At breaking point with EBF dd

(34 Posts)
missuswife Fri 21-Jun-13 04:25:01

I need advice. I have EBF my dd (pfb) since she was born, she is four months old. I have not been away from her for more than 20 minutes since she was born. I'm exhausted mentally and physically. I have an electric breast pump and want to build a supply of milk up so I can have a few hours off and leave her with DH but can never find the time to pump because I am alone with her all day.

I'm a SAHM and my DH tries to help where he can but because she nurses every two hours I can't really get any time to myself. I'm in a new town hundreds of miles from home and no idea how to find a trustworthy carer to even come in and help me for a few hours.

I know it gets easier, but finding it very difficult right now. I'm tempted to buy formula so my DH can take her for a Saturday morning or something but I really don't want to give her it.

I was also on my own with her for her first six weeks because my DH moved to this new town ahead of me. He really doesn't understand what that time was like and how overwhelming it all is. He is a wonderful man but until you've done it on your own, it's impossible to grasp. He's compared it to the long work hours he had to start with but with the baby there are no weekends or lunch breaks, no adult coworkers, etc IYSWIM.

Not sure what I expect you to tell me but I really needed to vent.

missuswife Fri 21-Jun-13 04:29:34

Also feel very spoiled complaining as I have a nice home and want for nought but have got no support network here and it's very hard meeting new people. Have made two mum friends but not the same as old friends. I know a lot of people have things much harder though so feel like I shouldn't complain and just get on with it.

soupmaker Fri 21-Jun-13 04:46:03

Hello. I hear you. I felt completely overwhelmed when DD came along too. It's such a massive life change and like you I had little in terms of a support network close by.

I found getting out every day even just to have a coffee in a cafe helped. Also speak to your HV about local mum and baby groups. Having a few mum pals to share with really helps too.

Also, do what feels right for you, but I had DD on a bottle by 4 months at night so DP could take some of the strain, but continued to BF.

Meringue33 Fri 21-Jun-13 05:14:50

God you did the first six weeks as a single mum?! Wow I have so much respect for you! My LO is five and a half months and I barely managed to keep my head even with DP on hand much of the time (he's usually home from work around seven).

It sounds like you are doing a phenomenal job and I'm not surprised you need to vent. It is silly of DP to compare it to long hours at work but one day he will understand the difference (ie when baby/tot is weaned and you go off for a well deserved weekend trip leaving him and LO!)

Nothing wrong with a bit of a moan either if it helps you feel better! I don't have any easy answers I'm afraid. We introduced a bottle of formula at night at ten weeks for exactly the reasons you describe, plus I really needed to sleep! It depends how strongly you feel about Ebf. But you do have the choice if you feel that is what you need to have a break.

Also, our LO goes 3 hrs between feeds so on a Saturday morning I often give him a big feed then hand him over to DP who will play with him for a while then take him out in pram so he naps. I'll pop to the shops, get my nails done etc - it's lovely. Could you do this, even if the time slot is smaller?

Finally, I think NCT rent hospital grade breast pumps for around £45 an hour, if you feel strongly you want to continue ebf. This is an option I didn't think of before we started mixing but may try it next time as it takes me about an hour to express a feed with a battery OP breast pump!

missuswife Fri 21-Jun-13 05:29:29

Thanks for the replies, it's nice to know someone has taken the time to read my post and can empathize. Just wanted to clarify that I am in a country that doesn't have HV (moved from London to US at 32 weeks but that's another story) but I have been given a free electric pump that plugs into mains, as part of my health coverage scheme.

GirlWiththeLionHeart Fri 21-Jun-13 05:30:54

I got to the stage where you are, desperate for some alone time/respite. I couldn't get anything out by expressing so bought some ready made cartons of aptimil just for the odd hour.
Better than being depressed.

twirliedobbit Fri 21-Jun-13 05:40:04

You are doing soooooo well. Managing to cope with a new baby is enough let alone doing it alone with no support network. Well done you!!
Does dh work for a big corporation?? I used to work with expats for a big oil co and we used to arrange family meet ups for all expats to get together and give each other support in the strange country!
Otherwise, I second what everyone else has said about it being ok to give yourself a break. I combi fed from about 10 weeks with all of mine and it really was a life line. Carried on bf ing until they were 8 months so it can work.
If you would prefer ebf, really try to take advantage of that 2 hour gap at the weekends. Take a bath, read a book, catch up on sleep, Skype some friends anything for you....
Also keep on with the baby groups, the friendships will come eventually....good luck and well done again.

