Loss of Appetite & Milk Supply

Have you seen my appetite?

Have you seen my appetite?

Yesterday our lactation consultant came for a visit.

I mentioned last week that Jasper had been eating very little compared to normal and he was in acute discomfort,  so I figured it was just teething… The thing is that the teething monster disappeared this past weekend as quickly and mysteriously as he appeared – but still no tooth!

So now we are on week three of loss of appetite, no active teething and my supply is adjusting down to his decreased needs. Which would be ok I guess, except I still need to pump which is becoming very difficult. (Where I normally used to pump about 2.5 oz from one breast I am now lucky to get 2 – 2.5 oz  from both!)

When I say loss of appetite I’m talking about him taking about 1-3 ounces of his bottles at daycare when his normal intake is about 5 to 5.5 oz.

I really wanted to know how much he was getting from me when he nurses, which is one of the reasons I had the LC come because she does a before and after nursing weight check so we know exactly what he took in.

With our L.C. Julie in the room, Jasper was really distractable – he wanted to check her out and flirt rather than stay on the breast so he popped on and off and nursed for maybe 3 minutes. But then again, that is fairly normal behavior for him at this point.  In that time he took in 2.4 oz, a fairly big drop from his normal intake.

Julie said that loss of appetite is normal while teething (some babies even go on nursing strikes!) as is distractability at his age, but that we would need to plot his growth to know if it is a concern at this point. Clearly he is thriving (he is 18 lbs 1 oz) and not withering away, but my feeling is he’s living off previously accumulated chub!

Julie didn’t have her growth chart with her to plot his data points and of course I am too impatient to wait for her to email it to me so I found this great website babygrowthchart.org where you can enter your baby’s height, weight and the date they were recorded and it outputs the height and weight percentiles for you and plots them on a chart.

Here is Jasper’s:

weightchart

His weight is the shorter green line in the middle and the yellowish/whitish line in the middle is the 50th percentile. You can see how he started out above (at 68th% ) when born, and then hugs the 50% for a while, briefly going above it in December (56th%) and since then has steadily declined until now when he is at the 38th%.

Clearly his lack of appetite is causing a corresponding dip in his weight gain.  Interestingly though he has shot up in height from the 20th% when born to the 70th% now!  That at least is a relief.

Has anyone experienced a prolonged lack of appetite during teething (i.e. more than just the few days or week before the tooth comes in)? Do you all think I should make an appointment with the pediatrician? If not, how long do I let this go on before wondering if there something else wrong? Or is this nothing to be concerned about at all?

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Jen says:

Hi Ariana–as a follow up to my post above about my son, yesterday I finally saw a bit of tooth just under the surface of his gum. It looks like it might pop through any day now. He’s still not eating well (both b-milk and solids), but hopefully he’ll get some comfort once the tooth is finally out. (He’s been a real crankypants lately.) Good luck and hang in there!

ariana says:

Lelu, Jasper just went on strike today.. haven’t had the time (or the heart) to blog about it.

My new theory now is that it’s because my let down is taking so damn long he doesn’t want to stay on long enough to elicit it. Even when pumping I’m noticing it takes forever, but then when it does finally happen I’ll get almost 3 oz from one breast, so the milk is there its just not coming out!! GRRR.

Kimberly, wow, a second vote for mommynecklaces.. I’m definitely getting one, it’s just hard to choose one color and design because there are so many! Jasper also just broke the one necklace i’d been wearing to distract him.

I think you are absolutely right about the night nursing keeping supply up, this decline definitely corresponds with when Jasper started sleeping through the night. You trade one problem for another I guess!

Kimberly says:

Hi,
James is STILL eating less (it’s been at LEAST 3 weeks, maybe 4), although now he’s totally reverse cycling. Last night he must have nursed 5 times between midnight and 7 am! Needless to say, I am exhausted. But my supply has been fine, I haven’t altered my pumping schedule at all, so I’m actually a couple of bottles ahead of him. I think his night nursing might be helping to stimulate production too.

I am also a HUGE fan of mommynecklaces.com… check out the blog and you’ll see I’m a featured Mommy! ;) Raelynn is awesome, and her necklaces are addicting… I’m up to three now. They really do keep James’ attention where it needs to be, and gives him something to do other than pinch me while he nurses. :) I have a direct link to the website from my blog.

My advice: try to keep pumping and not stress about it, which will hinder your supply… easier said than done, I know. Try to do some compression and massage when pumping if you don’t already. And know that it WILL get better… he’s getting enough nutrition even on the lesser amount. Remember that our milk changes as the baby’s needs change, so maybe it’s becoming more concentrated so he needs less volume. :)

lelu says:

I nursed all five of my babies for a year and the only constant is that they are all different. I had one that nursed every two hours during the day and slept 12 hours at night. I also had one that never really fell into a schedule, he nursed when he needed to. But they all seemed to go through times when they weren’t as interested. Whether it be too many distractions or teething. But it wouldn’t take long and they were ravenous again. My baby just went on strike a few weeks ago. It was NOT comfortable. But after a couple of days he was back (may have had something to do with his ears).

