Not good enough

by DaniGirl on March 13, 2008 · 21 comments

in Baby days, Lucas

Sigh. Went for another weigh-in today, and Lucas only gained 70 grams, where the ped wanted to see him gain twice that. He’ll be five weeks old on Friday and is only two ounces above his birthweight at 10 lbs 3 oz..

I don’t think the problem is with my milk supply, but perhaps with the quality of my milk. I can hear him gulping when the milk lets down, and he has plenty of wet and soiled diapers, as I’ve mentioned. More likely, it seems like I’m making skim milk when Lucas needs something more like homogenized. So, starting tonight, I’ll be supplementing my milk with one bottle of formula per day. Hopefully, this will be enough extra calories to help him gain a bit more.

I left the substitute ped’s office (mine’s on March Break, but this is the plan we formulated – pardon the pun – before he left, in the contingency that Lucas did not gain at least 20 grams per day) feeling inadequate, even as I tried to convince myself that it’s no fault of mine. Heck, I even supplemented with Tristan from the time he was four months old right through until he weaned himself at 10 months, and that worked fine. But damn, I felt lousy standing in the formula aisle at Loblaws this afternoon. Rationally, I know this is what Lucas needs, so of course this is the best thing to do. I’m not giving up breastfeeding entirely, so he’ll get the best of both worlds… nutrition from the formula, antibodies and iron and other goodies from my breastmilk. But I still feel like I’m letting him down… or, more specifically, that my vexatious breasts have once again let me down.

The greatest irony is that the nursing has just become easy again — it doesn’t hurt to latch, and he can feed to his heart’s content without hurting my nipples. He has been, too — last couple of days, he’s been feeding every two hours in the afternoon and every three or so overnight, so maybe that’s another sign that he’s just not getting satisfaction from the quantity he’s getting from me.

One other alternative I might explore is some sort of supplement you can add to expressed breast milk. I am not overly fond of pumping – especially in those kind of quantities and over the long term – but maybe it’s worth looking into. My midwife just mentioned it now, so I’ll ask the ped about it next week.

Crying baby alert… more later.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fawn March 13, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Or maybe the more frequent feeds are just the sign of what they used to call a “growth spurt”. I think now they call them “high frequency days”. I seem to remember that it’s usual to see one around 5-6 weeks.

One of my friends used a tube supplementer so baby was latched onto the boob with a little tube of formula running into the corner of his mouth. That way he got breastmilk and formula at the same time, which meant they didn’t have to bottle-feed him separately.

I dunno, I’m just rambling here. I guess it’s my way of sending out a virtual (((HUG))).

2 Shauna March 13, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Breastfeeding is so hard. And then we feel like crap even when we’ve given it our all. Hang in there.

3 Reluctant Housewife March 13, 2008 at 6:10 pm

You’re doing a great job. Don’t let needing to supplement discourage you or make you fee inadequate. Breastfeeding is hard.

When I was breastfeeding and the baby didn’t gain weight as fast as the doctor would have liked I was told, and I found it helped, to only feed on one breast per feeding. The thicker, fattier milk starts later in the feeding, apparently. The lactation specialist told me that the milk at the beginning of the feeding is sort of a “thirst quenching” milk – more liquidy, less fatty.

4 daysgoby March 13, 2008 at 6:16 pm

There was something on the breastfeeding carnival that I just read about a woman who made skim milk – I’ll go and try to find it…

5 daysgoby March 13, 2008 at 6:35 pm
6 nancy March 13, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Take it esay on yourself. I had to supplement the boys from Day 1 due to low blood sugar in both of them…I did Trevor for 1 month, Ben almost 3 months…then I was able to BF exclusively for a couple more months till we went back to adding one formula feeding/day cause they were just too hungry for my milk production. I never had a poblem with it cause I knew it was what they needed. It worked. It will work for you and sweet little Lucas will not be any different whatsoever. You are doing a good thing.


P.S> Hope that wasn’t too ‘preachy’>

7 cinnamon gurl March 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Oh Dani, that sucks. Hugs!

8 mamaloo March 13, 2008 at 10:25 pm

I recommend going back to the LC. I understand that in the short term, supplementing is a quick and dirty way of getting a prescribed number of verifiable calories into the baby, but if you are certain that your supply is good, you need an LC to help you work out a feeding pattern that will maximize your hind milk. And there are ways to maximize the hindmilk.

Did you ever find out if your municipality’s health program offers Lactation Consultants? Or if there are any working out of hospital-based or family /pediatric practices so that they are covered under OHIP?

I wish you luck. We had different problems that resulted in the same issues (I don’t make much milk for hormonal reasons and couldn’t get them sorted, combined with a baby who was born at 37 weeks and was a terrible sucker – at about 5 weeks we were declared failure to thrive and went on hardcore supplementation and eventually, at 3.5 months, switched full time to bottled formula) and I know how very frustrating it is to think you’ve got a problem solved and discover a new challenge. You’ve been doing a great job, though. Keep it up.

9 Chantal March 14, 2008 at 8:37 am

Oh Dani, I know it is hard but try not to be so hard on yourself. This comes from the woman who had such a hard time nursing her two that I still feel some stupid regret supplementing and finally giving up. We are so hard on ourselves. You have done so well by him already. I know you already know that.