Signet2012 Fri 21-Jun-13 06:01:22

If its any help my dd was the same but by five months I found a massive difference in her, she started going three hours between a feed, sometimes four which helped me break the cycle of boob in have a wee get a drink boob out which made me feel like daisy the cow.
Also I made sure we got out. I don't have friends as such but there is the odd play group I go to and most days we end up walking, this helped space the feeds out a bit better and gave me some time out from her as she was happy sat in her pram.

AndMiffyWentToSleep Fri 21-Jun-13 06:03:57

Wow the first six weeks

GirlWiththeLionHeart Fri 21-Jun-13 06:04:22

Also mornings are the best time to pump as you make more milk. When I could express a fair amount, it was when ds was feeding on one side, I would pump on the other same time

AndMiffyWentToSleep Fri 21-Jun-13 06:08:39

Wow the first six weeks on your own? As PP said, respect!
I know what you mean about time to yourself. I found that when I wasn't there he could sometimes go a little longer between feeds.
To be honest, if you gave him to DH for Saturday mornings, even if you had to come back to feed him halfway through, you would still get a break (and DH might start to get a clue!). I found it hard to force myself away though.

Sunnysummer Fri 21-Jun-13 06:37:11

Am so impressed that you managed the first 6 weeks all alone - you are doing so well already!

Reading your post, I can't help wondering if it is really the 'EBF' part that you are struggling with the most, or whether you are focussing on that to avoid putting more responsibility on the 'DH' part. I'm also living a long way from home with a working DH, and even with him there for the first 6 weeks, it can feel very lonely and unsupported.

Perhaps you need to start by getting DH more involved, and also by reducing feed frequency.

At 4 months, you are usually able to extend feeds to every 3-4 hours, like people have said above, which would definitely be a start. This is actually often easier if you leave her with DH, as when you're feeding it can be so easy to pop a boob out once you hear grizzling (and there will be grizzling, as even if she doesn't beed the feed every two hours, she will expect it!) We've been doing this with DS, starting at a time that he's normally calm and that DH can focus on him completely - we went with a Saturday morning to start, I had coffee with a friend in a local cafe and DH and I promised each other that there would be no texting each other, to avoid me micromanaging him and him panic-calling me at the first sign of tears :-) The first time was a bit stressful as DS had been feeding every 1.5-2 hours and was very grumpy, but we're in the swing of it now, and it is so much better! I'm also expressing a little at a time - I pump for 10-15 minutes while burping and holding DS upright after a feed, to minimise disruption to supply and as I also don't have time for a full express. Then after a few mini-pumps like this, I have enough to decant from the fridge into a freezer bag for storage as a whole feed.

Most importantly, though, it sounds like you need a break! Like you say, if your DH hasn't spent time at home he will never understand - mine didn't until he took a week off to spend with us at 5 weeks. Although he has always been a very loving dad, he practically fled back to work and has been so supportive and appreciative ever since. From what you say, leaving DH with your DD for even a few hours (with your milk if possible or formula if not) might be the best thing possible for your mental health, your relationship and your DD too.

Outside of your DH, do you have local playgroups or mothers' groups that you can attend? They can be really supportive, and also recommend some trustworthy carers if you need a break.

LaLaLeni Fri 21-Jun-13 06:39:24

I second all the above sentiments - I struggled with ebf from day one and had to give formula as well to avoid DS losing too much weight. After 6 weeks of only giving it when he hadn't eaten enough I started on one bottle at night because he became so hungry we couldn't leave the sofa and I was going crazy being stuck indoors, never even being able to eat or go to the loo. Like you, there just wasn't time to express either.

I agonised for ages about starting to combination feed because I so desperately wanted to ebf, especially after finally getting him to latch (had to use nipple shields for the first 5 weeks to get him to feed at all), but I had to keep telling myself that rule number one is just feed the baby, some BM is better than none and formula isn't poison.

Now at 12 weeks he's on roughly half and half, because he just wouldn't take a whole feed from me and I knew maintaining his weight was more important than my desire to ebf. I had to try and put aside my guilt and just focus on what was best for us both. We can go out and about in the sunshine, my milk is better because I can eat regularly and rest more, and OH can feed him which allows them to bond more. He really didn't and still doesn't understand that being with a newborn 24/7 is totally consuming and nothing like going to work. I'll keep BFing until it becomes too hard to continue with work, but I'm now happy I chose to combine. DS is happier, he's fine with bottles and boobs and is healthy and satisfied grin

You've already ebf much longer than I did and god knows how you kept sane in the first 6 weeks on your own!

If you can possibly find 20 mins halfway between feeds in the early morning, I've found I only really get a useable amount then, at least a feed's worth anyway, then you have that for later on when you really need a break, plus it seems to come out quicker. Failing that just pump after feeds even a tiny bit each time, if your LO has just one side at a time pump the other side during feeding because you should get a better let down.

