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Desperately sad :(

(49 Posts)
ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 14:56:57

DS was born 16 weeks ago, and I have been trying to EBF since then. We went from supplementing at the beginning (dodgy advice from the MW at my delivery unit) to just breastfeeding from week 3 onwards. It was bloody hard work, but I had the greatest sense of achievement doing it. And then my problems started!...

Basically for the past 4+ weeks, I have had a serious problem with my let-down reflex. I have loads of milk when I get let-down, but it's just getting to this point.. It started one morning for DS's 2am feed, and it's just carried on since then. One morning it took an hour to get the milk to flow through! It's just as well DS was so sleepy, otherwise would've kicked up a royal stink! I don't want to go back to formula, but don't know what the alternatives are. I have tried expressing till I get to let-down, but it's just as difficult-and not particularly practical at 2am in the morning! I am now using expressed bm, which I sometimes need, and sometimes don't depending on whether I've been able to successfully bf that morning or not.

Some days are better than others. But someone just has to mention 'how's your milk' when it all goes pear-shaped again! I have severe performance anxiety. I've tried EVERYTHING-relaxation (easier said than done), warm flannels, bachs rescue remedy, fennel tea, hot showers, kellymom website, LLL, fenugreek etc etc but nothing's helping. I just wish I can get over it...I just feel such a total FAILURE. Please someone say its only temporary and I can overcome it.

DS is lovely and bouncy, and it would abs break my heart if I had to give up BF altogether. Any advice? I haven't had any major stress or problems in my life, but this is becoming such a big problem for me...(sorry so long-winded) x

pyjamalover Mon 20-Jun-11 15:47:27

sorry I'm not an expert hopefully one will be along soon, just wanted to say you are NOT a failure, hats off to you for getting this far with so many problems.

it probably is only temporary, most BF problems are. it sounds like a letdown prob not a supply one is that right? remember farmers say about sensitive cows 'you have to be gentle with her or she won't let down', so be gentle with yourself, you're doing great - your son is lovely and bouncy so you must be doing great!

sorry for comparing you to a cow!

Cosmosis Mon 20-Jun-11 15:54:20

I am going through the same thing atm, although my ds is 9.5m. It's not happening all the time, but it is really getting to me. I am expressing while at work for him and I get a letdown so quickly for that, but not when Im actually bfing him. Last night I just went to bed and cried after he woke in the night and nothing came. he went back to sleep in the end without a feed - same thing had happened at bed time.

I was having success with deep breathing and visualisations but that's not working so well now and I think like you I am getting performance anxiety which is just creating a vicious circle.

So no solution for you, but lots of sympathy. In a selfish way I am kind of glad someone else has the same issue as I was feeling very down about it

AngelDog Mon 20-Jun-11 15:54:38

What makes you think you have problems with getting a letdown? Is it that you don't feel it? It's normal not to always feel it, or to stop feeling it when you used to, or to start feeling it when you didn't before.

RitaMorgan Mon 20-Jun-11 15:58:18

When it takes an hour to get a letdown, what happens? Does the baby refuse the breast?

Cosmosis Mon 20-Jun-11 16:05:40

I posted about it here ebmummy

ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 16:47:17

Thanks for the support ladies. I always feel my let-downs, so know when I am getting one, and when I'm not, if that makes sense. Cosmosis, at least you have been lucky enough to breastfeed for as long as you have. I just don't know whether I can make it through to 6 months (another 10 weeks!) by a combination of expressing and hoping for the best. I am getting PLENTY of milk when there's let-down so not a supply issue pyjamalover. Just searching for that magic solution sad

ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 17:04:55

ritamorgan, DS doesn't usually suck for very long-he's a greedy monkey and wants the milk to come quick. The 1 hour was an exception when he was really tired, and instead of sucking on his dummy, I put him to the breast instead.

RitaMorgan Mon 20-Jun-11 17:09:01

I stopped feeling let downs at all quite suddenly at about 4 months, when they'd been quite strong/painful before - my breasts were also quite soft and I stopped needing breastpads at the same time. Could it possibly be a combination of this happening to you too, and then the worry/anxiety aboUt not feeling tham further inhibits it?

ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 17:22:39

It's a nice idea ritamorgan, but I get very powerful let-downs. It's strange cos some days we get on fine-let-down only takes about 10-15 secs, and some days I just seem to lose al confidence and we're back to square 1! I'm sure you can guess what today has been like sad.. I just always thought after all the hard work, that it would be reasonably plain-sailing but this problem has just floored me..

Sorry for moaning so much sad

TittyBojangles Mon 20-Jun-11 19:55:47

Same as RM here, I stopped feeling my let downs at about 4 months quite suddenly having always felt them before and it worried me too... also started to find it really difficult to express around the same time. Had previously been donating milk so had never had any difficulties expressing before. Not saying this is whats happening to you but if your LO is ok with it then I'd not worry either way. Is he happy/wet nappies/growth ok etc? If so then is this really a problem or more of a worry for you?

CamperFan Mon 20-Jun-11 20:25:45

ebmummy, when I bought my natal hypnotherapy CD I noticed that they had one for bfing. I have no idea if it touches on your problem, but anything which helps you relax, go into a different zone etc has got to be worth trying? And if other people are making you anxious then can you avoid them for a few days? I don't have a problem, but let down does take longer when I am not relaxed (bfing in a strange place without privacy, or worried DS2 is going to bite) and I take deep breaths and actively relax my hips (seem to hold tension there for some reason). I saw that someone on here suggested a mini babymoon for some other problem - just trying to have a few quiet days at home in bed with your DS. Well done for sticking with it and some <hugs>.

ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 20:29:03

tittybojangles I know I'm not getting let-down cos DS goes mental! He latches on for a few seconds and if the milk doesn't flow, he goes hysterical. What I then have to do is calm him down, and either express if I'm not feeling too stressed, or defrost frozen bm from the freezer. He's getting wet nappies, so he's getting enough nutrition, but feeding in general has become a stressful experience for both of us. I know let-down is a psychological reflex, and no-one can help as such, but it just helps me venting!..

ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 20:33:40

Thanks camperfan. May sound odd, but for the past few weeks I've been feeding DS in front of the TV cos it helped me zone out.. I just can't believe it's become such an issue! Now I'm really sympathetic with men who've got 'performance' issues lol..

RitaMorgan Mon 20-Jun-11 20:36:29

Maybe try feeding him in his sleep when he's not really hungry and there's no pressure on you - take him to bed and feed lying down so he can just comfort suck. The let down might come easier if there's no need for it iyswim.

ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 21:20:23

Yeah, that's exactly what I do during the day. Just can't do it for the twilight feeds cos he wouldn't stand for it.. I wonder if there's anyone who had this problem and it corrected itself?

peanutdream Mon 20-Jun-11 21:33:06

i had this a few times - not persistently though. i always felt my letdown right up to 15 months when i stopped (for the first few months it was really painful). early on let downs happened all the time - i had quite a surplus, but from about 7/8months, there was no milk near the nipple, it was usually deep inside and the let down had to happen for him to get the milk. he was a very loud swallower as he had to gulp so it was obvious when the milk was flowing.

and once when he was 14months or so, i happened to be wearing heels and lots of make up (which i didn't usually) and absolutely no milk came and there would have been plenty had i had a let down, definitely! it was a weird psychological thing.

the other times i managed to have a let down if i really focused and breathed deeply for ten breaths or more. i really had to relax and literally felt synapses and hormones firing as my let down happened. fascinating!

everyone is different. good luck - i'm sure you'll be able to carry on grin

ebmummy Mon 20-Jun-11 22:14:10

peanutdream, thanks. I certainly hope so. Did a little prayer tonight!

japhrimel Mon 20-Jun-11 22:40:45

When DD hit 4 months, I suddenly had issues expressing. i think it's quite common for everything to calm down at about this stage as bfing becomes almost completely demand led as prolactin levels drop.

It may just be that sometimes it's a bit slower than your impatient LO likes but because you stress it's not happening fast enough (and presumably your LO stops sucking to get hysterical?) then it doesn't happen. Have you tried the deep breathing, "think milk" techniques?

tiktok Mon 20-Jun-11 23:07:19

ebmummy - mothers often do know when something is up, but in your case, I'm unconvinced smile

Anxiety can affect let down, temporarily, but usually only after a major shock to the system (like a road accident, a death in the family). Everything you're describing - intermittent sensation of let down, happy baby who is happy to hang out at the breast anyway, not much with expressing - is on the normal spectrum esp with established bf.

It could be you are sensitive to bf going 'wrong' because of your earlier experiences.

If your baby shows signs of losing weight or is consistently miserable and/or frustrated, then there may be something worth fixing....sometimes babies do get cross if the bf is not quite right from the get-go - and the response is just as you have done, to calm him and try again. Being v. anxious in response and breaking out the ebm is prob not necessary.

My bet is that if you can chill and accept this is an odd feeling experience which will pass, it will pass smile

Bunsouttheoven Mon 20-Jun-11 23:33:31

Just to echo what others have written about not always feeling let downs after the first months of feeding.

Also could it be that where ds sometimes has a bottle he gets impatient when having to do the work himself? Because sometimes these babies can be patient & other times scream the place down when they don't get instant gratification!

Try to trust your body, I'm sure it will resolve smile

LithaR Tue 21-Jun-11 00:38:25

My son was like this at 4 months, due to a growth spurt and milk not coming fast enough. Then started to feed him whilst pacing which did the trick. He calmed down enough to drink and i felt less frustrated.

ebmummy Tue 21-Jun-11 02:09:28

Tiktok I think you are right. However, when I said the same is happening with expressing, I meant difficulty getting let-down. If I'm relaxed enough, I can actually express about 150mls. I know I have to relax more, and just accept it but it's all I can think about when DS latches on! Thanks for the reassurance though. I will def try and convince myself that its a passing blip and hopefully it will be smile..

Dorje Tue 21-Jun-11 02:22:10

I used to feed watching DVDs - Brad Pitt in Troy I remember was excellent! Oxytocin's great -yea! My early let downs were extreme though - but after 4 months they had calmed down a lot and were really different from the early days - and nights.

Do you have oedema pre / post natally - puffy ankles / hands. I think the extreme let down is a way of the body balancing out the fluids in it also, I had puffy ankles for a while after the birth, and after I lost all the extra fluid, let down calmed down too.


ebmummy Tue 21-Jun-11 05:14:53

Ok, 2 feeds into the morning and I'm afraid try as I might, no let-down. Have had to express then feed to ds-took about 5 mins of pumping before the milk started to flow, and there was no way ds was going to suckle for 5 mins! I'm trying so hard to visualise something else/be somewhere else but just not happening.. Grrrr, so frustrating!! Really did try Tiktok sad

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