Breastfeeding advice needed - feeling so low

(24 Posts)
BettyOBarley Fri 30-Sep-16 22:15:14

Sorry I've a feeling this will be a bit long and rambley but would appreciate any help!

DS is 5 days old and has an anterior tongue tie which is being snipped next Wed plus a thick upper lip tie.

He has been feeding OK from the left breast but the right nipple is lacerated and I can't bear him on there now without a shield which I've just started using today.
My milk came in yesterday and the right breast is very large, hard and sore which doesn't help.

Anyway my issue is DS will just feed and feed. He goes on a breast for 20-30 mins, falls asleep, wakes 5 min later and is rooting/crying. This can go on for 8-10 hours without a break, every night.

Today my left breast with the 'good' nipple hasn't seemed to refill, DS keeps latching on, coming off 5 mins in to a feed and then rooting again. And repeat. Tried expressing at that side and couldn't get a drop. Could the milk have stopped already at that side?

I think he is getting something through the nipple shield on the right one but isn't very happy to use it and just doesn't seem satisfied. I've been able to express about 4oz a time from the right but after only two bottles I've noticed DS latch was lazy so am reluctant now although the midwife said due to his weight loss (7%) I might need to supplement him with expressed milk.

Can I boost my supply in some way?
Was the bottle + shield a mistake and I've confused him and he isn't taking the milk properly? I can never hear him swallow milk.
Is expressing / shield a really bad idea?

Thank you in advance for any ideas... I just don't know how to give him the amount of milk he seems to need. I feel like such a failure, I'm utterly exhausted, feeling ill, out of energy and ideas and can't stop crying today sad

MoreGilmoreGirls Fri 30-Sep-16 22:26:34

Bless you, you are having a rough time just wanted to say you are not a failure!!!

I Had similar issues with tongue tie / nipple shields and expressing (plus weight gain probs). The shields will affect your supply and you won't be able to express as much as your baby could get. I can't imagine there's no milk in your left breast after such a short time though, baby should still get milk even if the breast is not full.

I've been using shields for 10 weeks as I could not get DS latched without and he's getting plenty of milk now the tongue tie is sorted.

The best ways to boost your supply are plenty of skin on skin with baby, offer him breast as much as poss. Express little and often (does not matter if not getting much milk out, I was told stimulation will help supply). No caffeine and you can take a fenugreek supplement and eat lots of oats and complex carbs.

Do you have a local support group you can go to? They really helped me. Good luck you are doing an amazing job, it will get better once you get the tongue tie sorted flowers

anonymice Fri 30-Sep-16 22:26:59

Could you try rugby ball hold on the right breast to see if him feeding without the shield on it is bearable ? Might avoid the lacerated areas using a different angle ? Also keep putting lansinoh on the injured nipple tissue. Sorry it is hurting so much....

ifancyagreencard Fri 30-Sep-16 22:29:35

I'm sorry you're having such a crap time sad. These early days can often not be what we dreamed they would be.

BF wasn't great for me, so I have no advice I can offer but I know that heaps of MNrs will turn up soon with tons of support and advice.

But a failure???? Errr, no way! You carried your DS for 9 months and loved him before he even saw the light of day. I have no doubt that he is warm, clean and snuggled into you feeling safe and secure.

Whatever the next few weeks may bring (maybe a fabulous BF breakthrough, maybe a reluctant but necessary switch to FF), the most important thing for your DS is your loving arms. Never think you're a failure.

Elbo7 Fri 30-Sep-16 22:31:04

Hi op, your ds sounds like mine did in the early days, lots of cluster feeding for hours every evening and it was exhausting! Plus when my milk came in I was v tearful too and it really didn't help. Im not an expert at all but I was told to look or listen for the sounds of swallowing to see if ds was getting milk. Also to keep an eye on nappies and if you're getting plenty of wet ones this is good. I was also advised (to up my supply) to keep feeding as much as ds wanted it (not easy when you're in pain I know) and to eat oats!
Good luck and congratulations on your new baby

AThousandTears Fri 30-Sep-16 22:32:34

Firstly, well done for continuing! It's so hard at first and there are options to help you.

