Breastfeeding issues... — The Bump
LGBT Parenting

Breastfeeding issues...

We're having a very difficult time with breastfeeding at our house and it's totally bumming me out. Crying In all honesty, it's making me feel like such a failure, but I know that most of my feelings are the result of the crazy shift in hormones running through my body. We met with a lactation consultant (at the tune of $120 per hour, ouch!) last week and she determined that our problems latching are the result of nipple size and a slight case of ankyloglossia, aka tongue-tie. We're hoping that as he grows, both issues will be resolved. Until then, I rented a hospital grade pump and have been pumping every 3 or so hours. What's really bumming me out is that I'm not producing enough milk to feed our son. Each and every time I pump, I get no more than a ounce from both breasts combined. So far, I've tried oatmeal, increasing my fluid intake, and pumping more often. Nothing has worked. Tomorrow, I'm going to hunt down some fenugreek. Have any of you been in similar situations? Anything else I can try?


Re: Breastfeeding issues...

  • Have you tried a nipple shield.  I used one with Ella and it really helped her nurse.  That can really help with a baby having trouble latching.  I had to pump exclusivly because Ella was a preemie and pumping is really hard.  I would try to put the baby to breast as much as possible.  I would nurse Ella first then pump while she got a bottle (or a tube feed when she was little).  I used feugreek and I think it helped a little.  As for pumping (I really know how to do this!) I pumped for 20 minutes every 3 hours.  I found that masaging my breasts before and during pumping really helped with my out put.  I am pretty sure that I was not getting all that much milk one week after giving birth.  I would have to check my journal but I am pretty sure that i was measuring in ml at that point.  Of course Ella was not eating at that point so I didn't have to worry about making sure that I had enough milk.  My milk did come in a few weeks in.  Don't give up.  While I would have loved to nurse Ella never really caught on so I pumped for 12 months.  I hope he figures it out soon but in the mean time keep pumping.  Even if you have to suplement any breast milk is great.  If you end up pumping long term I can give you advice on how to make it work.  Congrats on the new baby!
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  • I had some issues during my first two weeks, but don't lose hope.  Sometimes it does take awhile for the milk to really come in.  I have used Mother's Milk (herbal tea). Keep pumping, it will build up in supply as the demands increase.

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  • My best friend when through this and it was awful.  Similarly, she hoped he would outgrow the tongue-tie or that they would find a new method to get through but a few months in and whole lot of tears, she decided to have the procedure to 'fix' it.  She was absolutely set on breastfeeding and Kodi just wasn't getting enough.  He had the procedure someplace in NY and the whole thing took about 10 min and the problem was 100% solved.  He will be a year old January 7th and a big healthy, breastfed only boy.  He and mama are (now) loving life.  At the time, I helped research the problems associated with both, leaving the tongue-tie and the procedure and for his case, even though he was tiny and it was a difficult decision, the procedure seemed the best option and Jodi, the 100% organic hippie, says now she would do it again in a heartbeat.  

    If you want to talk to her, my goodness she had problems with breastfeeding... it was awful.  Let me know, I know she would be happy to offer help, her lactation consultant pretty much lived at her home and was so important in their decision, Jodi has decided to go back to school to become one.  I can send you her email address if you would like a very, very sympathetic ear and quite a bit of knowledge.

     Good luck and deep breaths.   

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  • I had 2 of the 3 issues.

    My kids were crappy latchers. Grayson b/c is was so small (4lbs 6oz when we brought him home) and Carter because of his tongue tie. I pumped almost exclusively during my entire time BFing (11.5 months) but both kids got better latches as they got bigger and had better head control. I would enourage you to try a nipple shield, and get the tongue tie evaluated for clipping. They told us that they would only clip it if he was having problems BF or speaking. We worked through the BFing, but the tongue tie had definitly affected his speech and we are trying to avoid getting it clipped at 4y which is much more involved/traumatic (for the child.)

    I also took a lot of Fenugreek. It did help (but made me smell like maple syrup!) Also drink tons of water. TONS.

     Good luck. BFing can be so daunting.

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  • First off, I'm really sorry that you're struggling with this.

