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Please help - support for giving up BFing my 5 week old - BFing isn't working?

(13 Posts)
Zoe20 Wed 08-Jun-11 17:32:25

I have desperately tried to BF my DS through loads of problems.

I have flat nipples, so he had difficulty latching on and couldn't latch at all on the left side. It has also always been excruciatingly painful even though 2 different lactation consultants, as well as numerous midwives and HVs checked the latch and said it looked fine. I have been using nipple shields on the left side from the beginning and on the right side for the last couple of weeks because of the pain and to let the nipple heal. Poor DS was also tongue-tied, and we had it snipped last Friday but it doesn't seem to have made any difference.

The last lactation consultant I saw said it should be fine to continue using the shields and not to worry about the supply. However, I don't think DS is feeding efficiently through the shields as I seem to be feeding literally almost all the time. For example, yesterday he fed solidly from 2-4pm, then again for an hour at 5 pm and then on and off all evening from 7pm till 12.30am with the odd half an hour nap in between. He then slept for a 4 hour stretch, fed for an hour and a quarter from 4.30-5.45am, then slept from 6-9.30. Today the feeding has been almost constant since 10am, plus he doesn't seem to be swallowing properly and milk keeps leaking out of his mouth. He never seems satisfied after a feed and has been crying most of the day when not feeding. He hasn't slept for more than 30 minutes all day.

I just feel so upset and even depressed about all the feeding problems that it is stopping me enjoying my baby. I desperately wanted to do the best for him by BFing but it seems to me that it is better for him to have a happy FFing Mum than a depressed BFing Mum. Also worried that because the feeding takes up all the time, he has no 'awake/alert' time for development.

Sorry for the essay, I just wondered if anyone else had been through this and could offer any support or advice?

crikeybadger Wed 08-Jun-11 17:42:49

Sorry you're having a hard time Zoe sad

I think it would be a good idea to talk through things with a breastfeeding counsellor on one of the helplines. The numbers are listed on the right hand side of this site here

FWIW, it is possible to feed with flat nipples, but it's usually harder. Sounds like you've been through the mill a bit.

Can you get LO to latch on without the shields?

Thandeka Wed 08-Jun-11 17:46:48

I have sooo been where you are! Have to type quick as got to pick LO up from nursery but didnt want to read and run. Tongue tie snip can take a couple of weeks to relearn to use their freed tongue so it maybe it will slowly improved although the not swallowing properly and milk leaking probably needs another look at by a professional.

I have to dash but you can read my breastfeeding story here:
maternitymatters.net/?p=455

We mixed fed a lot which saved my sanity and you do whatever is best for you. Will try and post back later once DD in bed. Good luck!

Zoe20 Wed 08-Jun-11 18:03:37

Thanks for the replies.

Crikeybadger - Thanks, I have spoken to the NCT helpline but the upshot of the conversation was that I should have a professional observe a feed, which I have already done. He used to be able to latch on on the right hand side without the shield but since the tongue tie snip keeps slipping off.

Thandeka - wow, I read your story and am very impressed at your perseverance. I might give mixed feeding a try, HV recommended it. As you say, I need to do something to save my sanity!

Ihopeyoudance Wed 08-Jun-11 18:04:13

Sorry you're finding it difficult Zoe.
Some days it does feel like you do nothing but feed but it doesn't mean breastfeeding isn't working. At that age, suckling is the only thing that gives comfort so it could be that your baby isn't hungry all of the time but may have some wind or something (hence the crying when not on the breast). Try to just go with the flow if you can. Get a supply of DVD box sets and make yourself comfy! You've done well so far if it's been painful so don't beat yourself up. Hormones and tiredness can make us feel things are insurmountable but they aren't. In retrospect I can see I would have been mental however I chose to feed my baby!
You seem to be putting so much pressure on yourself to do the best for your baby, you've lost sight of what that means. Don't worry about alert time for development, he'll develop just fine anyway. He's being clear about what he needs, to be close to you and suckle. That's perfectly natural and lovely and does not mean AT ALL that you are doing anything wrong. Fwiw, they say the first 6 weeks are the hardest.
You're doing great!

