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New mum - please help

(36 Posts)
Benjy Tue 22-Jul-08 15:58:50


I gave birth to my daughter 11 days ago. The labour was v. difficult: back labour, failure to progress so ended up with several interventions and whole thing lasted 40 hours from first contractions five minutes apart to the birth. Drs. and midwives refused my request for pain relief until I had been in labour for nearly 24 hours: contractions by this point were practically on top of one another and lasting over a minute. Epidural then did not work but they would not resite or top it up. End result highly traumatic labour for me though amazingly baby showed no signs of distress.

She breastfed once after delivery but from then on would latch on for comfort but would not feed (I refused pethidine so she wasn't affected by my pain relief choices). I desperately wanted to breastfeed and asked for help in my birth plan and from the midwives on the maternity ward but I didn't get any other than instructions on how to do it. Nobody stayed with me through an attempted feed to show me how. End result was that I had to top up with formula because she wasn't feeding at all and now I feel like I have failed at that as well as the birth. I continued to latch her on and have expressed so she has had some breastmilk each day but I have never produced more than about 1 floz a day - my mature milk hasn't come in. Also I am only producing colostrum from one breast; I had a large lump removed from the other a few years ago and imagine some of the glandular tissue must have been lost. I have told several midwives about my difficulties but none has been able to offer help. They are surpised my milk hasn't come in and that only one breast is producing but can't tell me why or what to do about it.

The other issue I have is that she cries constantly and will only settle eventually if she is held. The second she is put down, she starts to scream. Have checked for all the usual causes of crying. I think we're giving her enough formula but am not sure to be honest how much she should be getting and at what rate to increase her feeds. She is on 60ml per feed (every 3 hours) at the moment (she weighed 6Ib 8oz at birth). I think she is just a baby that needs to be held but I'm finding this so difficult. My DH returns to work next week and I have no family or friends nearby so I am worrying about how I will cope.

The other issue is that I have been in severe pain the last couple of days with heavy bleeding. I went to see the GP today and he has put me on antibiotics for a suspected urine and uterine infection - Ciprofloxacin - so I can't feed my daughter breastmilk for the next few days. If it hasn't cleared up by the end of the week I have to go back to the hospital for a scan to see if I have any retained placenta. I wondered if this was maybe a reason why my milk hasn't come in because it was my understanding that it was the expulsion of the placenta that triggered the hormones needed for milk production but the doctor said he hadn't heard of this (he was an OB/GYN before training as a GP).

I know I have posted a lot here and will probably copy the post onto other boards as it crosses a lot of subjects. I am finding it hard to cope with, particularly the birth and it's aftermath and my daughter's constant crying and need to be held, so I would really appreciate any help and suggestions.

MamaG Tue 22-Jul-08 16:04:39

OK, others will be along who are much more knowledgeable than me, but here is my 2p worth.

Firstly: well done for posting and asking for help. No need to feel bad about anything IMO.

Re feeding, I recommend that you ring a breastfeeding counsellor for advice and have a look at hunker’s website

Re holding – your baby is so little, give her lots of cuddles and maybe think about co sleeping, don’t panic about getting her to settle on her own just yet, she’s only tiny.

Best of luck

CaptainKarvol Tue 22-Jul-08 16:08:38

You poor thing, what a time you have had. First, congratulations on the birth of your daughter! And you haven't failed at anything - you have a healthy baby girl who is loved to bits.

I can't help with much, but I do know about constantly crying babies. Slings, that's what you need!

Slings saved my sanity. The crying is not anything you've done or not done, some babies just need the touch and the comfort of being held. And a baby sling lets you do that, and have a life. I used a traditional 'ring sling' - like a huge piece of fabric worn over one shoulder and across your front - and a backpack style sling called and ergo when DS was 4 months+

And it may be something fixable - cranial osteopathy is worth a try, especially after a difficult birth, that helps lots of babies. I hope you are OK. I feel for you, it's a hard time. But you have not failed, not at all.

onepieceoflollipop Tue 22-Jul-08 16:09:45

COngratulations on the birth of your dd.

