Seeking Support from Breastfeeding Mothers with Slow Weight Gain Babies

Updated on July 08, 2011
T.B. asks from Key West, FL
9 answers

*** If you are not breast feeding, or do not support breast feeding, or do not have experience with a baby who gains weight slow, please do not respond. I'm looking FOR support from breast feeding mothers who are committed to breast feeding, and /or who have experience with a baby who gains weight slowly. Also, if you have experience with using an SNS, or if you sought help from a speech therapist who helped improve your baby's suck, I"d like to hear your testimony. Thank you.

My 4th child is 10 weeks old (full term baby, born by c-section). She had trouble latching on in the hospital but after several determined attempts, she finally latched on but still continued to slowly "master" her new-found learned technique. Once home, I continued to nurse her (on demand, including waking her up at night every 2-3 hours). She seemed to be nursing well but the scale did not reflect the same. I have a baby scale and I weigh her daily, every morning, completely naked. Initially she began gaining 1/2 ounce daily but some days not gaining anything at all and maintaining the same weight for several days in a row before gaining another 1/2 oz. I had breastfeeding difficulty with my 3rd child and due to a weak suck, I lost my milk supply and had to supplement and use formula full time by 1 month of age. Fearing that my new baby would follow her sibling's pattern, I sought help from a certified lactation consultant before her 4th week. It was determined that she wasn't sucking correctly and it was suggested/recommended that I (1) begin pumping after every feeding to maintain and increase my milk supply, and (2) use a Medela SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) with each feeding so that it would promote her to sucking correctly AND it would eliminate the use of a bottle. I've been using the SNS since she was 4 weeks old and the lactation consultant initially had me using only 1 oz of either expressed breast milk or formula on 1 breast, at every feeding. At the last appointment I had with the consultant, it was determined that while my baby has progressed somewhat and has definitely gained weight, she has not really progressed far enough to eliminate the SNS completely. The consultant further determined that my baby now has a weak suck, the same diagnosis my 3rd child had.

To date, I am pumping (double pumping, Ameda Elite, hospital grade pump 10-15 minutes )about every 2 hours AND/OR after every feeding, whichever happens first. I have milk. Supply is not an issue and I am drinking plenty of water daily, and I am taking an herb called Goat's Rue per the lactation consultant's recommendation. The pediatrician is NOT concerned at all with her weight, and at this point I am not either. She weighs 10 lbs 4 oz today. My concern is having to use the SNS indefinitely. The lactation consultant referred me to a speech therapist who specializes in lactation. I have only spoken with this lady on the phone 1 time and it is not determined yet if insurance will cover such "therapy" to help my baby's suck improve with special exercises. I am waiting to hear back from another specialist to have an evaluation for my baby.

My first two children were champion breast feeders. I never had any issues with either of them. I never even had to pump, or give them any artificial nipples. I was heart broken and totally devastated when I had lost my milk supply with my third child. I naively assumed that whatever issues we had would correct themselves, never taking into consideration that my milk supply would diminish to the point of having to go to formula full time. With this new baby now, and being that she is indeed the last baby, I want to breast feed very badly. And I am, but I am having to supplement with the use of the SNS. Some sessions I don't have to use it because she is coming off satisfied, but most sessions she just wimps out and gets lazy and I have to use the SNS to help her out. The lactation consultant reassured me that with age she will learn and that she will get stronger as she puts more weight on so she doesn't wimp out so quickly. The lactation consultant told me to stop weighing her daily. This is very hard to do since her weight has been an issue from day 1 Also, the lactation consultant told me to stop waking her up during the night because I was spending over an hour to keep her awake long enough to nurse well. She told me to let my baby wake me and she does. She wakes up 1 or 2 times, and most always I nurse her and use the SNS. I don't usually have to use the SNS for the first of the day feeding. My breasts are very full and she feeds the best first thing in the morning. During the day, I use the SNS, and for bed time.

What can I do next?

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answers from Tampa on

Have you checked for tongue tie?

I'd pump for about 10 minutes just prior to nursing and try without the SNS. This way - she's guaranteed to get more of the fatty hind milk and less of the thirst quenching foremilk. That may be part of the cause about her slow weight gain - which seems fine by the way. She may also have a small tummy and fill up on the foremilk and not even get to the hind milk.

Other than those 2 ideas of mine... you sound like you are going the right way about it - seeking help from a professional and support and experience stories from other breastfeeding Moms... keep up the good work and things will be fine!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hi - I don't have direct experience with the nursing problem per se but just want to congratulate you and encourage you in your commitment. My last child was slow to gain weight - I don't remember how much he weighed in the first few months but I remember he didn't hit 20 lbs until he was almost 2. I breastfed him and as long as the pedi said his weight wasn't an issue I didn't worry about it. It sounds like you've got a great LC - try to take her advice regarding the night feedings and not weighing her daily and have faith that her latch will get stronger soon. I hope someone with more experience can give you a better response. You're doing a great job!

