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Breastfeeding - could anyone offer me advice?

(44 Posts)
gogoNagano Sun 24-Jul-11 03:00:18

Hi all, I'm a brand-new mum, with my little one a week old tomorrow. He was in intensive care for a day or so as his blood sugar was very low, and he was bottle fed formula to give him a boost. After he came out of special care, I bottle fed him expressed milk after attempting, and failing, to latch him on.

We had a bit of a eureka moment on our last day in hospital, when he suddenly became more interested in the breast and latched on, albeit briefly. The next couple of days followed the same pattern - I would try and latch him on, he would take a few sucks and come off, and, being worried about his blood sugar dropping again, I topped him up with a bottle of my expressed milk.

Yesterday, we got him latched on for the first time properly, in the laying-down position and I was thrilled we had cracked it. He fed absolutely fine for the next few feeds with no need for the bottle of expressed milk. However, now he doesn't seem to be able to latch on properly - he sometimes can do it for a few seconds but then stops for some reason and comes off. I'm sure it's to do with my positioning and the fact that I'm still as nervous as all hell about holding him, making sure his head is supported, etc - I tense up and that's never useful - even in the laying down position we can't seem to come together properly.

I'm not sure what I'm expecting from writing this... I am desperate to exclusively breast feed, it's so important to me, and it breaks my heart when the little one is wriggling and rooting around and crying yet I can't seem to be where he needs me to be - spent the evening bawling my eyes out, which again is never helpful... I know he is only teeny tiny, but he was unable to latch on after a bit of a difficult birth and I feel like I'm almost on a deadline to make sure he can latch on before he gets too used to the bottle. I only got a few seconds of initial skin-to-skin with him when he was born, as he needed a bit of help.

I guess I'm just looking for a little advice and support, if possible. Is this a normal thing to be going through?

RainySmallHands Sun 24-Jul-11 03:23:53

Oh gogo smile, first of all congratulations!

I am by no means an expert but I understand how awful it is especially in the middle of the night. I am up feeding DD2 and I can honestly say that your experience sound awfully familiar to mine with DD1. She was born in quite a state and like your DS was given a bottle of formula when she was a few hours old due to her low blood sugar levels. We were in hospital for a week for various reasons and did a mixture of BF (not well), expressed BM and the odd bottle of formula. And it was bloody awful for the first couple of weeks.

DD struggled to gape and I could never get the latch right, but what saved us in the end and enabled me to feed for 6 months was nipple shields. Now these are controversial, but they worked for me. However, before going down that route what I would DEFINATELY recommend is talking to a BF Counsellor as soon as possible. See one in person preferably (were you given any local numbers from your midwife?). I saw a specially trained BFing midwife this time with DD2 and it made all the difference in the world. Establishing feeding was still tough but a dream compared with DD1.

You're doing a fabulous job. It is so very, very tough at the beginning (completely normal), but it does get easier, promise smile

RainySmallHands Sun 24-Jul-11 03:29:37

Google for the phone numbers of La Leche League and the like for advice. Sorry, I'd do links but I don't know how to on my iPhone blush

Also, the kellymom website has some great advice (sorry, it should be first hit with a kellymom google..).

Chin up, things will seem a hundred times better in the morning. And a million times better by this time next week.

RainySmallHands Sun 24-Jul-11 03:33:30

Off to bed now. I hope you and DS are having a lovely post-BF sleep smile. Hopefully some more experienced MNers will be along soon with some thoughts.

EDD24may Sun 24-Jul-11 04:47:37

We had similar experience after horrid birth.LO was jaundice and too sleepy to feed. I found it helped to give him a few MLB of ebm which seemed to wake him up and give him the energy to breast feed.he would sleep for 8hrs at a stretch if allowed and I was advised to spend a few days on bed with him doing skin to skin and waking him every 2 hours to feed. I after-phone. Ll league or nct breast feeding counsellor...they work weekends! Go to breast feeding clinic monday if you can but some nct counsellors will come to. house. It does get easier but do ask for help.does your LO fall asleep a couple of mins into feed?try blowing in face/rubbing hands T9 keep awake. Have you tried the biological nuturing position?google that term there's a website with videos...fact sheet on nct website. Talk. About your birth it helps to process it.I had flasbacks after mine but all settled now was horrid at time.it will get better! V early days! x

EDD24may Sun 24-Jul-11 04:52:26

Sorry on phone...autocorrect went mad above.think most typos obvious but MLB is just ml ! Sorry! Good luck. X

RitaMorgan Sun 24-Jul-11 06:58:12

Argh, just typed out a really long post then lost it!

