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Does it ever get better?

(15 Posts)
ECDO Thu 13-Jan-11 15:28:21

My baby is nearly 20 weeks old now. Bf has always been a nightmare. First it was excrutiating pain over a long period of time. This led to a nursing strike and all-day pumping. A lactation consultant recommended shields ... without alerting me to the fact that he might not then feed without them. He refuses to latch on now without the shields so I can't feed outside of the house as feeding with shields requires a whole raft of paraphernalia: pillows, etc. He also cries when he nears my breasts for feeding. He cries during feeding if the milk comes too fast/slow and then refuses to feed. He cries when he finishes feeding. I thought babies were supposed to like bf. This whole rigmarole is putting enormous pressure on my marriage and mental health. I don't know anyone else who is still struggling after 20 weeks! All the fuss surrounding feeding means I often don't leave the house or speak to anyone. I've sought help from a range of professionals, but to no avail. What's going wrong and what do I do? I'm just waiting for it to get natural and normal, as all the literature suggests bf is ... not in my experience. Any sensible, practical help?

cadifflur Thu 13-Jan-11 15:48:01

I think you're incredible for managing to last to nearly 20 weeks under such difficult circumstances. BF isn't always easy, but we don't always get to find out about other women who've struggled with it, as often our friends don't have children at the same time as us and we don't meet other mums in a similar position. I found feeding DD very difficult, for different reasons to you (small toddler to also care for, no family help, very demanding baby etc.) but carried on with it, feeling I'd be a failure if I stopped and that to be fair I should feed her for 12 months as that's what I did for DS.

She is now 21 months and had her last feed saturday night. I've been desperate to stop feeding for months, but due to being so stubborn and not wanting to stop before 12 months, i left it too late to start weaning her gradually and she just wasn't for stopping! - In hindsight, I would have introduced a bottle at around 20 weeks and reduced it gradually and not worried about whether she fed as long as DS or not.

I know I'm not answering your questions really, but just wondering if introducing a bottle for one feed is an option, to see if that helps how you feel and gives you the freedom to get out? - As I'm not sure what more BF advice you can have, you probably know as much as anybody about it, if you've tried as hard as you obviously have and put so much into it.

japhrimel Thu 13-Jan-11 16:12:28

Have you considered pumping for a bottle so you could give an ebm bottle when out?

Well done for persevering!

Tryharder Thu 13-Jan-11 17:26:45

Well, no-one would blame you for giving up now and you certainly wouldn't need anyone's permission or approval as 20 weeks is a long time and more than many people manage!

Obviously only you can decide but if I were you, I would consider mixed feeding. Do you think things would improve when you start to wean in which case it might be worth hanging on a few more weeks....

ECDO Thu 13-Jan-11 18:24:34

Thank you for responding. Sad as it sounds, it's lovely to 'hear' some supportive voices. There's so much emotive material surrounding breastfeeding which doesn't ever seem to acknowledge the reality for people like me. The lack of official acknowledgement of considerable difficulties makes me feel like a failure ... or a freak of nature. I would dearly love to bf for a year but not sure I've got enough emotional stamina left ...

Mishy1234 Thu 13-Jan-11 18:38:30

My goodness, you're certainly not a failure. You have done incredibly well to bf for so long given the difficulties you have faced.

I would second the suggestion of a bottle of ebm so you can get out and about. It's definitely worth considering mixed feeding too.

gummymum Thu 13-Jan-11 18:45:30

I think you are incredible - well done for giving your son the best start. But now it is time to get some perspective and give him a happy stable mum. It is NOT that important to continue exclusive bf anymore. He will NOT suffer, you have done the good bit.
Either express and give him that when you are out and about or give him formula. Get some life back and give yourself a massive pat on the back - most people would have given up weeks ago. I am in awe of your stamina, perseverence and obvious love for your son.

Give him what he now needs more than anything - a happy you.

ECDO Thu 13-Jan-11 20:37:31

Thank you so much. It's so useful and encouraging to hear other people's more level-headed perspectives ('perspective' being something I'm lacking right now). I will hang on to those words: 'happy, stable mum'! Thank you again for your kindness in taking the time to reply.

runningrach Thu 13-Jan-11 21:07:41

well done from me too! I am struggling at 6wks and hope I can get to 20.

I've been using shields for 5 weeks (although just stopped using for all feeds, only when my nipples are so mashed up it hurts too much and when dd was hungry enough she took the shield-less nipple again), and I'm not sure why you need pillows with the shields? I use shields in public all the time, it's a bit fiddlier but I just carry the clean shield in it's case, dampen it a bit and stick it on before sticking dd on the breast. Just wondering if you could manage to do away with the paraphernalia whether that would help, as I can imagine it must be driving you mental feeling housebound.

Hope it gets better for you soon!

ECDO Thu 13-Jan-11 21:53:49

Have tried to minimise pillows, etc. but baby is very heavy and gets quite upset when feeding so has to be held quite still. Have tried feeding out of doors but can't hold both him and shield on, so I've just given up.

Glad you're managing well with them. I'm sure, if you're gradually weaning off shield, things will be fine.

Thanks for your help.

RufflesKerfluffles Thu 13-Jan-11 22:03:24

Do you occasionally try him without the shields, either removing them part way through a feed, or even at the start? My DS refused to feed without them from about 4 weeks. They didn't bother me that much so I didn't try very often, but nevertheless I suddenly found at 18 weeks he'd now feed without them.

NonnoMum Thu 13-Jan-11 22:07:44

And giving your baby the odd bottle of formula will not result in an asthmatic/buck toothed/low-IQed little babe. It will result in a baby who feels like they've just had a bottle of formula.

Hardly the worst thing, is it?

KN1979 Fri 14-Jan-11 08:48:03

You are absolutely amazing for doing this!

FWIW, my opinion is that it's time to look after yourself a bit now. Even if it's only a couple of bottles of formula during the day so that you can get out and start to feel like yourself again. You could also express a couple of bottles for evening/night feeds and give yourself a break.

ECDO Fri 14-Jan-11 16:11:24

Yup, I know you're talking sense. Have been reluctant to give formula as have been worried about upsetting my milk supply and felt that it might make my efforts to bf seem pointless. However, need to be a bit more sensible and pragmatic now. Five months of house arrest are enough for anyone, no?

I try at every feed to remove the shields: cue the wailing and crying. He's not having it. I suppose (like all babies?) he just likes to feed in a very particular way and gets very upset when that is disrupted. Ho hum.

Thanks again for taking the time to give me your thoughts. The idea of his being made 'buck-toothed' by formula made me laugh a lot! smile

becaroo Fri 14-Jan-11 16:18:17

Well done for bfing for so long...20 wks!!! I gave up after 6!

A bottle of FF now and then will not be the end of the world but could save your sanity!

Good luck x

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