Mum’s Journey: 5 Weeks 5 Days Old, Katie’s Thoughts on Getting Back on Track with Breastfeeding

It was great to speak to Lisa in person for the first time in 2 weeks. Hearing her voice reassured me that she was doing OK. It’s hard not to think about or worry for your clients as their lactation consultant...

When you’ve been lucky enough in your job to work alongside many mums throughout their pregnancy and postnatal journey, there is definitely an emotional attachment where you want the best for them. But you also know how hard the journey can be and you want to be able to fix it all quickly.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work smoothly with every mum and baby pair. So you can probably imagine I am feeling super happy for Lisa and Sophie that, at this point, they are both happy with their feeding progression!

What’s Been Happening Over These Last Few Days?

Lisa told me that Sophie was feeding really well at the breast. She was spitting up after top up bottle if they offered it. If she had drunk from it, she was vomiting it back up almost immediately!

I advised that Sophie definitely doesn’t need any more top ups! Only breastfeeds from now on.

I asked if Lisa was still expressing and she told me that she continued to express twice a day. Lisa was now getting 150mls every time she pumped and it was taking her under 10 minutes to do it! So that was 300ml per day from only two expressions. Wow, Lisa’s milk had definitely come back in!

Sophie has been gaining almost 200g per week now, for two weeks straight. In addition, Lisa describes Sophie as settled after feeds. Sophie also has really heavy wet nappies and feeding so much better. As a result, I was happy for Lisa to stop all top up feeds and stop all expressing too. Clearly there was plenty of milk for Sophie!

As Lisa said, she had continued expressing as her breasts felt really full after some feeds it was important to slow the milk production gently. I advised that Lisa only express purely for comfort after those two feeds, not until the breasts are soft.

By leaving some milk in the breast, it will signal to the brain and breast to reduce the milk supply slightly. After a few days, Lisa should not need to express at all as the breasts will have regulated their milk production to Sophie’s needs.

A great thing Lisa told me is that Sophie is starting to find her own pattern of feeds. This is pretty common around 4-6 weeks that babies fall into their own “routine.” It’s rare that a parent can set a routine for their baby to follow as all babies feed very differently.

Setting strict routines, especially in the early weeks often leads to low milk supply and hungry babies, with eventual formula feeding. Many babies will prefer to cluster feed in the early mornings, sleep well in the afternoons, cluster feed again in the evenings and sleep well for part of the night. This is what Sophie had started to do. Totally normal.

The other thing to be aware of is these patterns change over time too! Just when you think you’ve got your head around your baby’s “routine” they have set for themselves, they go and change it . In fact, they may keep changing it every few months as they grow!

So routines and strict regimes mostly don’t work with the majority of babies. This is normal! Go with the flow and take each day as it comes. You will soon get to know your baby’s preferred pattern.

Looking Forward

Lisa and I discussed how once she is not giving any more top-ups and no longer expressing how she would know if Sophie was losing weight or if there were any problems.

We talked about how the first indicator would be both Sophie’s behaviour and her wet nappies. Now Lisa is used to changing big, heavy and full wet nappies she knows what to be expecting every day.

If Sophie’s nappies are not as frequent or not as heavy then this could be an early sign that she is not getting enough milk. This would be a good idea to have Sophie weighed an extra time just to check. Again it is important to say that these are just signs and not the whole picture.

If you are concerned about your baby’s milk intake then having your baby’s weight checked by your maternal child health nurse or GP is a good idea.

Hopefully, Lisa, Sophie and I will catch up in person in the next week or so. But we will keep in close touch until then. A confidence boost for both of us!

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