Sunday, January 16, 2011

in which I over-analyze my baby's poop

WARNING: If you're not a parent yourself, you probably have zero interest in reading this post.  Heck, even if you are a parent, you probably still have little interest in reading about baby poop and breastmilk.  I'm writing this out more for my own benefit, and if I get some feedback or advice on it then all the better.

So, about a week ago I cut out dairy & some other foods, and also started using thrush/yeast creams on Quinn's bottom along with regular diaper creams.  His bottom has been slowly but surely getting better-- some of the rash is still there, but the overall trend has been towards healing.  I'd even switched him over to cloth diapers, figuring he didn't need the heavy creams as much anymore so could use lighter ones with a flushable liner and be ok.

Then yesterday I noticed some new, fresh redness developing.  Ugh.

Then my sister said something that made me get out my Womanly Art of Breastfeeding book (the latest edition, which BTW I strongly recommend to all breastfeeding moms even if you've breastfed before-- this book's already been a big help) and read up on oversupply and over-active let-down.  Here are some of the symptoms related to having an oversupply/over-active let-down of breastmilk:

  • Fussiness and/or gassiness

  • Frequent stools, often green, curdy and mucusy

  • Gulping, gasping and choking while nursing

  • Excessive weight gain

  • Apparent lack of "comfort" nursing

  • Quinn has shown all these symptoms, not all the time but off and on pretty much since birth.  The past 2-3 days have been classic examples of "lactose overload"-- he'd get overwhelmed while nursing and pull off, then get sprayed in the face by my milk.  His poops were green and mucousy.  He's been super gassy again, and getting really upset about it.  And, the flaring up of his rash, which is apparently another sign of an overactive supply (all the extra lactose & sugar in the foremilk irritates the gut/intestines, which causes more acidic poops).  My supply seems to fluctuate a lot-- some days/weeks it seems fine, then for a few days/weeks it'll seem to go overboard.  I haven't thought it was an issue, since the main symptom I remembered as being associated with oversupply was green poops, and Q tends to have a variety of colored poops-- yes, many green, but also yellow & orange.  But if the screaming, gas, and rash are related to this then I want to try to get it under control.  I don't remember this being an issue with D, but apparently mothers tend to make more milk with each baby so oversupply is more likely to happen with later babies.

    So, here we go again.  He's back on disposables (I can't be sure if the cloth was part of what's irritated him again).  I'm also trying to only nurse from one side per feeding, to make sure he's getting plenty of hindmilk and may even try block nursing (using one side only for 2-3 hours) if necessary.  And, all the usual stuff-- keep using the creams that seemed to be helping, frequent baths, air-out time, etc.

    Part of the annoying thing here is that many of these "symtoms" can be normal.  I'd taken Q's occasional fussiness, LOUD gas, and explosive (we haven't had many blow-outs, but if you hear him poop you'll understand why I think that term applies) mucousy poops to be just a normal part of being a newborn.  But past a certain threshold, I guess, they become warning signs of a problem, and how do you know where that line is?

    And this is the part of parenthood that I despise.  Something is wrong, and there's a million different things that could be causing the problem.  You try a bunch of different stuff, and can't know which (or if any) of them is helping at all.  At least each time I find a new possible solution it feels like I have a new "plan of action" and feel a bit more hopeful again.  One thing is for sure-- I'm ready to be able to change my baby's diaper and not see red, sore spots every single time.


    1. "Beavis, that's enough about poop."
      "Okay, let's talk about WEE-WEE!!"

      We have green, mucusy poop. But when he pulls off while nursing he doesn't get milk in his face, nor do I leak... I've been eating oatmeal and such to increase production so I pump enough for him to have the next day... maybe he's not getting enough hindmilk from pumping (I need longer pumping sessions)? But he's been eating from the tap yesterday and today, still have green, mucusy poop... (And he spits up a lot, too. Well, "a lot" according to a first-time momma with nothing to compare to...)


      Also, he's STILL peeing out of his diapers. Pretty much EVERY SINGLE ONE. Even the gFlappers, and (stripped) gCloth with half-inserts. I DO NOT WANT TO USE DISPOSABLES! Last night, even though we started with the triple-layer bamboo gFlapper insert, he peed out of it and had to be changed two more times through the night, after soaking his sleepers.

      Are his supoerhuman peeing powers related to feeding/supply issues???

      I have a breastfeeding support group meeting tomorrow night. I'll whine about my woes, and can ask about yours, too.

    2. I went through a similar experience with my little one. It started when he was about a month old and I didn't really get it figured out for a couple months, partly because well-meaning people tried to convince me that nothing was wrong. But he often cried when I tried to nurse him, or pulled away, and he was fussy and had diaper rash, too.
      I finally talked to a lactation consultant friend of my mother's, and she got us sorted out. I nursed on one side only for set amounts of time (starting with 3 hours and gradually increasing to 5 or 6 hour blocks). I let him nurse as often as he wanted during that time but only from one side, until that side was completely empty. Then I switched and did the same on the other side. I definitely found one side was way more productive than the other, so the blocks weren't necessarily the same length on each side.
      Once I started this routine the choking and fussiness were much improved within a couple weeks, and I eventually started feeding on both sides again. He's still nursing happily at 18 months.
      Good luck!

    3. No specific advice, just lots of support and understanding here. Now you say it, I remember considering over-active letdown as a possible factor with L. I did try block feeding for awhile and it didn't change much. And yes, where is the line between "normal" and a "problem?" It's so hard to know. Hang in there! (To both you and Criss!)



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