Breastfeeding a crying baby & how can I tell I'm doing this right?

(69 Posts)
Chasabeth Fri 11-Jul-14 21:27:33

Hi guys,

I'm very new to this and probably being an over emotional new mum but my DS, born on Monday at 11.05pm so only 4 days old, doesn't seem to be getting enough from BF and I'm struggling.

I was in hospital for 2 days and all the times I fed him I needed help. The midwifes and the breastfeeding supporters said my technique was correct eventually but my nipples are now cracked and sore. Not sure if that's because the first times I did it I don't think he was latched on correctly.

The first night at home he screamed blue murder and my DH and I got zero sleep. The midwife at the hospital said to have some formula on standby as a top up if needed. Had the midwife visit me yesterday and she said my breastfeeding was correct, although it did hurt, and said not to worry about topping up with formula if needed, it's better that he's fed.

Last night we did give him formula as I was so tired (5 hours sleep over 3 nights) and he was fine. Tired BF him today and it's gone ok but the issue now is he's screaming blue murder and it's a real struggle to get him to latch on. I'm starting to feel really disheartened and stressed. I know thats the worst thing to think but I feel I can't provide for him.

My friends who have very recently had babies both said that they had to top up with formula in the first few weeks and not to worry, but I do. He's crying so much when I do try to BF him I'm now struggling with that as well.

Sorry for such a long post but I'm feeling overwhelmed and a bit at the end of my tether. My next BF clinic isn't until next Wednesday however I do have my 5 day check tomorrow so I know I need to bring this up.

Any advice though would be greatly appreciated x

eightyearsonhere Fri 11-Jul-14 21:39:31

for now, make sure you count how many wet nappies you are getting. wet is obviously and clearly wet. write it down. is baby still passing meconium ? the black tap like stuff. .
all i know is that a baby cannot latch on if it is screaming crying.
it has to be calm to latch.
usually when baby gets the smell of milk that calms them for a while, long enough to latch on.

i hope someone with greater expertise will be along shortly.
congrats on new baby.

goofygoober Fri 11-Jul-14 21:44:31

Congrats to you Chasabeth

I'm sorry you're having such a hard time, the first week of bf is incredibly hard. Have they checked for tongue tie? I ask because my DS was on and off, technique correct, not feeding for more than 10 mins, crying and crying. Went back to maternity unit as totally bereft, and so sore. They treated the tongue tie and slowly and surely, we got there.

Hugs to you, I'm sure more advice will follow.

BiscuitMillionaire Fri 11-Jul-14 21:44:47

Hi there. Congratulations on your baby thanks
I found the NCT breastfeeding helpline helpful. Or you could try the La Leche league

Breastfeeding Helplines
NCT Breastfeeding Line

0300 330 0771 (8am - 10pm, 7 days a week)

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers08444 122 949 (9.30am - 10.30pm, every day)
Breastfeeding Network Supporter line

0844 412 4664 9.30am - 9.30pm (every day of the year)

La Leche League

0845 120 2918

AnythingNotEverything Fri 11-Jul-14 21:49:41

I haven't any specific advice really but day four is hormone crash day. Go easy on yourself. Today is the day most new mums have a complete breakdown.

Has your milk come in? (You'll know by the huge sore rock like breasts)

Congratulations on your delicious newborn.

Lorelei353 Fri 11-Jul-14 21:49:54

Mine used to scream like that. I had over supply if anything but babies just get really hungry and cry. He wouldn't latch on though. I was massive and my breasts were rock hard and he was tiny and just wouldn't open his mouth. So frustrating and left me sobbing and sobbing on many occasions. But he would go on eventually and slowly, over time, we learned together how to do it. It was SO hard at the start and I was so hard on myself and so scared it wasn't going well but it's something you both need to learn how to do. I never did too up although he initially lost 11.5% of his birth weight so the mw was a bit concerned.

Only thing I can say is have lots of skin to skin, try to calm your DS and if it's. It working, try to get your DH to take him away for a few mins, try to relax and try again. If the nappies are ok and his weight is ok then you're doing fine. Make sure you have some Lansinoh to out on those nipples too.

