was fed, full, and we were both happy. I think that trade off for giving her formula was worth it, she never had nipple confusion and always enjoyed nursing. I wish I had realized that she needed more to eat sooner as we had a few long nights of crying too but we did know any better as first time parents. That makes me really sad to this day, but once we figured it out we found a combined feeding routine that worked for our family and never looked back!

  • Reply Sneakers March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    It is almost impossible not to blame yourself – but you can’t. With my only – same issues at 2.5 months – and she wouldn’t even take a bottle from me (even when it was pumped milk.). And I only could pump at 2am after feeding her at 1am which meant even less sleep for me. It was a miserable circle – and then I had either my husband or a friend drop by around 5 to give her a bottle (sometimes of formula) – and things improved for both of us. By 3.5 months (I had 6 months of leave), things suddenly improved (no clue why) – and after I went back to work, I nursed her mornings and evenings until she was 18 months. Pumping was just too hard on my sleep schedule and sanity. Persistence is important – but so so is reality. And I wish I had just accepted that a bottle of formula a day was not going to ruin our nursing relationship. Hang in there.

  • Reply Melanie March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Both of my babies also went through fussy periods in the evenings, and growth spurts around 3 months old. I always thought it was really terrible timing that they go through this big growth spurt and then the 4-month sleep regression just as you’re going back to work! Maybe try skipping the morning pump for a few days to see if that helps give G the extra milk she wants in the evenings? I agree that a chat with a lactation consultant certainly couldn’t hurt, even though it sounds like you’re already doing all the right things. Hugs! Breastfeeding is so draining (ha) both physically and emotionally.

  • Reply Beth March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Currently on maternity leave with my 3rd, she”s 5 months. We are EB and we went through a similar situation around 12 weeks. Lots of evening and night crying and fussing, not settling. I just kept putting her back on the breast, for hours. It was about a week for us and I was exhausted but then she was over it. Not sure if it was bc she needed more milk, but all that breast time did bump up my supply and soothed her so the only casualty was my sleep. I would just try to hunker down with her and just keep putting her back on the breast, with the knowledge that it will be hours more than you are used to. She”ll adjust and so will your milk supply!

  • Reply Cbs March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    At that age, my baby was just ravenous at night and would hang out on the boob. I just set up shop in the couch with a book, But he”s my only, it must be hard with two other kids you want to spend time with. I”m not quite keeping up with what baby eats while I”m at work. I pump for at least 30 minutes and max out at 4.5 ounces (get 12 over the course of the day). I”m introducing a bottle of formula at night to see if it might help him sleep as well.

  • Reply Rebecca March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I only have experience with my one and only baby and he was super fussy at night from 8-12 weeks. I read it was possibly overstimulation and that cluster feeding was normal so I wore him and nursed him a lot in the evenings. He never would take a bottle for me so I never tried to feed him from the AM bottle but my morning supply was always the best too. By the time I went back to work he was so tired in the evenings he would go right down and wasn”t fussy like that anymore. Every baby is different but we”re still nursing 13 months later. Oh and about the magical freezer stash- I had 100 oz painstakingly saved away for back to work then my baby was diagnosed with dairy allergies and I had to donate it and pump in the car to have enough for that day. Best laid plans with my freezer stash. I”m super type A too so I get it and you”re doing a great job mama!

  • Reply Meredith March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    No advice here, but sincere commiserations. My milk did not come in with my son, even after two weeks. I would nurse him for up to two hours and he’d still take an entire formula feed afterwards. Moving entirely to formula was the best thing for both of us. It allowed me to enjoy his infancy in a way I couldn’t have done otherwise. Good luck with whatever direction you take!