Good luck!

LaLaLeni Fri 21-Jun-13 06:39:58

I second all the above sentiments - I struggled with ebf from day one and had to give formula as well to avoid DS losing too much weight. After 6 weeks of only giving it when he hadn't eaten enough I started on one bottle at night because he became so hungry we couldn't leave the sofa and I was going crazy being stuck indoors, never even being able to eat or go to the loo. Like you, there just wasn't time to express either.

I agonised for ages about starting to combination feed because I so desperately wanted to ebf, especially after finally getting him to latch (had to use nipple shields for the first 5 weeks to get him to feed at all), but I had to keep telling myself that rule number one is just feed the baby, some BM is better than none and formula isn't poison.

Now at 12 weeks he's on roughly half and half, because he just wouldn't take a whole feed from me and I knew maintaining his weight was more important than my desire to ebf. I had to try and put aside my guilt and just focus on what was best for us both. We can go out and about in the sunshine, my milk is better because I can eat regularly and rest more, and OH can feed him which allows them to bond more. He really didn't and still doesn't understand that being with a newborn 24/7 is totally consuming and nothing like going to work. I'll keep BFing until it becomes too hard to continue with work, but I'm now happy I chose to combine. DS is happier, he's fine with bottles and boobs and is healthy and satisfied grin

You've already ebf much longer than I did and god knows how you kept sane in the first 6 weeks on your own!

If you can possibly find 20 mins halfway between feeds in the early morning, I've found I only really get a useable amount then, at least a feed's worth anyway, then you have that for later on when you really need a break, plus it seems to come out quicker. Failing that just pump after feeds even a tiny bit each time, if your LO has just one side at a time pump the other side during feeding because you should get a better let down.

Good luck!

millyme Fri 21-Jun-13 07:43:13

You poor thing, it's so so hard isn't it.
I was in a v similar situation to you and formula saved my life. When I decided to give that first formula feed I wept and wept - terrible hormonal sobs! - because I was convinced I was doing a terrible injustice to my baby and feeding him poison etc! In fact I had to get someone else to give it to him because I couldn't bear to.
But he absolutely gobbled it down and we settled into giving him a bottle every night. After a few months he gave up the bottle and I went back to just breastfeeding and my supply was fine - and he was wanting a bit less anyway because of weaning (the exact same thing just happended to a friend of mine fwiw: occasional bottles for a few months then back to ebf).
Your baby has had so much wonderful bmilk already - and will continue getting lots - there is nothing wrong with giving her a bit of formula too! A year from now you won't think twice about bunging her a biscuit when she's run out of energy at the playground, so maybe try to see it a bit like that?
You might weep for a day when giving the first bottle but you will feel SO much better when the pressure's off a bit. You'll be able to look after yourself and your family much better too. I've just had my second and not panicking about combination feeding has made it just a different world from the first time round. My little baby girl is so happy and healthy and has huge feeds at a time so doesn't want to snack every 45 mins like DS1.
It's completely amazing what you've done and how well you've coped already. I wouldn't be able to string a sentence together in your position. Your dh must think you're a total hero and your dd will too one day.
Feel free to pm me if you want to chat more. It's a special torture being isolated with a needy baby and no one else.
Good luck!!

Nicknamefail Fri 21-Jun-13 10:23:44

Poor you. I felt sorry for myself in the early days as dh works 7 days per week, but I do have other support here.
I think you are probably suffering from the after effects of 6 weeks on your own, and need a break.
The most important thing is to make your own decisions about feeding. If you want to give a bit of formula, that is fine, don't feel guilty about it. If you decide to keep feeding, ask dh to do everything this weekend, just bring the baby to you 2 hourly to feed then take her away again when she is done, even if she's fallen asleep nursing he can take her and rock her back to sleep. During your breaks on this day you should read, sleep, watch tv, but make sure you leave the house at least once, even if for a walk on your own.
Good luck.

Nicknamefail Fri 21-Jun-13 10:28:48

And don't be in the same room as dh and dd otherwise that isn't a break.
Meant to also say, explaining to dh that this is NECESSARY I'm sure he will understand. He will probably have a lovely weekend with dd anyway, but also learn how hard it is for you. As you say, it is difficult for them to understand. My dh doesn't realise the relentless of it, but he has leave coming up and we are planning to do what I have just advised in the previous post. (Dh actually quite looking forward to it.)

Sunnysummer Fri 21-Jun-13 11:05:46

Nicknamefail's plan is awesome, I second that :-)

curryeater Fri 21-Jun-13 12:01:20

Personally I found 4 months with dd1 the absolute lowest point - the relentlessness, and the seeming endlessness.

