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trying to reduce topups+increase Bmilk supply-advice welcome

(16 Posts)
wafflingworrier Tue 23-Apr-13 17:34:36

my first daughter lost over 10% bodyweight so had to go into hospital, from then on till 4 months i breastfed 10 mins each side before topping up with formula. basically i lost confidence in my breastfeeding and felt like my milk never came in, we increased the formula amount as per packet instructions.
fast forward to DD2 who is now one month old, the same thing has so far happened. she lost 13% of bodyweight at day 5 so told to top up. we have been doing so but so far she rarely finishes the bottle and set amount she's "supposed" to drink which gives me hope that i'm producing something (ten mins each breast pre-bottle).
SO, has anyone had any experience at weaning baby off formula and back onto bottle? i would LOVE to eventually exclusively breastfeed, i am so up and down about it all. i know it's ok to do both but i would like to give it a try if i can.
has anyone tried fenugreek with any success?
thanks in advance for any replies, every time i go on an advice website i get a bit stressed out by it all and worry i'm doing it all wrong.

MoreSnowPlease Tue 23-Apr-13 17:55:09

Poor you, it's a real struggle when you try to mix feed and back to ebf. However, there is hope! I did it successfully with DS at around 4 months. He had tongue tie which cause issues with latch and pain for me which is why he lost weight. Not sure of percentage but went from 50th centile at birth to 2nd centile at 3.5 months. Anyway, if I remember rightly, I used to do the same as you, feed each side and then top up, but I didn't follow the formula guidelines at all because he was getting breastmilk so assumed he needed less formula. Is there any reason you are giving the recommended formula amount on top of breastmilk?

I think it took about 2 months to wean him off and I basically did three things:

1 - took fenugreek and made sure I forced myself to eat and drink water regularly, small amounts but often/regular

2 - did 'switch nursing' basically 4-6 sides before giving formula. I would swap him after 1 let down on each side and keep going until it slowed so much he got frustrated basically.

3 - I reduced the formula I was giving at each feed in small increments until he didn't need it anymore. I think initially he was having about 60-120ml after feeds and once he gained back good weight he was having about 30ml for quite a while, and then he would only take 30ml after some feeds, then I just got rid of it.

I hope that helps, I'm sure there may have been other things, but just ask if I haven't mentioned, it was a while ago (DS now 10 months and still breastfeeding)

Good luck!

MoreSnowPlease Tue 23-Apr-13 17:58:16

Did you ever find out why your DDs lost a lot of weight?

Were they checked for tongue tie? When she feeds can you hear the swallowing? Can you tell a difference between the trigger/comfort sucks and the long/swallow sucks?

Has you seen a breast feeding counsellor or lactation consultant?

dotty2 Tue 23-Apr-13 18:06:04

I tried but didn't manage it. I tried Domperidone, but not fenugreek. But with DD1 I topped up after every feed and gave up bf altogether at 5 months. With DD2 I managed eventually (it's a while ago now, can't quite remember how), to get to a point where I did some just bf feeds and some just formula. I think I did a couple of breast feeds first thing and at breakfast time, then formula, then another couple of bfs in the middle of the day, then one formula in the afternoon, and breast at bed time and in the night. That was more manageable, and less of a faff, and made up much happier somehow. I felt more like a 'proper' breastfeeding mum. Silly, I know, but not being able to ebf was very emotionally difficult for me. I kept going until 14months, with some of each - and when she moved on to solids I cut back on formula, not bf. In fact, I think if she hadn't been at nursery a couple of days a week I would have been able to do just solids and bf from around 8 months. Hope you find something that works for you - good luck.

ExBrightonBell Tue 23-Apr-13 18:17:33

My ds was having some formula top ups due to being in SCBU for a week and being fed through a NG tube initially. He was a big hungry baby so I felt that I was always trying to catch up with him in terms of supply.

I eventually got to the point of dropping all formula. I found that I had to drink a lot of water and eat little and often throughout the day. Similar to previous posters, I reduced the amount of formula top up until we got to the point where I felt I could drop it altogether. I also expressed as much as I could bear to , and gave that rather than formula as much as possible.

He is now 9months and I'm still bf smile

wafflingworrier Tue 23-Apr-13 18:26:21

thanks for the replies-all really helpful and encouraging.
moresnowplease-thanks for sharing, i am going to try what you suggest as it sounds like the gentle approach i am looking for rather than anything too drastic (thus hopefully reducing any chance of massive weight loss)i have a 20 month old toddler i can't do the whole "stay in bed all day skin to skin" now that dad back at work, so i am trying to find things that can fit in around life.

bfeeding counsellor-not tried, i asked health visitor's advice and then got a bit intimidated like i would be putting child's health at risk if i tried to reduce formula, so have then got worried that a bfeeding counsellor would make me stop formula altogether and DD end up in hospital again.

midwifes and HV said latch was fine and positioning good
i have tried watching her feed and cant tell if she swallows or not i often confuse what i think is a swallow with her breathing if that makes sense?! sometimes she latches on and it makes a noise which ive read is a bad latch but i can still feel the let down so only take her off if she's slipped so that only a bit of boob left in mouth at the end of a feed.

ive tried expressing but not got anything out and found it really upsetting so that's not an option unfortunately, im trying to keep positive about it all
dotty2-totally know what you mean about feeling emotional about it all, i am exactly the same.

wafflingworrier Tue 23-Apr-13 18:28:27

moresnowplease-in terms of why DD lost weight they just said my milk never came in. which ive read is a load of poo on militant Bfeeding sites, but we really tried everything-a week of non stop bfeeding in bed with no stress, lots of food and drinking etc. had a really stressfree birth (thank God!) so i cant help thinking my boobs just arent up to it.
but hopefully i can at least increase my supply (if only to save money on blooming formula. sooo expensive!)