Their weight gain always seems to slow down at about six months too. I always figured it was because they were so much more active, crawling around and getting into things.

Oh, and my third babies teeth took FOREVER to come in. Her gums would swell and I was sure they would cut through any day then the swelling would go down for a few weeks. That went on for a couple of months. Hopefully Jaspers won’t take that long.

Good luck trying to figure it all out. It would be nice if they could talk sometimes and tell you what’s going on. You’re doing a great job!

Kate says:

Look at those porky little leggies! I love it!!

Keri says:

We have had similar issues with feeding. Hadley will eat fine for a few days and then the next few days she will only finish half of each bottle. It is very frustrating… and while I have tried to blame it on teething, we still haven’t seen a tooth. I’m going to try the sippy cup, as suggested by another commenter. We have also tried just taking breaks and coming back to the bottle (within the proscribed one-hour feeding block) and sometimes that works.

I’ve discussed this loss of appetite with my doctor because I thought Hadley might be sick/ have an earache, etc., but my doctor didn’t seem too worried. And, Hadley wasn’t sick. My doctor did agree, though, that even while eating solid foods, a baby should maintain their milk supply since it is still the primary source of nutrition. It’s so hard when Hadley doesn’t want it, though! Overall, I have no real advice. Just wanted to share that I’m in the trenches with you. Good luck!

ariana says:

Jen, welcome to the no feeding club we’ve got going on over here :)

Jane, what a great friend you are.. those necklaces look great. I may have to order one right now. I also love that they call it “twiddling!”

Heather, I am very very familiar with homeopathy, we have tried teething tablets without much luck. Had never heard of hydrotherapy or the magic socks before. Very interesting..

heather says:

When my kids wee teething I would give them some homeopathy – arnica or teething tablets and I constantly did hydrotherapy ( magic socks). Check out this site and on the left you will see, What is Homeopathy and Hydrotherapy.

http://www.drheathermanleynd.com/whole-healthy-living

Good luck!

Jane says:

I haven’t had a child yet, but I did give a nursing necklace to a friend of mine as a gift when she was going through a similar situation with nursing.

Here’s the website:

http://www.mommynecklaces.com/nursingnecklaces.html

Jen says:

Hi! My son is a week older than Jasper and has been doing the same thing…no signs of teeth yet, but he’s been getting cranky and has not been eating well for weeks. He’s not that keen on solids either, so I just keep trying and hope for the best!

Alicia Parr says:

My son is close to Jasper’s age and was also feeding smaller amounts due to distractibility and what seemed to be teething discomfort. He was eating less, resulting in my supply being reduced, up until his 6 month growth spurt, which launched me back into full milk production mode. So, don’t worry, it comes back. Unfortunately, for a while he was reverse cycling, so I didn’t get much sleep while he caught up on his feedings. Well, he still does on days he doesn’t get enough Mommy time.

I also wanted to mention that there were a few episodes over the past couple months where it really seemed like he had teething discomfort but no signs of teeth. Then things would be fine for a while. Well, they finally popped out a couple weeks ago, and after a few days of fussing while they broke through, they don’t seem to bother him at all now. Until the next batch, I guess.

Regarding the distractibilty, I’ve discovered that he tends to focus better when I feed in reclined position on our bed. I guess that location is associated with half-asleep night feeds, so that’s my ace in the hole when he won’t feed properly in other locations.

ariana says:

Kari & Chantal, thanks for the company in my misery :)

When I went to nurse him at daycare at lunchtime I took him into the kitchen and he did seem to stay on the breast longer that way.. I guess I’ll have to be more vigilant about keeping the distractions to a minimum. I’m sure you both have tried that already though.

Also, if you are pumping the LC showed me how to kind of hold the breast at the top like it’s a water balloon (nice imagery!) and it really helps the pump get more milk out much faster. If you can manage to do it while nursing it also makes the flow faster so baby maybe gets more in the limited time they are willing to bother being at the breast!

chantal says:

This post comes at exactly the right time for me! Annora has started weaning during the day, and sometimes we have trouble getting solids into her as well but most of the time she goes to town on the solids. I’ve tried giving her formula to supplement my breastmilk but she won’t take either. It’s stressing me out!

kari says:

YES YES and YES… feeling the same way over here. just when i think we are on a roll and getting into some kind of a “norm” – it all changes.
Liam is also teething, and his nursing is exactly the way you describe Jaspers. He is SO distracted when nursing, pops on and off the breast, I have NO idea how much he is getting, and my supply is super-down. I have been supplementing w/ formula at daycare, so I am down to nursing just at morning and bedtime, but he really seems uninterested with that…
so – here i am again, same problems no advice. i am sorry – am not much help – other than in the “you are not alone” category.

ariana says:

jbhat, if by analytical you mean “OCD”, then yes I am aware I have a problem ;)

Samm, I don’t believe it’s recommended to replace any of baby’s breast milk or formula with solids before the first year. Solids at this age are supposed to be on top of their regular milk intake and in no way interfere with it. If it does, then the solids should go, not the milk!