Can you get to any breastfeeding groups near to you? The peer supporters are amazing and just what you need.

The shield wasn't a mistake, continue with it for the time being until he's been snipped. It will stop you being sore on that side and reduce the amount you give from a bottle. You may find he has his latch corrected after the tongue tie is sorted.

The "empty" one will not have dried up. It is completely normal for him to feed all the time at this stage to establish a good supply. Think of it like drinking out of a glass with a straw while someone tops it up. It doesn't run out.

If you are engorged on the other try to express a little more often.

Please remember that your health and wellbeing are vital to your baby, so if a bottle of formula is needed to give you a break then that's fine. It doesn't mean you have to stop breastfeeding or that you've done anything wrong.

CtotheB Fri 30-Sep-16 22:37:12

Hi OP I'm by no means an expert but just like to offer a bit of morale support, I know how exhausting it can be. I expressed a lot in the early days because of latch and attachment, sore nipples etc. But from my experience the bottle helped because she had no issue going from boob to bottle as she had always been used to it. This might not be "recommend", but it worked for us and gave me a break. Definitely try altering positions though, I really like the lying down position. Good luck, you're doing fabulous!!

popthisoneout Fri 30-Sep-16 22:39:22

Ah love, I had the exact same problems with DS and it was so stressful.

I would say hand express from the right breast if expressing isn't relieving the engorgement. You risk developing mastitis (which is what happened to me) otherwise. UNICEF gave a video of how to do it.

http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/Resources/AudioVideo/Hand-expression/

You might find that feeding in the rugby hold on that side will help with the latch and make it a bit more bare able. Air nipples as much as possible. I spent weeks basically topless but they healed pretty quickly.

The breasts are never empty (think rivers rather than lakes) so the left side may feel 'empty' but the milk is still there, it may be just need a bit more work to get it out. Breast compressions while feeding will help keep it flowing and would be useful on both sides actually. Nipples shields will decrease your supply in the long term as the breast isn't stimulated in the same way, but expressing and breast compressions will help to counteract this.

http://www.breastfeedingmums.com/drjacknewmanbreastcompression.htm

if your worried about using bottles, call the midwives or postnatal ward and speak to the infant feeding co-ordinator about finger feeding until you go to the tongue tie appointment. They'll be able to talk you through how to do it and give you the kit.

Keep posting for support here too. I had so much useful info from here which I struggled to get in RL as breastfeeding support us generally rubbish.

jenniuol Fri 30-Sep-16 22:40:11

^*But a failure???? Errr, no way! You carried your DS for 9 months and loved him before he even saw the light of day. I have no doubt that he is warm, clean and snuggled into you feeling safe and secure.

Whatever the next few weeks may bring (maybe a fabulous BF breakthrough, maybe a reluctant but necessary switch to FF), the most important thing for your DS is your loving arms. Never think you're a failure.*^

This 100%.
Op day 5 was the worst for me. I remember sobbing, actual great heaving sobs as if the world was ending over feeding and shields and tongue tie etc etc. But it will get better. Hang in there. Do what ever it takes to get through the day and get some rest. Congratulations on your baby.

NewIdeasToday Fri 30-Sep-16 22:43:32

Please remember that it's no problem if you move to formula feeding. There is so much pushing for breastfeeding but it doesn't work out for everyone. Do what seems best for you and your baby.

Hope you get this situation sorted out. And enjoy the lovely cuddles. Your baby will be grown up before you know it.

crayfish Fri 30-Sep-16 22:55:26

Oh I was you. I have never cried so much as I did over breastfeeding (including my divorce), it's so so hard when things don't go well. I was in exactly your shoes with the shields and the expressing and tongue tie, I'm sad to say that we never had a breakthrough and after six weeks I reluctantly switched to formula. It broke my heart but do you know what? DS was fine. Absolutely fine and still is. And the day I switched I actually started to enjoy my baby. I'm not saying this is the answer for you, but it's not the end of the world either.

