I feel like I've failed at BF

(35 Posts)
horseynewmum Tue 09-Oct-12 20:40:14

My DD is now 20 weeks and I have been EBF since birth. DD weight has dropped from 75th centile to 25th after birth and I have fought against putting her on formula even tho HV said its for the best.

I went to a different clinic the other week and saw another HV as I felt DD had lost weight, she lost 3oz in 4 weeks, and is now on 9th centile. Was advised to take DD to drs and the doctor cant find any medical reason why she losing/not putting on weight to the degree she should.

I now have to see dr once a week, HV at clinic once a week asnd have a home visit once a week and now have to give her a top up of formula.

I feel like I've been bullied into it and its making me feel very low and a failure. I feel DD is doing well, she feeds on demand,feeds for 30-45mins at a time, comes of breast when she wants, sleeps all night, has plenty wet nappies, and is a happy alert baby. I feel if she was hungry shouldnt be like this.

I want whats best for her but I'm finding it hard to accept the top up

Boardiegirl Tue 09-Oct-12 20:55:41

Aww u poor ole thing! Plz dnt feel like a failure, uv bf her up to now n thats wots made her the happy, content, alert baby u describe. U did that! U n yor body alone! So shes havin a topup, thats ok, if she was older and ate all yor homecooked meal but then wanted a cookie ud say ahh thats ok, at least shes had all the goodness i cooked for her first! Just think of it that way now. I had to completely stop bf my DC at 6wks due to a chemical imbalance btwn us; he got thrush in his mouth, gave it to my nipples and then id pass it back etc etc. i felt rly bad at the time paricularly as id fed my other 3 DCs with no probs even wen i was hospitalised with one of them. However, i got over it by telling myself continually that it wasnt my fault and id done my best. that son is now 22 and doing just fine lol. U did yor best too and still are doing so. Yor babys getin the best care from the medics, the best method of feeding from u, oh and incidentally a lil top up. Ur doing great xx

girliefriend Tue 09-Oct-12 21:03:41

That degree of weight loss would concern me tbh but without seeing the baby it is impossible to say if your instincts that all is fine are right or not!!

If she is 20 weeks are you thinking about starting solids anytime soon? My dd was always slow to put on weight and I had lots of grief from hv about topping up which I did if I felt she was still hungry after a feed or at the end of the day when my supply seemed to wane. However it wasn't until I started introducing solids that dd really filled out, in hindsight I just don't think she is a big milk drinker (even now and she is 6yo!) but loves her grub!!

GodisaDJ Tue 09-Oct-12 21:07:34

Is this your first DC horsey? If so, you need to relax. You have said it yourself:

I feel DD is doing well, she feeds on demand,feeds for 30-45mins at a time, comes of breast when she wants, sleeps all night, has plenty wet nappies, and is a happy alert baby. I feel if she was hungry shouldnt be like this

If you believe this statement to be true, then let your baby continue to feed off you. Are you or your DP/DH of a slim build? Is your DD tall?

My DD is a skinny little thing but she is tall and lanky like me grin and so I don't care what centile she is on as I know that she has my 'build' and my metabolism.

Rather than giving top up of formula, can you express extra milk OR contact a Milk bank for donor breast milk? I'm just thinking of other options for you instead of formula.

At the end of the day, formula milk is a perfectly fine alternative to breastmilk. It is a case of accepting this, or stopping the top up and trusting that your DD will grow in her own time.

I hope this helps - you haven't failed one bit. If you were a failure or a bad mum, you wouldn't be on here worrying about it wink

confuddledDOTcom Tue 09-Oct-12 21:07:50

Have you seen a BFC or LC? HVs (and even paeds usually) aren't usually the best people for breastfeeding advice and sometimes it can be easier to tell you to give a bottle. I had a right panicker of a HV and ended up calling the maternity hospital for advice desperately trying to avoid bottles, they got me in touch with an amazing BFC (NCT trained and also a quite senior MW) who runs a BFing group and she made sure that I didn't have to stop. From what I heard she sees a lot of women from that practice!

If you didn't know what her weight was, what would you think about your daughter? Is she healthy? Getting plenty of wet and dirty nappies? Does she look like she's not thriving? These questions can be more important than weight.

If in the end nothing works, then know you have done your best. You've gone further than most mums have and certainly most mums under that much pressure.

SamSmalaidh Tue 09-Oct-12 21:12:57

If your baby is losing weight, even though she is feeding well, then you do need to get her examined - I would ask for an urgent referral to a paediatrician personally.

In the meantime, can you feed more often? Offer a feed every couple of hours, feed from both sides at least once in each feed, and don't let her sleep through the night without a feed.

Dropping through the centiles can be quite normal, but actually losing weight could be more of an issue.

aamia Tue 09-Oct-12 21:56:59

Formula isn't the end of the world. Your baby needs sufficient calories to thrive. For whatever reason, she's not getting them. Why is a top-up so bad? Yes, bf gives health benefits, but getting sufficient food is more important than any of those!