I would second what MamaG said about accessing a bf counsellor. Also look after yourself as best you can. If anyone in rl asks how they can help get them to bring food/meals.

Sounds like you have been through a difficult few days.

Some people use slings if the baby needs a lot of close cuddling and holding (as all newborns do) - if you search on "slings" you may find some helpful advice.

MrsRecycle Tue 22-Jul-08 16:14:42

oh sweetheart you sound like you've been through the mill a bit the past few weeks and need some help that is just not there. [hugs] It really is a struggle the first few weeks with lack of sleep, trying to do everything the right way, trying to get back on your feet. Try not to rush things and take one day at a time.

I had a large lump removed from my breast but was able to bf my ds for 10 months. In fact he preferred this breast to the other one. Also, I had heavy bleeding and had to have the same treatment as you (scary when they say you might have to go back in hospital isn't it) but this didn't affect my bf ability/supply.

What really helped me establish bf was going to a bf-drop in group and a HV who specialised in bf was able to get my latch right. Are there any groups local to you? Has your mw been yet? Can you she suggest anything?

desperatehousewifetoo Tue 22-Jul-08 16:15:55

Hello Benjy,

Cogratulations on the birth of your daughter.

I'm afraid I know zilch about breast feeding as had to bottle feed my two. Can't remember how much they were having each feed at different times but always felt happy if there was a little left in the bottom of each bottle as then felt they were having enough. Once they started finishing a feed, I would make a slightly larger bottle up next time.

Have you tried taking her out in the pram/buggy? My two were quite well soothed by that. I'm sure someone will come along and recomend a sling but I never felt comfortable with one.

I also used to put mine in their little rocking chair and just rock it with my foot.

I had a post-natal uterine infection too which was very painful. I hope yours is sorted out with the anti-biotics.

There'll be lots of knowlwdgable people on here soon and you'll not know which advice to take first! Good luck.

purplejennyrose Tue 22-Jul-08 16:21:14

Not got loads of advice I'm afraid but lots of sympathy and wanted to answer...
Re labour - sounds like you really weren't cared for properly - there is an organisation / helpline for women who have traumatic birth experiences, I can't remember what it's called right now, maybe someone else can...
Are you still seeing a community midwife or health visitor? You should have one or the other. If so are they any good - can you talk through things with them? You can ask for your birth notes to look through with MW.
Re b/feeding, again I'm not expert and don't know re your particular issues but try one of the helplines - NCT or La Leche. You will prob have a bunch of leaflets from being discharged from hospital and numbers should be in there. Can you find out if you have a local b/feeding cousellor? I know our NCT ones here are excellent, will come and see you at home if necessary, watch you feed and help.
I would imagine if there is some milk coming out still it is not too late to b/f if you want to - I restarted b/feeding from practically 'losing' my milk at 4 weeks with my first baby, and though hard work it came back. I kept on and on feeding her whenever she showed any interest and gradually cut down on the formula she was being given (I'd been in hospital without her). And did lots of feeding at night as this is when milk hormones are at highest level.
If you are ill as well, can your DH not take some emergency leave, even just another week, to look after you?? Also, are you sure that the antibiotics are the only suitable ones - I had a very severe infection requiring surgery but when I pushed the doctors they still found me a combination of antibiotics that I could take while b/feeding. Didn't affect dd1 except to give her bright green poo!
Re the crying and holding - we also had this - dd1 always wanted to be held, upright - have you tried a sling? I have got a fabric wrap-around one that is really comfy and snuggly, or you could try a firmer baby carrier type one for a bit more support.I know how incredibly wearing this is - it's horrid when you feel almost like they won't leave you alone!! We took dd1 to cranio sacral therapy and it worked brilliantly - she really settled down. Also started to swaddle her and that calmed her down. Also used to prop her up say on a 'v' shaped pillow as she hated lying flat.
Sorry - have rattled off huge long post...
Really hope some of this is helpful - I'm sure others will post lots of good advice. Hang on in there