I really hope you have a breakthrough and certainly before six weeks, but you are doing absolutely everything you can just now so don't feel guilty. Your baby is so lucky to have a mum who cares so much. Don't beat yourself up, it is incredibly early days.

On a practical basis, try and hand express from the sore boob. I ended up with mastitis twice because I let my broken boob get too engorged and was scared to express in case it hurt more.

allthatnonsense Fri 30-Sep-16 23:04:02

Express away until his tongue tie is snipped.

Do whatever you can and don't blame yourself. Breast feeding under these circumstances can be really tough, so do what you can to keep it going and accept the situation.

KnitsBakesAndReads Sat 01-Oct-16 00:34:15

You're absolutely not a failure! It's completely normal to feel like this so early on.

The hours and hours of cluster feeding can be exhausting, but the good news is that they will really help boost your milk supply (and also babies grow out of the cluster feeding stage amazingly fast!). Are you able to have lots of skin to skin contact while your DS feeds? That will also help your supply.

Try not to worry about how much you can express. No breast pump (or hand expressing) is anything like as efficient as a baby taking milk from the breast so even if you're not able to express a lot this doesn't mean you're not producing milk.

I agree with everyone who's suggested trying to get to a BF group or looking for support services in your area. Just talking to someone who understands can be so helpful in the early days.

One last thought, you mentioned feeling ill and short of energy, are you getting enough to eat and drink? BF uses a lot of energy so it's important to eat plenty and to drink a lot of water. It's easy to forget to eat and drink when you're so focused on feeding and caring for a newborn, but can you ask your DP (or whoever is with you) to make sure they bring you food and drinks while you're feeding DS?

AndIAskMyself Sat 01-Oct-16 10:37:54

I was exactly the same as this 7 weeks ago when my DS was born. He had severe tongue tie and I also couldn't feed him from my right breast but that was because he nipple was flatter and he wouldn't latch.

Firstly, don't worry about bottles - there are things you can do to ensure that going from breast to bottle is possible. Firstly, make sure you're using a slow flow nipple on the bottle and look up on YouTube for videos on 'paced bottle feeding'. The idea is to make it as similar to breastfeeding - so they have to work a bit more to get the milk. We tried lots of bottles, but in the end the medela ones worked for us. It's different for every. Any though.

Secondly, I too had a lot of pain in the nipple (bleeding, cracking and blistering) and to give my breasts a break I gave 20-30ml of formula every two to three hours to begin and I expressed like crazy so that eventually I could replace that with breast milk. It also gave me the break I needed to then also be able to offer him the breast if he still needed more after having the formula. I'm not suggesting you do this, but that is what I did.

We got his tongue tie cut on day 5 (it felt like such a long wait) - I thought that would fix things straight away, but what I would say is that it's not always that simple. His tongue tie was so bad that he had to learn to suck again and for two weeks I had to do tongue exercises with him before every feed which was sometimes distressing as he just wanted to feed, but couldn't. Then one day he just got it, and we've never had to do them since.

Since then, I am now exclusively breastfeeding and have been for about 4 weeks and DS is 7 weeks old now. He is gaining weight perfectly and the midwives were really happy with the approach I took. I read a lot of comments from people online when questions like this are asked and a few people suggest that bottle feeding or formula would mess up your supply or mean that you switched over to formula. I just want to say that it could not be further from the truth! If you are determined, but also kind to yourself (I think this is important), then you can still breastfeed. I'm not saying it's easy - you have to be diligent about expressing, etc. But it can be done.

Also, when you think your breast is empty, it really isn't. And I wish more people would talk about cluster feeding, but it does feel in the early days like they are feeding and feeding and there's nothing there. But they are programmed to do this - they are trying to regulate and increase your milk supply. It is exhausting, but once you know that's what it is, it gets easier! Just make sure you have LOADS of snacks and drinks (with straws), and just watch some trashy tv

AndIAskMyself Sat 01-Oct-16 10:39:23

Oh and meant to say - I agree about going to a breastfeeding group. When I posted on here, that was the advice I got. I went to a breastfeeding cafe the day after my son's tongue tie was cut and it was so valuable!