10 Meg March 14, 2008 at 9:55 am


It Ottawa the Somerset West Health Centre has an excellent breast feeding clinic. Diana was there for me and helped sooooooo much.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Sometimes the big babies are harder to please! I went through similar issues with my 10 1/2 lb daughter 9 years ago!

11 Theresa March 14, 2008 at 10:05 am

All of these comments prove one definite thing (if not more) about breastfeeding; that most of us mama’s who’ve tried breast feeding have hit big (or small) walls, with HUGE emotional penalties!!!

Make sure you cling to the fact that you made it through the hardest part of breastfeeding already, with no intentions of your own to quit, and that you always have your babe’s best interests in mind…..which makes you an awesome mama!!!!

Allow those cleansing tears of defeat (if you need to)….and then, as someone else already mentioned, maybe contact an LC…..or find a breast feeding mommies group (some have child care for older sibs) and share your triumphs and woes with all the other mamas!!! ( I still can’t figure out why my first was SO hard to nurse!! and why LC at the hospital figured my “hold” wasn’t good enuf with my second – even though he was nursing like a pro)…..ugggggg nursing IS hard!!!!! Whatever you do, pat yourself on the back girl!!!

12 Sheila March 14, 2008 at 11:09 am

You have been doing a great job! And will continue to be the best possible mom for Lucas, whether or not you exclusively breastfeed. The new plan sounds just fine, best of both worlds indeed. Try not to feel discouraged, or guilty. (I know how emotional I was with every breastfeeding up or down in the journey.) Way to go Dani for doing all the right things.

13 Mad Hatter March 14, 2008 at 12:30 pm

I know so well this emotional mind-f–k you speak of. You are doing great. Lucas is fine and that is what matters. As for the rest, go easy on yourself.

14 smothermother March 14, 2008 at 6:46 pm

I’m not going to say anything new here, but I figure it is always good to hear it over and over again that you are a great mom and giving everything that Lucas needs. My ped reminded me when I wasn’t able to produce enough milk, that baby needs food for brain development and the extra supplement is the best for him. Try not too feel like a failure, though I know how hard it is. I went through a terrible time. I can imagine that since this is your 3rd and that it was “easy” for the first two that it must be a bit of a blow to the ego. But every baby is different, and you are doing what’s best for Lucas.

15 Lindsay March 15, 2008 at 7:56 am

If I was making skim milk I’d totally take that opportunity to scarf down mass quantities of Haagen-Dazs. For the baby, you know.

16 MomOnTheGo March 17, 2008 at 9:29 am

I was thinking of Nanaimo bars for the extra fat content myself … There are some really nice La Leche League folk in Ottawa. I spoke with a few myself, before and after Reid’s birth. I would second the recommendation of making sure that each side was drained – even expressing an ounce or two of fore milk – but I would also remind you that you (and your breasts) are doing your best for Lucas. You’ll only ever ask him to do his best and that’s all he will expect from you. Well, maybe when he is a teen he will expect you to disappear when his friends are around but that’s what teens are like.

17 Myra March 17, 2008 at 9:31 am

You’re doing an awewome job Dani and I agree with ReluctantHousewife wrt same side feeding… this was a trick I learned for my second. My first had that volcanic “spit up” and nightly gas/cramps = too much foremilk.

The technique is to keep feeding off the same boob (i.e. don’t alternate as is traditionally suggested). The hindmilk is richer and takes a while to get to esp when you have an abundant supply. I’d feed her on the right, say, burp, then return to the right. If she didn’t want any more then at the next feeding/snack I’d still go back to the right until I was sure it was drained. I’d use ‘breast compression’ at this point (see Dr. Jack Newman’s site/books) to assist as well. This seemed to help alot with the gas as well since too much foremilk makes ’em gassy.

If the other breast got too full in the meantime I’d express a bit “off the top”.

Anyway, none of this is to say supplementing is any kind of crime: you’ve gotta do whatever’s necessary.

18 dean dad March 17, 2008 at 7:59 pm

“My Vexatious Breasts” would be a great name for a band.

Just thought I’d share.

19 Kate March 18, 2008 at 6:50 am

I don’t understand how nursing every 2 hrs in the afternoon and every 3 overnight = unsatisfied baby.

Sounds like a normal baby, regulating his hunger, to me. Five weeks is a developmental spurt (can equal clingy and more nursing) and six weeks is a growth spurt. Might be a good excuse to just lie down and nurse constantly for a few days. Hey, it’s lying down! 🙂

I was a single side nurser from way back because Miss M was so gassy. It can help with getting more hindmilk into them, as others have mentioned.

20 Liz March 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm

My only assvice is to make the one formula feed a middle of the night one, and let Beloved take that one while you either pump or get extra sleep.


21 Chantal (Bread Crumbs) March 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Like someone else said, I won’t say anything new or anything you haven’t heard. I trust that your midwives are in agreement that supplementing is the way to go and a good plan of action for the short term.

A wise woman once said “Look at the baby. Not the scale.” Is he acting like a hungry baby? Or a baby who just had so much to go on from the get go (you had a biggun’!) that he’s got the stores to ride out a small short period of slow(er) growth?

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