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Humour me with my low supply whinge. V sick of BFing

(32 Posts)
Hopefully Sun 28-Aug-11 19:54:08

DS2 is 5 months. I'm sure most of you have spotted me on here over the past few months bemoaning our various BFing problems, but the short version is:

* DS fed constantly from birth
* Latch checked by 2 BFCs and infant feeding specialist, perfect, no probs
* DS gained very little after regaining his birth weight (like, under 1lb in 9 weeks)
* More constant feeding
* Paed referral at 3 months (after no weight gain for 3 weeks), who wanted me to FF. I agreed to top up 3x per day at 2oz a time
* we now give 1 2oz top up in the day, and 1 4oz top up in the evening.
* DS is gaining at a vaguely civilised rate (following 0.4th percentile, although 75th on length and head circ)
* He still feeds all the bloody time
* I am sick of it
* Oh, and if I try to express I get mastitis within a few days. Have had it 4 times (well, 3 really, as I think the 4th was just the 3rd not clearing properly)

He feeds more than hourly throughout the day. By 'more than hourly', I mean that occasionally he goes an hour from start of feed to start of feed, but for about 50% of his feeds it is 20-30 mins. Apart from after his 2oz top up, when he will go about 90 minutes before needing a feed. At night he goes 2-3 hours after his 4oz bottle, then feeds at least every 2 hours for the rest of the night. Most nights he feeds more or less constantly from 4am till we get up at 7am. He doesn't really nap in the day as he is too busy feeding. Perhaps twice for 20-30 mins at a time? Normally he needs a feed again before I have managed to get him to sleep and ends up napping while feeding and screaming if removed, so I don't even get to put him down then.

I have seen BFCs more than once and had his latch checked, it is perfect as far as anyone can tell, no TT, latch is nice and deep. There is no obvious physical problem with him or me. But he feeds all the time.

The odd time I have really needed a break (or to earn some money - I am self employed and needed to earn a bit from when DS2 was 4 months in order for us to pay our bills and eat) and DP has given him some formula he has been a different baby. He has fed, stayed happily awake for a couple of hours, then napped for a sensible amount of time in his pram or the sling (not ages, perhaps 45-60 mins).

I am getting so bloody bored of it. I am really trying to stay committed to BFing, but my commitment is really wavering. I think if it wasn't so much better when he has a bottle i would feel a bit more determined, but it's perfectly apparent that he isn't getting a huge amount from me at a time, so is needing to feed constantly.

And FWIW, with both babies I never get engorged (not even when I had to spend 12 hours away from DS2 at 4.5 months), never felt my milk come in, never leak, can't express more than an oz at a time (even when expressing daily and subsequently enduring mastitis while still trying to stick to EBF).

Sorry for the rant, I'm just so bloody sick of having him permanently latched on, not having enough time for DS1, not getting a break day or night (I feel that if one would improve then i could continue) and generally feeling green with envy of my friends who are complaining that their baby is still only going 2 hours between feeds and only sleeping 3-4 hours at night. sad

Anyone else had similar? Given up? Continued? Want to share similar stories of appallingly bad feeders? Please? [desperate]

Albrecht Sun 28-Aug-11 20:50:24

God that sounds totally crap! Sorry can't think of anything better to say!

Have you been to a La Leche League meeting? They are also for moaning about breastfeeding not just talking about the lovely nuturing side.

nethunsreject Sun 28-Aug-11 20:53:22

GOd, yes, whinge away! And bloody good on you for sticking with it.

I'd second going to a group. BFN are good too.

Have you tried Kellymom too? Great info on there. I'm sure you've heard most of it, but worth the reassurance.

Also try Milk Matters (aka Analytical Armadillo) who are specialists in TT and might be worth a call?

nethunsreject Sun 28-Aug-11 20:55:04

RandomMess Sun 28-Aug-11 20:55:58

It sounds horrendous tbh.

My eldest is 14, she was fully FF from birth, my youngest 3 were all bf for between 4 and 11 months for varying reasons.