The gist of it was, firstly CONGRATULATIONS! on your baby grin

Secondly, have you considered cup or syringe feeding instead of topping up with a bottle? Your midwife should be able to show you how to do this.

Thirdly, maybe try calling the breastfeeding helplines for some advice - they might also be able to direct you towards some local groups or breastfeeding counsellors who can help you face to face.

National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 100 0212
NCT bf line: 0300 330 0771
La Leche League: 0845 120 2918

Kellymom has info on positioning and attachment here and there are some videos on Jack Newman's website here

Lastly, has anyone checked your baby for tongue tie?

gogoNagano Sun 24-Jul-11 07:54:07

Rainy, EDD and Rita, thank you so much for taking the time to reply with your experiences and kind words.

I went to bed straight after posting and have only just logged on. I will be heading to a breast feeding counsellor at the earliest opportunity, luckily DH works at a childrens centre so we can hopefully access support from the lady who runs their maternal health/breastfeeding support.

Sitting here with the baby boy doing some skin to skin after we managed to latch this morning, so am very happy right now smile But now I know that perseverance will be key.

We fed in the lay-down position again - we've only managed the cradle hold once - I have one of those mothercare support pillows but not sure if I'm using it right (sounds dumb huh!). I just don't seem to be able to get my arms working in a way that he feels supported and secure while being able to bring him to the breast. I feel so stiff and awkward!

Thank you all again for taking the time for a bewildered new mummy!

I will look into the cup feeding, midwife actually did mention it, she's back for a visit tomorrow so will ask her.

gogoNagano Sun 24-Jul-11 07:55:52

Rita, no I don't think so - would the midwife be able to tell if he did have tongue-tie?

Loopymumsy Sun 24-Jul-11 08:17:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RitaMorgan Sun 24-Jul-11 08:17:56

Midwife should be able to diagnose tongue-tie - sometimes it can stop babies getting and keeping a good latch so they keep slipping off the nipple (my ds had this).

I first managed to get ds latched on lying down too - and that was only because my mum came to the hospital and helped me! I found the midwives useless, they just grabbed boob and baby and squished them together which of course just freaked ds out.

Are you supporting the baby's body with the arm opposite the breast (so holding baby with right arm, latching onto left breast) when you're bringing him to the breast? I found holding ds with my hand supporting his neck/shoulders helped, not holding his head - holding his head in any way made him fight against me. They need to be free to tip their heads back to get a good latch. With my left hand I then sort of supported the breast and angled the nipple upwards to get it into ds's mouth.

He never did that perfect gaping mouth/tilted head thing you see in the pictures by the way, I just had to bring him to the breast quickly the moment I saw the opportunity as he opened his mouth wide enough!

LoveBeingAbleToNamechange Sun 24-Jul-11 08:23:12

I would recommend staying in bed and having loads of skin to skin today. Just spend the day cuddling and being together. I asume the mw is still seeing you? They are happy to help with latch issues. Also when I had a hiccup I got the books out and followed the photos, it's really easy to miss something at the beginning.

Don't stress you are both learning something new.

Emzar Sun 24-Jul-11 08:26:25

I remember the feeling of not knowing where to position my arms very well! You expect breastfeeding to just happen, it looks so simple, but it's a skill and takes a bit of practice. Hopefully you just need someone experienced to help you with positioning and give you a bit of a confidence boost.

If problems persist and you do suspect tongue tie, it's worth getting an opinion from a trained councillor. I was told twice my son didn't have it when in fact he did.

DuelingFanjo Sun 24-Jul-11 08:31:18

Hi there

I am trying to find a video but having trouble. There's a technique for feeding a newborn which a midwife showed me after my son came out of hospital. It involves sitting the baby on your foot facing you then slowly moving him up your leg until he's sat on your knee. It helped me loads because as you bring him up he opens his mouth wide and is at a great angle to latch on. You have to have lots of cushions behind you and basically need to be breast out so not great for public feeding but it got my son more used to latching on.

