Pamela contacted me while she was still in the hospital because her baby girl, Gabrielle, had a 10% weight loss while exclusively breastfeeding. She wanted to be discharged to go home to be with her other children but the hospital was concerned about her baby’s weight loss – so Gabrielle was was supplemented before her discharge and she was instructed to continue supplementing after nursing.
When I began caring for Pamela, 3-day old Gabrielle was a very sleepy baby and would only nurse on one breast; she was also very content to sleep, so she needed to be wakened to nurse for every single feeding.
Pamela also had delayed onset of copious milk, and was instructed to begin pumping her other breast that her baby would not take, in order to stimulate her milk supply. Just a few days after delivery, she was still recovering from her cesarean section, so it was important for us to create a feeding plan that would maximize breast stimulation while feeding her little girl the optimal amount of milk to gain weight AND would allow Pamela to rest so she could recover!
As a general safety rule, it’s never OK to recommend to a new mother to nurse, supplement and pump, because it will exhaust them – after all, it’s a lengthy feeding session and rest is critical in those first few days and weeks. So Pamela would nurse on one side, her husband would then supplement their baby while Pamela pumped both breasts for 15 minutes at a time, and in total the feeding took 30-40 minutes. Good support can be essential during the early days, because sometimes feeding a baby takes more than one person – that teamwork helped both mom and baby immensely.
As the days went by Pamela’s supply began to increase but Gabrielle remained sleepy at the breast – she still needed supplementation, but fortunately she was gaining weigh very well. I incorporated a power-pumping session into the feeding plan so that Pamela could get a block of desperately-needed sleep while her husband fed her baby. Power-pumping is a tool I used for years in the NICU, as pump-dependent mothers need and do best with a block of at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. We’ve seen some results with it, since power-pumping can make up with extra stimulation while a mom sleeps.
In Pamela’s case, it worked! Though she told me that weight gain had always been a problem with her 2 previous breastfed children, and that she didn’t know why, we had reason to celebrate because 15 days after birth, Gabrielle weighed in at 8 pounds 1 ounces! She surpassed her birth weight of 7 pounds, 13 ounces from nursing and supplementing. This is the message she sent me from her pediatrician’s office:
“Well we had our appointment and it went rather well. According to this graph she gained weight and is now 8 lbs 1 oz. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR your advice and help. Nothing felt better than to know all the hard work is paying off.”
Pamela was able to cut back on pumping sessions gradually as her baby began to nurse efficiently on both breasts. She kept a power-pumping session in her feeding routine and her milk supply increased significantly. For the first time Pamela felt confident her supply was sufficient. She had frequent weight checks for her baby to be sure she continued to gain weight. Here is a picture of Gabrielle at 4 months of age:
Stories like this bring me so much joy, when baby is healthy and doing well and mom is too! Pamela posted on The Momivist Face book page this comment:
“We had some weight issues in the beginning with my third. Jody came to the rescue and helped me out. Got her weighed today and this is how I’m walking out the clinic like a boss with a 9lb 11 oz. baby at 4 weeks old that lost 10% of her 7lb 13 oz. birth weight in 3 days. Supplementing is NOT the end of a breastfeeding relationship, don’t believe the hype. Supplementing saves lives and formula is NOT evil!! Thank you so much Jody!
Gabrielle is now 9 months old and weighs 19 lbs. She is thriving and happy and loving and just a complete joy. Even on the rough days. I have to say looking back at my feeding journeys with my older two I wish there were more people trained like you are to help mothers out. I appreciated that you gave me scientific educational information and not advice based on general ideas. I truly believe that is what made a difference. We supplemented a few times until I could get my milk supply up to match her needs and it was the best decision ever because she was fed and fed is best!”