How do you know if your baby is getting enough?

At Max’s 4 month check up, his weight percentile of 75%  dropped to 50%.  His pediatrician was not concerned and pointed out my lack of concern that he started at 25% and went up to 75%.  Rationally, I knew he was a healthy baby and the weight charts were based on formula fed babies and that breastfed babies tend to weigh less than formula fed babies.  I was still concerned because at 3 months Max changed.  He became more alert, started crying a lot and it seemed like he was nursing less.

My experience with nursing was very different with Alexis and Max.  Alexis was colicky and the first 3 months were hard because she cried all day, but she (and I) took to nursing easily.  I always had more milk than she needed and built up a huge supply of frozen milk.  On the other hand, Max was really laid back and barely cried for the first 3 months and I thought nursing would be a breeze with experience.  I was so happy to have such an “easy baby” and realized Alexis really was a “difficult baby”.  At 3 months a switch flipped and Alexis was no longer colicky, she stopped crying all day long, and she stopped projectile vomiting every other day.  Max was the opposite.

When Max turned 3 months he started crying more and more.  He cried while nursing which led me to believe I wasn’t producing enough milk.  Also, when I pumped for Max to get a bottle of expressed milk, I would have to pump 2 times to get enough milk for 1 feeding.  So, Max crying and lack of abundance of milk with pumping led to a common insecurity.  It is common for moms to believe they are not producing enough milk. 

Max’s pediatrician was not concerned about his weight at 4 months but because I suggested my concern about not having enough milk, she suggested I supplement with formula.  I was against supplementing and she had a negative response to my resistance.  I left that appointment feeling unsupported and upset.  Why would the pediatrician recommend supplementing rather than help me with nursing even though nursing is best for the baby and mother.  People around me were also suggesting maybe supplementing would be a good idea.

I did some research and read that once a mother starts to worry she isn’t producing enough milk and supplements with formula, her milk supply will decrease.  So, this is a case where a person’s fear creates that which they fear.  I called 2 lactation consultants and 1 was very patient and listened to my story and askedgreat questions.  When she heard everything, she said she didn’t think she could help me and that there was nothing abnormal about what was happening.  She didn’t feel right coming to help me and charging me money.  The other lactation consultant was not patient, she was annoyed that I was having trouble hearing her because Max was crying and said she would call me back and never did.

I did call the 1st lactation consultant 1 more time for some reassurance and she once again listened and was very supportive.  Max is now approaching 6 months and has not had formula.  He is a healthy boy, he is gaining weight as he should and he is happier.  I still struggle with the way he nurses at times.  Max doesn’t keep to a schedule like Alexis did which makes me uneasy because I like the routine.  He isn’t crying as much now so I am more comfortable that he is getting enough.

So my question is:  Why is there not more support and information for nursing moms at my pediatrician’s office? 

I would love to see lactation consultants in pediatrician offices encouraging, supporting and educating moms to breastfeed their babies.

How do you know if your baby is getting enough?

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