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BF 7 week old still hungry when there's no milk left

(34 Posts)
FingonTheValiant Mon 29-Nov-10 10:01:42

I dont think I'm making enough milk for my 7 week old. For the last week he's not been getting enough milk when I'm feeding him, and when the breast is empty he's still hungry and I have nothing more to give.

I've always had to give him both breasts (emptying one and then swapping) but now even both isn't doing it. Up until a week ago he was going 4hrs between feeds, but now he is either rooting as soon as he comes off the breast (which really kills me to see) or is desperate 1.5-2hrs later.

He dropped from the 50th centile to the 9th in his first week and is still down there, so I really don't want him to not gain weight.

Would offering him formula when he's done breastfeeding really be the worst thing in the world?

I've been letting him suckle even when there's no milk coming, but my supply isn't going up, in fact it seems to be going down

Sorry that this is a bit incoherent, he's screaming and rooting and I only fed him at 8.30 I'm getting desperate.

scattercushion Mon 29-Nov-10 10:06:11

Sorry you're having a stressy time. It may be that he just wants to suck. Both my babies wanted to suck all the time for many many weeks and were fed very frequently. I'm sure you are producing enough milk and I would try to avoid the bottle if poss as I think your milk supply would suffer but then again it isn't the end of the world to mix feed. Just wanted to say that formula may not be the answer - he may just want to suck for comfort...

seeker Mon 29-Nov-10 10:08:04

If you can, don't give formula at this stage. I know it's hard, but the best thing to increase your supply is to feed. I think that possibly him going 4 hours early on may have been a bit of a problem - that is a very long time for such a little one to go without feeding.

Your breasts aren't empty, by the way - you are making milk continuously. It could be that your body is going to have to make it a bit quicker!

Is it practical for you to retreat to bed for the day with the baby? Lots of skin to skin contact, lots of cuddles and lots of feeding soupld help your supply a lot. And you'll get some rest, whihc you must need desperately.

Hang in there - it gets easier, I promise!

bouncingblueberries Mon 29-Nov-10 10:12:56

oh, sorry you're having a tough time. It's hard to know what to for them sometimes isn't it?

my ds2 is 18 weeks old and I decided this time round not to even look at the clock between feeds. With ds1 I was obsessed and felt a failure when he wouldn't last more than 2 hours between feeds. But, to be honest, imo, not all babies can go for hours between feeds. They're just not designed that way. So with ds2 I simply feed him whenever he shows signs of wanting a feed. Sometimes he wants a big feed, sometimes he wants a snack, and sometimes he just wants a wee cuddle. I find it far easier to go with the flow, park myself on the sofa and feed, feed, feed.

But it's worth remembering that your breasts are never 'empty'. Even when they feel that way, it just means you're not engorged. But as long as you let baby latch-on and suck, your body will produce milk. Someone once said to me, think of your milk supply in terms of rivers not buckets smile

Sorry, I know that's not of much practical help but I'm sure someone more eloquent and better qualified than me will be along soon.

PrematureEjoculation Mon 29-Nov-10 10:14:09

put him to the breast when he does this - the breast is never truly 'empty' and the stuff that comes out at the end is super-fatty.

make sure you are keeping up your own fluids and have a supply of ready nibbles - you need to feel positive, and a sugar-low won't help that.

my son used to feed for hours like this - feed - then root, then feed - it doesn't mean he wasn't getting milk, or satisfied, it was just hisway of feeding. Withe the weight thing just try and feed as much as possible.

nymphadora Mon 29-Nov-10 10:15:15

It may be a growth spurt? DD3 is really going for it the last couple of days & she is 7 weeks

everythingiseverything Mon 29-Nov-10 10:17:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FingonTheValiant Mon 29-Nov-10 10:22:31

Sorry, should say, 4 hourly feeds was what he started doing when he stopped losing weight and started putting loads on, so from about 2 weeks. It's not something I tried to enforce, he just wasn't interested more frequently. He's been following his centile line perfectly ever since, but I'm just worried that if he's not getting enough now he might drop off it again.

Seeker, I've tried retreating to bed, but two days of it has done nothing to help - and now I feel more exhausted and upset by it all that before. I'm not sure I can face another day of it. We co-sleep, he's in a sling a lot, I thought all that would make breastfeeding easy, but it hasn't.

scattercushion, he does like to suck, that's true. But he does different things when he's just feeling sucky and when he wants to feed and he's definitely doing all his hungry things.

