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Help at wits end with breastfeeding and sleeping issues with four week old baby

(17 Posts)
sazza1970 Thu 30-Jul-09 16:18:31

I'm a first time mum of a very sucky four week old baby. She was nearly 9 and a half pounds when she was born, and has gained weight steadily.

The problem is that she roots constantly no matter what I do and if she doesn't get any breast time, she works herself up into a frenzy and its impossible to settle her. If I fed entirely on demand she would be constantly on me, and I'm also concerned she wouldn't get 'proper' feeds, just snacks, so I try to space feeds out so they're two hours apart. But she won't sleep (she hates being swaddled) or play between feeds, all she does is root and cry. I've tried giving her a dummy which she is reluctant to take, but when she does it works for the first half an hour, but eventually sends her into a frenzy of rooting and when I take it out she's even worse. It certainly doesn't seem to calm her. At night she sleeps relatively well, waking every two and a half or three hours for a feed, but she doesn't settle at all in the evenings and is more grizzly than ever. I've tried following advice in loads of books and she doesn't conform to any of it - makes me feel like I'm really failing.

Does anyone have any advice? Could she just be hungry and I'm not producing enough milk? Any views would be much appreciated, I feel totally exhausted and it's making it impossible for me to enjoy these first weeks with her.

ilovetochat Thu 30-Jul-09 16:24:11

hiya, congratulations on your dd smile
i found the first 6 weeks very hard as dd constantly fed, she would feed for an hour (some time may have been comfort) and then want feeding again an hour later. i just let her feed on demand and finish the feed so she got as much as she needed. they do root a lot for comfort too i think. i think dd fed to sleep a lot at that age and i just put her in the moses basket.
can your dp hold her a bit as she can smell milk on you so root more.
dont read too many books, babies dont conform, you will find your own routine between the 2 of you. smile
after 6 weeks dd settled and went longer between feeds and settled much more.
dont worry, just feed her when she wants and your body will produce more milk if she needs more.

ChairmumMiaow Thu 30-Jul-09 16:30:26

DS was a lot like this. He wanted to suck all the time and would root and headbutt DH in the chest if I didn't put him to the breast. He did spend hours and hours there for the first 8 weeks or so but I remember it being awful at around 4 weeks. Although it was extremely stressful at times it was genuinely easier to go with the flow and give him what he clearly needed.

Expressing and trying to give a bottle was frustrating and didn't help even when he would take the milk.

He got steadily better and though he always fed frequently when not doing something more interesting the feeds got much shorter so life became much easier. Tbh he is still a snacker at 18mo both with milk and solids but many toddlers are!

MamaChris Thu 30-Jul-09 19:37:47

congratulations on your new dd

ds too was like this - he wanted to feed almost constantly. there was no way I could even have spaced his feeds out to hourly. someone explained to me that a baby is born with a stomach the size of a walnut, and it made more sense then. there's no such thing as snacking and not getting a proper feed. as long as she's gaining weight, she's fine.

he used to be worse in the afternoon/evenings, feeding literally constantly for a few hours. someone told me this is called "cluster feeding" and is quite common.

if you can, go with the demand feeding. as she gets more interested in the world around her, and as her stomach grows, and as you produce more milk, the feeds will get more efficient and less frequent. (I can't remember how long that took though, sorry).

the other thing is that in these early days, I understand the regular frequent feeding stimulates your milk supply to keep increasing to match demand better than less frequent feeds would do.

it's hard, but if you can, find a good book/tv show and settle down and let her feed. it will change as she grows, but for now, she just needs to feed little and often.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Thu 30-Jul-09 19:40:50

I would put aside a day where you plan to sit on the sofa all day, get magazines, drinks, snacks, dvds and plan to feed all day.

She is 4 weeks old. Barely born, she won't play, just wants to be with her mum.

See this as a lovely time you can never get again. An excuse to sit all day and cuddle your baby.

All mine fed 2 hourly, you get good at doing things in double quick time in between feeds.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Thu 30-Jul-09 19:41:47

And as for her not conforming - she hasn't read the books. grin

MinkyBorage Thu 30-Jul-09 19:42:21

good luck and sorry not to give you the advice you need/want to hear, but here it is anyway.....................
feed her when she wants, no other way imo. Maybe get a sling that you can cart her around in whilst you're feeding her. This is only a stage, it won't last long. 4 weeks with first child seems like an eternity, but you'll look back and it will seem like nothing. Go with the flow; her flow and it will all be OK.
Also bin the routine books, she doesn't sound like a routine sourt of girl.

