I have to breastfeeding questions this morning. Our son is currently 4 weeks old, we have an older daughter but she was formula fed so I need a bit of advice, please!
Our little guy is breastfed and feeding like an absolute champ, feeds 2 - 3 hours during both day and night, except for a window between about 4pm - 8pm where he wants to feed constantly (almost hourly). I'd really like to express milk and build up a supply, but unsure when best time would be? I'm worried that if I express milk I won't have any if he's hungry? My idea is to give the expressed milk to him during that time in the late afternoon when my boobs feel really empty. I've given him one feeding of nan (75ml) over the past few days, but ideally I'd rather give breastmilk. So I need to express at least 70ml of milk, but it feels like a lot!
Question 2, how do I stop him from feeding so often in the late afternoon? He's generally niggly in that time and seems to be drinking for comfort. I'm concerned that he's gaining too much weight (gained 1.1kg from birth to date, 4 week period).
I am not a breastfeeding expert at all, but it sounds very similar to what my LG did 3 years ago (I'm 34 weeks pregnant and curious to see how the second one will do). However my LG had colic so the niggliness you describe from 16:00 to 20:00 was quite bad in our case. I also got the idea that the constant feeding was more for comfort than for food, as giving extra feeds didnt really help.
I tried to comfort her in other ways (holding, rocking etc, she never took a dummy so that was out). I was also worried about too rapid weight gain and overfeeding so started giving her very very weak chamomile tea (Woolies make one for babies, and Vital makes one with honeybush which babies love) out of desperation, and that helped a bit. Nothing added, no sugar, just the tea in a bottle or syringe.
Eventually I ended up doing what they call "cluster feeding" (feeding more frequently, close together) in the evenings, but with off-the-boob time in between feeds. I did try to stretch out time between feeds to give my boobs a break but mostly ending up feeding every 1.5 hours. Remember, feeding more frequently will increase your milk production, so it is not a bad thing. And because her tummy was full from all the small but frequent feeds, my LG started sleeping quite well after the fussy period at night (she started sleeping through the night at 7 weeks).
All I can say is, hang in there mommy! This fussy period apparently peaks at 6 weeks and is normally over by 3 months (definitely applied in our case).
On expressing, try to express in the mornings after his first feed. This is usually when you have the most milk. Some moms recommend taking a warm shower first, not sure if this helps, but many swear by it. And use a good breast pump, that can really make huge difference.
It is normal for babies to want to clusterfeed during that time. The way I tried to think about it was to that baby makes his tummy very full then, so he can get a good long stretch of sleep, and so can you (hopefully!).
I would try to avoid giving formula, it a bit of a downward spiral when you give formula, you don't breastfeed, which signals breasts to produce less milk, leading you to give more formula, and so it goes. Your babs is gaining so well, he definitely gets enough milk from you, you don't need to feed him formula.
My second LG was also a champ feeder, at 5 months she doubled her birth-weight just on breastmilk. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at my local Breastfeeding Clinic assured me that you very rarely (like never) get an overweight exclusively breastfed baby. EBF babies regulate their intake better. In addition, the "fat" from breastfeeding is good healthy fat, so do not be concerned about overfeeding an EBF baby.
On expressing, I found that the easiest time to express is after the first and second morning feeds. Milk supply is usually more in the mornings. If you express right after the feed, your breast will have more time to fill up for the next feed.
It does not sound like you have an issue with supply, but if you want to increase it, try eating oats. Just normal jungle oats, or even the oats bars are great as a snack for a hungry breastfeeding mom!