NotInMyDay Tue 23-Apr-13 18:31:37

I mixed fed my second. I increased and decreased the amount of formula I gave at various times.

In order to drop a formula feed and feed from the breast instead I would need to accept that my baby would be less satisfied and would need to be put to the breast more often. Think back to the newborn days - you need to ask your body to make more milk. The baby suckling at the breast is the only way to do this. Try to give yourself loads of calm time for skin to skin and put the baby to the breast as much as you can.

Good luck.

Facelikeafriendlyapple Tue 23-Apr-13 18:35:51

I'm in a very similar situation to Exbrightonbelle. My DS is almost 3 months now. My Gp suggested taking fenugreek when we had 6 weeks check up and DS was only gaining weight v v slowly. Gp said she couldn't medically recommend fenugreek but that anecdotally she had heard good reports from other patients. Well it has TRANSFORMED things for me. My supply has increased hugely and we are down to just one ff per day (from topping up after every feed). Best of luck, whatever you decide, but definitely think fenugreek is worth a shot for A week or so.

Facelikeafriendlyapple Tue 23-Apr-13 18:40:21

Also coupled fenugreek with bf on demand, good diet, lots of water etc. Don't want to give impression its a magic pill that will fix everything! But if you are doing all the other things to help boost your supply, I've found taking it has really really helped...

midori1999 Tue 23-Apr-13 18:53:09

Has your hospital got a good infant feeding advisor you can ask for help? Or can you ring one of the BF helplines for advice initially?

It's likely that you can get back to EBF if that's what you want, but quite often the 'top ups' recomended are a full feed or more than that for a newborn, so even if you're giving it after a breastfeed, it's likely to unaturally space feeds out, which will make it difficult to build and maintain a supply. Very few women could have a good supply by feeding for ten mins each side per feed either, although that's obviously the advice you've been given.

It's probably also worth getting your baby checked for tongue tie and getting the latch checked again too. Someone needs to watch a full feed to check the latch. Numerous health professionals told me my latch with DD was fine, it really wasn't.

wafflingworrier Tue 23-Apr-13 19:12:17

with bf counsellors do you go to them or they do home visits? or do u pay private? have called a la leche helpline but all she suggested was possible tongue tie which i outruled as dd checked so many times and all health professionals said she didnt have it.
thank you for all the replies, all advice is appreciated and its good to see the full spectrum. i know that ten mins each side is not ideal but i would literally feed non stop otherwise and am not able to

dotty2 Tue 23-Apr-13 19:32:49

It is hard when you've got a toddler too. I was really struggling to give my older daughter any attention - couldn't even read a bed time story uninterrupted and she was getting really upset that I was always feeding. In fact, the point at which I decided I would stop trying to re-establish ebf with DD2 and that mixed feeding was better for everyone was the point at which I dropped DD1 on the kitchen floor because I was so tired my coordination was all over the shop. So be kind to yourself - it's worth a try, but it's not all or nothing. You can still bf even if ebf doesn't work out.

MoreSnowPlease Tue 23-Apr-13 19:55:46

It's very common to be told that there is no tongue tie when there actually is. Not that I am saying that is the problem, but there is even a thread on here with LOADS of mums who had been told no tt by lots of HCPs and turned out to have one. They are sometimes very hard to diagnose and need a specialist really. HV and midwives don't usually get the right training to be able to.

There is a good site with a good article about it here

They don't just deal with TT but other feeding issues so might be worth giving them a call, I have heard good things.

It sounds like you are doing a great job, try not to get disheartened. I think the main thing for you would be not to introduce a full formula feed but carry on ALWAYS breastfeeding first, swapping breasts lots and only topping up with formula when you know that baby has finished.

If you are finding it hard to tell whether she is swallowing, don't worry, try to seek out a decent breastfeeding counsellor in your area or lactation consultant at the hospital possibly?

Also, I would imagine you should be able to get formula on prescription seeing as it is required in your case and you are trying to wean off it. We had it prescribed as DS was intolerant to dairy but he also needed it to gain weight. Worth asking anyway as it is expensive and if it's needed because of a medical issue (low supply) then I don't see why not?!

MoreSnowPlease Tue 23-Apr-13 20:04:56

Also, with bottle feeding it's very easy for baby to carry on feeding even when they are full because of the action used which differs to breastfeeding and means babies don't have to get milk, it comes to them after a vacuum is created with each suck/swallow which is why they will often polish off a bottle no.matter how full. You could try making the formula a lot less and see how she is after it? It maybe that she doesn't need as much as she us drinking IYSWIM?

wafflingworrier Wed 24-Apr-13 19:01:57

thanks for all the replies, i am plucking up the courage to speak to a bf counsellor tomorro and get the ball rolling with that, have also read that tongue tie article link and want to get her checked again as she does make a clicking noise at leaast 50% of breastfeeding time. i will give fenugeek a go i think as it doesnt seem to have too many side effects.

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