Stories of successful EBF second time after first time 'failure'?

(12 Posts)
LePamplemousseMousse Wed 11-Sep-13 09:45:59

I'm expecting DC2 in a few weeks and just coming to realise how guilty I still feel - and how much of a failure - about not managing to EBF my DD beyond a few weeks.

Someone told me this morning that all I have to do is 'let baby crawl to the breast after birth and he'll latch on and you'll have no problems'. To my shock, I instantly burst into tears, both because I tried that (I tried EVERYTHING) last time and it still failed, and because it's hard to be told how easy it all is for most women and I still couldn't do it.

The back story is that DD had a very long and traumatic birth, was born shocked and in poor condition, and we received very poor medical supervision so no one noticed she was sucking but not feeding and not properly latched for several days so she lost loads of weight. I now know the BF advice we were given subsequently to try and address the problem was poor, so I had inadequate supply (baby screamed with hunger a lot of the time and wouldn't sleep) and ultimately I was pressured into supplementing (really there was no choice). After trying to express madly to increase supply, my milk ran totally dry about eight weeks. I was completely devastated.

I know there is nothing wrong with formula in itself and that's not my issue. DD turned out to be allergic so that led to a whole raft of other problems in getting a diagnosis and special formula (another thread) and I'd want to avoid having go through all that again. In general though, my preferred method of feeding is EBF for a lot of reasons and I really want to make it work.

It would be great to hear stories from other's who managed to make BF 'work' the second time, and what made the difference. DH keeps telling me not to put pressure on myself about it, but I'd love to go into the next birth armed with some ideas on how I can have a better chance.

Sorry, that ended up being really long!

ab00 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:09:40

The guilt of not being able to ebf is a feeling I know only too well.

With DS1 they started inducing me at 9 days past my due date. We had a bit of a scare late that night when his heart rate wasn't good, but picked up & was closely monitored over night. The next morning waters were broken but still nothing & was finally put on the hormone drip at 4pm on day 10 overdue. From there things progressed rapidly after the first hour, where after 2 hours with my blood pressure dropping & his heart rate all overt the place we finally started pushing with the threat of emergency c section hanging over us. The little bugger refused to budge & was born using ventouse. He had the cord so tightly round his neck they thought his shoulders were stuck. Anyway long story short his birth was horrific, he was battered & bruised. The first 24hrs he was just too tired to feed & couldn't / wouldn't latch. He developed severe jaundice, had to have photolight therapy & had to be supplemented with formula. We came home still having to top him up after 5 days in hospital & after a week weaned him off them. Then he started screaming all night every night, I got horrendous mastitis so dh made the decision for both of our sakes to give him a top up. He drank 6ozs & crashed out for about 6hrs - he was starving & exhausted. I felt a complete failure in every sense, from his birth to the feeding I'd let him down & he was only 2 weeks old. We combined fed for 6 months by such time I was expecting ds2.

With ds2 I was told I'd have to be induced again. I was devastated as all I could see was history repeating itself & was inconsolable.

By some miracle my waters broke on day 10 overdue & had to go straight in to hospital due to his position. Labour was unbelievably fast - when I was first examined I wasn't in active labour & they wanted to admit us for monitoring. 1.5 hrs later I told them he was on his way, we never even had time to get my bag out the car!

He was born with no intervention & I had no pain relief (not planned it was just too bloody quick!). We had skin to skin straight away, unlike with ds1 & he fed within 20 minutes. I was better at positioning him & knew the rugby hold worked best with ds1 for controlling his head to latch. When we came home me & ds2 went straight to bed for lots more skin to skin & feeding. We did this for about 4 days then I gradually started getting up a bit more but still spent loads of time cuddling ds2 & just tried not to do anything else. We also used a sling. Ds 2 developed silent reflux within a couple of weeks which was diagnosed by 8 weeks. Second time around I had much more confidence to keep going back to the gp as trusted my instincts more. Turns out he had a tt that was causing it which was treated at 14 weeks. While there they also checked ds1 & he has the same tie. All that time, struggle & heartbreak & not one hcp suggested tt. We also got ds2 a course of cranial osteopathy at the lc suggestion. In 1.5 weeks ds2 will be 6 months old & will have been ebf. It can be done!