TBH now my youngest is 6 it just isn't an issue at all whereas when I was bf it was a huge deal. Had horrific problems it was the be all and all etc etc was desperate to exculsive bf for all the health benefits etc.

In summary I suppose I'm saying your little one has had 5 months of breastmilk (well done you!!!!!!) and in 10 years time if you decide to switch to FF now you won't feel guilty/bad/sad or that you failed. Happy mummy = happy baby.

bumbums Sun 28-Aug-11 21:13:48

I think that the ff and the pumping has really messed up your supply. You must bf through the night as this is when you set your self up for your next days supply.
Can you give your self a whole week of exclusive bf? Be prepared to sit on the sofa feeding constanly and let him sleep on you. This could and should correct your supply and then you can begin exclusively bf at hopefully a more calm and regular rate.
If you can't do this. Then I would jack in the bf and ff and not look back.
Call the La Leche league for more qualified advice.

AJH2007 Sun 28-Aug-11 21:16:20

Maybe I'll get flamed, but...give him more formula. You've done so well to get this far; he has had all the benefits of breastmilk. You can still do some breastfeeding, but why not do e.g. three 4oz formula feeds a day so that you start to get a couple of decent breaks in between feeds. My DS is also a constant feeder and is only 7 weeks and I bf, but he has one 4oz formula feed at c10pm (given by DH) to get me one solid four hour block of sleep a day. I am so much more relaxed and patient for having had that break that the benefit to DS far outweighs the "downside" of formula (in my opinion - and as he's my child it's my opinion that counts!). Good luck with whatever you decide.

maisie215 Sun 28-Aug-11 21:27:28

Following with interest as this sounds a lot like me only we are only at nine weeks. My current plan is to get to 12 wks then if it is still the same I will try supplementing with an Sns after every feed- well obviously that would be the case if we actually had feeds rather than an all day buffet! Reckon I'll give each 'feed' half an hour or so. I
Know this lowers supply further but could mean you still get to bf but just not all the time.

Fwiw I also think it sounds like you have low supply. There is a tendency to day that this is not a real problem and can be fixed by constant feeding and baby mooning. I think it us a rare problem but those of us who repeatedly babymoon, express, feed constantly and still don't see any increase in supply do exist. Well done for getting this far! If getting to that magical 6 months means a great deal to you it may be worth sticking it out for another month or you may regret it as it was 'just a month'. I hope you find the right path and will be watching!

Hopefully Sun 28-Aug-11 23:26:00

Thanks for all the lovely replies! Sorry for being such a whinge, I just find it so frustrating at times.

albrecht and nethunsreject I thought about meetings, but TBH I'm completely sick of being told that if I babymooned/pumped/adjusted his latch/fed more often (WHEN??!!) that I could improve my supply and I'm not sure I could take it if someone said that again. I have done all of these things repeatedly (I hardly got out of bed for the first 6 weeks and made sure I had lots of support looking after DS1 in the first 3 months to get BFing established). If I could guarantee non-judginess maybe I'd consider it smile

randommess I know what you mean. I actually struggled recently to remember when I stopped BFing DS1, but at the time it was a huge guilt laden decision (it was 10mths, incidentally)

bumbums I do BF through the night. All night, every night. He has his 4oz bottle at 8pm, but only after feeding all evening first. He then starts feeding again at 10:30pm usually. My supply wasn't correct before all the pumping (and later, top ups), despite doing everything totally and utterly textbook for 14 weeks. Before the top ups DS simply didn't gain any weight, so something had to be done.

AJH I am reasonably determined to get to 6 months without upping the formula further, as I know how guilty I'll feel. If it doesn't begin to improve within a few weeks of starting solids I'll definitely be increasing the formula though.

