Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Oversupply

Since I am stuck in a hotel room and there is no laundry to do, dishes to be done, dogs to walk, food to cook etc. I have time to blog. I'm not totally alone here though. Yesterday my friend came to visit for a few hours and today another friend came to visit us. She was here for a few hours and we went for a walk for about an hour. V loves to go for walks. No matter how fussy she is, a walk never fails to make her happy. 

The main reason I am so stressed right now (aside from being cooped up in this hotel) is because V has been having a hard time breastfeeding. I have an oversupply of milk. Most noticeably in my right breast. Today was her fussiest day ever, and this morning I noticed for the first time when she pulled off my breast, I was spraying milk 6 inches like a fountain. It was a constant flow for a good 10 seconds! That happened a few times today. When poor V tries to nurse, she is literally drowning in milk. She starts gulping to try to keep up with the flow which gives her tons of gas. Then she starts crying while feeding which also gives her tons of gas. It is heartbreaking for me to see my baby in pain. The following is from La Leche League:

When a mother has more milk than her baby can handle, the following behaviors may be common:
  • Baby cries a lot, and is often very irritable and/or restless
  • Baby may sometimes gulp, choke, sputter, or cough during feedings at breast
  • Baby may seem to bite or clamp down on the nipple while feeding
  • Milk sprays when baby comes off, especially at the beginning of a feeding
  • Mother may have sore nipples
  • Baby may arch and hold himself very stiffly, sometimes screaming
  • Feedings often seem like battles, with baby nursing fitfully on and off
  • Feedings may be short, lasting only 5 or 10 minutes total
  • Baby may seem to have a "love-hate" relationship with the breast
  • Baby may burp or pass gas frequently between feedings, tending to spit up a lot
  • Baby may have green, watery or foamy, explosive stools
  • Mother's breasts feel very full most of the time
  • Mother may have frequent plugged ducts, which can sometimes lead to mastitis (breast infection)

We have almost all of these symptoms, except I don't have plugged ducts (that I know of) and she doesn't have green or foamy stools. It's been hard here at the hotel when she cries/screams in pain from all the gas. I fed her from the breast that is the worst for 3 feedings in a row this morning because I was trying to empty the breast and I was also trying to make sure she got the rich, fatty hindmilk because I know it's not good to fill babies up on the high lactose foremilk. I think I made her even more miserable by continuing to offer her the breast that has the most forceful letdown. She was already gassy from her 8:00 am feeding and I kept giving her that breast (and she kept gulping air) until 12:00. It felt like she cried all day today. I wasn't able to eat breakfast or make tea because I was consoling her or trying to feed her or burp her all morning. I asked Andino to come home on his lunchbreak so he could give me a hand and order me some food/get me tea. When I finally gave her the left breast, she was fine so I think the problem is only in my right breast. I was sad because I was so anxious from her crying that I didn't talk to her or sing to her much at all today. I just kept saying "I know, I'm so sorry!" 

I've had this problem with oversupply since my milk came in, but there were some days where it didn't seem so bad and others where it really made her miserable. Last week I started to feed her from only one breast per session because that is what La Leche recommends to decrease your supply.That seemed to be starting to work, but then she was getting hungry so quickly after I fed her I started to worry she wasn't getting enough from just one breast and recently started to feed her from both again. Obviously feeding from both breasts made my oversupply problem worse and she was probably only hungry so often because she was having a growth spurt. This is why it's hard to be a new Mom. Because you are constantly second guessing if you are doing the right thing. "Should I feed her from only one breast to help with the choking and gulping from my over supply?""Is she getting enough from just one breast?" "What if I decrease my supply too much by doing this?" "Maybe she will grow out of this when she gets a bit bigger" I told my Mom today that I hate to admit we are having this problem because I don't want people to think V is a fussy baby. I really believe that all babies cry and that she is not inherently a fussy baby, but is only reacting to the gas. And even if she was a fussy baby, that would be okay too. All babies are different and have their own personalities, so why am I so worried about admitting that we are having a bit of a fussy period right now? 