Have you tried expressing with the pump on one breast and your dc on the other? this is a way of using the time for two things, I know what you mean about never expressing because you are always bfing. If you put the baby on the breast in the rugby ball hold, you won't get little feet kicking the pump.

Very best of luck, you are doing so well.

missuswife Fri 21-Jun-13 14:12:40

Thanks for the replies. It is the utter relentlessness of it. I enjoy breastfeeding but it is the fact I have no time alone to do anything other than babycare that is stressing me out. Spending 24/7 with any other person would drive you insane no matter how much you like them.

She is a very happy cheerful little soul, always smiling and giggling, but lately she is not content to play independently in her gym and wants constant cuddles and attention. It is very hot and humid here so I have been taking shorter and fewer walks.

This is not the part of the country we intended to move to, I thought we were going to move to where my family are, in a beautiful coastal area. DH got a job offer in this area that he couldn't refuse. I feel like I would never have left the UK if I had known I'd end up here. I'm a Yank but lived in London for ten years and that is where all my friends are.

Great ideas have been suggested and I will try them and hope that with time this all gets easier.

herethereandeverywhere Fri 21-Jun-13 14:26:50

Formula is fine you know. Four months is a huge milestone and I found that's when mine really ramped up the demands as they took large volumes from me from then until weaning. Also when we holidayed in a hot country DD2 needed the extra fluids and fed all the time, literally. With my 1st DD I agonised over every aspect of bf, she needed tube feeding formula in the first few weeks and I thought I'd 'ruined' bf for me and her (which I hadn't and went on to about 6 months, ebf eventually then quickly reintroduced a bottle or two so mix fed). 2nd time round I just wasn't so willing to put up with the exhaustion and physically drained feeling so started introducing formula at about 5 months and gave up by 6.

Everyone is different and you may want to preserve your ebf above all else in which case there's already some wonderful advice on here. But giving her a bottle or two a day now is going to do no harm at all. In fact DD1 who had far more formula overall in the 1st 6 months of life has been far less sickly as a child.

Being a happy mum is far more important than the number of months you ebf for. I could feel the resentment coming on that I was chained to DD via bf so the switch to formula was right for me.

girliefriend Fri 21-Jun-13 14:38:37

Hello, even 7yrs on I can remember feeling exactly as you are describing feeling. It is so overwhelming having a baby, nothing can prepare you for it.

The things that helped me stay sane were, putting a routine in place <whispers Gina Ford....> this helped me in that I felt more in control of the day, I roughly knew when dd should have a sleep so I could put my feet up for 5 mins and have a cuppa, also meant I had my evenings back <bliss>

Also I found having one thing to do everyday that got me out of the house was vital. I joined quite a few groups so we went to a bfing group, a baby massage class and did baby swimming - so that was 3 days of the week sorted. On other days meeting a friend for coffee or even taking dd for a walk/ to the park was vital.

If its any help (I know when people said this to me when dd was 4months it just annoyed me!) but it does get much eaiser as they get bigger, then you can go along to toddler groups etc and do more with them.

smile hth.

GirlWiththeLionHeart Fri 21-Jun-13 14:57:21

It does get easier. My 6 month old is already a little less clingy and will sit and play for a bit and goes longer between feeds. 4 months is hard

Chandon Fri 21-Jun-13 15:02:28

Hello, I have been in exactly your position!
At 4 months you can start with a bigger gap between feeds (3-4 hours).

I started weaning around 5 months, and by 7 months he could drink from a cup. ( he refused bottles!) by 9 months he was on powder milk and food.

It is bloody intense, but you can be proud of what you are doing and gradually introduce change ( longer gaps between feeding).

To get him to drink enough to last more than 2 hrs, I had to make sure I did not let him fall alseep on the boob, but rather burp him properly and feed him a bit more, iyswim

It WILL get better

missuswife Fri 21-Jun-13 16:56:36

Do you know what's weird? If only I could wear my pre-baby clothes, I'd feel so much better. None of them open down the front which leaves me with a very small handful of dresses that I've altered to allow nursing. I think I'd feel a lot more in control if I felt well-dressed.

Some things I do feel good about are that I've had a shower every morning since she arrived, and that she st least goes to sleep at 9 pm for at least four hours. And I know it's only two more months til I can start her with solids.

One thing I keep thinking of in all this is the safety message on airplanes where they say to put your oxygen mask on before helping anyone else with theirs. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't be a good mum. I wish I could heed my own advice.

We are going away this weekend to visit friends so I know I will get a little break. Maybe i should bring the pump and express milk while my friends coo over dd! I will keep checking back here to read your advice and replies.

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