  • Reply Anon March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I’m so sorry you are going through this! It sounds like a couple of really tough nights. I wish I had some helpful advice, but I’m a first time mom. (I read your blog posts to get the advice, not the other way around!) The only thing I will say is that my baby, who’s now almost 8 months, was inconsolably fussy for a lot of nights between 8-12 weeks unless he was nursing almost constantly… I never was able to figure out if a bottle would have helped because he refused (and continues to refuse to this day) a bottle. I spent a lot of nights agonizing and then finally just ended up sitting on the couch for hours letting him use me basically as a pacifier and nursing whenever he wanted. I can’t imagine being able to do that if I had older kids. It eventually passed but my god, was it frustrating while it lasted. I just offer that up because I can tell you are really beating yourself up about your supply, but maybe it’s just a fussy time. I’m really in awe of how much you get done, how organized you are, and I appreciate your honesty here a lot. I hope you’re able to figure out a solution that you feel at peace with.

  • Reply Sheryl March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I had (what sounds like) the same frustration. I saw a lactation specialist (DrJack Newman) in Toronto and was told that a lot of moms have lower supply in evenings just from the day’s events. That, combined with general evening baby fussiness,, made me crazy. It wasn’t a "supply issue" per de, just normal ebbs and flows. I also have slow flow and have to use compressions. The dr prescribed domperidone–again not for "supply" but to increase the speed of flow. I’m sorry I don’t really have any advice– just wanted to say you sound like an amazing mom, a super human being, and just try to hang in there. I have a 6 year old and a baby and, at times like these, felt like I wasn’t giving my eldest the attention she needed. But,it passed, as all these things do. That doesn’t make it any easier in the moment, I know.

  • Reply Holly March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I am sorry you are going through this! I have no advice, but just to offer that perhaps a change in perspective is what would be most helpful. In times like these, where I*know* my perfectionist streak and type A-ness are taking over, I think to myself: okay, what would be the LITERAL WORST outcome to happen? And here, the ultimate answer is using your freezer supply and then when that runs out, formula feeding. AND THAT’S OKAY! You clearly have hangups about it, but ultimately, I know you know as a physician that that is FINE and baby G will still be amazing and perfect and you will still be an amazing mom to her even if she gets formula.

    I love what someone said upthread in the comments about evaluating the effort, not the outcome. TOTALLY resonates for me. You have put in the work! You are doing your best! And sometimes that isn’t enough in life, due to dumb sometimes inexplicable shit out of your control. And that sucks! And I know is especially frustrating for type As like us! But baby G is wonderful, and won’t be any less wonderful if she has formula. It will work out one way or another!

  • Reply xykademiqz March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Note: This is all tongue-in-cheek; just trying to lighten the mood. In seriousness, I feel for SHU and I know breastfeeding can be challenging.

    Take up a hobby where you will be subjected to constant rejection (I write short fiction and get rejections weekly; nay, daily). Take up writing research grants as a significant portion of your job, thereby assuring you will be mercilessly pummeled with a constant influx of rejections from the NIH and other funding agencies.

    Completely lose confidence in own competence on any front, thereby getting cured of all A-type/perfectionist/control tendencies. Get pummeled by rejections some more, just in case you manage to raise your head a bit and contemplate possible non-suckage in any realm for more than three nanoseconds, because we can’t have you entertaining such ludicrous ideas.

    Realize that the fact that your kids are gorgeous, healthy, and well fed is a miracle since you have no competencies whatsoever. Bask in own ability to raise them despite lack of all ability. Gratefully reach for pumped milk or formula when facing a fussy child paired up with empty breasts in the evening. Pass no judgement on self because you have already established that you suck as much as it is humanly possible to suck. Contemplate becoming a "you suck" meme.

    Write an essay about motherhood challenges, submit it for publication and get it rejected four dozen times, thereby exhausting all the markets. Serves you well; you don’t want to start feeling like you’re competent as a mother or a writer, do you?

    Keep sucking. Secretly worry that you suck so much that perhaps this means you in fact excel at sucking. Have mind literally explode due to overheating as it tries to resolve this cognitive dissonance. Annoy husband as he now has to clean bits of brain matter from the sofa cushions. Feel vindicated because, had he listened to you and bought the leather sofa you wanted, he would now not have to scrape your gray matter from between the ridges of the corduroy upholstery.

    Posthumously receive a large NIH grant, acceptance letters from top literary magazines for your fiction, and the La Leche League Most Devoted Breastfeeder Evah Medal of Honor.

    Haha. No.