I really don't want to give him formula. I'm so against the stuff, and a huge fan of "The Politics of Breastfeeding" and the like, which is why it's killing me that I feel like I have no idea what else to do He's already had 200mls of it this weekend, and I feel like a failure for giving it to him. I fought so hard when he was dropping weight in the first two weeks for him to be exclusively breastfed and now I've given in anyway. I'm so annoyed with myself.

FingonTheValiant Mon 29-Nov-10 10:27:10

God, now I feel bad that I've been letting him go 4hourly He seemed completely happy doing it.

Bouncing - I wasn't clock watching before, but the sudden change is so obvious it's really worried me.

Nymph - it may be a growth spurt, I did wonder about that. Maybe he'll calm down again then.

Ok, I'll try swapping breasts more often, and just keep putting him on. I just hat doing it at the moment as he's fine for a bit and then he starts screaming and screaming on the boob and hitting me/it and getting all worked up about it

ChocolateMoose Mon 29-Nov-10 10:30:15

It could be a growth spurt and if so should get better very soon. When my baby was 6 weeks old he kept me up for a few nights in a row feeding non-stop from about 10pm-2am because of a growth spurt. I remember feeling like I was empty and had no milk left for him - DH took him out for a walk in the buggy a few times so I could have a sleep and recharge. Was horrible but only lasted a few days and then milk supply upped and back to feeding every couple of hours.

everythingiseverything Mon 29-Nov-10 11:26:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FingonTheValiant Mon 29-Nov-10 11:41:48

Thanks everything. His latch seems to be fine, and normally I can hear him gulping it down, but lately he's reached a point where he's still hungry and when he's latched there's no swallowing, which made me think there's no milk coming. I'll persist with skin to skin, I'll just have to crank the heating up!

Thanks!

everythingiseverything Mon 29-Nov-10 11:47:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

auburnlizzy78 Mon 29-Nov-10 11:53:02

Sorry if this is controversial - am genuinely trying to help. I am also the mother of a seven week old.

1. Does your health visitor/GP think he should be on the 50th centile rather than the 9th? If they do, then he needs more milk! Even if you are passionately pro-breast feeding (as I am/was) our babies don't care about politics, they just want to be full up! Personally I don't think I'm a failure for giving my baby a full tummy with formula for 1/2 feeds a day - it's not like I'm crumbling up rusks in his bottle or giving him a burger king. It's not bad stuff, it's just not as good as BM. And if you do give him formula that he'd be getting the "good stuff" first - so he will still have every drop of breast milk you have to give, which is awesome. You wouldn't be letting him have formula INSTEAD of the breast, (which will, as people have said, make your milk dry up) merely in addition to it.

2. Sorry but I DO think it's possible for breasts to empty, or at least, for so little to be coming out that it's pointless just to sit there letting him suckle on nothing. I think this because for various reasons I express most of my son's feeds. I pump a good few ounces every three or four hours but after fifteen mins of pumping the milk stops coming out, and I give it a good couple of mins on the pump to check it's all stopped. I'd need to wait at least half an hour before there was anything there again worth bothering about. So I agree with you on this OP.

3. Four hours between feeds is ok from a health point of view I thought? (However no one told my boy!)

4. With my baby I think I can finally tell the difference between a "comfort me please" cry and a "hungry cry" in that the latter won't stop until he gets milk. It sounds from your second post as if he is genuinely hungry.

Hope this helps a bit, and again sorry if this inadvertently causes offence! Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

FingonTheValiant Mon 29-Nov-10 12:00:03

Lizzy - the HV is happy with him on his current centile, as long as he keeps following it and doesn't drop again. I asked whether I should feed him more to try to get him back up and they said no. My worry is not that he's on the 9th, but that if he's not getting as much milk as he was then he'll drop below that, and as you said, that he's hungry. Up until now I've had no worried about that.

And they said 4 hourly was fine if he was full and happy, and that I should be thrilled that he was happy with that. He was full and happy, but now he's not, even 2 hourly.

I know that if I express I get much less milk than he can get - if he's breastfeeding I can hear him still swallowing for much longer than the milk would come for if I'm expressing, but I just feel that even that doesn't seem to be enough for him.

I seriously feel like I'm losing the will to feed my child, it's so dispiriting when it seems like it's going wrong

everythingiseverything Mon 29-Nov-10 12:00:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

headfairy Mon 29-Nov-10 12:01:24

I'm afraid I disagree with most of what auburnlizzy has said. Your breasts don't empty, introducing formula while you are still establishing bf is not great and while 4 hours between feeds may be ok, obviously currently for your ds. He is most probably on a growth spurt, needs a bit more. It is hard work but if you are keen to keep bfing then you need to keep doing what you're doing. Topping up with formula will fill up your ds's tummy and that will mean he will go longer between feeds, but.. and it's a big BUT, it will not help you increase your milk supply one jot.

