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Who stole my milk?! and how do I get it back?

(15 Posts)
Puddlet Thu 31-Jul-08 20:20:47

My lovely baby is 16 weeks and up until a couple of weeks ago had settled into a pattern of 5 feeds in 24 hours and I always seemed to have enough milk (although not loads extra - I know because I was expressing as well). Anyway she then had a growth spurt and went up to 10 feeds in on 24 hour period. It was a bit hard for my milk to keep up with her and one of the 10 feeds was a bottle of formula. I also had to top up with expressed milk to help her settle after the late night feed. Since then we've had between 7 and 9 feeds each day. The trouble is that my milk supply just doesn't seem to be keeping up with her. She was sleeping from her late night feed until 5:30 - 6:30 in the morning. Now she wakes any time between 2 and 4am. Also she's started to wake in the evening - yesterday at 8pm not just crying a bit but really screaming for a feed. I fed her but she was frustrated at the lack of milk flow so we gave her a bottle which she drank with enthusiasm. This evening she woke up at 7.30 (I've just fed her). The HV has suggested giving baby rice and formula for the last feed. She does seem hungry and keeps chewing her hands - sometimes she even stops in the middle of a feed to chew her hands!
Anyway if anyone has any thoughts on how to improve my milk supply that would be great. I am eating and resting lots but don't feel that things are improving. Do things like drinking fennel tea really help?

StellaWasADiver Thu 31-Jul-08 20:26:01

Hi Puddlet, might your DD be having a long-ish growth spurt? I found months 4-5 pretty hard but by continuing to feed on demand my supply caught up.

I would avoid baby rice and formula to be honest.

thisisyesterday Thu 31-Jul-08 20:26:08

I would wager that there is nothing wrong with your milk supply and that her fussiness is down to something else.

sometimes they do just go through fussy patches. the problem with adding formula in, if your supply has dipped for some reason, is that you are then not telling your body that more milk is needed. so it won't make more.

if she is chewing her hands a lot, being unsettled at night and fussing at the breast then I'd put money on teeth coming

onwardandupward Thu 31-Jul-08 20:33:22

Can you have a "babymoon" this weekend? You and baby, lots of nekkid time together, unlimited breast access. That'll help your supply re-establish

(also worth bearing in mind that now is just about when your milk supply will be starting to self-regulate properly, so you may well be leaking less - it doesn't mean you are producing less, it means your body is finally getting the hang of the whole game)

Please don't do baby rice. Your child doesn't have the digestive enzymes to do anything with it yet, almost certainly. More milk is the answer for now!!!

wobbegong Thu 31-Jul-08 20:35:50

Hello Puddlet

Sounds tiring!

This tea worked for me- surprisingly quickly:

www.healthstore.uk.com/p410720/TRADITIONAL-MEDICINALS-Organic-Mothers-Helper-Tea.html

I think I also started drinking it around the four month growth spurt. It tastes a bit vile but I got used to drinking two or three cups a day. Suddenly I had a lot more milk and was able to drop formula top-ups.

The general tips on increasing amount of milk are about putting your LO to the breast as much as possible, and hoping that supply then follows demand. And yes, for me that did mean feeding what feels like all the time. You'll be knackered but it will end. I am glad I managed to get through it without giving up bf, because it is so lovely now to have a little eight month old feeding.

Is hand chewing always a sign of being hungry? I always thought her stopping for a gnaw was more about teething/ exploring things with mouth?

gybegirl Thu 31-Jul-08 20:44:56

My DD2 is now 21 weeks and is still feeding at least twice between 9pm and 6am. She's been chewing her hands too. She's excusively brestfed. As she's number 2 and I'm a bit more confident about things, I'm perfectly happy to say she's getting enough milk from me despite the extra feeds and chewed hands. You may not know that breasts make milk dependent on the demand, so if you give her milk you've expressed days / weeks before or top up with formula then your breasts don't realise they have to make more milk. Try to feed as much as possible, gets lots of rest and stay hydrated and I'm sure your supply will catch up. Well done on surviving the first few weeks. I'm sure someone with more knowledge will come along in a minute

Puddlet Thu 31-Jul-08 20:46:19

Thanks for the replies. I'll try the tea - it would be great if it works.
I thought she was too young to be teething but perhaps that is what's happening - I can't believe she's growing up so much already...

EdieMcredie Thu 31-Jul-08 20:48:47

Teething can start at any age-rarely some babies are born with teeth.

It doesn't sound as though she is chewing her hands through hunger.

Puddlet Thu 31-Jul-08 20:57:18

Also does anyone know if hormonal changes affect the quantity or taste of your milk? I wonder if that might be a factor because I'm seeing signs that my first period is about to arrive.

weasle Thu 31-Jul-08 21:32:06

my ds2 had exactly this thing. he got to 15 weeks, and i was just about managing with quite frequent bf (1-2 hourly in the day) and his demands went up hugely. he fed every hour night and day. it was exhausting, everyone told me to formula feed or give solids but i have read the research so stubbornly continued, co-slept and got through it. now things are much better.

i think this is very common and why lots of people start solids so early, but research says it doesn't help. your HV is quite incorrect to advise you to give formula and rice. we got through it with just breastfeeding. i agree a baby moon would be good, might also enable you to get rest.

i tried the tea. don't think it increased my supply really, but it gave me a confidence boost, and i think alot of low supply concerns are actually lack of self-belief rather than real inadequate supply (well, was with me!).

i would also say, take your watch off and stop counting how often/when you are feeding and just feed her when hungry - even if that is 10mins after the last feed. 'routine' is an artificial concept for a little baby. that helped me relax a lot. i agree with gybegirl, giving formula or expressed milk will reduce your supply.

they start to chew hands more at this age as they explore the world and it does not always mean hunger.

7-9 feeds a day doesn't seem alot for 16weeks.

sorry for mammoth post, but your situation seemed so similar to ours 3 months ago, just wanted to explain that you can get through it! this too shall pass! smile

thisisyesterday Sun 03-Aug-08 21:09:33

puddlet, yes, some people do find that their supply can dip a little when their period arrives.

SpaceCowGirl Tue 05-Aug-08 13:49:31

Please do ignore the crap advice from your HV ! Far too soon for baby rice x

randomama Tue 05-Aug-08 13:55:11

just a though but are you drinking lots of water? I need LOADS to keep my supply up, pints and pints of the stuff.
also, DS got his first tooth at 4.5 months. THEY GROW UP TOO QUICK!!!!!
good luck!

missblythe Tue 05-Aug-08 13:59:29

Fennel tea worked really well for me, just made a pot of it in teh morning, and drank it through teh day-it's okay hot/cold/in-between.

The other thing that I did was take Fenugreek capsules, which also seemed to work, although the tea is cheaper, but it's worth bearing in mind.

Good luck!

princesslina Tue 05-Aug-08 14:03:31

Sounds like hand chewing is try also to have a rest in the afternoon to help with evening milk supply. Goodluck and hope things settle down soon.
xx

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