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Is there any hope?? (Sorry - Bit of an essay but desperate)

(18 Posts)
PukeyRag Tue 07-Jun-11 13:32:11

My DD is 12 weeks and currently on formula.
Now, please don't judge me as I have not yet expressed the guilt I am feeling (to anyone on here OR IRL.)

It's a long story but basically I was always determined to breastfeed and so when she was born that's exactly what I did. Until my HV told me at 3 weeks that she was losing weight because she wasn't eating. I never thought i'd have a problem with latching or anything (was positive it would be fine and dandy) but there we go. She was constantly trying to feed which resulted in about 2 hours sleep a night. It was hell.
So then I started expressing my milk but as DD is an extremely clingy baby (hates being put down) it was hard to express and try and feed her constantly, AND get any bloody sleep. So one night I snapped and sent DP to buy some formula just to get some kip and feed my extremely hungry baby.
This resulted in me crying all over the place and feeling like a complete failure.
Turns out DD couldn't even suck a bottle properly so it wasn't anything I was doing. (Although she accepted it fine, but had to give her fast teats because she couldn't get the milk out properly)

Anyway, I attempted to keep expressing my milk and bottle feeding it to her, as at that point I just wanted her to have my milk, and also kept putting her to the boob but she never latched on properly sad
It was just horrendous trying to keep my milk supply up as I just didn't have the time because my poor DD was just determined to stay in my arms and she had colic and so gradually it was less breast and more formula.

I'm just so angry at myself for not trying harder, disappointed that it didn't work, even writing this i'm welling up because I ALWAYS wanted to breastfeed and I don't quite know what went wrong and feel awful that I put everything else before giving her the nourishment she needs.

Nowadays she WILL let me put her down (Hoorah!) Doesn't have colic (Hoorah!) Is sucking on the bottle properly, we get sleep at night and generally things are getting better.

SO....

I'm thinking of getting an electric breast pump to get my milk supply back, but will this work? Can I get it back and how much pumping will I have to do to bring it back up? I'd put her on the nipple to see if she latches but there's nothing there to get her interested!
I am desperate to redeem this situation and want to know what I can do.

Please, any advice/suggestions would be appreciated so much.

QueenOfFeckingEverything Tue 07-Jun-11 13:38:52

Firstly, STOP being angry at yourself. Please. You did what you could at the time with the information and resources and strength you had smile

Can I ask, was she ever checked for tongue tie? Just wondered as if she had trouble getting milk from both breast and bottle, it is a distinct possibility.

And yes, you can almost certainly get your milk supply back if you are determined smile

IIRC you will need to pump at least every three hours day and night if you want to return to fully feeding BM.

Could you try a supplemental nursing system?

jaffacake79 Tue 07-Jun-11 13:43:26

Don't beat yourself up about it! There's enough pressure on you without adding more yourself. You did what you did to make your baby happy, simple.

I'm sure you can get your milk back, start putting her to the breast after she's had about half a ff so she's not starving but not full and let her have a go now that she's sucking properly. Try to pump as well to give them extra stimulation. I think oats and fennel tea are meant to help your milk supply too, but talk to your hv.

tiktok Tue 07-Jun-11 13:51:05

Good info already, here, OP. Just would add that you were let down - a baby still losing weight at 3 weeks is not a sudden problem. The people whose job it was to check feeding was going well have missed the indications that all was absolutely not well.

What were they doing?

Why did they not spot something was wrong far sooner than this?

Not your fault at all - you thought all was well. They allowed you to think that because they were not doing their job properly, or were untrained in how to do it.

And who's the one who ends up feeling bad about it? You - not fair.

TruthSweet Tue 07-Jun-11 13:55:36

You sound like you have really done a lot for your baby. Sometimes we all crack under the pressure of a new baby. It's nothing to be ashamed of or to feel guilt over.

Sorrow, that it hasn't worked out as planned is different and I understand the extreme sadness that accompanies not being able to feed your baby as you wanted. I had this and it was all encompassing dark grief (not my lowest point but close). Although it was in completely different circumstances I did manage to get back to ebf and she self weaned.

There are lots of ways to get back to bfing, expressing 8-12 times a day, using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to deliver the formula/ebm at the breast rather than with a bottle, lots of skin to skin and a huge amount of luck and perseverance. It may not be possible though which I'm really sorry to say but every feed counts and your daughter has had a lot of feeds from you - which is great!

Try one of the bfing helplines so you can get some real life help to work through this either to get back to bfing or to get some closure.

I would be interested to know though how much weight your DD lost - was it physical weight (e.g. went from 9lb 10oz to 9lb 2oz) or was it 'theoretical weight loss' (e.g. was on 75th%ile but went down to 20th%ile so didn't gain as much as expected)? Has your DD been check for Tongue tie by anyone (as QueenofFE suggests)?

puddock Tue 07-Jun-11 13:59:41

have you found www.kellymom.com? some excellent advice on relactation there. good luck to you.

narmada Tue 07-Jun-11 14:07:13

You did your very best, don't beat yourself up, you kept going far longer than most.

If you are really, really determined, then yes, there is an excellent chance you can get your milk back either to exclusively express or (hopefully) feed directly.It takes a lot of determination and effort. I did it with my first DD who like your baby lost weight and never succesfully breastfed until around 8-9 weeks of age having being fully formula-fed up until then.

