Breastfeeding/Pumping Difficulties - Advice welcomed. — The Bump
February 2019 Moms

Breastfeeding/Pumping Difficulties - Advice welcomed.

Hi all, first time mom here.  My daughter is 2 weeks old, and seems to be constantly hungry.  She lost enough weight within 1 day of birth that supplementation was recommended to us.  We did give her formula, and I continued to attempt to nurse her in the hospital, but due to difficulties latching, I ended up with painful cracked nipples.  Both me and my daughter were clearly upset and frustrated by our lack of breastfeeding intuition, and thus I then transitioned to primarily exclusively pumping with the hope that I would be able to provide her with more breastmilk than formula in the short term, and try putting her on the breast again when I had healed.

Over the past 2 weeks I've tried to stay on top of pumping, doing so around 8 times/day, for around 30 minutes each time (until no more milk is being produced).  I'm using a Medela PISA, but ordered a Spectra S1 to try as well, which will arrive next week.  I still feel like my supply is really poor compared to what it should be, and what my daughter takes.  With that schedule, I pump around 10-12 oz/day.  However my daughter tends to take in 20-25 oz/day (so I'm effectively only getting her half of what she needs, and supplementing with formula for the rest).

In the past few days, I saw a lactation consultant who gave me some pointers on latching, but I still have trouble with this.  My nipples look healed, but are very tender.  Breastfeeding is at worst, still painful, and at best, uncomfortable.  I'm trying to attempt to have her breastfeed as much as possible but to be honest, I hate it - due to the aforementioned issues as well as the fact that even with a very long nursing session (i.e. almost an hour this morning) she still comes off the breast and needs breastmilk via bottle feeding right afterwards.  It feels very defeating.

Some areas I could use advice regarding:
1.  Does my supply seem low for 2 weeks postpartum and the amount of effort I'm putting in?  Should I be pumping more frequently?  Have any of you noticed that increasing time breastfeeding prior to pumping has really helped with supply?  Any other pointers to boost my supply?  Have any of you noticed improvement in milk supply when switching pumps? I am drinking Mother's Milk tea, trying to eat oatmeal, etc.
2.  How long did it take you after giving birth to establish your peak/optimal breastmilk supply?  How did you get there (nursing, pumping?)?  And at what point after that did you start cutting back on the total number of pumping sessions?  I can't imagine pumping 8 times/day when I'm back at work in 10 short weeks.
3.  How did all of you make this work (long nursing sessions, followed by pumping) - I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do anything else, like sleeping, going outside, etc.!
4.  At what point do I give up?  This is an honest question.  I'm a medical professional and am absolutely convinced regarding the benefits of breastfeeding/breastmilk for both baby & me, but there is likely a breaking point where my sanity & ability to function as a Mom will be more important than being stubborn about maintaining a milk supply.

I'm sure I will think of other questions as I ruminate on this today... appreciate any advice you all may have.

Re: Breastfeeding/Pumping Difficulties - Advice welcomed.

  • Not sure if it will answer all of your questions but there is a breastfeeding thread below that might have some advice/tips for you. I'll throw out a few things about my experience this time. 
    My DD didn't have a good latch so I went to exclusive pumping and then met with a LC and her pediatrician to figure out the issue. Her frenulum is short but she's not tongue tied so we tried a nipple shield and she finally got it. After a few sessions with that I could nurse her without it and it didn't hurt anymore. This was after having cracked and bleeding nipples when we were first trying. So I highly recommend the nipple shield especially if you're already sore. Also load up on the lanolin and I also found that warm compresses on my breasts helped when the pain was the worst. 
    If we do a nursing session I always follow it with a short pumping session just to empty my breasts and get an idea of how much she got. I know roughly how much I can get based on how long since my last pumping session so I can at least guess roughly the volume she drank. 
    Drink tons of water. I'm probably 90+ ounces of water every day. Also you may want to try a breastfeeding supplement. I like this one: https://www.amazon.com/UpSpring-Baby-Milkflow-Fenugreek-Blessed/dp/B00O96X4QI/ref=mp_s_a_1_12?crid=1TXRFZSQWLKJ9&keywords=breastfeeding+supplement&qid=1552672774&s=gateway&sprefix=breastfeeding+s&sr=8-12
    It comes in chocolate too. It may help increase your supply. 
    In the end, the most important things are that you're keeping yourself healthy and sane. There is absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing with formula if you have to until your supply comes in. And if it doesn't and you need to go to formula that's fine too. You have to make the decision about what's best for you and baby. I would say I'm exclusively pumping with a few nursing sessions thrown in when she wants it. That works best for us because we have a super busy schedule with our older kids and I can't always have 45 minutes or more to nurse her (she likes to stay attached and usually takes both sides). I know I can pump about 4 oz at a time every 2-3 hours in about 20 minutes so it makes it more predictable (I'm almost 7 weeks post partum for reference).
    Hang in there and good luck!
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