Have I messed up bf? (Long, sorry!)

(55 Posts)
Felix90 Mon 20-Jan-14 14:01:02

My dd is 4 weeks old and I've been trying to bf but have been struggling through so far. Around a week ago, I tried to start combi feeding and giving her formula at night/if we were out of the house as I'm really not confident bf in public. I decided to give her the one feed of formula at night as I was ready to give up bf totally due to being so exhausted and my OH wanted to help out and give me a break but I couldn't manage to express enough milk to give her. Stupidly I've fallen in to the routine of feeding her two feeds of formula at night on the pretence that I would express milk instead and put it in the freezer so we have a nice supply built up, then OH could eventually start feeding her the expressed milk instead of formula. But because I've been so exhausted at night, I've ended up falling back to sleep after feeding her the formula and not expressed anything and I think I've really messed up by doing this confused

Now when I bf her through the day, she doesn't seem satisfied and wants to feed for a very very long time. Im assuming my supply has dropped massively as I've missed the feeds at night and now I'm not producing enough for her through the day. I seem to be in a cycle of trying to bf her, then as I'm bf her for so long (sometimes over an hour) I'm getting very sore and end up giving her a top up of formula out of desperation as I can't feed her enough and it hurts too much. I need to get out of this cycle and try and get bf back on track but I don't know if I've done the damage now and can no longer breast feed? She will drink around 4oz of formula and although I can't see how much breast milk she drinks, I'm sure she didn't drink that much breast milk before I introduced the formula, and now she will expect the same volume of milk when I try and bf her. I've just tried to bf her on and off for the past 3 hours and she's only just stopped rooting/crying and dropped off to sleep. My left nipple is shredded to bits from feeding her for so long this morning and I've used nipple shields for the last half an hour which seemed to help, so I think I'll carry on using them whilst my nipples heal so I can keep trying to feed her.

Sorry if that doesn't make much sense! Hopefully someone can advise if I've totally screwed up bf? I really want to persevere with it and stop giving her formula at night but it's so hard when I can't satisfy her, and it's causing arguments between me and OH because I'm so stressed over it all sad

Is there anything I can do to rescue my supply? I'm staying in bed watching tv all day today so I can let her feed/suckle as much as she wants and have lots of skin to skin contact. I feel so stupid and disappointed in myself for getting in to this situation and I really hope I can get back on track and keep breastfeeding.

Staying in bed all day and doing skin to skin is all really good, please don't get the idea that you've screwed up, you're doing a great job under difficult circumstances.

With what you say about nipples being sore I think you need some RL help with positioning - is there a BF group near you, or are you still in touch with midwife/health visitor?

Sorry not to be more help.

GeordieJellybean Mon 20-Jan-14 14:10:11

First of all stop beating yourself up about it. You're feeding your baby and doing a great job!
I think a day in bed of feeding and cuddles is a brilliant idea so keep that up and enjoy it grin
Use some nipple cream (like lansinoh) to help heal and I also recommend going to a bfing group to get some RL advice and also maybe getting someone to check the latch to make sure baby is feeding as effectively as possible.
All is not lost for bfing but even if you did switch to ff it's not a failure so try not to put so much pressure on yourself (easier said than done I know).

Felix90 Mon 20-Jan-14 14:11:04

Thanks for your reply! I was having big problems with pain when feeding last week and contacted the lady who did the NCT class I went to and I've now had the latch/positioning sorted so it doesn't actually hurt at first but it's just the length of time she's feeding which is making my nipples sore at the moment. When she feeds for 20-30 mins I don't have any pain now and it feels comfortable, but when she's feeding for over an hour that's when I start having problems sad

Felix90 Mon 20-Jan-14 14:16:38

Thanks Geordie. I just feel so rubbish because I've been to visit my Mum this weekend and she kept going on at me about feeding her formula and kept saying I need to keep trying to bf her as it's better for her, and I felt like she was judging me even though I explained lots of times why I was giving her formula and that I was struggling! Then me and OH had a massive argument last night and he said giving her formula is the equivalent of feeding her gruel instead of fruit and veg sad he's apologised and said he said it out of anger/tiredness but it really upset me as he's usually so supportive and we never argue. There's so much pressure to get it right and it's really getting to me now!

You could try taking fenugreek tablets to boost your supply.

The main thing is not to panic. Your daughter won't starve in the couple of days it will take to get your supply back up.

You really do need to do those night feeds, hard though they are. Perhaps expressing in the day would be easier instead? Also get as much RL support as you can.

Take the opportunity to spend a couple of days resting and feeding, lots of skin to skin and get someone to leave snacks and TV control nearby so you don't have to move.

In the evenings it can help to have a small glass of wine - it is perfectly normal for small babies to feed all evening.

Great that you've had some advice on the positioning.

The early weeks really are the toughest bit of breastfeeding. Yr baby is suckling loads because she's trying to up your milk supply, and feeds should start to get shorter as your supply catches up with demand.

As far as I know, prolactin levels are higher at night, meaning night feeds are the ones that most help your supply (but I know how hard it is when you're exhausted at night).

Hope things start to improve soon.

