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3wk old. Fluctuatung supply & hourly feeds killing me. Any advice welcome.

(22 Posts)
2plus2plus1 Tue 16-May-06 12:51:49

I have a dd, 3wks old. I seem to have been lucky with the physical pain of breastfeeding, with little or no breast or nipple soreness. I plan to breastfeed for the next 3-4months until I go back to work. At the moment she feeds hourly during the morning & evening & I can't go on doing this for 3-4 months. I am worried that she is not satisfied enough after a feed, causing her to wake prematurely. She sleeps for 3-5hrs at night though. She has also only put on 3 1/2oz in a week & whilst the nursery nurse doesn't seem excessively bothered by this I thought the target was 4-8oz.

How do I know when to change sides. Currently I am trying to express by hand if she comes off & appears frustrated. If I still spurt the furniture (iyswim) I assume there is still plenty there and encorage her to take more. Sometimes I just get a pool of milk collecting on the nipple (but no spurting) under the same circumstances, and assume that this is essentially empty & change sides. Am I doing this too early so she doesn't get enough of the 'hind milk'? She certainly doesn't seem to like it if it is not spurting.
The bigger problem for me is that I seem to have a problem with a fluctuating supply. At least 1 day in 3 I seem to have very little milk by early evening. She seems to empty both breasts within 5-10mins & still wants more. I did give in at the weekend & she took approx 80ml formula to satisfy her. She then slept for 6hrs through the night & this has consequently had a knock on effect for the supply. Listening to her scream for milk that isn't there milk that isn't there is just impossible. I would rather give up than listen to her scream every other night. I am drinking loads, but not able to rest very much during the day as she just won't settle for long enough for me to get any sleep.

Any advice would be appreciated, else I am sure she will be on bottles by this time next week.
Thanks in advance.

Jasnem Tue 16-May-06 13:23:11

I'm not an expert, but bumping so some one more knowledgable can see this.

Cluster feeding is very common, particularly in the evening, and if she is oputting on weight (which she is) and you are getting wet/dirty nappies, then she's probably ok
My understanding is that there is no such thing as a completely empty breast, and the more you feed the more you will produce.

Is there any chance of you spending a day in bed with her feeding as much as possible to biuld up your supply, as I know it can hepl.

Good luck.

louloubelle Tue 16-May-06 13:37:59

I was about to post to ask about increasing supply in the evening. I have a ds, 4 weeks. He feeds roughly at 8, 10, 11-30, 12-30, 3-30, 5-30, 6.30, 7-30 and once or twice at night,but i have encouraged him to cluster feed before a lunch time sleep and certainly at night. I feed on one side, sometimes for 10 mins, but longer when I have time (have a dd aged 2 who I fed for a year) and both sides at the last feed. I would be surprised if 1 formula feed has knocked your supply? I know I need to eat sensibly during the day, and I think a problem is that I eat my main meal at 8-30, so am lacking in energy by his last feed. Maybe you need to eat more to help supply? Am hoping someone with some ideas will come along and help us!

popmum Tue 16-May-06 13:43:52

i am currently feeding my son, having also fed my dd. The only thing i would add is that i allow my ds to feed from one side, until he falls off or pulls himself off the breast, and i then assume he must have had enough or it is empty!! (what do i know?). If he pulls off and it is still spurting i would encourgae him back on my re latching him. They probably pull off then cos it cmes so fast. I nearly always offer the other side if he is still awake.

From what you say 2plus i would guess your dd is not emptying the breast, so encourage her to stay on for longer, you may then find she goes longer between feeds. The first few weeks it does feel like they feed all the time, but it shouldn't last for months!

FrayedKnot Tue 16-May-06 14:02:29

Hi 2plus2plus1

You sound like you are doing really well so far! Your DD feeds well, and is gaining weight. Brilliant!

When DS was this age he had one major growth spurt a week, until he was 8 weeks old. I literally could not move from the bed / sofa for a good 12 hours while he fed, napped, woke, I changed him, and we started over again!

It's how your milk supply gets established and perfectly normal, but don;t worry, once you get past 8 weeks or so it should slow down.

I think it is normal for you to be experience days when you feel overfull and days when you feel more "floppy" while your supply evens out to meet your DD's needs!

DS only ever fed off one side as he was very sicky and would throw up as soon as he came off the breast so I never offered him the otehr side, unless, like you describe, he seemed to be looking for more. I think as you say, if she comes off and you still appear to have lots of milk, then trying her back on again for a bit longer sounds fine, if she wants it. Perhaps she gets cross because she has to work harder when your let down is slower? (perhaps a BF counsellor could advise on this?).