Seeline Tue 22-Jul-08 16:24:42

Poor you - you've had a tough time. I had a difficult labour which resulted inDS being in the SBU for a week. I was still being kept in the Maternity ward at the other en of the Maternity unit so was unable to bf. They tried to get me to express but that didn't work. DS was being fed formula through a tube. Once I got him home I managed to get him to BF but always topped him up with formula - it's not failing, it's giving your baby what he needs. I know you are feeling utterly exhausted at the moment but it does get better. The crying thing - I can only agree with other posters - give lots of cuddles they are only that tiny for such a short time. Walks helped with both mine, and at least the crying seems quieter outside!!

thehouseofmirth Tue 22-Jul-08 16:30:44

It sounds like you've had a really rough time and to make things worse the people who should have helped you have really let you down. Early motherhood is totally overwhelming even when things go smoothly.

I wouldn't want to offer any advice as I'm no expert but didn't want your post to go unanswered. If I were you I would ring La Leceh League 0845 120 2918 or NCT 0870 444 8708 to get advice on whether your potential placenta problem is causing your milk suply issues. As you probably know your milk usually comes in a couple of days after the birth. I know you can't feed her at the moment because of your meds (though hav you checked this with a pharmacist as sometimes doctors get this wrong?) but once you are "clean" even if you continue to give her formula there is nothing wrong with nursing for comfort as much as nourishment. It may help calm her and as much stimulation as possible will help build your supply

Niceychops Tue 22-Jul-08 17:49:28

hi there

my little girl was the same with the constant crying and needing to be held all the time. to be honest i think you just need to wait it out - it does take a few weeks for them to grow out of this. my sympathies - my daughter wouldnt be put down for more than ten minutes and i was just so tired...but it does get easier more quickly than you think.

HonoriaGlossop Tue 22-Jul-08 18:59:12

there has been lots of good advice already on this thread, I just wanted to add that I think you have been through alot, and you should be REALLY proud of yourself.

You haven't FAILED at labour - in fact, you've succeeded at coping through the equivalent of about three labours for some people - some people have only a few hours! You have done fantastically well. I know it's important to think this way, as I had a very long labour myself that ended in a CS and it is insidious, this feeling. People naturally and understandably want to celebrate a birth that they worked hard at coping with and went 'right'...and by stealth we get this understanding that 'succeeding' is doing it a certain way. Well you have succeeded, in another way.

Get all the good breastfeeding advice you can and I really hope you can sort it, because it is food made specifically for your DD and it will no doubt give you massive satisfaction. Equally, if you need to give up and give formula, do not agonise, you are doing the best you can for her and that is all ANY of us can do.

Agree also with holding her lots - this period of crying will stop. It's a case of surviving the first 6 to 8 weeks for most people.

And I really strongly think your DH should take some compassionate leave if you are still unwell when he is due to go back. Yes his work is important but you are BOTH parents now, don't let it all come down on you just because you are mum. Start as you mean to go on with this one - it'll be worth it, believe me!

posieflump Tue 22-Jul-08 19:05:11

also ask for your famiy to help
ask them to come and stay
often people stay away from a new mum because they worry about beng in the way or being perceived as interfering. You sound like you need family around you so ask ask ask smile

Ewe Tue 22-Jul-08 19:09:02

Breastfeeding - call La Leche League on 0845 120 2918

Regarding the constant crying, remember that your baby has been used to being in you not just close to you. The world is big scary and confusing... they need lot's of cuddles!

The Birth trauma association can help you get over the birth.


Ewe Tue 22-Jul-08 19:11:14

Roughly where are you in the country? Someone might have a recommendation for a breastfeeding counsellor/clinic.