Here's a link you might find helpful - it sounds like you know most of this already, but sometimes for me seeing in print what I'm hearing in real life gives me a little more faith that I'm on the right track:

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answers from Corpus Christi on

I had trouble starting breas feeding. I had a c-section and my daughter was in the hospital for 12 days so our breastfeeding got off to a slow start. I did a combination of pumping and breast for weeks before we were able to move to breast only. It seemed to last forever...feeding attempts, then pumping every 2-3 hours, no sleep. It seemed also, that every problem I read about in my breastfeeing books, happened to me in order, cracked, bleeing, sore nipples, clogged ducts, thrush, etc. Sometimes I just cried the whole time because it hurt so bad. Eventually, after what seemed like forever, it got better, and she began gaining weight very well. All those terrible things that I went through though, I think helped me become more considerate and understanding of other's who have difficulties feeding. I think life is a learning experience and sometimes we have to go through terrible things for one reason or another. We just have to try to take from it something good and hope that one day, we can use our experiences to help others.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

I experienced this with my third....and last and here is a brief of my story. My little bean and I am guessing it is a similar issue with my first two but with them I gave up to quick. Anyhow she was a slow...s.l.o.w eater and gainer. She would tire out real quick and did NOT have a proper latch. For other reasons (my health issues and being in the hospital) she ended up having to get her breast milk from a bottle. Well after week 15 and a baby who only got breast once or twice a day I started to wean her back on to the breast and by 4 months of age she was on all boobie and she did it like a champ. My Lactation Lady told me that the practice with the nipple on the bottled helped her to be more efficient. and once she got a little pounds on her and got a little older she had no issues. she is now 14 mo old and gets her "boob juice" daily from the tap!! So a breakdown she got juice from the "tap" hehe only once or twice a day for the first 15 weeks or so and then started on all from the tap after that! They are amazing I tell you and I wish I had more support and more desire to make it work with my first two because I bet I could have. Sry have no experience with the SNS I was just encouraged to give breast milk from the bottle until she had more strength to stay awake and suck! Best of luck and I know you can get it to work because you have the drive to do it! Keep it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My firstborn had difficulty latching. I used a nipple shield and he latched on perfectly. After two and a half months of nursing with a nipple shield, I had despaired of ever feeding him without it. Then, one day, he knocked it off and latched on without it. Perfect breastfeeder from then on.

Last year, I gave birth to my twin girls (all three babies have been delivered via c-section.) One of them (the smaller of the two) latched on perfectly and went to town, putting on weight like a champ. The second born of the twins was nearly a pound heavier at birth, but she had difficulty latching. I thought "No problem. I've been here, done this before." I immediately employed the use of nipple shield and thought I'd successfully avoided the same problems. WRONG!!!

My darling baby girl lost nearly a pound of weight and was NOT putting it back on. I was pretty much ganged up on by doctors AND lactation consultants all protesting that I was not producing enough milk to sustain twins. So, they gave me a hospital-grade pump and instructed me to pump for 10 - 15 minutes on both sides every three hours in addition to nursing on demand. With twins, that was pretty much ALL THE TIME. My little one got two ounces of breast milk in a bottle fortified with 1/2 tbsp of a specific formula the pediatrician gave me. After she drank this, I allowed her to nurse as long as she wanted. (That wasn't what was recommended, but I am a rebel.) Eventually, after a couple of months of this Hell, she developed a strong enough suck that she didn't need the supplements anymore, but she still didn't latch without the shield..... until the day after she was six months old! I seriously did not think it would ever happen, but she did learn and it has been awesome!!!

She is the best sleeper of all my children. She much preferred sleeping through the night to waking to feed.

There is totally hope! Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I have inverted nipples and had to use a nipple shield for both of my kids in the beginning to get them to latch on at all. My daughter was 7.5 lbs when she was born, but never got above the 10th percentile again until she was over a year old. She just didn't grow very quickly. My son was 6 lbs 9 oz at birth and also never left the 10th percentile. I exlusively nursed both of them until around 10 months old when they self weaned (tried to nurse through the "strikes", but I think my milk changed and started to dry up after they started eating more solids and table food). You are doing all that you can do and I applaud you for not giving up. Keep following the advice of the lactation consultants and the therapists. I know it will be a tough decision if insurance doesn't cover the required therapy, but you are doing so much to make this successful! I also would not obsess about weight gain. Let your pediatrician worry about that. Weighing every day may be stressing you out and your baby will pick up on that, so just try to relax and build that close bond with your baby. I don't know much about SNS, so I can't help with the mechanics of any of this, but I wanted to encourage you and let you know that all babies are not created equal and someone has to fall into those lower percentiles, so don't stress about that. As long as she isn't losing weight or falling off of the curve significantly, then just keep plugging along and she'll catch on! Keep up the great work, mama!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Congratulations! It sounds like you are making progress.
My daughter was full term but early (37 weeks) and weighed only 6,11 at birth and then went on to loose 8 oz the first week. I was also super concerned, but my pediatrician was very reassuring. He had a lot of experience with BF babies and was very relaxed. He made sure I knew that weight curves and gain averages are based on formula fed babies and do not necessarily reflect normal growth in a BF baby.
It took three weeks until we were back at her birth weight, she was gaining slowly but steadily. She was always on the light side, she didn't reach 20 lbs until her 18 months check-up.

Since there is no concern with her weight at this point talk to your pediatrician or the LC about weaning off the SNS slowly, probably one feeding at a time and see how that goes.
You are doing great and it sounds like you have the determination to be successful.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think you are really doing everything you can. It sounds like once her sucking strenghtens (assuming she is latching on well) she will nurse for longer periods and get the hindmilk she needs. How is your letdown? I remember mind would spray out like a hose! Does she seem hungry or is she content most of the time? She sounds happy. I am not sure if you will have to use the aids you mentioned but since you are so committed, I applaud the what you are doing. Plus, you nursed your first two. You are already a pro.

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