There were however odd times when DS fed from Boob 1, then Boob 2, then back to Boob 1 again! I think it's not a case of there "being milk there" it's a question of them needing to suckle to increase your supply.

So putting her to the breast, even when you feel like your supply is low, is fulfilling that purpose.

When you say she is screaming for milk that isn;t there, what happens? Do you put her to the breast and she comes off and screams?

2plus2plus1 Tue 16-May-06 20:25:11

Thanks for replies so far. Seem to have had a bit better day. Have been giving her a little more encouragement to feed for longer on the same side. Will see how it goes for the rest of the week. Going shopping Fri/Sat will try & resist the formula ailse if I can have more days like this.
Tried the rest in bed trick the first time supply seemed to dwindle & it worked wonders. Unfortunately dd3 is not too keen on letting me do that for too long at the mo.

Jasnem Tue 16-May-06 20:38:51

2plus - I've found it hard this time, too and the BFN have been helpful.

I'm just concentrating on feeding ds until tomorrow, and he's almost 12 weeks now. Those tomorrows quickly add up.

hunkercaribou Tue 16-May-06 20:43:36

It sounds like a growth spurt and cluster feeding to me - she's increasing your supply. DS2 did this - he seemed to feed endlessly some days, especially in the evening, then he'd have a few more settled days.

Just go with it, if you can. I know it's hard - but trust your body to make the milk. Your boobs will never be empty.

She will start to settle - the first six weeks are the hardest and you are halfway through and doing brilliantly by the sound of it x x x

apronstrings Tue 16-May-06 20:57:41

hi i am no expert either but have fed 4 of my own. I think feeding is hard work to start with - you're doing really well. One thing that I think has helped me is to really try and eat plenty of good food and make sure you're getting enough to drink as well. I have really noticed that when I have pushed myself physically, been running around doing jobs etc it really has a knock on effect for the milk. But you already know your dd and what she needs better than anyone else. Can anyone help you out? when my dd1 was 3 weeks old I had to ask my mum if she could help for a day or two - and luckily she could. This took the pressure of ceaning/cooking off me - I sat about a lot, ate a lot and fed dd inccessantly. If you can get any extra support from someone close it might really help you through this tough time. Good luck..feeding gets easier as you get more established and is really worth the struggle.

bourneville Tue 16-May-06 21:07:17

I fed constantly too (i mean dd did!) and worried that i wasn't producing enough, but she did gain weight and had nappies etc so i think i was worrying about nothing.

i hope you are ignoring the standard growth charts? i discovered too late that they are not appropriate for breast fed babies, it caused completely unnecessary anxiety.

tiktok Wed 17-May-06 09:27:29

There are a few misunderstandings on this thread....lets try to tackle them

Eating, drinking and resting will have no effect on your milk or your milk supply (individuals' experiences may be different, but there is no good evidence that in general mothers need to be worried about any of those three things). You certainly don't need to be worried about eating at a certain time in order to have the energy to make milk a couple of hours later...truly.

Cluster feeding in the evening is normal and babies grow out of it.

The breasts may feel empty, but where breastfeeding is happening reasonably effectively, they never are.

Going longer between feeds on the odd occasion will not have a knock on effect on supply - milk production is not on a knife-edge like that.

Most people have no need to worry about foremilk and hindmilk - the baby sorts out what he needs and when he gets it.

If the baby starts to scream after 5-10 minutes and then refuses the breast again and yet seems hungry, I'd suspect she needs cuddles and calming, and then a return to the breast. But this is something you can talk to a breastfeeding counsellor about, 2plus, as I am not sure what else is going on there.

tiktok Wed 17-May-06 09:28:33

The other misunderstanding is that babies have to gain the same amount of weight every week, that it has to be 4-8 ounces every time.

Not so

2plus2plus1 Wed 17-May-06 20:19:09


Thanks for the reassurance. I was worried about hte weight gain as it had been 6 1/2oz the week before & 3 1/2oz seemed like a big drop. I was just expecting a bit more when she was weighed.

I feel reassured that the hourly feeding is normal. I jusy got a bit worried as she had previously been feeding 2-3hourly. Any iedas when this will stop. Please tell me that it will be weekd not months (but be honest!!!).

I can see now that I am probably not 'empty', but still have a problem with her getting frustrated by something when the flow slows down. To be a bit more precise about her behaviour she pulls her head away (and sometimes pushes the breast in the opposite direction with her fist!). At this stage she is not too upset, just rooting like a possessed baby. I put her back on, she has maybe a dozen sucks max & repeats the behaviour. After 3-4 cycles of this she then gets upset. She doesn't appear to be in pain, and does seem hungry because if I change breasts she feeds like a dream, until the flow slows down again. Last night when she started this I tried moving her away from the breast when she first started the cycle (e.g. winding/changing), and then she would go back to the breast for a little longer, but quickly gets frustrated.

