Stress-related supply problem

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Kat30
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Stress-related supply problem

Post by Kat30 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:48 pm

Fairly long story, but I'll be as brief as I can. I breastfed my now 5-month-old for four months without a problem. About a month ago I got a cold. Suddenly my baby wouldn't feed. He'd latch on, suck, then come off crying. I thought it was a problem with him as he was 4 months old at the time. Gradually I came to realise that my let-down wasn't happening. Then I figured out that it was because my milk supply had dropped. Went to the GP and he said it was due to the cold and prescribed medication. I took it, and also started pumping after every feed, taking fenugreek and blessed thistle, eating lactation biscuits, drinking plenty of water, taking afternoon naps when baby did. I saw lactation consultants for additional advice and support. Gradually it improved, but was never back to what it had been. I got by mainly breastfeeding and using expressed milk from all the pumping when I couldn't. I have not yet had to give formula. Last week I stayed 4 days at parent support centre. The morning after I arrived I woke up full as anything, and leaking. For the whole time I was there baby could barely drink enough to keep me comfortable. I had heaps of milk. As soon as I got home (Monday), I noticed my supply start to drop again. It is now Thursday and I couldn't feed him this morning at 11 as there was nothing coming. Had to use expressed milk and pump. I have fed him at 1330 but the let down was extremely slow again. The only explanation I can come up with that makes sense is that while I was at parent support centre I felt calm as I had lots of support and help all the time if I needed it (I barely did!), but now at home I'm on my own and the anxiety has come back. I would never have guessed that this would have such an effect on my supply. I was wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar or if anyone has any advice that might help me (other than "try not to stress"!) as I am so frustrated and upset that this is happening and really want to keep breastfeeding.

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Nedsmum
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by Nedsmum » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:16 pm

I have a 'technique'....

Before you latch the baby on. First take a moment to get yourself physically comfortable. A good chair or propped with pillows in bed were good for me. Secondly, breathe in an scrunch your shoulders, neck and back and then relax as you breathe out. This will draw your attention to tension/poor posture.

Then, pick up baby and latch on. Get a good attachment, breathe in Deeply then slowly out, imagining the milk flowing from the top of your head and down out of your breasts to your baby....

If you keep switching breast/bottle you may find your baby decides it is too much hassle to 'work' for the letdown and milk from the breast, and start showing a preference for the bottle. Some mothers find this devastating!

Personally, if bubs was fussing etc at the breast, I would not offer bottles, I would just persist. Is baby otherwise healthy and gaining well?

When you were unwell, it might also have been that bubs was well too. Latching, sucking then pulling off can be a sign of something uncomfortable for the baby - gas in their stomach, sore throat, blocked nose, sore ears...all, hurt more when sucking....
Breastmilk - the ultimate 'brain food'!!!

Jenbt85
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by Jenbt85 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:21 pm

Hi Kat30!

It sounds like you've been working really hard to keep your little one only fed with breast milk. That's such a huge achievement under the circumstances. It sounds like you're doing an amazing job. I personally ended up supplementing with formula when going through a similar problem with supply.

Just a few thoughts - do you have much support around you? If so, is there someone that could come over and help with housework / be relaxing company for you / give you a chance to have a break so you can sleep?

I took to bed for a couple of days with my son when he was first born. My LC at the time suggested it and it was great. We got comfy, snuggled up and fed on demand. I had nappies etc within arms reach and his bassinet was next to my bed. Once attached, I would read a book or watch a funny movie or to show to distract myself so I could relax.

Are you eating enough? I don't think I really ate more than one meal a day for the first six months. Not getting enough calories can affect your supply too.

I'm in recovery from anxiety. Things that have helped me are meditations and yoga. My little one is turning 18 months in two weeks, so it's easier to carve out the time for that stuff though. I would have had two words for anyone suggesting I did that at four months ;)
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Kat30
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by Kat30 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:40 pm

Thanks ladies. I've seen my doctor and got some help for the anxiety. I'm happy to report that things are getting easier. Let down is happening again whether I feel "full" or not. The more it happens the less I stress and the easier it happens the next time. I have been using the breathing technique when I feed and make sure I'm sitting in a comfortable seat, relax my shoulders etc. This afternoon randomly I felt a let down while talking on the phone to my aunt! No idea why, but clearly the let down problem is improving. There was no problem with bubby rejecting the breast in favour of the bottle. In fact the opposite happened. He stopped taking the bottle so I had no choice but to persevere with breastfeeding only. I also introduced an extra feed at night before I go to bed. I get bubby up, he doesn't really wake but I feed him and then put him back to bed then go to bed myself. It does not stop him waking in the middle of the night for his feed as usual, which is fine. This way I am reassured that I am keeping my supply up and bubby is getting enough milk. Plenty of wet nappies and a settled baby so I feel more and more confident that things are on the mend. Thank you for your support :)

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fellare
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by fellare » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:47 pm

hugs. anxiety can definatly have a big impact on let down. the hormones involved are the same as the ones involved in orgasms and you know how they work when stressed (NOT!).

I didn't have the issues you are having, but I know that monday was always much harder to express. Monday being the first day at work, of course! Friday, I used to get heaps and I seemed to have more supply. I'm pretty sure it was stress related. Relaxing helped heaps. But that was for expressing, not feeding.
Boobymonster weaned at 3.5yrs.
Ms Firestorm born august 2015
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Yankee
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by Yankee » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:28 pm

So glad to hear things are looking up Kat! I hope things keep on positive for you and bub.
DD born September 2013

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PellyintheWilderness
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by PellyintheWilderness » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:37 pm

Well done! I'm glad to hear things have improved for you!
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Jenbt85
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by Jenbt85 » Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:05 am

That's great news, I can actually feel the relief in your update. I hope all continues to go really well :)
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Kat30
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by Kat30 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:39 pm

Things are getting better and better. Had bubby weighed and measured today and the news was good. Looking at his charts he is back on track. You can really see the dip for the 8 weeks or so I was struggling with low supply and you can also see where it has come back. So relieved and happy that bubby is doing so well :) Thanks everyone for your support.

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Yankee
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Re: Stress-related supply problem

Post by Yankee » Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:34 pm

That's wonderful news! I know weight charts aren't everything but it sure is reassuring isn't it!
DD born September 2013

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