LittleMissTickles Tue 22-Jul-08 19:18:59

Benjy, with my first DD, I felt guilty about carrying/holding her all the time. Finally 'gave in' though and started carrying her around in a sling, and we were both almost immediately more relaxed, and I had my hands free to make tea etc! It was just a few weeks before she was happy to be in push-chair, bouncy chair etc.

You have NOT failed at anything. You have been through one of the toughest experiences in your life, and you made it. Both of you. Forget about being textbook perfect, just do whatever you have to do to stay sane now, it gets much easier in a few weeks' time (must sound like a lifetime away to you right now)smile

I agree with posieflump, ask for help too.

It will get better, this is the hardest bit. Just hang in there, it will pass. Really.

AngeLamb Tue 22-Jul-08 19:42:43

Congratulations Benjy.
Don't feel like a failure, sounds like it's the NHS that has been the failure not you.

I have just recently read a brilliant book (it comes in DVD for mums like yourself who just won't have time or energy to read the whole thing) that gives clear advice on how to soothe babies easily.

Harvey Karp - The Happiest Baby on The Block, (bit American but brilliant advice)
He suggest using the five S's
And says that this will switch of their crying as it replicates what they have experienced in the womb. He gives specific advice on how the 5 S's should be done to make sure it works every time.

If you're interested the book/DVD can be bought on Amazon or your local library may have a copy.

I hope that you are able to get some support with the breastfeeding. It will get better.

Peckarolloveragain Tue 22-Jul-08 19:42:58

Benjy, I havent got time to read entire thread - just read your OP though and couldnt not reply.

I just want to come and give you a hug and make you a cuppa.

Off the top of my head

a) could you afford a postnatal doul - she could help support you, encourage the breastfeeding relationship, help with housework, talk through the birth etc etc

b) get to a BF clinic or ring one of the help lines - dont worry too much about the formula top ups etc, she is still young enough to be able to phase these out.

Don't panic about not being able to put her down - my smallest DD was the worlds number 1 limpet baby when she was born but she is now 6 months old and has GLORIOUS 2.5 hour naps and sleeps all night in her own cot. All of that can come later.

For now, you need a babymoon - worry about nothing other than you[your partner/husband] and baby. Spend lots of time lying and resting with her, skin to skin, feeding whenever she wants to.

Look into biological nurturing positions.

Eat well

Accept any and ALL help

I am a doula and if it would be of ANY use please feel free to email me on, even if it would help just to scream via email/phone. You are very welcome to contact me.

violetsmile Tue 22-Jul-08 19:50:09

Benjy, the same thing happened to me re the long labour (mine was also 40 hours although as my waters didn't break I didn't go to hospital til the last 9 hours). Stupidly, i still refused any pain relief other than gas and air and had a very painful labour resulting with over 30 very painful stitches!

Also the breast feeding thing, exactly the same thing. I got no help from midwives and didn't have a clue what to do. I kept trying to get help but they basically told me to keep trying and left me to it! I was heart broken as my breast milk bever did come in, probably because ds was never suckling properly but maybe it wouldn't have done anyway, either way I felt like a failure.

The constant crying, yep, been there. My ds was high needs from day one and screamed when ever he was awake unless I carried him around. He seemed to have to be in motion all the time and I just couldn't sit down. Looking back it was just the most hideous time of my life, at a time when I should have been enjoying him. Instead me and dh struggled and I never told anyone else how hard I was finding it.

Everytime ds cried, which was a lot, I felt that awful guilt re breastfeeding. I felt so shell shocked and just utterly miserable.

The main thing is that you have admitted how you are feeling, well done! It's not easy but you have made the first step and it shows you are a very strong person, no matter how fragile you feel now.

The fact is that many many many women struggle with breast feeding, it;s nothing to be ashamed of, i just wish I'd have known there were other people I could have asked for help.

As for the pain, I am shocked that the hospital could have left some placenta behind, I really hope that whatever the cause, it is cleared up soon.