If you want to keep bfing, then keep doing what you're doing. It sounds like you're doing fabulously.

By the way, my ds dropped from the 50th centile to the 0.4th and stayed there for a year. My lovely HV was very supportive and said that perhaps that's what he's supposed to be at and his birth weight was no proper guide. He followed the 0.4th line until he was 2. So long as they follow a line and keep with that line they are doing fine. Doesn't matter what the number of that line is, really.

headfairy Mon 29-Nov-10 12:03:18

obviously currently not for your ds...

Sorry for typo

thesecondcoming Mon 29-Nov-10 12:11:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

auburnlizzy78 Mon 29-Nov-10 12:32:34

Fair enough on the centiles point. I am in Herts, and was told that my boy was on the 91st centile and if he dropped two centiles they would be very concerned. But that's another example of that particular Trust being scaremongering (long story) so guess it can be disregarded to an extent.

I guess I just came to a point where after expressing round the clock and consistently making 1.2litres a day plus whatever my DS felt like taking directly - before he got too frustrated and hysterical - that I couldn't keep going on as I was. Those volumes should be enough for most babies according to every book I've read to date, but during growth spurts it wasn't for mine. He is putting on a pound a week every week!

I guess I wasn't prepared to make myself miserable with constant, relentless and unsatisfying feeding sessions or forcing my breasts to keep making more and more,ad infinitum. I do want to do other stuff with my boy other than spending all day every day just feeding him, so I reached my limit at that point.

Good on those who persist with "pure BF" and don't resort to top ups, but it was affecting my relationship with my son I think so I had to cave in.

everythingiseverything Mon 29-Nov-10 12:34:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Mon 29-Nov-10 12:36:48

I do think that expressing is a completely different ball game - if you'll forgive the phrase. I could never express at all - but fed two babies successfully. There si a biofeedback element to bf that doesn';t work when you are expressing.

I understood that dropping centiles was fine - particularly with bigger babies (I think it's called catch-down growth) but actully losing weight can be a cause for concern. So increase, however slow is fine, staying the same is fine-ish, but sustained 9rather than one off) loss can be a problem.

SantasMooningArse Mon 29-Nov-10 12:43:15

Firstly no, giving formula wouldn;t be the worst thing in the world, of course not.

But as people say

8.30 - 10 isn't that short a gap between feeds for a seven week old, hard though that can be on Mum.

Babies (and toddlers....) can suck for comfort alone

You should make milk to satisfy demand but it takes a few days for supply to respond to demand: that's normal

WRT to the weight drop just a complete offside but do you take in a lot of dairy? Just you are absolutely repeating what my boys did feeding and weight wise, and when I cut out dairy their weights shot up.

But ultimately go with what makes you and baby feel safe, It is not a reflection on your aprenting; when ds1's weight dipped to 4lbs we gave a bottle, yet I am still feeding ds4 at 2.8 years old. I am not ashamed of either choice.

headfairy Mon 29-Nov-10 12:56:52

blimey Auburn, dropping two centiles and they'd be worried? Thank goodness I'm in London, Lord knows what they would have said about my ds dropping off the bottom of the charts!

TruthSweet Mon 29-Nov-10 12:58:28

Fingon - re. %ile lines DD3's paed said that some babies are nourished so well in utero that they are born bigger than they 'should' be. DD3 was born on 91st%ile went down to 2nd%ile when she was very ill came up to the 9th%ile when she fully recovered where she has stuck.

If baby's length and head circumference are in sync then there should be no need to worry if baby ends up on a lower/higher %ile line from the birth one.

The worry would be if they were (for example) 2nd%ile for weight (and static/falling), 25th%ile for height and 91st for head circ from a birth line of 25%ile for weight/height/head circ. That set of measurements indicate that the baby was getting inadequate nutrition so was funnelling all the nutrients to the brain over and above the body.

I'm assuming that's not the case otherwise your HV would have done something then and there not reassured you that baby is growing fine.

Some babies feed frequently, some babies feed at regular intervals, some feed erratically (to us), some feed with large gaps between. Some of this is down to baby's own metabolism/needs, some is down to milk storage capabilities in the mother (not breast size though), supply issues (over/just right/under supply) and some times down to external issues (baby is cold and wants a feed to warm up/loud noise wakes baby so wants to feed back to sleep/for comfort as teething/etc).

The thing is it changes all the time and just when you think things are predictable - the little darlings change it up on you.

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