    – THE END –

  • Reply Colleen March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Just remember – YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!! Keep loving those kiddos the way you do – as if you’re even capable of stopping – and think about what you’d say to your daughter if she were in your shoes. Then say it to yourself. Hang in there momma! ‘ù§

  • Reply Racheal March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Oh Sarah, I am so sorry. There is nothing worse than hearing your baby screaming and not feeling confident about what to do. I have had those same tears. Hugs to you. I can say that something similar happened with all three of my babies around this age. The day was fine but late afternoon/early evening was like I didn’t make enough milk. I just continued to nurse my way through it with all of them, believing that my body would know what to do. We cluster nursed at night a lot…like every 20 minutes for the few hours before bedtime. It was rough, but it stimulated my supply enough after a few horrible days.

  • Reply Zoe March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Doesn”t sound like low supply to me either from what you”ve written. Much more likely to be a combination of developmental leap combined with overstimulation and general baby evening crankiness. I know it can be hard to trust yourself and your supply if you have had problems previously (and you have the added stress of upcoming return to work) but if she has been gaining weight consistently on breastmilk alone and you are able to pump that much it is really unlikely at 3 months that this is a supply issue.

  • Reply Rose March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Lots of good ideas here on ways to increase your supply esp the skin to skin thing and Canadian medicine information. I believe, is that she is at the age where she is supposed to work at increasing your supply… and she is … and it will respond. What you need to remember is that supplementation is also just fine. In this country babies can grow wonderfully on formula as and when needed, you are supplementing with your frozen stash. YOU ARE DOING WONDERFULLY and your daughter is growing, thriving, and being loved. Now, be kind to you! (That is so very hard for women and mothers to do!)

  • Reply mamaderm March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Hugs. How stressful. If you haven’t yet done so, it would be so helpful to have a lactation consultant chime in. They saved my sanity with my first, when I was going around in circles with the same concerns regarding supply. It’s hard to know what babies need – each one is different and each day is different. You know your baby best, but it can be nice to get a professional opinion.

  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    You’ve had tons of great input already but I wanted to send you some love too! I know we’ve had similar pumping struggles so I just have solidarity and love for you!

    I had a VERY similar experience with Bennett just before I went back to work – and it was really a temporary phase that seemed like a growth spurt. You are doing everything you can!!

    As for boosting supply – I add a teaspoon each of brewer’s yeast and flax meal to my oatmeal every day and drink a cup of the Mother’s Milk tea when I get to work. That has actually gotten me from only pumping 7 oz a day back to about 9 oz!

  • Reply Mary Beth Patnaude March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Sarah:
    I rally enjoy your pdcasts with Laura! I wanted to let you know that I have 5 kids. I breastfed 4 of them exclusively for a total of over 7 years of breastfeeding! When I had #5, he wouldn’t gain weight. He was 1.5 pounds below birthweight at a month and my pediatrician reommended supplementing with formula. I was devestated! However, for his health, I fowwloed my docotr’s advice. He is now a healthy 10 year-old. All my boys are super intelligent… he might just be the top of the heap! Don’t feel like it was very helpful advice to increase your supply, just some encouragement!

  • Reply MMM March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    LOTS of comments so I haven’t read them all. My supply tanked at around 4 months (which coincided with when she started sleeping through the night — and therefore when I stopped feeding as often through the night — and actually not when I went back to work). I had lots of milk in the morning, and then it tapered throughout the day. My daughter was used to full breasts, and didn’t have the patience to work hard in the evenings to get what was there. It made me really sad, but I resorted to feeding bottles (of breastmilk) in the evenings. And bottles throughout the entire day (while I was at work). I was able to continue nursing each morning. I pumped a LOT to keep my milk supply up as much as I could, especially in the evenings (long sessions at this time). I fed her everything I pumped, and was able to put away like 2 oz a day, which added up to a couple of "extra" bottles a week for emergencies. Even though she was fed bottles about 75% of the time, she was exclusively fed breast milk until 12 months, which continued as a partial supplement to cow’s milk up until around 21 months. We nursed every morning. And — because I kept at least some supply — she was also able to nurse on the occasions that she was up in the middle of the night or sick, etc. The conclusion is that it was hard, and traumatic, and a LOT of work, but it was worth it that we could hold onto that nursing relationship at least a little bit up until nearly the age of two. My opinion is that supplementing is totally cool as well, but wouldn’t let that stop me from trying to continue nursing and breastmilk for as long as possible (physically and emotionally).