MyNameIsSuz Fri 11-Jul-14 21:52:25

I'm bumping this so it stays on active conversations! I'm no expert, but 2 years down the line I still remember this time. I had similar issues, though my boy was also pretty sleepy so keeping him awake was part of the battle.

How often are you feeding? Can you try feeding more often so he doesn't get to the screamy stage? It's drummed into most of us to never wake a sleeping baby, but it might help in the first couple of weeks to wake him for a feed every two hours (two hours from the start of the feed, not the end) and keep him awake by tickling feet, blowing on his face, stripping him down to his nappy, until he's definitely full and all milky and sleepy.

I also remember having to pump after a feed and then syringe the milk into his mouth at the start of a feed - that was more to do with weight loss for us but might give him the idea that it's milk time and calm him down enough to latch?

BertieBotts Fri 11-Jul-14 21:56:25

Has your baby been checked for tongue tie?

I agree with the suggestion to phone one of the breastfeeding helplines. La Leche League is 24 hours but the phone lines go to volunteers in their own homes, so not a good idea to call with a normal query in the middle of the night, but remember that people sign up to man these kind of helplines because they know that sometimes in the middle of the night is the time where you need help and there is nobody there, so do call if you need to.

Another option is to call labour ward if you are still under care of midwives which it sounds like you are. It's all very well to tell you not to worry about topping up (which will be fine, but you do need support with getting him back onto the breast fully) - it would be worth asking for specific support with this rather than just going with top ups, top ups are a temporary measure so you want to be asking what support they can offer you with breastfeeding.

Please please do not think all is lost, it's possible to relactate after fully formula feeding for weeks and weeks, obviously it's easier if you don't get to that stage in the first place, but don't worry. It's just a matter of time and finding the right person to help you.

Dangermouse1 Fri 11-Jul-14 22:02:57

First thing first, if you don't have it already try lansinoh hpa lanolin cream (purple tube from boots) and plaster it on after every feed to help with soreness. Expensive but saved me, if you are in pain it makes it so difficult. If you have transport ask your midwife if there is another breastfeeding group you can go to earlier than wednesday - where I am there was one most days somewhere. They may also be able to send out a maternity care assistant to help you - they are able to spend a bit more time with you than midwife can spare. If your baby is happier bottle feeding you could also try expressing to keep your supply up (I was advised to do it 5 mind either side after each feed, then give to baby in the evening as one feed to top up and give me a break).

Try and get some support. Best of luck.

BertieBotts Fri 11-Jul-14 22:05:40

Sometimes as well <memories come flooding back> very new babies can get themselves all worked up and not be able to latch on because they are so upset even though what they want is milk! I found it helped to swaddle and sit in a rocking chair with DS resting on pillows, also lying down to feed can be helpful because you're not battling against gravity and them moving around and flailing arms randomly in the way and not staying the right way around etc. Lie him on his side on your bed and lie down next to him without a top on (you can wear a nursing bra if it feels more secure but clothes get in the way at this stage). You want him slightly too low so he has to "look up" to get to the boob, don't move yourself towards him but sort of scoop him up and into you, keeping his legs tucked in, that helps him get the right angle.

Singing, sssssssssshing, (especially sssssh ssssssh sssssh - it sounds like womb sounds) movement (rocking chair if you have one) swaddling and skin to skin all help to calm them down which can make latching easier. Some people find it helps to get into a bath with the baby skin to skin/tummy to tummy on your chest.

BertieBotts Fri 11-Jul-14 22:07:00

YY to lansinoh - send DH out to 24 hour supermarket if you don't have some already. That or Kamillosan. Any supermarket with a pharmacy should stock one or the other. If you can't get anything you want to let your nipples have air time and put breastmilk on them as that helps with healing.