Whether this is because of lack of milk, lack of flow or something else it breaks my heart that she appears to be looking for food, but she won't take it/ I can't give it...

On the front of BF counsellors, I tried calling a couple & got answer phones. I feel a little uncomfortable calling them in their own homes anyway (yes I know they volunteered for this...). I tried to find a baby cafe/bf group in my area but there doesn't sem to be ay within 30 miles, so I am relying on you guys & my not so hot HV to help me get through this.

bourneville Wed 17-May-06 20:46:28

I'm no expert but it sounds to me like she's just a bit impatient! When the flow slowed down with dd was very small she used to drop off to sleep. Then a few mins later i'd get letdown again and she'd wake up with a start and continue sucking! I'm sure it won't be long before she gets used to it and your breasts adapt to her needs.
I remember the strange pulling away but still wanting it thing, it happened when dd was about 3-4 months old. It used to stress me out, i think at the time i decided she was teething (ie in pain when sucking) though teeth didn't appear till quite a few months later!! But i remember hearing later on (why do we always find these things out when it's too late!!) that quite often at the 3 month mark babies go weird!!
(I know your baby's 3 weeks not months but just wanted to say, i know how frustrating and worrying it can be.)

The hourly feeds...who knows... I think dd was pretty frequent for most of her first year, sorry! 2nd half of the year i think she was feeding first thing in the morning, after breakfast, mid morning, after lunch, mid afternoon ,after tea, bedtime! ok so every 2 hours... but not sure whether she needed that she was just always very clingy and the breast was related to everything - comfort, naps, food, etc. i am a single mum too so no one else to distract her, even being with friends/family didn't always help. And i didn't want to mix feed.

Good luck anyway, let us know how you're doing!

alex8 Wed 17-May-06 20:50:48

Have you tried taking her off when she struggles and winding her? Every time my son got wriggly when feeding at that age it would usually be wind.

3 weeks was a non stop feeding time for me too. I felt chained to the sofa and only managed crisps and chocolate for all my meals! I din;t have the mental energy to read and watched awful summer tv instead. It did pass though.

alex8 Wed 17-May-06 20:52:05

Sorry i think you said you have tried that.

bourneville Wed 17-May-06 20:52:29

alex i miss the daytime telly!

good point about winding though. I quickly gave up winding because dd fell asleep feeding and i didn't want to wake her up! She used to fart like a trouper in her sleep!

alex8 Wed 17-May-06 20:55:02

It was more the winding mid feed that I used to forget to do and I would rant on about what was wrong with him and then go oh yes and it would work a treat.

Yes I would give a lot to be sat on sofa all day eating crisps now! I didn't get the hang of lying down feeding till about 6 weeks so I would have been more comfortable in bed.

bourneville Wed 17-May-06 21:07:28

tbh alex i really wouldn't!

LucyJu Wed 17-May-06 21:38:30

Just a thought, and hope I'm not "telling my grandmother how to suck eggs" (as it were), but are you sure your dd really is hungry? When I figured out that a lot of the time when dd2 was crying as if hungry, feeding for a couple of minutes then spitting out the breast and continuing to cry, this actually meant that she was tired, life settled down a lot. If dd has been awake for much more than 60-90 minutes, she might well be tired.

Having said this, I would reiterate what the others have said about cluster feeding being normal at this age. It isn't a sign that there is anything wrong with your supply.

2plus2plus1 Thu 18-May-06 11:58:54

Thanks guys,

Wind was the obvious thing to me. She is not particularly windy (or sicky). Do try to get it off her though mid feed. DP is better than me and if I can feel it rumbling in her tummy or she is grinning like a cheshire cat and I can't do it I usually pass her over. If I can't feel it/she's not grinning & won't burp I assume that she hasn't got wind.

Could be tired, but if she is tired she tends to sleep through the slow flow (at first I thought she was just comfort sucking at this stage but she is definately getting milk) - and takes for ever to finsh a feed. But at least I know she is happy.

With my dtds I hated being on the breast pump every 2 hours (special care for 3 months) - but at least the pump wasn't fussy.

Maybe it is just the 'weird baby' thing. It is just so frustrating 'cos she fed like a dream for 2 weeks. Oh and I would give anything to be feeding every 2 hours.

At least I will have BB to watch next week I guess sitting on my arse all day feeding gives me an excuse as to why I have been watching all day & not got anything done ...

alex8 Thu 18-May-06 17:30:15

yes I watched a lot of bb when bf but sadly it was that very very dull year with Cameron when they all went to bed early so if I was up feeding in the middle of the night they were all sleeping!

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