  • Reply Sarah Ruiz March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I’m way late to this post and haven’t caught up on more recent posts to see how it’s going. But hang in there — and I know it’s so, so hard to keep the emotions out of it, but keep telling yourself that the way they eat doesn’t matter as long as they eat. My boobs never worked at all — I never, ever produced enough for my kids despite all my efforts. I was an absolute wreck with my first about it, but the second time around when the same problems came back, I just kept repeating "fed is best" over and over and over.

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  • Reply Kristi March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I beg to differ, nursing is working for you! You probably just need to supplement, nothing wrong with that! I have three kids and never produced very much and i tried all the tricks. Still nursed and pumped and started supplementing very early on. It will be easier to manage (the kids, guilt, schedule, etc) once you stop obsessing about every feeding and every ounce. Sorry you are struggling, good luck!

  • Reply Jenny March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I’m a devoted podcast listener, and also an upholder physician. I was a first time mom to twins last year, and I never had enough supply to satisfy both babies. I was devastated when we had to start formula in hospital. No one (including the lactation consultants) told me that this could be normal. I tried everything. Like everything! In fact, I just stopped my Domperidone last week after taking it for 9mo. It was tremendously hard for me to accept that I couldn’t exclusively breastfeed. I think feeding your baby feels like your biggest, most fundamental role as a mother. It’s something that only we can do, so it feels sacred and special. Over time I had to learn to accept that feeding didn’t just mean nursing. This went against everything I thought I would be able to do. But, I love the comment about focusing on the effort, and not the outcome!

  • Reply Gina March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Hugs to you!!! It’s the 12 week fussiness.
    Try the Mother love more milk plus SPECIAL BLEND. The other version never worked for me either. I think it’s the thistle that helped.

  • Reply gwinne March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Someone else might have said this….I don’t have time to read the comments ๐Ÿ™

    There were medical things (on their side) probably not relevant here…. but they also both really liked to suck. Mostly they used me as a human pacifier…. you might have explored that angle, but in case you haven’t….

  • Reply Angie March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I”m so sorry you had a difficult weekend. I have 2 kids. Nurses the first for 9 months, all while working and my second for 6, and I was staying home. I was devastated but as my Peditrician pointed out we moved cross country to a city where we knew no one and a dear friend passed away suddenly. It was a very stressful time. Of course I know formula is not the end of the world but I was disappointed in myself. Just know you”re not alone.

  • Reply Meaghan March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I tried to comment from my phone, but it didn’t work. I’m sorry you had such a hard weekend. Nursing is so personal and it’s hard not to get upset when it isn’t working the way it should, especially if it has before. I found with my second, that *I* needed more recuperative time to help my supply. Which was hard, because I didn’t want to miss out either and there was SO MUCH to do. Or it seemed that way. I probably could have/should have let go a little more. But, getting ready to go back to work, making plans, being nervous, plus wanting to suck up every moment of your last days of maternity leave and being on-the-go with the bigs, that takes its toll. You seem to have a pretty healthy self-awareness, but also – you put a lot of pressure on yourself to "not worry" about things, if you know what I mean. It’s OK to stress a little. It’s a big change and we all know it will be OK on the other side, but it still isn’t easy. I just think stress shows up so quickly in breastfeeding, even if we are pretending not to be stressed.

    Also. My first baby was born in late December and I vividly remember that she had a MISERABLE growth spurt at St. Patrick’s Day. MISERABLE. We were both crying, and my husband was out of town. (I mean, I vividly remember it 9 years later!) So, this timing seems to sync up with baby G’s fussiness. I took a couple of topless days on the couch watching TV, napping and drinking water (first babies are so lucky!) to help us both rest. Not sure if you can swing that, but it did eventually end and she started sleeping ALL NIGHT LONG soon after that! I hope you and G have a smooth transition and get this sorted out soon!