Jess03 Mon 20-Jan-14 14:17:59

Dd did this very long feeding at this point, the lactation consultant I saw said to de latch her after 20 mins per boob. If you can, try popping her in the sling and going for a walk etc and leave at least an hour and a half between feeds. Might be a growth spurt too when they just want to feed all the time. Those gel pads you can refrigerate were great at this point

Please don't do what jess said if you want your supply to increase as that will have the opposite effect. Let her eat as much as she wants and your boobs will catch up.

Felix90 Mon 20-Jan-14 14:23:09

I have read about fenugreek so will pick some up! She's just woke up again wanting to be fed and it feels a lot better with the nipple shields, so hopefully I can carry on using them whilst I heal and I should be able to feed her for as long as she wants. I've ran out of formula now after last night so I'm not buying any more as it will just tempt me to feed it to her when I'm exhausted and stressed and she's not satisfied.

You're doing really well Felix smile Hopefully now the positioning is sorted your poor nips will heal soon.

I found MN invaluable for support in the early days, it really helped to know I wasn't the only one struggling.

tiktok Mon 20-Jan-14 14:32:06

Felix sad sad

All is not lost and you haven't screwed up...you are doing exactly the right things to turn everything around and your supply will increase with all the skin to skin and extra feeding you are doing.

For many women, two formula feeds in 24 hours is just too much at 3 weeks...it means long gaps between breastfeeds and it is this that decreases supply.

But just as supply can go down, it can go up again smile

MigGril Mon 20-Jan-14 14:40:41

it really shouldn't hurt even after long feeds, ask for more help with poisoning and attachment. The NCT lady you spoke to should be able to help you with this. Also she 4weeks this is often a big growth spurt time and she may just want to feed all day andnight for a few days. Have a look at feeding while lying down even if your not keen on fully cosleeping, you can do this during the day to get some extra rest.

UNICEF have a good leaflet called caring for your baby at night, explains about reducing the risks.

You can do it, forget the clock trust your baby and your body and follow her cues.

Felix90 Mon 20-Jan-14 15:10:00

Thank you for the help everyone. I'm so glad I haven't totally screwed things up. I will get back in touch with the bf councillor too. I'm feeling a bit more positive now!

GeorgieJo Mon 20-Jan-14 17:08:46

Just to add that I introduced formula top-ups at 3 weeks because I was too tired deal with the cluster feeds, but then realized I was on a slippery slope, so managed to cut them out (with help from people here). We are now 14 weeks and ebf, so it can be done.

Highly recommend feeding lying down at night if you don't already. And your OH can help - if you aren't co-sleeping put the basket in his side of the bed, then he can get up bring the baby to you for feeds in night, and burp her and settle her afterwards.

Means you can stay horizontal the whole time, which made a huge difference for me!

Good luck

Felix90 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:00:36

Thanks Georgie, it's good to know I'm not the only one who has done this. Well done for getting so far!! She sleeps in between us in a cocoonababy nest thing so there's not room to feed her lying down unless I move it out of the way. I can just sit up and scoop her out of her bed though so at least I don't have to get out of bed!!

Felix90 Tue 21-Jan-14 02:37:08

Ok so dd has fed on and off all day since around 10.30am and the longest break she's had was 30 mins when DP came in from work at 5 and took her so I could have a bath. I am absolutely shattered and she won't settle at all. As soon as she comes off the breast and seems quiet, I'll try and put her down and within 5 minutes she's rooting and then screaming for more food. It doesn't sound like she's swallowing much when she's on the breast and my boobs feel totally empty. I think she's really hungry but I don't feel like I have enough milk to feed her. Exhausted and desperate for sleep. Please help, I just don't know what to do confused she won't even settle laid on my chest which usually works!

Sephy Tue 21-Jan-14 03:00:07

Oh Felix that sounds rally hard.

I'm no expert, feel free to ignore, but could your DH help with settling her once she's quiet? Perhaps if she does quieten it's the warmth and comfort she misses when you put her down - could you give her to him to cuddle for an hour or so while you have a sleep and rest?

CuriosityCola Tue 21-Jan-14 03:04:09

Hopefully tiktoc will be back with more informed advice. Might be worth a pm.

From my experience I would say this is completely normal. She will be increasing your supply after having the formula and should settle down within a couple of days.

Did you manage to do much skin to skin during the day? If you can learn to feed lying down and move the sleep nest during the day, it would let you feed and sleep during the day. It saved my sanity. I also hired the nct bed nest and found it really helpful for a better night sleep.