Agree with everyone else, you are NOT a failure. For me, the first 6 months were hell but that was more due to my baby's high needs and grumpy temprement! Our bonding was comprimised due to the breast feeding thing but now I wonder why I let it bother me so much. I wasn't breast fed, yet I adore my mother, why should my ds be any different? I wish I had relaxed a little and not been so hard on myself or ds.

I think my expectations of him were way too high. I expected him to be a happy, gurgling baby who I could take anywhere. He wasn't! I had to hold him all the time and walk around til I wore groves in the carpet! It was not at all what we planned. And that was the problem, my plans were so idealistic. I thought it would all come naturally to me and it didn't at all. Not then at least.

What I'm trying to say is that what you are saying is very common. Most new mother's struggle. I hated this stage, I truely did.

The truth is that you just have to go with the flow where your dd's crying is concerned. If she wants to be held, hold her! She is so so tiny, she won't always be like this I promise! I know that doesn't help you now and I know that right now you desperately want to be able to put your daughter down and enjoy her. That will happen in time. You are all she has so of course, she needs you to hold her and make her feel secure, everything is so new to her.

It will settle down. The more she learns to trust you now, the better in the long run.

I do sympathise, I really do. Try and get as much help as possible, any friends or family, get them to cook for you or hold dd while you relax or go out for some fresh air. I only wish I had done this. I struggled on alone and dh worked such long hours I thought I would go crazy, I nearly did!

Please don't feel like a failure, this is the hardest thing I ever did but I got through it. DS is now an adorable (albeit strong willed!) 11 month old, whose face lights up when he sees me, who shrieks with laughter when I crawl around after him, who hugs me so tightly I can feel his love. It's so hard in the beginning, you get none of this, it's so tiring and relentless.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

BeHereNow Tue 22-Jul-08 20:00:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LadyBabo Tue 22-Jul-08 20:44:05

Hi Benjy
Sorry to hear that you've had such a crap time! Other then echoing what other posters have said, I had a back to back labour too, fortunately not problems with midwives / nurses like you, had a brief guided 'latching on' session with midwive day after she was born, but that was it. I never got above 20ml in a feed, once or twice a day! So had to use formula, expressed for 5 weeks, whenever and whatever I could. Felt a COMPLETE failure. If only someone had told me that as I had a very large loss of blood and was generally very weak, and anaemic, that's normal. I thought I was just useless!

As it turned out, dd grew big and strong, and so far had rarely been ill up to 2years 3 months. Formula is NOT, after all, the devils' work.

Where are these babies that can just be put down and left?! I don't think I've met one yet. My dd was superglued to me nearly all the time when she was 0-3 months. Just go with it. (I have blurred memories of peeing while clutching dd and wondering vaguely how I was going to grab any toilet roll...)

You WILL cope, sometimes hour by hour, sometimes minute to minute, but the time will go by fast in a blur, and soon your baby will be just that little bit less demanding, and just a little more fascinated by the world around them instead of just cry/feed/cry/burp/cry/sleep/cry/poop/cry.

Remember that it's really early days, you will get used to each other and it will get better.

And of course you have mumsnet. XXXX

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 22-Jul-08 20:45:54

Message withdrawn

lucyellensmum Tue 22-Jul-08 21:38:39

Benji, i dont really have any advice but just wanted to offer support. It is so hard being a new mum but you sound like you are doing fine. Don't give up on the BF if you dont want to, get in touch with some organisations such as NCT, are you using a hand held pump to express? I couldnt get on with them and could only express with the help of the full on dairy milker lent to me by the NCT. If at the end of the day you have to go to formula feeding, its OK, its not your fault, you have NOT failed your baby. In the end i had to do half and half, which ended up being 75% formula but it still gave me that special time breast feeding. Formula is pretty much worked out to actually be good for your baby, despite what people tell you - yes, breast is best, but if breast is causing distress then its time to reassess - hmm, i just made up a rhyme

