Ready to Throw in the Towel — The Bump

Ready to Throw in the Towel

Alright, ladies. This is a long one, so thanks in advance for reading.

LO was born via emergency c-section on 7/17. We left the hospital 3 days pp and my milk hadn't come in yet, but pretty much everyone at the hospital assured me that it would be in by 5-7 days pp and not to stress about it. When we left the hospital, he had dropped 10% of his birth weight (a little high, but still normal). At 4 days pp we had our first pediatric appointment and he had dropped 13%. I had been feeding on demand, so ped told me to make sure he was on the breast at least every two hours (he would occasionally sleep for 3-4 hours and not nurse) and to come back for a weight check in 2 days. By then, he had dropped 20% of his weight and was severely dehydrated, nearly to the point that he needed to be admitted to the hospital for an IV.

We immediately started him on formula and made arrangements to meet with a lactation consultant, who had me pump with a hospital grade pump every time LO took a bottle (roughly every three hours). She also diagnosed him with a tongue tie, which we had revised. When I pumped, it would just drip, and I would get maybe a half ounce total after 20 minutes. Once he got back up to his birth weight, we began triple feeding, where he would nurse for 20 minutes, take a bottle, and I would pump. I still didn't get much production when I pumped and never became engorged, so we checked all of my hormone levels and everything came back perfectly normal (and my prolactin was through the roof!). After a few weeks of this (and becoming increasingly frustrated), and trying every known galactagogue short of non-FDA approved prescription meds, we re-evaluated our situation and started using an SNS. LO either falls asleep at the breast now, despite all of my attempts to keep him awake,or gets pissed off and pops off whenever the tube is there. I feel like neither of us enjoys breastfeeding anymore; he gets frustrated because of the SNS (or when the tube is not there, the slow flow from my breast), and I get frustrated because he's not getting the nutrition he needs from me.

2 weeks ago, when I was 28 days pp, my LC had me to a milk production test (4 hours of pumping on the hour), and we calculated my daily output to be 15.4 ounces a day, with LO estimated at being able to pull 60% of my supply. Today, at 39 days pp, my supply was estimated at 16.6 ounces, which is basically the normal output for someone who is 9 days pp. Obviously, that's very upsetting. I feel like I have spent the last six weeks of my life trying to make this happen, and it just isn't getting there. I go back to work in two weeks, and there's no way that I will be able to keep stimulating my breasts by pumping every two hours (I am a high school teacher and my classes are an hour and a half long...I would have to get coverage literally every class, and that's just not feasible or fair to my coworkers), so what little supply I've managed to get is soon to go away.

I'm so conflicted on giving up because I really, really wanted this to work. Breastfeeding was my number one non-negotiable thing, and I feel like a complete and utter failure because of my supply issues, especially since the general consensus in the breastfeeding community is that supply issues don't exist and are just a reason women use to quit breastfeeding. My LC has conferred with the other 5 LCs in her practice, and all of them are stumped on what's wrong, but my LC keeps telling me that there is still time for my milk to come in fully. I just don't know what to do anymore. Is there anything else I should be trying? Or is it time to throw in the towel?
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Re: Ready to Throw in the Towel

  • First of all, don't feel like a failure! You have done so much to try continuing to breastfeed! I am so impressed by your dedication. This is my first time breastfeeding, so I can't say if there's anything else you can try, but it sure seems like you've done absolutely everything you can. The important thing is that you're feeding your baby and that you are both happy and healthy. I think the thing to consider now is your level of stress and happiness. Would it be more enjoyable for you to feed your baby and not have to pump or stress about your supply? Or would it feel better if you continued doing what you're doing as long as you can? And if anyone tries to make you feel guilty or 'less than' if you stop breastfeed then tell them to get a hobby that doesn't involve offering negative comments to a mom who loves her baby!
  • I agree with pp, you have done everything you can do and then some.  Momma, you should pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you have done.  I know plenty of mommas who gave up after a few days because they couldn't take the stress.

    You are definitely stressed, which doesn't help the milk supply.  Could you specifically pump instead of putting baby on the breast?  My SIL does this with her LO after she had similar issues.  She even got BIL involved, so BIL feeds the baby and she pumps to stay on a more regular schedule.