    Now, I'm going to preface this by saying that as a professional in this arena (supporting parents postpartum) my response will most likely be long, maybe slightly technical and generally is very passionate.

    During the first few weeks your milk supply is being established, and an improper latch can lead to lower stimulation/transfer. By addressing both the latch and the supply issues within that timeframe, you should be able to help establish a good breastfeeding relationship, although it can take a great deal of determination and support. It's great that you already know about a lactation consultant visit, and even thought the cost may seem steep, if you breastfeed it saves money in the long-run so a good LC (ideally an IBCLC) is an investment.

    Are you exclusively pumping every three hours? Are you pumping before, after or instead of breastfeeding? Even with a hospital-grade pump you may not produce as much as baby can get with a good latch as the suck and hormonal responses will not be the same with a machine as a baby. Here are some links about maximizing output when pumping:
    (That second one has a video from a breastfeeding doctor at Stanford.)

    Improving and maintaining a quality latch with each feeding directly correlates to comfort of breastfeeding and how much baby is transferring, which will improve supply. Do you feel you're able to get baby latched on at all? In addition to being diligent in making sure each latch is correct, you may also think about how you want to address the issue of tongue-tie. Common options are nipple shields, ankyloglossia treatment (snipping of tongue frenulum) and/or doing nothing. What parents choose is often based on their goals around breastfeeding and a benefits/risks analysis. You can always get a second opinion and/or explore each of these options before making a final decision.

    In addition to fenugreek, there are a number of galactogogues that can be explored, other herbals include goat's rue and milk thistle and some pharmaceuticals options include Reglan and Domperidone. Some people also swear by lactation cookies such as MilkMakers or the recipe you can find here: and even if they don't "work" they're yummy.

    Finally, intake of fluids and calories, which it sounds like you're doing is great. Some people also find a direct correlation between their stress and sleep to the level of milk they produce. Hopefully, you're getting some good relaxation and sleep in among your newborn care and breastfeeding/pumping. If not, carefully consider which strategies might help maximize those for less fatigue and hopefully more milk.

    Feel free to contact me directly if you want more information about any of this or "virtual support." 

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  • Thanks so much for all the great feedback. We have tried the nipple shield, and it helps him to latch and suck for a few minutes, but not long enough to feed. Our LC set us us with a program that includes time at the breast before each pumping session. I put the nipple shield on, use a syringe to put some breast milk into the nipple shield (to help avoid frustration) and then bring him to the breast for a few minutes before feeding him a bottle and then pumping. Unfortunately, since DW went back to work, I haven't really been able to keep up with this system as it really does take 4 hands to work. So he's at the breast less and I try to make up for it with skin-to-skin after pumping and feeding. Starting this Friday, DW is off for 10 days for the holidays. We need to get back on the LC's program and see what happens. We also have a dr. appointment tomorrow to have the baby's tongue tie evaluated. Thanks again for taking the time to respond. It really helps to know BFing has been challenging for others too and to hear what has worked for you. And Joy, I really appreciate all the technical advice!
  • I'm sorry you are struggling, too.  My LO is going to be 6 weeks old on Monday and we are having a VERY difficult time with breastfeeding.  Her problem is that she isn't a good sucker at all!  First I had flow problems - not enough.  But I've been taking fenukgreek since day 3PP.  At two weeks old, I added motherlove more milk special blend.  Then two weeks ago (at 4weeks pp), I added prescription reglan.  I work regularly with a LC.  Since adding the regimen of a ton of pills (12-15 fenugreek, 6-9 more milk, and 4 reglan) my production has increased - and I do have a decent enough flow.  However, still having sucking problems.  I pump - but I only get anywhere from 2-3 oz per pumping session total.  Yuck - not enough for growing baby!  I supplement 1-2 bottles of formula per day and I hate it.

    Met with LC again today and I'm not giving up hope...I ordered domperidone from new zealand, should be here in 10 days and then I will drop the reglan (which has nasty side effects and the dom is supposedly better anyhow).

    Anyhow - I'm keeping at it, even though it is exhausting: nursing for 20-30 mins, giving bottle, then pumping for 30 minutes.  It's hard work.  I thought BF'ing was supposed to be natural!?

     Good luck!!



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