    Finally – last note. Do you use lanolin while pumping? Or self express at the end? I found that could help me get an extra ounce from each session and just helped my general production. I hated feeling like I was spending all that time and leaving "money on the table". It will all work out the way it is supposed to work out though!

  • Reply Tara March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    You’re not alone <3 I’ve felt this and driven myself crazy. Absolutely crazy. I went to counseling, although only time helped. I did everything you listed ($45 for 12 lactation cookies!) and more. You’re a great mom, it will get easier, no on except you will remember, and you are not alone.

  • Reply Sarah March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    This happened to me with my third baby, and I GOT MY PERIOD at 6 weeks PP. Even though I was nursing 24/7. It super sucked, but the dip in supply was monthly after that and we all adjusted. I nursed all 4 babies on demand for 12+ months, and baby #3 was the only blip on the nursing radar. Totally crazy-making, though.

  • Reply Jen March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I have no advice at all but I just wanted to thank you for being so honest here about your struggles. I”m about to become a mother (38 weeks today!) and I really feel that reading about how you”ve struggled with breastfeeding has helped me to prepare mentally for the idea that it might be challenging for me too (before I didn”t even realise that breastfeeding wasn”t easy for everyone! It definitely isn”t talked about enough.)
    I hope that it gets better and that you”re able to deal mentally with the struggles that you”re having! If I can be half as good a mum as you come across as my kids will be very lucky!

  • Reply Cind March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    You are such a good mom. This happened to me with our 3rd. I was so disheartened…. 1st / 2nd child I nursed for 12-13months. Second child had the “careful after feeds or up it all will come”….. we wore burp towels everywhere with her. Our 3rd was smallest babe and ate /nursed well- yet my supply was lower than I had with siblings. La Leche league really helped. ( thought I was done— breast”s were just not doin” it)… advised me to increase the snacks ( for me, just sayin”). I went from low cal yogurt to full tilt fat, hard cheeses. I went to a blander than bland diet( removed the gassy foods), and hot spices. I had jello daily- and ate lots of frozen peas. Water of course had me stopping hourly to urinate. With the 3 C- sections my running was on back burner until each was 14 months. I certainly did other forms of activity, but the advice ( 30 years ago), was different.
    I do think it is our momma heart that has the toughest times with this. This and the fact that one cannot turn ones back on a toddler. Anyway the third did ok nursing til about 10months. All doing well- 1st is a Interventional Cardiology Fellow in July, 2nd an Attorney, 3rd finishes Law school in May. Phew…. it is true a fed baby is best…. you are a good mom ( you know this)…..and know that you are learning from this in your journey as a mom…. adapting to the changes and enjoying your growing, healthy family. They are each adorable! Take care.

  • Reply Caitlin March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I”m so sorry – I remember nursing woes with my first (she had reflux and a milk intolerance which was so so tough) and then initially with my second but we are going 9 months strong. I am saying that because there were definitely times (6-8 weeks; 3 months, 4 months was the most brutal) where for a few days in the evenings he would fuss and act like he was starving but I realized a few things. Most of those times he was in a growth spurt and it lasted 3-7 days then completely went away. I did not supplement just kept putting him to breast and my supply did go up as a result. I also think some of it was flat out comfort!

    If she is wetting enough diapers and gaining sufficient weight I would potentially give it a few days to see if it”s really a supply issue. That being said I formula fed my Friday after 8 weeks while but now nurse my second and truly, deeply believe – loved and fed is best so don”t bear yourself up!

    • Reply Caitlin March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      And by Friday, I meant first. Can you tell I”m still up 1-2 times a night nursing? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    If you pump a few ounces in the morning and she’s hungry in the evening, but eats less from the bottle than the amount pumped in the morning, that doesn’t sound like a supply issue. You’re producing more than she’s drinking. It’s just that she’s hungry at a different point of day from when you’re producing the milk.
    Though I do know it’s hard to use the freezer stash. I used to get so mad at my husband for thawing like 9 oz when I would go out for 2 hours. He wanted to be prepared. I thought he didn’t understand what went into that.