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  • I have had almost the exact same problems that you have.  Thankfully my LC started me off on the SNS at 4 days pp because we knew there was a problem.  I was at one point able to pump 4-6 oz in a 24 hour period.  Now my DS is 3 1/2 months old and I am lucky to pump .5 oz in a 24 hour period.  It is so frustrating I too am ready to throw in the towel.  Fortunately I have a job where I can go pump whenever I need to but it isn't helping.  I am going to keep following this discussion and hopefully someone has some good advice.
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    #1 DS Tanner Ray 10/13/1998
    #2 Natural M/C 03/2014
    #3 DS Beckett Jameson 05/14/2015
    #4 EDD 05/12/2017
  • Oh my I feel for you. I just pisted about this same thing on the Jult 2015 board. You should check it out. There are very encouraging comments! I'm 7 weeks pp and very very similar to you. I haven't gone through all the tests that you have, but last Monday I saw th LC again and basically my boy eats twice as often as other babies his age because he gets half as much. He's gaining weight well and has lots of wet diapers so to everyone it's not a problem. I'm the one that can't leave the couch and spends most of his feeding time just trying to keep him awake. I pretty much cry about breastfeeding on a daily basis. I take herbs drink a beer (I hate beer) pump whenever the little guy lets me. I spend my one hour alone after he goes to sleep power pumping. Then I go straight to sleep because I know he'll be up again soon. I barely even get to look at my husband. I eat the foods that are supposed to increase supply. I just ferl horrible not being able to provide for him like I should be able to. Well I guess I am but honestly is it worth it? I'm incredibly stressed out. Yet I'm having the hardest time just giving up like I want to. I'm going to see the lactation consultant again Monday to do weights again before and after eating. I'm going to talk to her about just pumping. Oh yes because he unlatches constantly and my boobs hurt. I know I won't get enough to feed him without formula, but at least he will still get some breastmilk and be content. I might have a little of my sanity back too. And if that gets to be too much then I will switch to only formula. I understand how difficult it can be and I'm sorry you're going through this! I say do what's best for you and your baby to be happy. I'm working on it too.
  • Wow! You have been through a lot. I had so much trouble with DS2 that I was ready to through in the towel. I talked with an excellent nurse who told me "The only bad moms are the moms that don't feed their kids". Give yourself a break. If neither of you are enjoying your time breastfeeding and you are both getting frustrated, why do it? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for breastfeeding. BUT there is a reason that formula exists too. 
    With DS2, I EPd for 6 months. Then he got half BM and half formula. I actually started to produce more once I was ok with stopping. Stress does that to you I guess. FWIW, each baby is different. I had all the trouble with DS2 and no trouble with DS3.
  • Sounds like you have gone above and beyond to get your supply up. I had problems building my supply as my baby was premmie and was fed by nasal gastric tube so this was what LC suggested ( you have most likely tried all of these but I thought I'd post just incase)
    - lactation cookies - loads of recipes online but just be careful with Brewers yeast as it can cause gas
    - double pumping (not sure if you do both breasts at same time or not but it def helps)
    - pumping every 2 hours if poss during day, maybe once during night
    - power pumping I just double pumped for 10 minutes, had a break for 10 mins then pumped again for another 5 minutes
    - if you are trying to pump when you are away from baby, look at picture of your baby and/or have a piece of baby's clothing to hold and smell, it gets milk flowing
    It took me 14 days to produce enough milk after pp, they had to supplement with formula. I felt like a failure but kept persevering and it paid off. I have exclusively breastfed for 4 months so far and all going well. Although I felt a lot of pressure from midwives (I'd give them my milk and they'd say "wow you aren't getting much are you?!!" Grrrr) and they would keep asking if my supply had increased yet and I'd say 'no not yet'...grrrr. Anyways I was reassured by a lovely midwife that formula is perfectly fine and lots of babies grow and develop perfectly well on formula and not to stress, it wasn't the end of the world. You have really given it a good go. Perhaps keep trying until you go back to work and if it doesn't happen then just let it go, you've done everything you could possibly do.
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