LunaticFringe Wed 08-Jun-11 18:09:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RitaMorgan Wed 08-Jun-11 18:18:35

Were they properly qualified lactation consultants? Did you see them privately? I just wonder if you can call them again to discuss the inefficient feeding/swallowing problems.

Sounds like you've done an amazing job to breastfeed so far - lots of people wouldn't persevere through all those issues. Introducing formula may not be a bad idea, and if you mix feed for a while then remember every breastfeed counts so it's still worthwhile.

Spagbolagain Wed 08-Jun-11 18:23:39

We had tongue tie snipped and it did take a few days for latch to improve. Sorry you are having a tough time, it's true the first 6 weeks are so hard, but it really does get easier.

It sounds like your DS is cluster feeding in the evening, which is what mine did. It tanks them up for a longer stretch of sleep, and I think 4hrs followed by 3.5 is really good going for a 5 week old, so try not to lose heart, it sounds like you are getting there!
It's possible that he's not crying because he is hungry, maybe he has wind or a headache or just can't seem to settle, which is why feeding doesn't seen to help.

As others have said, I would see if you can get somebody to observe a feed, as things may have changed since the tongue tie. If you hang in there, it really does become a breeze (hard to believe), but ultimately do what is right for you as a family and don't beat yourself up either way! You really are doing fine, but I hope you feel better soon. Oh, and please don't worry about development time at this age. I fretted for months about whether I was doing enough, but really all they want or need is to be with you when they are tiny!

japhrimel Wed 08-Jun-11 18:43:31

Really don't worry about awake/alert time for development! I did at first, but it's daft to as each stage lasts for such a short amount of time. DD is now 6 months old and doing great with everything despite all our issues early on.

There is a growth spurt commonly at the 5-6 week mark and cluster feeding is also common at that time, so lots of feeding may have nothing to do with your issues. The only way to check a BF baby is getting enough is to check their weight gain - if that's fine, they're getting enough.

Mix feeding doesn't have to be the end of bfing and even if you were to go to FF at this stage, you'd want to slowly drop feeds anyway. So I'd try to remember that every feed counts, but if you need to try a bottle (and don't want to give EBM for whatever reason) then see how you go.

lilham Wed 08-Jun-11 22:56:27

I agree that the crying a lot might not be linked to your DS being hungry. However does your DS ever came off the breast looking satisfied? I'd give mixed feeding a try to if it saves your sanity.

Zoe20 Wed 08-Jun-11 23:08:42

Thanks everyone for the support. Going to try mix feeding for a bit as well as expressing, and will keep persevering with getting the latch right. Will see if things settle down a little at the six week mark.

Albrecht Thu 09-Jun-11 14:40:16

Agree that it could be growth spurt / comfort feeding, which is not a bad thing - the world is a scarey new place and he wants to be close to you, the one thing he knows, plus it helps your milk supply. The only thing he needs for development at this age is to bond with you.

Ds had a similar pattern to what you decribe, feeding marathons, crying etc. and I had no issues with flat nipples or anything like that. Its just what some of them are like. I found it got better as I practised the latch but basically as his mouth got bigger he could take a bigger gulp. Going to support groups really helped me, expert advice plus other mothers who've been there - search for local groups here). They will have seen a lot of babies with problems so may be able to reassure you.

Is he pooing regularly?. Because aside from weight gain that is a sure sign he is getting milk through his system.

Definately every breast feed counts so mix feeding may work well for you. But be aware that constant feeding is to ramp up your supply so if you skip some of those feeds your supply might suffer. Not saying you shouldn't do it, just wanted you to have the facts. For some women its not an issue though.

sc2987 Thu 09-Jun-11 18:18:54

If you add formula, your supply will drop, which will give you further problems. Also, it isn't just that breastfeeding is good, but also that formula is bad. Even one exposure before 6 months (when the gut stops being so 'leaky') can lead to allergies or auto-immune conditions later in life (although this is a risk of continued use of non-human milks at any age).

This sounds normal to me, you just have to follow their lead and feed as often and for as long as they want. Although you should also get the tongue-tie checked in case it needs another snip, some do.

My 3.5 month old daughter doesn't sleep for more than 3 hours at once, and sometimes takes 4 hours to feed to sleep! But it will get easier over the next year.

You could also try carrying him in a sling so you can feed at the same time as doing other stuff. The movement may lull him to sleep for longer, too.

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