RescueCack Wed 11-Sep-13 11:14:05

I 'failed' with my first 2, and exclusively bf'd my 3rd and was still feeding him at 15 months.

The difference was a tongue tie snip. As soon as it was done, I realised what BFing was 'supposed' to feel like - not pinching!! Apparently, DC3s was borderline not needing cutting, but my God, the relief! I wish I'd thought to ask someone to double check DCs 1 & 2. In retrospect, they definitely had small tongue ties.

So physiology aside, I also just accepted that I was in bed, feeding for DH's whole paternity leave. That got us into a really well established cycle of production etc. Not the most fun we could have had with 2 weeks off, but well worth it. Good luck!

MrsWelly Wed 11-Sep-13 11:43:29

I "failed" with my first. Ex's family made me feel like breastfeeding was something to be ashamed of, that I was selfish and lazy for doing it "just because I couldn't be bothered to make bottles". I gave in to their pressure, started mix feeding at about a week and gave up bf completely not long after that.

With my second I was with a new partner whose attitude was totally different. I was scared about it not working out again, I had never fed my first in public or really in front of people and I didn't know if I'd be able to. Fortunately ds was a natural. He didn't crawl to the breast, he was very sleepy, but as soon as I held him there he latched on perfectly. I fed him until he was 9 months and felt bloody fantastic!

Best of luck.

sandk Wed 11-Sep-13 12:17:58

Here's some of the things I did second time around:

- INSIST that they check for tongue tie immediately after birth.
- Arranged a visit from a (private) BF counsellor before the birth to talk over the problems encountered first time around.
- Arranged BF counsellor to visit after the birth, regardless of how things were going.
- Watched a couple of DVDs (I think one was "Breastfeeding without Tears" which I thought was good).
- Discovered this forum on mumsnet and read lots!
- Obtained a small (1 ml) syringe and small cup so that I could express and feed a few tiny drops of colustrum if baby sleepy after birth and midwives starting to flap (- they did!)
- Made sure DH better understood how important this was to me, and how to better support me.
- Borrowed a better BF cushion (for me this was a firm C-shaped one, rather than a floppy bean-filled snake).
- Borrowed a better (double electric) pump before the birth.

and finally

- Made a pact with myself that this baby would have breast milk for 2 weeks - if not directly, then expressed, and that would be Good Enough.

Good luck!

denisej Wed 11-Sep-13 12:27:59

I too didn't manage to breastfeed DC1 beyond a week, mostly I feel due to a complete lack of support from medical staff (who kept telling me it shouldn't hurt and I was doing it wrong if it was) and being unable to meet with other women who were breastfeeding for advice and support. When I had DC2 I had a lovely new friend on my road, we had babies at the same time, both attempted breastfeeding at the same time and the hospital had appointed a special breastfeeding nurse who was on call with any questions. The difference was immense and I EBF DC2 for 6 months. I have continued to EBF both DC3 and DC4 successfully. If you can, try and build up a support network before baby is born so it's ready for when you need it!

midori1999 Wed 11-Sep-13 13:06:01

I 'failed' to successfully BF my first 3 DC. The first two as they were 'too big and hungry' (according to midwives and HV's and I sadly believed them) and the third as he was unexpectedly born with Downs Syndrome and wouldn't latch and I believed health professionals who told me he'd never latch, exclusively expressed for three weeks until my milk dried up and was told that 'some women can never exclusively express' when actually, I wasn't expressing anywhere near often enough or at night and actually, I can express loads and would have no problem exclusively expressing now.

I exclusively expressed for one of my twin girls while she was in NICU (we sadly lost both twins) and exclusively BF DD3 (DC6) for just over 2 years until she self weaned. I am expecting DC7 by the end of the months and will be EBF him.