I think 20 weeks ebf is great but if you really don't want to give top ups then don't!

Solids really are very near, even if you want until 26 weeks and it does all change then.

DeliaRose Tue 09-Oct-12 22:01:23

Google 'analytical armadillo'. She's on Facebook too. Great breastfeeding advice. Failing that, give Le Leche League a ring.

If your baby has no other issues I would say no need for top ups

Asmywhimsytakesme Tue 09-Oct-12 22:01:54

Horseynewmum, I can totally see why you are feeling upset but first of all please tell yourself how incredibly well you have done to get to this stage ebf.

For the rest of her life your dd will have better health because you have bf her. Her risk of childhood cancer is statistically lower, as is her risk of asthma and allergies, not to mention diabetes and thyroid disease. You and your body did this for her - not to mention all the love and care you have shown her.

Practical things go do - first of all you need to discuss with your GP and see if referral to a paed is merited of she keeps dropping weight.

At the same time there is a lot you can do to increase milk transfer:

Offer very frequently - well before she is hungry and even if she isn't asking

Always offer both sides and then keep offering the next side until she doesn't take any more milk. Sometimes this means two "sides", but sometimes it will mean four or five sides.

Lots of skin to skin as this encourages frequent feeding

Keep her close up you at night as this encourages more milk intake - pull the cot next to your bed. You could consider coskeeping following all appropriate safety guidelines as this has been shown to increase feeding.

Use breast compressions - you can google them. They are easy and not at all uncomfy to do and again increase milk transfer.

I would also seek RL help - calling one of the bf helplines - LLL or nct would be a good idea.

You will want to express when you give the top up, so you maintain your supply and if her weight gain comes back up you can aim to reduce the formula when hcp advise it is ok to do so.

Are you using a dummy at all?

horseynewmum Tue 09-Oct-12 22:02:50

Thanks for replies

I forgot to add that in last 2 weeks she has put on 2oz its just that one time she has lost weight. Not making excuses just didnt want you think she was losing weight all the time.

Boardiegirl didnt think of it like that but putting like that does make it sound not so bad

girliefriend HV never mentioned about weaning early I'll ask her tomorrow

GodisaDJ yes this is my first. DD is long for her age but she not been measured since she was 6 weeks and I've red in her red book that any weight concerns, lenght measurement should be taken so again I'll ask for her to be measured. Her dad is tall and slim. You wouldnt believe what he eats and he never puts on weight. I wouldnt say I'm slim anymore but I was skinny till a few years ago, I could eat anything and not put weight on

confuddledDOTcom the HV I saw the other week (not my usual one) said on looking at her she looks healthy thriving girl but she cant ignore the drop of centiles which is fair enough

DD feeds between everyone 1 half hours to every two half hours for the length time I mentioned. She will not sleep during the day unless I take to bed for some skin to skin contact and this is why she sleeps all night.

Now I'm confused of something. I've been told that I should let DD feed off one breast per feed and not switch breasts during feeds, but I've read that I should switich breasts during feeds whats right?

Also could I top up with breast milk by once DD has finished on one breast I put her on the other one or give her a bottle of expressed milk?

sleeplessinderbyshire Tue 09-Oct-12 22:09:10

I think if she's only having one breast a feed I'd start by always offering the second side. If she won't take any more milk then try expressing and offering EBM top up. If she refuses that, you know she's full and you may have to start thinking of another cleverer solution

DeliaRose Tue 09-Oct-12 22:09:23

She needs to empty each breast before you switch, else she'll be missing out on the fatty hind milk.

If she has only lost weight once- and lots of things can impact this (just had a poo, just been feed etc)- then I would say thee is definitely no need for formula top ups.

I was pressured into formula top ups by my HV with Ds1. It ended breastfeeding for me and I was gutted.

Take no notice of the centiles

Asmywhimsytakesme Tue 09-Oct-12 22:09:24

Bf mums should usually swap breasts if they are trying to increase milk intake. Who told you not to do that?

You can definitely give her your expressed milk saved from earlier as a top up - you should tell hcp you are doing that.

Re early weaning. I would speak to a bf counsellor before considering doing that. They don't get many nutrients from solids anyway in the early days and the usual advice is to wait to 6 months as this offers better protection for the gut.

aamia Tue 09-Oct-12 22:15:12

Has your DD been checked for tongue tie?

Asmywhimsytakesme Tue 09-Oct-12 22:17:10

DeliaRose I am so sorry to hear about happened when you introduced formula top ups. sad

Just wanted to say though that the latest thinking is that you don't need to drain the breast and that there is no separate hind milk. If bf mums feed on demand then the milk in the breast is a mixture and all milk is good milk.