Maisie I think you're right. I was looking online at some BFC (I think it might have been LLL) support documents, and while the ones intended for those seeking help imply that everyone can BF and there is a solution (babymooning/feeding more/SNS/something else) for every single feeding problem, the documents aimed at the LLL leaders seem to be a degree of acceptance of the fact that for a very small minority of women, successful EBF isn't necessarily possible. I suppose that the reality of genuine low supply needs to be publicised as little as possible, because there are so many people who think they have low supply who don't understand infant feeding patterns/are trying to get into a routine/have unrealistic expectations etc etc etc, and many of them would readily latch onto (bah-boom-cha) the idea of low supply and give up when there is no need. Would be nice if more people understood that occasionally low supply does exist, and there's not a lot you can do about it (especially if, as in my case, GP and paed don't believe in low supply and therefore won't prescribe anything to increase it. Why bother, when I can just give formula, was their answer).

Hopefully Sun 28-Aug-11 23:31:59

Oh, and bumbums I have to just add that DS2 is on me constantly, he naps on me and sleeps on me at night. I already sit on the sofa feeding constantly, apart from the whopping 60-90 mins after his 2oz top up and the 2-3 hours after his 4oz one. So he has free rein to feed as he pleases for the other 20-21 hours of the day.

Sorry if I sound defensive, I've had an awful lot of suggestions like that and I have followed every single one in an effort to continue EBF. The only way I could be more attached to DS2 is by stuffing him back inside. grin

Thankfully DS1 is not terribly jealous. If he was I think I would have had to already pack in BFing.

Tryharder Sun 28-Aug-11 23:35:51

I agree that there are women who have a low supply. It doesn't mean that they can't breastfeed their babies, just that they have to feed all the bloody time. I wouldn't describe my own supply as "low" but not particularly generous either and like you, OP, have had to feed my DCs very, very frequently although I didnt have any weight gain issues. I once read somewhere -possibly on here - that some women can't store much milk in their breasts and those are the ones who have to feed very frequently as their babies only take in small amounts at each feed.

Noone would blame you for giving more formula OP but if you can stick it out for another few weeks or so, you may find life becomes much easier once you start your DS on solids.

bumbums Mon 29-Aug-11 08:09:21

Sorry OP that I didn't 'get' the situation fully. It sounds like you've put an enormous amount of effort in to the bf. Many would have given up a lot sooner.
Could you accept that its time to stop the bf and be happy that you've done your best?

shuckleberryfinn Mon 29-Aug-11 09:47:49

give up. Everybody has a tipping point. How would you feel if you just bf a couple of times a day and gave formula?

I'm a BF enthusiast it's true but it sounds like it's just not working for you. Alternatively (speaking from personal experience) has anyone spoken to you about galactagogues? I had some supply issues, took 6 weeks to regain birth weight but was prescribed domperidone and it was almost magical. Thing is it takes 2days to 2 weeks to start working and in that time its pretty much feed pump feed pump. If I hadn't been given that I would have stopped right there and then and not felt bad, I'd done everything possible and it just wasn't working for us. I'm very glad it did though.

You do whatever it takes to keep yourself sane.

4madboys Mon 29-Aug-11 09:56:07

you say you want to get to 6mths? well if you do that it may be that he REALLY likes solids and then wants to bfeed less and then you would be feeding less anyway? if you can hold out till that point as you are now and then see how it goes?

if no change increase the formula, and continue to bfeed?

but do whatever makes you feel happiest and DONT feel guilty, you have given him a great start and you do need to look after yourself as well xx

posterofawolef Mon 29-Aug-11 09:57:13

If you really want to carry on I second the domperidone suggestion. Be forceful with your GP and get the HV to support you if you can. it's a bloody stupid argument that you can just give formula and a GP should be ashamed of this attitude.

I think you are a hero for persevering this long without it!

Hopefully Mon 29-Aug-11 10:00:50

Thanks bumbums I'm sorry for being all defensive - I'm just so used to being treated like a 'normal' person who thinks they have low supply (i.e. a person who expects baby to go 4 hours between feeds or sleep through or whatever or thinks expressing is an indicator of supply or one of those other cliches)

Shuckleberry I asked to be prescribed domperidone but was more or less laughed off by GP and subsequently paed. I'm actually contemplating complaining (to who?!) about this, as according the local LLL leader it should have been a fairly standard response to the feeding problems we had. I'm not sure I could face starting to take something like that now, as we're so far down the line. If there is ever a DC3 I'm going to have a serious talk with MW/HV/GP about it before giving birth though, as I had exactly the same experience with DS1 as well.