Madrigals Fri 11-Jul-14 22:07:43

First of all I just wanted to say that it is brilliant that you have given him loads of colostrum over the past few days as that is well known to be massively important for newborn immunity from infection. All that feeding will also have been massively reassuring and bonding for him. It sounds like you have given him an amazing start thanks

I am really sorry to hear you've been struggling with pain and soreness. The good news is that as soon the latch is right your nipples will heal and lansinoh is great for soothing them now.

As a pp said, you need to soothe baby when upset - you might try gently rocking and swaying - as babies can't latch well when upset. So once baby calm again, just try again.

Something that can help a lot is to offer very often - even before they are hungry. When DS was a newborn the bf counsellor told me that I should offer before he got to the crying stage as crying is a late hunger sign. I learned to look for the little signs eg fidgeting, rooting, fist sucking and offer before he got to crying. You can gently offer even before that - you can't over feed a bf baby and if they don't what milk they won't feed.

If you are doing 10-12 breast feeds a day (at least 8 but 10 is better) and he has plenty of wet and dirty nappies then things are going as they should and your mw team will be monitoring his weight to make sure.

If baby isn't attached right and it hurts don't hesitate to gently unlatch (using a little finger to gently break suction) and reattach - better latch means better milk transfer for him too.

It will all get much easier in just a few days from now and in the meantime please post here as much as you need, call one of the bf lines in the morning - they will happily listen and advise and get as much help from the mw tomorrow as you can.

thanks thanks thanks to you

Madrigals Fri 11-Jul-14 22:09:40

I agree with a pp that if you call the LLL helpline right now they are likely still open at this time.

I think it would be ok to call in next say 10 minutes or otherwise first thing in the morning.

Bardette Fri 11-Jul-14 22:13:31

Have you looked at the Kellymom website? It has some good advice.
I remember this with ds1, I didn't know what I was doing and he didn't know what he was doing and it all seemed such a fight.
Could you express a bit and feed it to him using a syringe so he's not so hungry and might be a bit more patient?
Newbies babies need feeding all the time, go to bed with him and make yourself comfortable, take your top off so you're not trying to manage your clothes as well as everything else, take his clothes off too and cuddle together. Feed him whenever he shows an interest.
Drink and eat loads, whatever you fancy - now is not the time for diets or even healthy eating!
You can do this, it gets easier as the days go by.

Hedgehogging Fri 11-Jul-14 22:24:49

Oh God you so are not alone in this. I could have written this post myself a few weeks ago. I practically dehydrated myself I cried so much in the first few days.

Just to say my LO did the crying at the breast thing too and it wasn't anything more sinister (for us) than her either being a)windy or b)tired. So I eventually realised we both needed to take a breather for a wind/cuddle.

I also worried about my supply as I couldn't believe how often DD wanted feeding. I'd literally have JUST finished and DP would be cuddling her and she'd start to fuss and I'd think "no, no she can't possibly want the boob again"...
She wanted the boob.

Thinking back the first two weeks or so were actually a kind of surreal hell on earth with occasional moments of supreme baby-induced joy... really (*zones out at the memory*)... Christ... I thought I'd never be anything other than a weeping and not very efficient milking parlour on legs. BUT it all settled down and we are all now utterly sleep deprived but quite blissfully happy. Don't despair, seek constant reassurance, get checked re latch/TT/reflux etc but keep repeating "IT GETS BETTER"!

Dangermouse1 Fri 11-Jul-14 22:35:55

As others have said, your baby needs to be calm to feed. I was so stressed in hospital and midwife after midwife spent ages shoving his head onto me for half an hour at a time - i now know this doesnt work! If you don't get a good latch after a few tries then rock him and settle him til he's a little calmer, then try again. Another thing that really helped me with positioning was to use a pillow on my lap to support my baby and take some of the weight (a v shaped one is best but a normal one may be some help). Also, if your breasts are really hard and full of milk, expressing off a tiny bit of milk before the start of the feed can make it easier for your baby to latch on. Finally, I couldn't get my head round the fact my baby could feed for an hour at a time, then be hungry about 10 minutes later. I thought this meant there was a problem but actually it was perfectly normal for my baby - he just took ages to feed, they do speed up as they get older so it isn't forever.

