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Weighty Issues

March 26, 2014

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I don’t know about everyone else, but I thought that having a bigger baby would mean that issues like low blood sugar and jaundice wouldn’t be as likely as they are in babies with lower birth weights. I was also under the impression, probably because we had no feeding issues with Molly, that larger weight babies had solid digestive systems.

Apparently I was wrong! We’ve encountered a few problems in the three short weeks that Oliver has been with us.

Problem # 1: Despite the fact that I did not have gestational diabetes, Oliver’s sugar levels were checked automatically at birth because of his size. In order to pass the test and allow us to go home, he needed to get four readings above the recommended level. The testing began a few hours after his birth. He did fine on the first three, but the fourth was low. A low reading meant we had to start the testing process all over again. Unfortunately the tests continued to be low.
Quite frustrating, since I was nursing him frequently but as it was explained to me, my body might not be producing enough colostrum for such a big baby.
We talked about it with our nurse and decided to supplement with formula until my milk came in.
I had intended to breast feed exclusively and didn’t want to upset the bacteria in Oliver’s gut with formula, but this was one of those times when I’m glad it exists as an option.
We discussed the plan with our nurse:
Step one – nurse him on both sides
Step two – cup feed him 20 mls of formula. Cup feeding would avoid nipple confusion.
Step three – pump to encourage my milk to come in faster

We started doing this the night of his birthday and by the following morning his sugars were back up and we had our positive test result! It worked! We did decide to switch to doing tube on breast though, as the delivery method for the formula. He was able to consume it a lot better since he wanted on my breast anyways.
The positive test results meant we were able to go home. We needed to keep up the process until my milk came in, so we took the necessary supplies with us. As soon as my milk came in (day 3) we stopped using the formula. Problem #1 solved. Onto problem #2.

Upon discharge, Oliver’s bilirubin levels were elevated, indicating jaundice. We were able to leave but had to come back the next day for outpatient testing of his levels. Not a big deal; we did the same thing with Molly. The follow up test showed his levels were still high but not enough to need treatment. Since my milk had come in at that point, I was confident that would solve the issue (by encouraging him to poop more) but at the second follow up test on the Monday following his birth, his levels were quite high and we were told he would need light therapy.

I was devastated. Of course I knew that jaundice wasn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but I wasn’t prepared for the fact that we’d need another night back in the hospital. A had to go home, deal with Molly and come back withy overnight bag. I was allowed to stay with him and we were given a private room with a bed for me. We didn’t want Molly to be away from both of us again for the night and so for the second time in three years (the first was the night before our wedding), A and I spent the night apart.

Oliver was amazing the whole time he was under the lights. Stripped down to his diaper, he was warm and cozy within the confines of the light therapy unit. I was able to take him out to nurse and change him, which I did every couple of hours. He slept pretty much the entire time, for which I was thankful. I was a hot mess of post partum hormones and don’t think I would have handled it if he’d been fussy and I was on my own.

After almost 24 hours he was tested again (and again…the lab lost the first round of blood taken…argh!) and the results came back that his levels were in acceptable limits. Yahoo! We could go home!

The last couple of weeks we’ve seen his jaundice gradually disappear. His eyes are still a bit yellow but he’s fine. He’s nursing like a champ and we have corrected earlier shallow latch issues (I had similar problems with Molly at first) but we’ve encountered problem #3: gas and reflux.

Our little man is a spitter upper. Sometimes he’s a happy spitter, sometimes not so much. He spits up after almost every feed. And it’s pretty much a guarantee that within a half hour after he eats he’s fussy with gas, be it from needing to burp or toot. I’ve done some reading and it could be from any number of things: immature digestive system, fast let down and over supply of breastmilk, allergy or sensitivity to something I’ve eaten etc.

I’m certain he’s gaining weight and he has ample wet and dirty diapers, so I’m not too concerned about whether he’s getting enough. It’s more that I hate seeing him suffer and it’s frustrating to deal with for hours at a time. It’s a vicious cycle: he eats, spits up, has gas and then is hungry again. Repeat. Molly had an iron stomach and I can count on one hand the number of times she spat up as an infant.

As far as trying to treat the issue,
gas drops don’t seem to be effective but gripe water seems to help a bit. An after he eats, we burp him extensively and I hold him upright for at least 15 minutes.

We have an appointment with our doctor on Monday, but in the meantime I’m beginning to phase out cow dairy from my diet. It’s the most likely sensitivity, if that’s the issue, and I eat a lot of cow dairy. Cheese, butter, yogurt, sour cream; All are a regular part of my diet, so it’s not going to be easy but if it means our life with baby is a little less demanding and it eases his discomfort, then it’ll be worth it. I’m hoping it’s just a case of his little body needing some time to catch up.

If anyone has any suggestions for reflux and gas, I’m open to hearing them!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Meaghan permalink
    April 9, 2014 5:23 pm

    Charlotte would throw up after pretty much every feeding. It’s not always acid reflux- especially if it doesn’t seem to bother them. Some babies just over eat. Just keep plenty of bibs/burp cloths on hand – it will disappear after about 6 months.

  2. Lyndsay permalink
    April 9, 2014 6:08 pm

    My son was very gassy as well. My midwife recommended biogaia – a probiotic for infants to help their digestive system / flora build up a bit faster. It’s a liquid so you can drop on your nipple before nursing so it’s easy to administer or mix with breast milk in a bottle. I picked it up at shoppers drug mart, it is behind the counter as it needs to be refrigerated. The only thing is that it’s pretty pricey- I think around $30 for 5ml if I remember!! But worth it if it actually does help (it’s hard to know for sure!)

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