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My Trouble with Breastfeeding

By MadelinePetersen |

Recently, my husband and I noticed that Tate seemed to be getting more whiny. After nearly every feeding, he would start fussing and rooting around as if he hadn’t eaten. So we decided to offer him some formula right after a feeding, just to settle him down, and as soon as he had a few ounces, he was as calm as could be. After supplementing him a few times this way, it occurred to us that even after a long feeding, he was actually hungry.

I ended up asking myself the dreaded question no new mother wants to ask: Was I not producing enough milk for my baby?

Now, after almost three weeks at home, Tate is nursing at least every 3 hours and we are having to supplement a bottle of formula at least twice a day.

I am glad we figured out what the problem was, but the fact that I just am not producing enough breast milk started making me feel really guilty. As a mother, one of my main roles is to supply my baby with this life sustaining, immune building food source. And for whatever reason, I am struggling to fulfill that role. And as advanced as formula has gotten, it seems pretty unanimous that doctors agree breast milk is the best food source for your baby.

I have been told by a couple other moms that taking Fenugreek can really step up milk production (I am on my way to Whole Foods to buy some today). I am really hoping that it will help me keep up with his appetite for as long as possible.

Have any of you experienced this? How did you deal with it (both in an emotional and physical sense)? I would love to hear another mother’s perspective.

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About MadelinePetersen



Madeline blogs and tweets about budget-friendly clothes, modest apparel, sales, her obsession with pop culture, and her pudgy little baby, Tate, on her personal blog, Uber Chic for Cheap. A former Babble contributor, she currently resides in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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27 thoughts on “My Trouble with Breastfeeding

  1. Natasha Carter says:

    You’re not alone! Fenugreek can help but the most important factor in milk supply is “Supply and Demand”. After the 9th day, your body will begin producing according to how frequently you nurse your baby. No more.

    You can increase your supply by putting him to the breast more often. Every 3 hours …not recommended by the experts.

    I urge you to research “Growth Spurts” and how they affect nursing. Also research recommended nursing habits for babies that are exclusively breastfed. is a great fact based website. I also recommend Dr. Sears website for great breastfeeding information.

    Whatever you decide…you’re a great mom!

  2. Amy S says:

    I have had the same problem since my daughter Delia was born in September. My supply was so low I ended up trying a number of supplements including: fenugreek, goats rue, malunggay and the prescription domperidone. At best I still had to supplement 1-2 feedings and at worse we were supplementing about 75% of her feedings.
    It is very hard to come to terms with low supply and the feelings of not being able to provide for your baby. What helped me was to first come to terms with formula, it isn’t poison and it isn’t going to hurt your baby no matter what you read or hear from la leche and other websites/books. Second, go see a lactation specialist, they really do help and are worth the extra money.
    And third, don’t beat yourself up about it, it happens, it happens to alot of women, and the most important thing besides keeping baby healthy, is keeping mom healthy!! Hope this helps!!!

  3. Katie says:

    I totally get why you are supplementing and would probably have done the same in your shoes. With that said, it is at cross-purposes with your goal of producing more. You need your baby to nurse more, not less, in order to cue your body to produce more milk. If you satisfy him with formula, he won’t request another meal and remind your boobs that they have a job to do:)

    I suggest seeing an LC for a comprehensive plan, but adding pumping sessions in between nursing sessions is a good way to increase supply, even if you don’t produce too much. I have the opposite problem – too much milk! My babies gags and sputters when she nurses and often doesn’t want to nurse at all. Bfing isn’t always easy. I hope you are able to up your supply. Good luck!

  4. Katy E says:

    One thing you can do is make sure you pump your breasts during the formula feeding (as in have someone else feed him while you pump). During the day, make sure your breasts get stimulated at least every 2 hours, be it nursing baby or pumping. That will help. Drink lots of water. Still, a small percentage of women have a hard time making enough milk and have to supplement. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some breast milk is better than none.

  5. Naomi says:

    I agree with Katie, you need to nurse more. You should try feeding every 1-2 hours instead of every 3 hours. 3 hours is just not often enough for your baby at this age. I know it’s a big pain but the more you nurse, the more milk you make. I relied solely on nursing and didn’t need the supplements at all. But my baby was nursing 10-12 times in a day. Follow your babies’ cues and nurse on demand. Don’t follow the clock just yet.

  6. Rosstwinmom says:

    I know this is crazy, but in Europe they say a little Guinness Beer helps with milk too!

    But I agree that more nursing is one step you should take. A baby that little doesn’t need to be on a schedule. Demand feeding will help if that is the problem. I didn’t make enough milk for my twins, but it turned out okay. They are pretty healthy 3 year olds.

  7. MadelinePetersen says:

    I should have added that we aren’t on a strict feeding schedule, sometimes he nurses far more often than 3 hours and sometimes its a bit longer. He’s on no strict schedule yet. Thanks for all your comments!