    • Reply Amanda March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      I agree with Laura’s comment here about not having a supply issue. I have a 13 week old, and notice he is fussier/hungrier in the evenings, even though I seem to have more supply in the a.m. Sometimes using a bottle helps my sanity so I’m not spending the entire evening nursing and allows me to spend more time with my toddler too. Hang in there and know that this doesn’t define you as a mother!

  • Reply Joelle March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    The same thing happened with my third child. I was a nursing champ with the first two, and for some reason it didn’t work out with the third. I tried everything (diet, complicated feeding techniques). I understand your sadness and frustration. I spent many days in tears over this. In the end, I moved her to formula at 3 months. (I breast feed my first child exclusively for 9 months while working full-time). It was a very hard and personal decision, but in the end everyone was much happier. She is now a thriving 9 year old! and is/was a very healthy infant, toddler and child. I know its easier said then done, but try not to beat yourself about it. In the end, make the decision that is best for you and your family. Hang in there!

  • Reply Sarah March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    100% this exact thing happened to me with my second and if I can project I am also a high-achieving perfectionist type person who struggled like crazy to bf my first AND did it successfully reinforcing my mental narrative that enough effort and struggle will actually result in milk. And then it didn’t with my second. And SAME THING where I would give 100 disclaimers about how I’m so happy they’re so healthy, and about how I DID breastfeed the second, and how I was initially able to supplement with my stash, and how I WAS so lucky to have access to clean water and to afford formula AND AND AND AND AND. And LITERALLY every BF resource on the web (because in addition to my regular slightly obsessive scientifically trained clinician personality, bf hormones make me research-crazy) said that she was full and I would make more AND yet, she was screaming, and YET a few more ounces did calm her.
    Anyway, this is probably not helpful at all. except for I get it. And I’m sorry. and it’s okay to feel shitty about it even though you know you "shouldn’t". And I stopped pumping early because I hate it and wasn’t going to torture myself when I couldn’t make what she needed when exclusively nursing. And 7 months out we nurse morning and night, and she has formula the rest of the day. And it’s ok. It’s not like it all turned out so so so magical and I was wrong to feel like the way I did, though. But it’s ok, and it’s been getting smaller and in my rational mind I know it will be even smaller later on. And she is the best. And I am great mom and you are too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Kate March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Lots of hugs to you. That is probably the best advice I could offer. Give more hugs.
    I am not a breastfeeding expert, or a lactation expert, or a doctor. I am a mom (of four). I feel like I can only tell you what I would do.
    So, I would supplement with the milk in the freezer. You are pumping those extra ounces in the morning, maybe she wants them, but later in the day. Who knows? But I do know that a fussy baby would make me feel more stressed, and when I was stressed or tense my supply would tank. You have time (yes you are going back to work, and yes it is going to be more difficult), but seriously, take it one day at a time. (I know, easier said than done but many days the longer term pumping commitment was too much and one of the women I work with said, commit for today, so I did, and it worked better than I had planned).
    That being said, we did also supplement, with all of our children, in varying amounts, which I think is what drove me the craziest. I wanted all of them to receive "the same" and I just couldn’t keep up. I realize now as they get a little older, that is silly, because what they need is just "not the same".

  • Reply SusannahEarlyBd March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Just another thought that it might be developmental/fussiness. All of mine went through difficult to console in the evening somewhere between 2-4 months. I would just feed them to try to soothe them, and sometimes Jeff would do a bottle of formula. But my gut instinct is that they weren’t actually hungry. Of course you would know best in this situation as none of us commenters are there—just wanted to share and send you love and support. You are clearly doing everything you can.

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  • Reply Ami March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

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  • Reply sarah March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I agree on the growth spurt- there is usually one right around 12 weeks. Hang in there- I just went back to work with #2 and forgot how much I HATE pumping. Just trying to remember that it does get easier.

  • Reply academic neurologist March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I have twins and had insufficient milk supply. Made the first four months of their life miserable for me and it was so awful that I still have PTSD about it and vowed to never have more children. they are 12 years old now, so I didn’t have more children. I should have switched to formula quicker and not given myself an ulcer.

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