6 month old: self-weaning? Lack of supply?

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
6 month old: self-weaning? Lack of supply?
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 12:28am

 From the very beginning we struggled with BF. My son was born tongue-tied which didn't allow him to latch. A nurse introduced a "nipple shield" to help and although he was now able to latch he would not feed without it! The unfortunate part is that the nipple shield does not stimulate let downs as efficient as without so in turn he was not getting very much milk. His feeds were lasting an hour and he would still be hungry when he unlatched. Since Kohen is my first, I have no experience with this sort of thing.  He was so lethargic that he wasn't showing me the cues of not having enough milk and ended up getting urate crystals. From that point on  we topped him up with formula starting with every feed and after a couple of weeks we were able to stop the top ups all together at 3.5 months when I was finally able to get rid of the nipple shield and started taking Fenugreek! We didn't have an easy run at it to say the least....  

Finally at 3.5 months things seemed to improve. Feeds were lasting 40 minutes (20 minutes each side) and he was unlatching happy. I thought we had I all figured out. At 4.5 months I introduced solid foods due to his interest in  our food and because  his BF started slowly decreasing. He was more then ready for this transition, but since he has been eating solids more regularly; breakfast and dinner, his feeds have drastically decreased. Now Im lucky to have him feed 10 minutes all together! (1-3 minutes on the R side and 5-7 on the L). My son will only work for one let down starting on the L side and will unlatch fussing and crying until I place him on the R side where the milk is waiting for him. He will drink that and quickly unlatch.  He lasts a maximum of 3 hours between feeds and during the night wakes every 2-3 hours to feed. The last feed before bed would not satisfy him. He would unlatch and scream so I've resorted to topping him up with a 4 oz bottle of formula to fill him up and to try to lengthen the first stretch of sleep. Unfortunately it didn't get us far. Maybe to 4 hours? Im concerned I don't have enough milk for him?Especially since he can take a 4 oz bottle no problem AFTER breast feeding! Or that he may be weaning himself? How do I know if he's getting enough milk from me? Any suggestions? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2008
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 7:56am
Welcome to the board and thanks for checking in! Would it be ok if I asked you a few questions?

- Did you ever get the tongue tie clipped? Is that still an issue for you?

- Did you ever work with an LC or LLL Leader through your supply concerns particularly at the beginning when you first began to supplement?

- Through any of this has your dr provided any information on increasing supply or provided a referral to an LC?

- How many times a day are you currently nursing?

- Are you pumping at all? What kind of pump? For how long? How much milk do you get?

- How much formula would you guess you're giving over the course of a day? 4 ounces seems like a full feeding to me so I'm guessing there's not a ton of room left in his stomach for breastmilk.

- How much solids is he currently getting? I'm surprised your dr. would recommend starting solids at 4 months given the AAP currently recommends waiting until 6 months. Getting too much solids too early can absolutely decrease supply as well.

- Are you on hormonal birth control?

- Do you have any other health issues that might affect supply, like PCOS, thyroid issues, diabetes, hormonal issues or prior breast surgeries?

Sorry to bombard you with questions but it will help us to understand your situation a bit better. Hang in there!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2008
Thu, 07-26-2012 - 7:26am

A breastfed baby drinks around 25 ounces of milk per 24 for hours, so on average an ounce per hour. This can vary throughout the day, and from day to day a bit. Your single test weigh does show he had just over three ounces, which sounds about right. Test weighing over the course of the whole day would give a complete picture, but I am not sure this is necessary.

Breast milk is easily digested, and it is normal for a baby to want to breastfeed every three hours or so. Night times are different with different babies. Some will start to tank up by nursing a lot in the evening, and then sleep for a bit longer, but your baby has not done this. Others will continue to feed frequently at night. 

In the evening, have you ever tried what would happen if you just sat down and allowed him to nurse freely as much as he wants. If he wants to cluster feed, then let him, and see what happens. 

Is he bright and alert when awake? Is he still having a good number of wet diapers? Is he growing and meeting milestones? Remember that the latest weight charts use data from breastfed babies. These show that the growth rate slows down a fair bit around six months of age. So even if your baby slows down in growth, this is normal.

Everything you have said so far about how frequently you are nursing and how many sessions per day actually sounds perfectly normal to me. Were you expecting something different?

I feel your exhaustion. Babies can be exhausting in general.

Does he sleep in your room so you can get to nurse him with minimal disturbance? Have you learnt to nurse lying down? Do you ever lie down in the daytime say to nurse, and get some extra rest that way even if you don't have  a nap? If you don't all of these things are worth trying, as just getting off your feet and lying down is restful in these busy times when the baby is still little.

I would agree that the doctor's advice does not appear helpful. Five minutes on each side is far more likely to hinder your supply.