Farah, that’s sort of what I’m afraid of.. I just about started crying yesterday when the L.C said “weaning has begun!”. She clarified that it can take up to a year or more, but just hearing that it has even started made me weepy.

Marybeth, I’m scared to jinx it by saying this but (knock on wood) the sleeping is good at the moment.. he wakes only at 4am or so to nurse at night. That’s an interesting take on it though, I like it!

I don’t have any suggestions on milk supply or appetite, but hopefully I can ease your fears about the growth chart. My baby went from the 40th percentile to 70th between his last two checkups. The pedi said that we could pretty much count on him dropping to a lower percentile in his next visit, since weight fluctuates so much in “average-size” babies. If they’re not unusually big or small, it’s ok to be all over the charts for the first year.

How is he sleeping? My gut tells me that’s a huge indication of if baby is actually getting enough to eat. My 8.5 month-old very recently started taking 4 oz bottles instead of his usual 6 ounces at a time. He’s consuming (in total) about one less bottle than he used to because of this decline, but he’s sleeping better than ever and also in good spirits! Because of that, I’m not going to worry too much about it.

Samm Ivri says:

DD had the exact same symptoms starting at about 5 months. She gets distracted as soon as she’s no longer starving. I thought she might be craving real food (solids). And sure enough, when i started giving her more fruit, cereal and veggies, she ate them even when she didnt want milk. I think that they just get tired of milk and want some variety. Can’t say I blame em!

Farah says:

Yes, I did put breast milk in the sippy cup.IU also did purified water every now and again.

I did try fenugreek, it did help some. But It seemed like it was an uphill battle. I would get my supply to increase to only get my period. I would up the doses of the fenugreek more to try and compensate. I was getting frustrated with both. The pumping – It seemed I just could not keep up and the fenurgreek had some interesting side effects (the smelling of mable syrup, color of pee, and made my stomach very upset). After 1.5 months. and not being able to get Austin to breastfeed. I stopped. I was overwhelmed and extremely tired and frustrated.

jbhat says:

My feeling is that you should let your supply adjust to meet his needs. If he amps back up again, so must your supply because that’s the way the old dairy works.

Have you ever taken one of those personality-type surveys? You are an Analyzer. In such a good way!

ariana says:

Trying,
Yes, he loves his solids! It’s just that everything I read says they have to keep their milk intake up and not let it decrease because it has so much more nutrition.. so I’ve been making sure he only gets solids right after a bottle etc.. I’m so worried about my supply that my instinct is to cut back on the solids hoping he’ll eat more at the breast, but obviously I don’t want to starve him. It’s never easy is it? ;)

tryingin2007 says:

oy.

is j still enjoying solids? if ginny fusses with her bottle she is always happy to nibble on some rice cereal with some puree.

I’m so terrified of the teething! there must be something happening because we go through MANY bibs a day. crazy!

ariana says:

EEK! Thanks Farah for that, it REALLY helps to at least know I’m not alone and that this is fairly normal behavior. Interesting about the up and down movement – I swear if I hadn’t seen the blood blisters the nurse showed me last week I would doubt he was teething at all from what I can see or feel in there..

I never thought of giving breast milk in the sippy cup (he LOVES the sippy cup!). Is that what you did or did you mean water? Great idea also to mix milk in with solids.

Did you do anything to try to increase your supply or did you just let it adjust down to his needs?

Farah says:

We have been dealing with loss of appetite while teething Since Austin started teething around 4 months. His growth chart was also affected. He started out in the 75% on weight and dropped below the 45%. Thankfully he has plenty of chub to compensate. Around 6 months, He started hating to nurse and by 7.5 months, he flat out refused to do it. He would bite me and cause blood/pain on my part. We ended up just pumping for a few weeks, but my supply took a huge hit. He will only drink 3oz(maybe 4 if lucky). This has been going on for months. (When I notice this trend – I just offer the bottle every 3 hours in hopes to get more nutrients. This was also a suggestion from my ped) I have had numerous meetings with our ped. Her concern was to make sure that we have 4-6 wet diapers a day. Introduce a sippy cup. Make sure to introduce solids. The solids also have liquid in them. I would puree sweet potatoes and mix in breast milk/formula to make them creamy and smooth. I did this with lots of his foods. I was informed that teething can last for months before you may even see any results. Also, the teeth move up and down in the gums while teething. This is why one day drool and cranky baby exist and the next day minimal drool and crank. When Austin gears up for a week or two if teething, We still go through this routine. It seems to ebb and flow.

Wishing you an enormous amount of patience and luck.

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