First things first though, and like queenoffeckingeverything says, I would strongly suspect a tongue tie if she couldn't latch on to either breast or bottle at first. Does her tongue look heart-shaped at the end at all, or like it's tethered tightly to the bottom of her mouth? can she stick it out over her bottom lip? Please please please get her checked by a qualified lactation consultant (not a breastfeeding counsellor or midwife or health visitor or even GP - none of these are guaranteed to be able to spot a tongue tie) before doing anything else, otherwise your efforts might not be as rewarding as they could be. You can find one local to you by looking at the Lactation Consultants of Great Britain website here. She will also support you through the relactation process if you decide to go fo it.

There is fantastic information about relactation on the Kellymom website, here

Basically, what you'll need to do to re-establish milk supply is pump as frequently as you can manage in the daytime and at least once overnight in the small hours of the morning - at least 8 times per 24 hours but it's far preferable if you can manage more times than that. Do both sides at once with a hospital grade rental pump like those available from medela. Make sure the cup things that go over your nipple/ areola are the right size - too small=pain, too big can also be uncomfortable too. At first you won't get much or anything at all, but gradually you should begin producing more. If your baby's completely uninterested in the breast, then you could begin with giving your baby any expressed milk either in a bottle or through a SNS as the previous poster said - I never used one of these as I just found it too fiddly and I was extremely lucky in that my baby never showed any nipple preference but I don't think this is the norm. It's possible that with gentle coaxing she may take the breast again over time. Again, I think a lactation consultant's advice and support would be invaluable here.

You can take supplements like fenugreek and even a prescription drug called domperidone which raises prolactin levels as a side-effect - you'll need a GP's co-operation for that one though as this is an unlicensed usage (it's not dangerous I don't think, merely not approved for this use. But I think the really important thing is ensuring your breasts get adequate stimulation and any milk they produce is removed efficiently, be that by your baby or by a pump.

If all that seems like too much, please please don't feel guilty anymore. That you're even considering relactation says volumes about how much you wanted to breastfeed, and really, you've nothing to feel guilty about.

narmada Tue 07-Jun-11 14:07:52

Cross posted with loads of others more knowledgeable than me blush

PukeyRag Tue 07-Jun-11 14:14:20

Thanks guys smile I just know if I don't do anything about it the guilt will never go away sad

Queen - I did think she might have tongue tie but she never got checked for it and now she can actually suck (although not sure if she can latch) and stick her tongue out fully so I don't think it's that.
Now, the supplemental nursing system is a brilliant idea! I didn't even know they existed, so thank you, I will definitely be getting one smile

Jaffa- will I not need any milk to do this? Or can I just get her used to the boob again while I have no milk?

PukeyRag Tue 07-Jun-11 14:28:21

Thank you everyone! You've all given me hope! I will look in to everything I possibly can, and even if she is uninterested in the breast (Although occasionally I just put her to it when she's upset and it sometimes calms her down) then hopefully I will at least be able to give her expressed breast milk.

Thank you all again, your advice will help me so much smile

jaffacake79 Tue 07-Jun-11 14:33:17

Pukey (ha, nice name! grin ) I've never tried to do what you are, so my advice is purely theoretical.

I had to stop feeding dd for 6 weeks while I was on a super strong course of anti-biotics as I got a severe scar infection due to an allergy to the suturing material. I was really worried that after having been ff for all that time she'd not go back to the breast properly. I wasn't even told to express to keep my supply up, but luckily enough I had the milk supply of a friesan cow and it came back within a week or so of combined feeding. I'd give her half her bottle, offer one breast, offer the other when she got wriggly and then top up with the rest of the bottle. Once I'd felt it had come back and my boobs were getting uncomfortable again I started offering my boobs first and then topping up with formula after. I think it took maybe 3 weeks to get back to purely bf.

Even if the milk is not there right now, the skin to skin and closeness of her trying to suckle will be a good thing for you both.

PukeyRag Tue 07-Jun-11 14:42:57

I just this minute tried her and she rooted and started sucking, although didn't latch on. I'm excited now grin

narmada Tue 07-Jun-11 14:43:11

Oh, if she'll suckle when she's upset, you're half way there, definitely. Keep putting her on whenever she so much as whimpers - non-nutritive comfort sucking often comes back first I think.

She might have broken her own tongue tie - I think that happens occasionally.

PukeyRag Tue 07-Jun-11 15:03:51

I will, definitely smile

Oh I don't like the sound of that! But like I said, she seems fine now with the sucking/sticking tongue out smile

narmada Tue 07-Jun-11 15:05:49

Don't worry - it won't have hurt her if it did - might just have been a really, really thin thread tethering the tongue or something.

narmada Tue 07-Jun-11 15:06:24

Have to say I found the whole relactation process very empowering and exciting - if knackering and demanding at times. Best of luck and hope it works out for you.

Albrecht Tue 07-Jun-11 15:14:34

Just wanted to say good luck OP.

To an outsider it does not sound like it was your fault at all that your dd is not ebf, you were not supported properly.

PukeyRag Tue 07-Jun-11 15:25:55

Thank you all smile Fingers crossed grin

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