What I really wanted to say though was that if you are like I was and are beating yourself up over this then don't! It is in no way your fault and you are doing bloody well to still be trying after 4 days when you are probably exhausted and in agony. So it will get easier with the right support and you CAN crack this. But equally, you don't HAVE to. Don't be bullied (in either direction) by family, healthcare professionals or crazy women on mumsnet x

Chasabeth Fri 11-Jul-14 22:52:45

Thanks everyone for your advice.

I'm hoping it's the hormones that's making me feel as I am.

As I write this I currently have my DS latched on feeding, he has been there for over 20 minutes. My milk looks like it's coming though as I tried to hand express before hand and some came out. It is hurting but I think it's because my nipples are sore and cracked, so I'm hoping he's getting what he needs.

I haven't asked about tongue tied, wasn't aware of it to be honest but I will ask tomorrow.

I'm going to take this one feed at a time. My DH tells me how amazing I am and that I'm doing everything correctly but when your in that frame of mind nothing anyone says makes you feel better x

AnythingNotEverything Fri 11-Jul-14 23:02:48

It's ok OP. Breastfeeding is hard. One feed at a time. Lansinoh in between!

Madrigals Fri 11-Jul-14 23:53:34

Chasabeth, you ARE amazing! Your DH sounds like he is doing a good job of being supportive too.

Sending some un mn hugs - soon it will click and we've all been there thanks

Chasabeth Sat 12-Jul-14 05:13:08

Morning guys.

I know it's early but had a bit of a pants night. I couldn't get DS to latch on at all and he has been screaming the house down. Tried to get myself ready, express a bit etc before he started screaming and he just couldn't seem to latch on. He gets stressed, I get stressed, in the end we had to resort up feeding him formula which just broke my heart. But as my DH said at least he's happy & getting some goodness.

I feel awful again, and it always seems worse at night (things ways do). I never thought in my wildest dreams it'll be this hard to BF my own baby.

I know thousands of women are going through exactly the same thing right now but it feels like your the only one xx

specialmagiclady Sat 12-Jul-14 05:31:18

My DS1 is 9 now and I still remember that feeling so so well. You are doing amazingly and I promise you that a) your nipples will turn to leather soon and stop hurting as much b) you will start to be able to do this.

Don't think you answered the question about the milk coming in. Are your breasts like giant shiny meringues of pain? If not, the milk still hasn't really come in so feeding not very satisfying for your baby. Mine took 5 days or so and I remember standing in the shower, looking down at my front and seeing these enormous Pamela Anderson tits. I shouted down to my DH "it's heeeeeere!" He was on the phone to my mum (600 miles away) and I heard her cheer from the top of the stairs!

Good luck, keep posting xxx

PragmaticWench Sat 12-Jul-14 05:45:01

You're doing really well, glad your DH is being lovely and supportive. You might have local breastfeeding supporters who can come out to your home and see you in person, they're usually better than midwives. Keep asking for help, the national helplines are good and there to be called!

One feed at a time is a good approach, and if your baby cries, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders, it will be okay! Lots of skin to skin should help you both relax.

Dangermouse1 Sat 12-Jul-14 05:57:10

It does always seem much worse at nighT, remember it well. Don't stress about the formula, I was still using on day 4 and turned out it was the last time I needed to. I'm also wondering if your milk isn't in yet so it may be the next day or so things improve.

Chasabeth Sat 12-Jul-14 08:14:17

Hey guys,

It looks like my milk is in! Woke up this morning to huge rock hard breasts and I've just managed to hand express a tiny bit.

Just BF fed him again but had to use a tiny bit of formula to calm him down as he was really crying, but I didn't even let him get to that stage before I fed him. He fed for around 15 minutes and is currently asleep on my chest so I'm hoping he got something. xx

Hedgehogging Sat 12-Jul-14 08:50:43

Hurrah! Sounds like you're in business. Don't worry if there are further speed wobbles- you are doing fantastically and it is really tough to start. It's a bit like learning to smile- yes it's entirely natural but nobody starts off knowing exactly what to do.

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