Can i just flag up one thing, i had a long and traumatic birth, well at least it was traumatic to me, it was noted as a normal birth. It played on my mind for a long time, in fact it is still scary to think about, i was convinced my baby was going to die but no one seemed to listen to me. I don't want to worry you but i did go on to develop PND although it wasn't picked up for a long time and there were definately other factors. What i am saying is, please talk to someone about your feelings regarding the birth. Don#t let it play on your mind. The point i am trying to make, but badly is, you gave birth to a lovely healthy little girl, so you didn't fail at all. As far at the professionals were concerned, all is well, but of course it was traumatic for you but because you gave birth to a healthy beautiful little girl, that was forgotten - you need to flag this up to someone. I wish i did at the time. It played on my mind for an awful long time, i felt like i didnt deserve my baby.

My DD is 3 tomorrow and the birth is distant history. She is lovely, she is a bugger - a whole different set of chalenges. But i did feel totally at sea with my DD and she wasn't even my PFB, she was DD2. Talk to your midwife/hv about how you are feeling.

and remember YOU ARE DOING WELL

wasabipeanut Tue 22-Jul-08 21:52:42

Goodness me, you have had a rough few weeks. I'm not in a position to give advice on the breast feeding but I just wanted to add my voice to those encouraging you to go with the flow with your dc rather than trying to put her down and then getting upset when she cries.

Velcro babies are not unusual by any means and my DS was exactly the same. A sling was an absolute godsend as was the realization that if I stopped fighting it, it got a lot easier. DS became more independent over time and by the time he hit about 4 months would play happily on his own for half an hour or so. He's a lovely happy, affectionate and giggly 10 month old now.

None of this is a competition - there is nobody handing out awards for birth, feeding or sleeping through the night. It's human nature to compare but that way lies madness! I know it seems thankless now but it won't be that long before you look back and wonder where the time went!

You are doing great and I'm sure you'll be and indeed are, a lovely mummy.

cookiemonstress Tue 22-Jul-08 21:59:27

Just to add you could have been describing the birth I had with DD1, they sound identical. Don't think of birth in terms of success/failure, you did brilliantly, try not to dwell and if it plays on your mind, talk it over.

Breastfeeding - try nct or ask HV if a breast feeding counsellor can visit. If it doesn't work, don't beat yourself up though, there is massive pressure to breastfeed and it doesn't work for everyone.

Crying - wanting to be held. This is par for the course in my opinion. Both mine were like this. Go with the flow. Let go of anything other than looking after you and your daughter. Use it as an opportunity to have a sit down on the sofa and a rest (believe or not I miss those days)

Having a newborn is a baptism of fire, it won't feel like it now but it will get better and you will soon feel like a dab hand..


lisalollipop Tue 22-Jul-08 22:39:14

Well done you. And all the Mumsnetters who've replied. It's quite brought a tear to my eye to see all this support.

I'm sorry your birth wasn't a good experience. Me neither. I'd planned a natural homebirth but went 2 weeks overdue and ended up being induced. After 28 hours of strong contractions I was so knackered I was falling asleep in between the 3 minute contractions! Ended up having a C-section which was what I'd SO not wanted.

I also feel like a failure at the whole birth thing. So lucky that BFing has worked out for us now after the first few days. But good for you for trying so hard at it all. We're not really failures, it's just things don't always go how we want or expect them to. We are just lucky that these days there are interventions (even if the care isn't quite what it could be) we can have and there is decent formula milk so problems can be got over.

As for constant crying and holding, I couldn't imagine how I was EVER going to get anything done ever again.It's not like I wanted to go off and have a manicure, just 10 minutes to do the hoovering was all I wanted! But little by little, you ARE allowed to put them down for a couple of minutes. And today I felt completely liberated when DS (11 weeks today) sat in his bouncy chair in the garden with me while I did some gardeningfor 20 minutes! Would you believe it?!

Have just looke on a chart for volumes per feed which only goes up to Day 5 and says 70ml per feed/500 ml per day. But that is for breast milk.

Best of luck. xx

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