You are doing amazingly well. I feel sad that you have had so much negative pressure about breastfeeding in real life. I used to boost myself by reading every thread going in breastfeeding and books like food of love. Kind of positive reinforcing myself. smile

byanothername Tue 21-Jan-14 03:04:29

OP, I hope you're ok. Lots of us have been where you are, it's not easy, coupled with exhaustion, but you sound like you're doing a brilliant job and I promise it does get better with every day as baby grows. Can your bf adviser come round to your house asap to see you for some support? Any leche league meetings, or similar type of thing, in your area?
Can your DP get baby to sleep by walking her around in a sling for a tiny bit (even at night) so you can get a bit of sleep?
By the way, just a tiny word about pumping - I had to do a lot of it with my first because premature and feeding issues - pumping in the late afternoon or evening does not usually yield much for anyone (sometimes next to nothing), even the milk queens among us. Pumping in the morning yields much more. I'm not suggesting you should pump at all - I'm seriously keen to avoid it with my second after doing so much of it with first - but just to reassure you to not judge how much milk you have from an afternoon/evening pump, or any pump really, as it can be deceptive.
Random thought - your baby doesn't have any issue like silent reflux that might be bothering her? Highly likely not to, but just checking that it's not something else bothering her...

MissRatty Tue 21-Jan-14 03:10:29

Oh no, I'm so sorry you are feeling like this. If it is any comfort, we have been going through similar, and I have dropped two night feeds and a day one for formula or expressed milk (oh does two night ones), but am trying to find time to express more to get my supply back up. Our LO is 8 weeks, but I have been going to a BF group and it looks like it was issues with latch and me not burping which led to the mega feeds! Now when I do boob feed, its a shorter feed and he's much more satisfied. I top up with boob milk via bottle and last resort formula if he's still unsettled, but that is rare as he seems to be more fulfilled with the latch and burping.

I have heard others have good results with fenugreek, but lots of suckling will help, and expressing after a good feed also helped me. I have found that my supply is quite flexible and can quickly build up again, but it may not be the same for everyone. Lots of skin to skin and suckling should help though.

If it doesn't seem like there's a good swallow it could be a latch issue (we had a shallow latch so the sucking seemed half hearted).

There's also a growth spurt between 4-6 weeks and this can cause mega feeding sessions.

You are doing a fab job though! But you also need some rest, and I wonder if your other half could maybe give an expressed feed just so you can get a few hours kip and recharge? A relaxed and happy mummy also helps booby feeding...

Felix90 Tue 21-Jan-14 03:42:06

Wow didn't expect any replies at this time of night! Thank you for replying to me!! I have just had a bit of a meltdown as dd just screamed the house down for ages because she's not getting any milk from me. I just broke down and sobbed my heart out and ended up having to wake up DP to take her off me as I got really wound up/angry and wasn't coping at all. Ended up having a panic attack which I haven't had for a very long time (i used to suffer from anxiety but haven't had any problems with it since being pregnant). Just fed her the last 2oz of formula we had left out of sheer desperation and also found the last of the frozen breast milk I've got stored which I've put in the fridge to defrost just in case. She's had the formula and is still rooting but seems more settled now. I don't know what to do if she gets really hungry again.

Sorry I'm on the phone app so can't see everyone's replies whilst I'm typing but hopefully can remember what everyone has said - DP is usually brilliant with helping with sleep and settling etc and he feeds her expressed milk when he can to give me a break. We had a good routine going of taking sleep in shifts but now he's just gone back to work, we can't do it any more. She usually settles straight away for him but has just carried on screaming tonight. She's not had any problems previously with reflux etc and I do genuinely think she's just hungry sad its so heartbreaking when she's crying. We have an NCT Bednest but she won't sleep in it which is why we got the cocoonababy thing which works a dream when she's well fed (she sleeps for 4 hours at a time in it usually).

I emailed the NCT breastfeeding councillor explaining what I said on my original post and she's replied asking me to call her tomorrow. I wish there wasn't so much pressure for me to breastfeed. I really think I should just switch to ff as the stress is making me feel so ill and id rather be happy and have a happy baby too and not start with the anxiety again confused

Felix90 Tue 21-Jan-14 03:44:37

Sorry forgot to say we had about 3 hours of skin to skin in the afternoon! Also you're right about pumping in the morning. I've found I can express a lot more first thing rather than in the evening or afternoon. Blimey, I am exhausted hmm

MissRatty Tue 21-Jan-14 03:50:13

Do not get stressed about whether you formula feed or breastfeed...be content knowing that you did your best and if it is not suiting you or your LO then that is that. I am pro breastfeeding but I really strongly believe that it is more important to have a happy mum who can enjoy motherhood. I too suffer from anxiety and panic attacks aren't pretty, and I have felt on the verge at times with the exhaustion (my let down reflex also sometimes gives me a wave of panic...strange!), so I can sympathise.

I would try to get some rest, as much as you can, and speak to some people tomorrow when things might seem a bit more positive. You can ask to see a bf counsellor then and things may seem a bit better. Only you can decide, and whatever you do, you are a fab mum! Maybe ask also to see your GP about the anxiety as well x

Felix90 Tue 21-Jan-14 04:02:06

I know I should sleep on it and see how I feel tomorrow. I just feel so hopeless at the moment and just want to make the right decision for the both of us. The panic attack has really freaked me out as I thought they had gone a long time ago...

Managed to get dd to settle on my chest and have just put her down to sleep and fingers crossed she will sleep for a while. If she wakes up again I'm going to just go downstairs with her and watch tv so her crying doesn't disturb DP any more. I also live in a back to back terraced house and I'm really wary of waking the neighbours with her crying confused

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