  8. cse says:

    I went through this with my first child. I was extremely reluctant to supplementing with formula because I was convinced I would lose the little milk suppy I had – and the lactation consultants I was working with fed that fear. For weeks, I was nursing and pumping around the clock (not to mention taking numerous herbs, domperidone, etc.) and my daughter was hungry and not gaining weight. We were both exhausted and miserable until I finally found an LC who helped me create a workable plan that included some formula. It was extremely emotional for me because I felt like a failure as a mother. But eventually we found our groove, my daughter is healthy and thriving, and my one regret is that I didn’t supplement sooner (it turns out that my low milk supply is due to a medical condition). I just had my second child and he is a more voracious eater than the first, and when my LC advised me to give him some formula I didn’t hesitate.

    There is lots of good advice above but my two cents is 1) listen to your instincts 2) find an LC you really trust and 3) take it easy on yourself – you are doing your best, and that’s you would ever ask of your child.

  9. E. says:

    When I discovered my supply was low, I went on a combination of herbs (fenugreek and blessed thistle) and it made a huge difference within 48 hours. Check out for dosage guidelines. Eventually I switched to a domperidone prescription because the drugs were covered whereas I had to pay for the herbs out of pocket. I didn’t notice any change in my supply when I made the switch. Nurse as often as you can. It is a very tough predicament to be in – as CSE says, take it easy on yourself – you are doing your best!

  10. Jess says:

    Have you tried pumping after each feeding for at least 10 min? Even if no milk is coming out it will send the signal to your body to make more. Anytime I feel I am running low doing this makes a big difference within 24 hrs. :)

  11. Lauren says:

    In Europe they USED to say that Guinness (or any other stout) helped to increase milk supply. It’s definitely not something currently recommended. File that one under old wives’ tales, I’m afraid.

  12. Lindsey says:

    I thought I had the same problem too. I was so worried and so stressed about it. My baby was eating every hour. It would take him 30 minutes to eat, I would pump for 10 right after, and so that left me with….yep you did the math correct…. 20 minutes to myself (my two year old) and then he was rooting again and the process started over. But he was gaining weight. Is your baby gaining weight? Thats the big question. Supply and demand, supply and demand, supply and demand. Supplementing will only decrease your milk supply. I know its easier said than done, but you can do it. If you do decide to do formula your still a good mom!

  13. jodi says:

    you are not alone… my son kept losing weight after he was born, and soon i was nursing, supplementing, and pumping… it was stressful and nerve-wracking and i, too, felt guilty… but he was a pokey eater, which made me a pokey producer – simple as that… he eventually got better and i was able to just nurse, but i never felt like i was providing him enough… when he went to daycare – we gave them formula and he gained 2 pounds in 1 week… oh, and i also tried Fenugreek – not sure if it helped me (maybe for a week or so)…

  14. tara says:

    i’ve had the ‘am i making enough?’ panic at least a handfull of times in my 4 month old’s life… what i’ve noticed works best for upping my milky milk is to pump an extra time or two a day. for me, i’d pump at night before i went to bed (usually about 2 hours after his last feed- he nurses every 2 hours cause he sleeps through the night). after 2 days or so, and drinking plenty of water, i’d notice i was getting more and more at that night time pump session, and i just stored it in the freezer. once i had a little stash, i started giving him an extra few ounces in a bottle after his night feeding.

  15. Marie says:

    Remember that your baby gets the health benefits of nursing from any amount of milk, so you’re an awesome mom for taking care of yourself and supplementing if it’s needed. Work with a lactation consultant you trust who isn’t nuts about exclusive breastfeeding, and if baby’s gaining weight and you’re all happy, don’t sweat it. Good luck!

  16. Deena says:

    My pediatrician recommended Ovaltine–and it definitely works!

  17. Kate says:

    i started taking fenugreek + blessed thistle because i had gotten to the point of having to supplement 3-4 times a day, no fun. after 24 hours, i was producing far more milk! at 5 months, we’re exclusively breastfeeding :) :) give it a go! the combo worked far better for me than just fenugreek.

  18. Roni says:

    There should be no guilt. You are feeding your child the best you can. Nothing wrong with that!

    That being said… nurse more! like everyone said. In two days you should notice a bump up in production. I’d also nurse or pump at least ever two hours regardless of what the baby is asking for. At least for a few days don’t go go more than 2 hours without stimulating the nipple by BF or pumping.

    I think that would be more successful then eating or drinking anything. IMO

  19. Kim Rock says:

    I went through the exact same thing. After my baby was born, he was struggling with weight gain (he was actually loosing weight). Before I supplimented with any formula, I would pump after every feeding (feedings were every two hours) for like 30 minutes hoping that would increase my supply. So, feeding went like this for me, nurse, suppliment with breast milk I had previously pumped with a syringe, then pump for 30 minutes. I did this for a week…went back to the pediatrician & lactation consultant for a weight check and….baby still lost weight. So, at this point, I supplimented formula the next week and for his next weight check he had gained weight. In the meantime, I was continuing to nurse every 2 hours and pump for 30 minutes afterwards. Slowly I tried to get rid of the formula, however everytime I did…he stopped gaining weight again. This went on for months! I tried EVERYTHING! I took fenugreek and I tried to relax as much as possible, but nothing seemed to increase my supply.