The difference in my case was knowledge. I knew what to expect, I knew what potential problems I may have, I knew that health professionals may heavily push formula at the first sign of any 'problem' and I knew that some perceived problems may not actually be problems at all. Plus, I was grimly determined as although I never felt guilt at switching to FF, I did feel sadness and regret later on.

I would say arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and attend a group such as La Leche League whilst still pregnant if you can. Also, if you need help with breastfeeding after the birth, I'd sadly say this is best sought outside the NHS in a lot of cases, or at least outside of your normal midwife/HV.

BrieMonster Wed 11-Sep-13 13:17:30

How exciting lpm!
I have found it a hundred times easier second time around.. Yet not great at typing whilst feeding so will keep it brief.
I was similar to you both times, told to top up due to weight loss. First time I pumped and fed and bottled and cried, but never slept. This time I refused to pump as that stressed me out. I just fed all the time, and stayed in hospital for 5 days cos they were so nice and I wanted help. I decided visitors didn't matter so much, that could wait til feeding was established. Went to local bf clinic for positioning help and then just worked out what worked for us... C shaped pillow, remote, water and tea and cake always to hand. I think if I was getting this advice first time round I'd shout "it's not that bloody easy"! And of ourselves it does hurt initially, and still sometimes, and I am knackered all the time. But it's working! Incidentally I was told instead of topping up at each feed I could consolidate them into one. So from two weeks ds2 has had a bottle at night and I have continued this as a matter of convenience. You do lose some of the bf benefits just with one bottle but I feel it's going so much better than last time that I want to give myself that nightly break.

Good luck!!

Noideaatall Thu 12-Sep-13 13:10:23

sandk I wish I had read your post before having DC3. It's been a struggle from day 1. I've 'failed' to bf all 3 children really & it makes me feel shit. DC3 has been diagnosed with posterior tongue tie at 14 weeks. I couldn't understand why I've never needed to use breast pads. never felt 'let down' or understood what other mums mean when they say how terrible it is when the milk comes in. It's just never worked really - BUT I do think if I'd followed all sandk's advice I would have had a much better chance this time. They are all things I've worked out over the space of 13 years! some only a few weeks ago...

FrogGreen Thu 12-Sep-13 13:37:14

Hi pamplemousse, I pretty much failed to ebf ds1, and still not sure why. He was big, hungry, my dh wasn't particularly supportive, labor was tough and ended with emcs, etc. DS2 is 6mo and I feel here would happily bf for years if I let him! The main difference was just what I did at the hospital in the first few days...and it was nothing dramatic, just plain old on demand bf, lots and lots of cuddles verging on kangaroo care, co-sleeping.

And the most helpful piece of advice from someone on mn: when you start a feed, consciously RELAX. Deep breath in and out, drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, smile at your baby. Repeat for every feed. Not that tongue tie and other problems aren't real, but you notice and can think about problems so much more effectively if you're not going out of your mind with stress.

themightywalrus Fri 13-Sep-13 15:41:50

Hi there. As pps have said, it can be done.

I didnt bf my first, although I tried everything. Birth was straightforward, but she just didnt seem to 'get' breastfeeding. This resulted in very sore nipples & I called out a lactation consultant. Tongue tie was diagnosed & snipped, but it didnt make a difference. I ended up expressing for 12 months - very time consuming, but worth it.

With my second, who is now 10 weeks old, we have been breastfeeding fine. We had everything against us - he spent his first two weeks at Gt Ormond St, had open heart surgery & was fed my expressed milk via ng tube. But when they did let me try to breastfeed, when he was two weeks old, it just kind of worked. We had the usual first few weeks of painful nipples but, now we're through that, all is fine.

I really wanted to breastfeed my second, but wasnt going to put too much pressure on myself (like I did with DD1). I knew it would be tough, considering all he had to go through. But it turned out fine :-)

Salbertina Fri 13-Sep-13 15:48:05

Yes! Despite what everyone said, it does actually depend on the baby too! Ebf dc2 for 2 years, dc1 5 weeks., go figure. And good luck OP.

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