SearchSquad Sun 24-Jul-11 08:32:48

Please get your son checked for tongue tie. I was unable to establish exclusive breastfeeding till my son was three months old, because of my son's tongue tie and my cesarean complications. However, I was finally able to do it in the end.

I followed the advice from the breastfeeding videos on http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.php?pagename=videos.

Also, the site http://www.kellymom.com/ is particularly helpful for mothers trying to breastfeed.

LoveBeingAbleToNamechange Sun 24-Jul-11 08:42:37

Also get your dh to bring the breadtfeeding video home from work. I think it's rubbish for increasing bf numbers but quite good once you have a baby!

gogoNagano Sun 24-Jul-11 09:00:54

Thank you all very much for your replies, I've showed DH the thread and he said that before DS was let out of the hospital, the paediatrician checked for Tongue tie, but I will seek a second opinion.

Going to grab my DVD and have another watch.

The whole holding the head thing is how the midwives showed me in the hospital, not great advice then... I worry though that if you don't hold it, he'll hurt his neck. I've read about creating a second neck with your hand so will just stay on the sofa with him today and get practicing. Will check out the positions suggested as well.

Thank you again all, thank gawd for Mumsnet..

Emzar Sun 24-Jul-11 09:21:14

You need him to tilt his head back as you bring him in towards your nipple, so that his chin gets there first. So holding his head too firmly might make that difficult. I was shown to either support his neck with my thumb and forefinger, or support his head lightly by just resting it on my hand rather than holding it.

LoveBeingAbleToNamechange Sun 24-Jul-11 10:48:09

Get dh to see how it's looking from other angles cause he will be able to see from the same angles as the video.

gogoNagano Sun 24-Jul-11 15:28:00

So far today, so much better...

He's fed well from the breast for his feeds today, still gets a bit frustrated when we can't come together straight away, but we're doing much better! Had lots of skin to skin today too, which has really helped.

Thank you all - I feel a lot more positive today, probably because I've actually managed to eat and sleep smile

LoveBeingAbleToNamechange Sun 24-Jul-11 16:24:29

Good to hear. It's just cause he's so hungry, you must remember a bottle let's milk out much quicker than a boob.

RitaMorgan Sun 24-Jul-11 16:36:55

Don't worry about a bit of frustration - sometimes I had to get someone else to walk the baby around a bit sucking on their finger just to calm him down enough to have second go at latching on. Much better to latch them on right, even if it takes a few attempts, then to get a poor latch and risk damaging your nipples.

I know it seems like such a palaver now, but honestly before long you'll be able to latch him on with your eyes closed grin

SnarkHunt Mon 25-Jul-11 15:21:38

Don't worry about mastering any particular holds, the important thing is that baby is fed and you are relaxed - if you can find any comfortable position just do that till you're a bit more confident. I found lying down good as little one can wriggle a bit to get comfy rather than you having to support head and body and try and get aligned etc. It doesnt matter what it looks like, i ended up crouching over her like a cow at one point but if it works what the hell!

Get real life support, and if any advice doesn't feel right for you ignore it and find someone else. You are doing brilliantly and well done you!

Elsjas Mon 25-Jul-11 15:33:34

I exclusively breastfed dd1 for eight months - few problems at the beginning with v sore and bleeding nipples etc but then settled into it and it worked really well. When ds1 came along, I thought it would be easy but had the same initial problems. Luckily, the midwife's visit happened to coincide with one if his feeds. She just moved ds round my body a bit and tilted his head slightly and bingo all worked perfectly from then on. See if you can get the midwife or other professional to watch a feed and they may be able to help you.

Good luck.

gogoNagano Tue 26-Jul-11 12:52:04

Thank you all - last night and today so far have been so very rewarding in terms of feeding. We're still mainly using the laying-down position, but we're going to work on the cradle/cross cradle over the next couple of days as I'd like one day to be able to leave the house with him and not have to have a lay down in the middle of the street to feed him grin

Last night and early this morning, for all feeds, he latched in less than a minute, and early this afternoon he had a lovely bath and again latched on in seconds - this time I even found the confidence to move him around and offer him my other breast rather than letting him fall asleep after the first one... it seems my darling boy has quite the appetite - emptied them both! He's now kipping after a mild case of the hiccups smile

Thanks again for all the amazing advice and for telling me your experiences - it really has made me feel a tonne better.

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