MinkyBorage Thu 30-Jul-09 19:43:12

* sort

AitchTwoOh Thu 30-Jul-09 19:44:30

it sounds like you're doing brilliantly, congrats on your dd. her behaviour sounds pretty normal, like the other say, i think the best thing you can do is get as much support around you as possible and take to your bed with the baby. and bin the books. grin

Devendra Thu 30-Jul-09 20:28:05

Just feed feed and feed her.. its what she needs to be doing and perfectly normal.. I was pinned to the sofa for about 6 weeks with DS.. he would have NEVER gone 2 hours between feeds at 4 weeks.. but it does get easier and they do start to space the feeds out.

sazlocks Thu 30-Jul-09 20:41:06

congrats.
I honestly don't think that many people "enjoy" the first few weeks with a new baby. For me it was just a case of putting DS in a sling, feeding him whenever he wanted and generally just getting through the day the best way I could because of the constant feeding and sleep deprivation.
My advice FWIW is chuck out the books for now and feed her when she wants. I remember someone saying to me that weeks 4 - 6 are the worst and whilst that wasn't a very comforting thought at the time it turned out that they were right.

fruitstick Thu 30-Jul-09 20:51:27

Sazza, congratlations on your DD.

i agree with all the others, this is entirely normal for lots of babies. Whether they are hungry or need the comfort, just follow their lead and eventually they will calm down. My DS2 was like this and, whilst it was difficult as I also had a toddler, as this is your first, try to relax and enjoy this time with your baby. He is now 22 weeks and thriving.

I know it can be difficult when you're tired and exhausted but I think you will feel much better if you tell yourself that nothing is wrong here.

babies feed all the time, especially in the evenings, to tell your body to produce more milk. It's not that you're not producing enough, it's just the way it works. She is too young to be interested in playing - give her another 6 to 8 weeks.

Have you tried feeding lying down? If you can, take yourself off to bed for the afternoon/evening, lie down to feed her making sure there are no pillows or duvets around her. Wrap the duvet around yourself if you are cold and keep your bottom arm outstretched so you won't roll on her if you nod off. It will help you both get some rest.

This stage really really doesn't last long, although it may not feel like it now.

Look after yourself and soon she will be happily playing and cooing and being more interested in her surroundings than your breasts grin.

Also can I recommend Gu tubs of 'naughties' Essentially breastfeeding, sleep deprived food.

Loopymumsy Thu 30-Jul-09 21:03:44

Message withdrawn

sazza1970 Fri 31-Jul-09 13:01:32

Thanks so much everyone - it's so comforting to know that you've been through it too, she's not starving, behaviour is normal and this time will pass. I'm going to watch the boxsets of Friends and Sex and the City over the next two weeks and yes, try to enjoy the time with her. Thanks again

Shugarlips Fri 31-Jul-09 13:15:19

Sazza, you may have got all the help you need from this thread but just to say that my DS, who is now almost 4, and I have the closest relationship and I am convinced it is due to the fact that he breasfed virtually constantly for the first year of his life. It drove me mad at times and especially in the early days but its all worth it.
I stopped feeding his older sister at 8 weeks because of the reasons you are describing (and because I was told by ex MIL that I wasn't producing enough milk) and I regretted it especially when I had my son and realised what I had missed out on first time round. He breastfed until he was 2, he wouldn't take a dummy or a bottle and givng him to DH didn't work either! You will produce enough milk and I would say go with it, kick back and don't get off the sofa - when else can you be guarenteed to be burning calories whilst not moving?! Good luck and congrats grin

Chunkamatic Fri 31-Jul-09 13:23:28

I think sometimes Sazza just knowing it is "normal" helps you relax. I have never come across a book that tells the truth as I found it with a newborn baby, so definatley bin them and head back to mumsnet for some proper advice!

Like so many people have advised, try and enjoy this time with lots of cuddles and not much else. If you can get a sling they are handy for just being able to go to the loo/make some food/do a quick tidy up (ha ha I did not do any tidying up mind you!) and so feel like you aren't totally anchored to the sofa all the time.

It really does pass so quickly but sadly I think most people realise that too late.

Good luck with your little one smile

BetsyBoop Fri 31-Jul-09 20:42:15

Just to add another DC to the list who was like that too grin

DS wanted to be permanently clamped to my boob for the first 4 months of his life (he was 10lb10.5oz when born, so that may have had something to do with it...)

With an almost-2yo DD (who had been a feed every 2-3hrs & then sleep baby, so DS was a bit of a shock!) in tow as well it was impossible to just sit and feed for long, so I got a wrap-around type sling - LIFESAVER! Meant I could get on with other things at the same time & DS did gradually root/feed less & was much more settled just snuggled in his sling all day. The slings are suprisingly comfy, much more so than being heavily pregnant for example (which is what I'd thought it would be like). I think some babies just want that really close contact with their mum ALL the time & demanding boob is the instinctive way they do it.

Hang in there, you are doing just fine If your DD is gaining weight steadily then your milk supply is fine. As others have said, it's a demanding time & it seems to take over your life when you are in the middle of it, but it is for such a short time really & you will look back on it fondly eventually, honest

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