I feel guilty when I see my baby so upset and I know that I caused it by breastfeeding her. I never consider giving up breastfeeding though because I really feel like it is the best thing for both of us. I just need to figure out how to manage my supply. According to La Leche, it will take 4-7 days of feeding from just one side per session to fix the problem, so I will try it for 6 more days and hopefully it improves. In the meantime I am prepared to have a really gassy/fussy baby on my hands. The problem is definitely worse in the mornings because she only wakes up once or twice overnight to nurse and when she nurses in the middle of the night, she doesn't eat much before going back to sleep, so my breasts are very full in the morning which contributes to the forceful letdown. It's just that she takes in so much air during those morning feedings that it takes hours to get rid of it all. Luckily she's mostly a happy baby at night. 

I keep telling myself that many women have challenges when breastfeeding and if I stick to it, things will work out. 

16 comments:

  1. I'm also finding breastfeeding a challenge and experiencing many of the same problems as you - especially the second-guessing and guilt! I've found expressing a little milk when my breasts are really full helps soften them slightly and makes for both an easier latch and less forceful flow which means she doesn't pull off all the time and gulps less air. Maybe something to try...?
    You're doing a great job - she certainly looks happy and well fed in the photo!

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    1. I tried pumping first thing in the morning and it seems to have worked, thank God!! Thanks so much for the encouragement :)

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  2. She's soooo cute!! I'm sorry about the oversupply.... Breastfeeding is tough but it sounds like you're doing an awesome job!

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  3. Have you thought about pumping or hand expressing a bit before feeding her so that your letdown isn't as bad and she's getting more of the fatty milk? Maybe you could express enough for Andino to help with one of those midnight feedings ;-)

    She's looks absolutely adorable and by the look of those chunky cheeks, I'm sure she's getting enough food!

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  4. Do you have a pump? Maybe try pumping for a few minutes before latching her on. You could feed the milk later to her, freeze it, or dump it.

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  5. I don't have any first hand experience with breast feeding yet but I know you are right, keep breast feeding and it will get better! Is there a lactation consultant at the hospital you can meet with? I also was wondering about hand expressing or pumping for a bit to decrease flow?

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    1. I tried pumping first thing yesterday morning and it worked - she wasn't fussy and gassy at all! Hopefully today is the same :)

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    2. Yay! That would be a pretty easy fix!

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  6. What's WRHA? The tilted back seemed to work in the beginning, but now it doesn't... Now I feed her completely upright and while she still chokes sometimes, the burps come right out so she's not gassy and miserable after... thanks for the encouragement :)

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  7. I was going to say the same as Not Pregnant and Pisses. I have oversupply as well. My boys get very gassy and gulp lots of air. It's so tough! I know how you're feeling times two!

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    1. OMG I can't even imagine!! Are you pumping?

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  8. Yup. Everything sounds so familiar. I found going outside almost always calmed down Sofia too. I'm so happy she was a summer baby!

    I had a difficult time with too much milk at first as well. I was over engorged and pumped a bit but I really disliked it. The on and off the boob thing is hard to deal with for sure. I ended up usually feeding from both sides because Sofia was a hungry girl, and if I didn't then I'd always have one side really sore and leaking everywhere. You're totally right though, with time the body adjusts and it gets so much easier. I think experimentation is key too, in order to find what works for you both. In no time it will be like dancing with an old dance partner, you both will just know the steps. :)

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    1. I know, I think all the time how much harder it would be if she were born in winter!

      Everyone says that over time either my supply will even out, or she will be able to handle the fast flow better. I just never imagined breastfeeding could be so messy!! I think I am going to have to invest in more nursing bras...

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  9. I read that pumping before starting your feedings is supposed to help but it looks like you are on it already. You are one intuitive mommy! Trust your gut!

    V is one adorable baby! Those cheeks are pretty awesome!

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  10. Oh no! I'm sorry you and V are struggling with the breastfeeding. I hope it gets easier quickly.

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  11. So many expecting moms worry they won't have enough breastmilk, but I can see how oversupply poses it's own challenges. Can you hire a lactation consultant to come help you out in person in your hotel room by any chance? LLL seems to be a great resource and I loved their BF'ing book, but maybe having a real live person to witness and give perspective might help?

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