DarkMatter Tue 09-Oct-12 22:18:28

DC2 dropped 50 percentile points before he started to follow a curve. DC3 has just done exactly the same (now 21 weeks). It was so stressful the first time, resisting the formula. I became very low, probably actually depressed in retrospect. The second time around, I have trusted my instincts and not worried at all, though I saw a repeat of the panic in the HVs - they really don't like a baby to cross more than two lines.

Although my babies were born huge, I think it was a freak of my metabolism while pregnant. DH and I are not particularly tall, and are both pretty slim. I think the babies have just had to settle down to their genetically-determined percentile, and that takes 4-5 months. If your DD is sleeping all night, she obviously isn't starving. Are you or your DP fairly petite? If you don't mind sabotaging the sleeping through (!) I find that co-sleeping encourages them to feed in the night and sends milk supply through the roof. The problem with top ups is that they will decrease your milk supply.

The other thing to bear in mind is there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula top ups. But I do completely get why you feel like you've failed as I did feel like that too - in retrospect it was illogical and definitely exacerbated by my general low mood at the time.

forgottenpassword Tue 09-Oct-12 22:22:57

I have been through similar with two of my 3 DS. The first time he gained v little btwn 4 and 10 months and dropped from 25 centile to 2nd. He turned out to be anaemic and needed iron supplements. Similar thing began to happen at same age with DS 3 but this time went to paediatrician more quickly. My advice would be to get it checked out just in case.

horseynewmum Tue 09-Oct-12 22:23:20

Thank you all I feel so much better

I was told by MW after discharge not swap breasts.

As from tomorrow I'm going to stop formula top up only been doing it 2 days, and as some of you suggested I'm going to keep offering each breast after the other has been drained till she wants no more, excuse to watch a film and just put feet up.

DeliaRose this is what I'm afraid off that starting formula means end of breast feeding. OH wants me to formula feed so I can go back to work. H has since she was 8 weeks.

The week she lost weight I had mastitis and then she had a bad cold and didnt feed as much and slept more.

Thanks all again I'm going to try topping up on breast milk and if her weight is still an issue then I will know I've done all I can myself and will have to try fomula.

DarkMatter Tue 09-Oct-12 22:25:54

Just read your latest post. I so recognize the HV panic!! You CAN ignore the drop in centiles - there are hundreds of millions of people (not to mention animals!) around the world raising babies without reference to centile charts!

From personal experience I would say the hind milk / feed from one breast theory did not really work. (Incidentally Asmywhimsy a HV was giving me the hindmilk line just 3 weeks ago, and I was a bit skeptical, where is the latest research you referred to as I'd really like to read this?).

Definitely offer both breasts at every feed. I'm offering milk at every squeak. This will increase your supply too. And I always found the babies are much better at getting milk out of me than a pump (but others may find different).

SamSmalaidh Tue 09-Oct-12 22:29:33

This is a good explanation on hindmilk www.analyticalarmadillo.co.uk/2010/07/foremilkhindmilk-and-lot-of-confusion.html

The baby can't drain the breast as milk is always being produced, so it's fine to just swap whenever the baby comes off/falls asleep/looks finished. As the aim is to increase the amount of milk consumed where there is a weight issue, milk from 2 breasts is better than limiting to 1.

confuddledDOTcom Tue 09-Oct-12 22:29:49

A 3oz weight loss can be wee/ poo/ length of time since last feed/ scales or anything. I've seen it happen on the scales in front of me, baby fed after a feed and gained the weight, weed then lost the same again. That was the baby I had to call the hospital about. Looking at her you wouldn't have had a concern because there was no concern. The HV got too involved in the numbers and that's what we had to deal with, the baby is more important than the numbers, a starving baby will not thrive! An expert will get that, a HV is not an expert, they're looking at the numbers primarily.

Milk is milk, as you go through a feed the fat becomes more concentrated. You can't totally drain the breast but feeding until it's not free flowing will help encourage the breast to make more milk.

PaulFootisfunny Wed 10-Oct-12 00:00:27

Have you seen a breastfeeding counsellor? Are there breastfeeding clinics/cafes in your area? Not only will a good lactation consultant be well qualified to identify any potential problems with BF they will also be really supportive of your desire to continue EBF (or at least that was my experience with the lady who helped me with both my babies)

Asmywhimsytakesme Wed 10-Oct-12 00:06:39

DarkMatter this is what I was talking about, written by the woman who wrote the Breastfeeding Answer Book - the textbook for lactation consultants:

www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/2010/6/27/worries-about-foremilk-and-hindmilk.html

DeliaRose Wed 10-Oct-12 07:16:55

That's interesting re: hindmilk. I always saw a huge difference in my milk at the start of a feed to the end. Start was watery, almost translucent, end was like cream.

I would always swap once Ds came off/fell asleep, just to make sure he'd had enough, often the increase in flow would keep him interested for a lot longer!

The co sleeping/feeding through the night is a good suggestion. It's the best way to increase supply. I would say spend the next week in bed with your baby watching crap tv and just feed smile

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