Nursing Off to a Rough Start

QUESTION

Dear Lactation Consultant,

I am a first time mom with a 3-week-old little boy. He was put in the hospital for dehydration and weight loss 2 days after birth. He still has not got back to his birth weight. (Birth Weight 7lbs 2.5oz Weight as of today 6lbs 15oz) We are trying to increase my milk with fenugreek.

I tried to pump (with a hand-held pump) and I'm only getting about .5 to 1 oz on each side (this is after a 20 minute pumping session). I am curious to know just how much I should be pumping right now? I also have the Reglan, but I haven't started it yet (My lactation consultant thought I should hold off a while due to the side effects). We are using a feeding tube and syringes to supplement while he's feeding. I hate having to do this and I just wondered if you had any advice for me. I would appreciate it.

Thank you,
Rebekah

ANSWER

Hi Rebekah,
I'm sorry to hear that you are having such a tough time. But I'm glad to know that you are hanging in there with breastfeeding.

There are three things I can suggest to increase your supply. First, you need to empty your breasts 8-12 times a day. I couldn't tell from your email if you were. If not, that's something you'll want to do. Since you are pumping, you'll want to empty your breasts at least 8 times a day with your pump (more would probably be better).

Second, to keep up your supply, you really need to use a hospital-grade electric pump. The hand pump is fine for occasional use when your baby is breastfeeding most of the time. But for now, you'll want to rent an electric pump. Even if you only rent it for a month it would be worth it and a cost savings in the end. You might want to look on our BreastfeedingMadeSimple.com web site for more info on using a pump to maintain a milk supply.

Third, when you can, put your baby skin-to-skin. That's good for the baby and it's good for your supply. Keep doing that when you get home as well.

Please keep me posted on your progress. And let me know if you have any other questions.
-- Kathy Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC

Kathleen Tackett

Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a health psychologist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Research Associate Professor of Psychology specializing in women's health at the Family Research Lab, University of New Hampshire. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in both the Divisions of Health Psychology and Trauma Psychology. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a La Leche League leader, chair of the New Hampshire Breastfeeding Taskforce, and the Area Coordinator of Leaders for La Leche League of Maine and New Hampshire.

Dr. Kendall-Tackett is author of more than 140 journal articles, book chapters and other publications, and author or editor of 15 books including The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood (2005, Hale Publications), Depression in New Mothers (2005, Haworth), and Breastfeeding Made Simple, co-authored with Nancy Mohrbacher (2005, New Harbinger). She is on the editorial boards of the journals Child Abuse and Neglect, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse and the Journal of Human Lactation, and regularly reviews for 27 other journals in the fields of trauma, women's health, interpersonal violence, depression, and child development. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is the "Ask a Lactation Consultant" columnist on Pregnancy.org and serves on the Board of Directors of Attachment Parenting International.

Dr. Kendall-Tackett received a Bachelor's and Master's degree in psychology from California State University, Chico, and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University in social and developmental psychology. She has won several awards including the Outstanding Research Study Award from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and was named 2003 Distinguished Alumna, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, California State University, Chico.