Monday, August 09, 2010

Quick while he naps

Saturday Gabriel - or Gici, as we call him here - it means Piglet in Albanian - was one month old, and I meant like crazy to write a nice blog post about him but, well, it's been a little hectic around here.

He's been gaining A POUND A WEEK. Fat rolls have developed around his thighs, his wrists are creased and his hands dimpled. He's about to bust out of his newborn-sized onesies. He feels like a huge chunk of baby in my arms so it always takes me by surprise when people see him for the first time and say "look, how tiny!"

Our main saga this first month of life with Gabriel - apart from Valerie's angst - has been his gassiness. About 10 days ago it got to the point where I feared he had acid reflux, and we took him to the doctor, who said no, with that kind of weight gain it was more likely overfeeding. He was nursing every hour or hour and a half round the clock - ok, maybe 2 hours at night - and spitting up after every feeding and often in between.

I'd always heard that you can't overfeed a breastfed baby, so this was surprising to me, but we followed the recommendation to use a pacifier to space his feedings slowly further and further apart with the goal of 3 hours apart in the day and 4 hours apart in the night. And it worked, as far as the spit-up goes. For a good 12 hours after our visit to the doctor he was even fairly gas-free. But the gassiness started up again in the form of grunting and fussing every time I laid him down to sleep. I knew from our first peds appt. that he swallows a lot of air when he nurses - very noisy eater, lots of clicks and whistles - so I was just working on burping him as much as possible, and we also started using gas drops to try to get the burps out better.

So Thursday I went to an "ask-a-nurse" group for new mothers; the nurse there is a lactation consultant as well and very knowledgable. It was GREAT - I can't wait for the next one. :-) As an LC, of course she said "you can't overfeed a breastfed baby," and instead confirmed what I'd been reading online - that the problem was an oversupply of milk. He wanted to eat constantly because he was only getting the thin sweet foremilk and not enough of the richer hindmilk. She recommended pumping off the excess after feeding him, seeing how much it was, and then pumping that off before feeding him the next time, slowly tapering down the amount of excess milk pumped off, until we reached an equilibrium. Well, I did what she suggested and got an astonishing 4 oz. of milk off AFTER he'd nursed! Just on one side! The odd thing was, though, that was it for excess. The very next time I nursed him I had just enough to fill him up, with less than 1/2 an oz after. So we have reached our equilibrium there.

The other thing the nurse said is that Gabriel has an unusually high palate; the roof of his mouth is domed quite high. This is not a problem per se, it just means it makes it hard for him to maintain a tight latch and that's why he swallows so much air. She said we could try using a nipple shield to help his latch. I finally went and got one and figured out how to use it, but he doesn't like it - he bites down now when I use it so I'm not sure it's a solution.

So that leaves us with just burping him. During the day it's easy; I'm up and about and I can carry him around in the front carrier (either the baby bjorn or the ella roo wrap) and in that position he eventually burps it all out on his own and is quite happy. Nights are harder. I can spend an hour after nursing him getting all the burps out, only to have to get up again a half hour later to get another bubble out. I think also at night I'm just not as patient or as alert and so we end up doing this up-and-down dance for up to five hours. I'm pretty exhausted.

Valerie never really needed burping so it was a cinch to nurse her lying down and then we'd both drift off to sleep.

oops - he's awake. More later.


Heather said...

We used those gas drops with every "meal" for the first few months. Those things are life savers! Hope you can find what works for him.

Rachel said...

It's funny how differently kids do things, even with the same genetics. I'm glad things are going well. I hope you figure out the gassiness thing. I never really worried about burping during the middle of the night feedings, but then again my kids didn't seem too gassy.

Anita said...

The LC sounds like she's had the most helpful advice so far! Glad you were able to talk to her.