    So, I know how you are feeling. I cried many times as my baby was always hungry after feedings and would scream because he was still hungry. I felt like he most inadequate mother in the World because I wasn’t able to do the one thing mothers are supposed to be able to, feed their child.

    Anyways, this kind of got long, but when I read your post I felt like I had to share my story to let you know you are not alone! I hope something works for you. On a positive note however, I continued to nurse my baby until he was 7 months old and just supplimented formula after each feeding. Looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have stressed out about it so much and just enjoyed my baby more!

  20. Natalie says:

    I have to echo the advice that says nurse more often. My older one was a two hour nurser for many months, and though it was frustrating at times, she nursed exclusively for 6 months and I began weaning her just before her second birthday. If you’re adding formula, you’re not telling your body to make more milk, you’re telling it that what it’s doing now is fine, but that doesn’t sound like what you’re wanting to tell it. You can do it! Stay optimistic.

  21. Stephanie says:

    I would echo all the voices who say to pump while he’s getting the bottle and any time he’s going long between feedings. With my two, I was supplementing with extra breast milk once or twice a day for probably the first month or more- but by pumping, I was able to make the bottles breast milk and not formula fairly quickly. By about 6 weeks, we were able to stop supplementing. I think it just took my two that long to figure it out…..

  22. Jennifer H. says:

    In addition to the herbs – oatmeal! Eat it once or twice a day. Water! Drink water, more water, and some more water. Every time you sit down to nurse, have a glass of water. It really does help. And let that baby nurse whenever he wants, however long he wants – even if he just finished eating half an hour before! If he’s still acting hungry, put him back on the boob. It’s supply and demand. The more nipple stimulation he gives, the more milk you’ll produce. Also invest in a simple, cheap hand pump – when he’s done eating, pump with that for 5 minutes per side = it’s more stimulation. You’ll make more milk.

  23. Jennifer H. says:

    Oh yea, also, he shoudl be eating every 1-2 hours, NOT every three hours. At night he can go a 3-4 hour block, but during the day he should be getting hungry much more often than three hours. Formula babies are 3-4 hours, not breastmilk babies.
    Please check out the Kelly Mom website! Their articles on “low milk” will help you.

  24. Mel says:

    Nursing every 3 hours for a 3 week old is not often enough. Try nursing him those 2 times instead of bottles and it will do wonders. Its amazing how often they want to eat but its IMPERATIVE to get a good supply now, this early in the game. WIth my daughter she ate every 90min to 2 hours and she took a long time to eat so it was exhausting at first, but it got better. They also go thru growth spurts at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, it never stops really so those days you may find you are nursing more frequently, especially in the afternoon/evening when milk production is at its lowest. Cluster feeding at night is definitely common at that time too and is good to do right before bed so you can get a longer stretch of sleep in. Definitely try nursing lying down at night too to help w/ your sleep.
    As far as production goes, the best way to increase supply is to increase frequency either by nursing or pumping with nursing being ideal. Extra ways to help are fenugreek, mother’s milk tea, oatmeal (regular not instant), and lots and lots of water and of course keeping up on your calories. Gatorade always seemed to help me too for some reason.

    Also, check out – a great website and resource for many breastfeeding questions. Good luck!

    Mel, nursing mom to a 3 year old daughter

  25. Colleen says:

    My baby girl is turning 6 months old tomorrow and we went through exactly what you’re describing at 7 weeks. She wasn’t gaining weight well, was jaundiced and not pooping, and very fussy. My mom finally insisted on feeding her a bottle of formula and she was a different baby. We started off supplementing a bottle or two a day, but she very quickly figured out that the bottle was where she was able to satisfy her hunger, so she rejected breastfeeding. I felt a bit cheated that I wasn’t able to breastfeed her (I breastfed my son for 14 months) but pumped until she was over 5 months old, so I felt like I gave it my all. What is important is that baby is getting enough to eat. Fenugreek made a little bit of a difference for me, but no more than 4 or 5 extra ounces a day. Good luck and try not to feel guilty, it certainly isn’t your fault and you are doing your best!

  26. Holli Coats says:

    Lots of good advice…

    I had a similar problem, but more breastfeeding didn’t solve it. My 4 day old ended up in the ER with an IV because my milk hadn’t come in. When it did, she still wasn’t getting enough. Even with all sorts of supplements and the help of a fantastic lactation consultant we had to supplement formula. It was hard to not feel guilty about switching to formula, but in the end it made a world of difference for us. That being said, I am so happy I tried the breastfeed, bottlefeed, pump routine at every feeding for a month, because I know I did all I could. I wrote more about the experience and my feelings as I went through it here:

    The best thing I can tell you is to follow your instincts!

  27. sara says:

    Have you tried an SNS ? It will allow you to supplement with formula or breastmilk at the breast, so you can stimulate your breast to make more milk. Much more efficient than pumping.

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