When babies show hunger cues despite frequent and long feedings something might not be right. It gets very confusing for parents because of the time and effort they spend feeding their child. Parents are very sleep deprived after a few days of giving all their attention to their tiny human being that just changed their world. They might not see the cues their baby is showing.
If your baby is nursing constantly and you are not able to get any breaks or sleep, ask for help! Cluster feedings – nursing very frequently, is a concern. Yes, breastfed baby cluster feed before your milk is fully in or when they have a growth spurt but not a typical daily routine for more than 2 or 3 days.
On the other hand some babies go to “sleep saver mode” They sleep even if they are not satisfied and not getting enough. They fall asleep during nursing, they sleep well between nursing, parents need to remind them and constantly wake them up to feed. They are not getting enough calories so they decide to sleep and burn as little as possible. Probably the only way to know for sure is frequent weight check. I would say at least every 2 weeks and if there are other concerns maybe even once a week.
Also it’s very important to keep in mind that babies that are under 7 lbs and born before their due date will most likely need some kind of supplement. In my experience babies that weigh 5 or 6 lbs are not able to transfer an adequate amount from mom.
What to do if you suspect low milk transfer?
Start pumping. Grab your pump to a rescue and see how much milk you can express. Supplement your baby with the express milk and see if the symptoms improve. Pumping will tell you where your supply is and will help your IBCLC determine a care plan.
Offer your baby a bottle with your expressed breast milk. If breastmilk is not available sometimes formula has to come to a rescue.
Reach out to your local IBCLC consultant that should be able to figure out why your baby is not gaining weight or transferring enough milk. Your IBCLC might weigh your baby before and after the nursing session. Also pick a consultant that is able to do oral function assessment and is familiar with Teether Oral Tissues restrictions (TOTs) also known as tongue and lip ties. Not every provider has the knowledge and expertise. As an IBCLC we can’t diagnose ties but we can assess the function.
Now, I just opened up a whole new topic of tongue ties, but don’t worry, my next article will dive deeper. For now, enjoy your bundle of joy, you are an amazing parent, no matter how you feed your baby. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local IBCLC or you can schedule a virtual consult with me at midwestlactation.com.