TheTurtleMoves Sat 01-Oct-16 12:38:21

Fenugreek tablets boosted my supply no end and agree with all pp, you are doing wonders already. It is emotional and gruelling but never doubt that you are already doing your best. Best wishes OP.

BettyOBarley Sat 01-Oct-16 21:31:34

Thank you all so much flowers I really do appreciate every reply, I'm going to print this thread and have a good read as there's so many good suggestions.

Funnily enough I thinkhope we've turned a little corner overnight. Last night DS slept from 11-8 (the wonders of white noise!!) and only woke for feeding at 1 and 5! I feel like a different person after some sleep.

I decided to grit my teeth today as well and feed without the nipple shield on my bad side as DS seemed to be struggling with it..and it wasn't too bad! Bearable pain and the breast drained whereas it didn't with the shield on so I've managed to feed twice with no shield on that side and my left breast is now pain free feeding!! smile

I'm sure there will still be good and bad days but I feel so much more positive since writing this thread so thank you again.

Fleekorunique Sat 01-Oct-16 21:34:03

Are you managing to eat & drink plenty OP? flowers

popthisoneout Sat 01-Oct-16 21:38:53

Well done, that's really great. Sleep always helps. Just keep practising the latch and hopefully you'll find it will get better and better.

JassyRadlett Sat 01-Oct-16 21:39:49

Oh, brilliant news OP, you total hero. The early days can be such total shit. flowerscakebrew

NaturalRBF Sat 01-Oct-16 21:42:04

You're entering the first growth spurt so don't worry! With all those extra issues (and I say extra coz breastfeeding is bloody hard!) you're doing fab. Rugby ball hold wasn't as painful for me on my sore side so as PP said give it a go? If you're worried about nipple confusion with bottles etc use the little lipped cups. We had to for a while again on my sore side whilst I got to grips with rugby balling for a while. Fenugreek and blessed thistle ups supply naturally & is available at H&Bs. It could be he's just emptying your other breast. Mine used to take an hour to get enough back to satisfy DD at that age. Don't be hard on yourself. You're doing great

BettyOBarley Sat 01-Oct-16 22:22:04

I'm not drinking enough I don't think, felt a little peculiar again today so definitely going to work on that.

Going to do more skin to skin as I haven't done much. Mainly because redressing him means he'd wake up and immediately want another feed!

Will have a look for fenugreek now thanks.

I've been doing the rugby ball hold on my bad side all along as I remembered that from trying to feed my DD so I've held him across my body (don't know name!) today to get a different position on my nipple as suggested.

On a side note, what positions are best when feeding out and about? At the minute I need a million cushions to support DS, he was 9lb 1.5 so is quite heavy and my breasts are large - 40G - how do I support his weight when he can feed for up to 30 mins+?!

Final question for now! is it normal to feel a dragging sensation in your armpit when feeding from that breast? This is from my engorged breast with damaged nipple.

Thank you all again for your kind words flowers

JassyRadlett Sun 02-Oct-16 11:58:41

I always put handbag or similar to prop up my boys when out and about - they were hefty specimens too (9lb 5 and 10lb 5). Not the most comfortable but needs must!

I'm not sure about dragging sensation but I had all sorts of odd symptoms (agonising 'refill' pains, etc) that all seemed to dissipate after about 6-8 weeks.

KnitsBakesAndReads Sun 02-Oct-16 13:34:52

Well done OP! Sounds like you're doing great and really pleased to hear it feels like you've turned a corner and things are improving.

Drinking more water sounds like a good plan. I'm BF my DS and I normally need at least three litres of water a day, more if it's hot. My DH always fills a 1 litre water bottle and leaves it next to the sofa where I can reach it easily while BF or while DS is asleep on my knee after a feed.

Have you tried feeding lying on your side? No use for feeding outside home of course, but my DS is big for his age too (and my boobs are 34JJ!) and I find lying down to feed really comfortable.

For feeding outside, can you take a small cushion with you (maybe in the pram basket if you use one)? Folding up a blanket to use as a makeshift pillow might work too?

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