Tryharder I am keeping fingers crossed it improves once solids are introduced.

I decided last night that I can probably limp on in current situation for perhaps another 6-8 weeks if absolutely necessary (i.e. until we're a few weeks into weaning), and if things still aren't improving we'll definitely introduce some more formula, with a view to dropping the formula, rather than BFs when he begins to drop feeds again as food intake increases.

I'm so blown away by the lovely responses. I was really expecting everyone to tell me to get a grip/babymoon more determinedly/just get on and cope/park DS1 in front of Cbeebies for the next month (we are more or less a TV free household as it has ridiculously negative effect on DS1's behaviour). It's so nice to be able to moan to people who get it. We live in a v middle class, pro BF area, and I am the only one of my close group of friends who has had any BFing problems and had to give any formula at all before 6 months. I think they think I'm a bit pathetic sometimes sad

AJH2007 Mon 29-Aug-11 11:43:24

Just a quick follow up to say you can buy domperidone over the counter under the brand name Motilium. I did that for a few weeks then a 'friendly' GP prescribed some for me at my six week check. Worth a try!

TruthSweet Mon 29-Aug-11 12:58:33

Hopefully - It sounds like you have done everything short of having a breast transplant to increase supply and I definitely don't think you have been pathetic. Heroic more like!

You have probably seen this before but in case you haven't this has lots of technical details about low supply (not feed more and just suck it up type 'help') and has thorough and scientific/medical explanations of low/incomplete supply and ways to help increase the supply and ways to come to terms with the need for supplementation (if that is needed). It does talk a lot about pumping so you may want to skip those bits.

Has anyone looked into why pumping induces mastitis in you? I don't have any ideas myself (not being trained to that level!) but wondered if any conclusions had been made?

shuckleberryfinn Mon 29-Aug-11 13:26:09

Hopefully I struggled to get a prescription too. My GP didn't actually understand that it was for me at first and when he did said no because it wasnt licenced. It took me, my supporter, HV (who harrassed the paed) and the infant feeding co-ordinator to get it. In the meantime I was buying it over the counter, its expensive stuff, £5 for 10 tablets (about 3 days for me) so it's not a solution for everyone.

Mostly what I want to say is that babies are there to be enjoyed, doted on, played with and loved. What's going to help you do that?

shuckleberryfinn Mon 29-Aug-11 13:27:33

oh (sorry, having a brainless day) The pumping thing, it may be that your flanges (the funnels) are the wrong size for you. That happened to me when she was very young and I was given bigger ones.

TitaniaP Mon 29-Aug-11 20:43:45

Hopefully, I can't really add anything to what's already been suggested. However I do sympathise completely. I have been in a similar situation with my DS. I convinced my GP to prescribe Domperidone which really seems to have helped. I'm not sure we're out if the woods yet, but we seemed to have turned a corner at least.

Hope you manage to find a solution you're happy with.

There seem to be a number of us in a similar situation ( endless feeding and low weight gain) maybe we should start a support thread?

maisie215 Mon 29-Aug-11 21:02:26

I like the idea of a support thread smile Feel I could really use the company and don't want to keep starting threads.

Hopefully Mon 29-Aug-11 22:56:59

Lovely to read everyone's replies. Even if no one can wave a magic wand and make BFing less of a pain, I can't tell you how much better it feels to (a) not be told I'm being silly and to just suck it up and cope and (b) know that there are other people who have had such a ridiculous BFing time as well.

I have thought about kicking up a big stink to get Domperidone, but I just don't think I have it in me at this stage. Will definitely prepare myself for that battle if there is ever a DC3.

Truthsweet thanks for that link, it was really interesting, and had a few bits of info I haven't come across before.

verylittlecarrot Mon 29-Aug-11 23:29:44

I think I pretty much wrote your OP 4 years ago. I completely sympathise, and understand the agony of doubting your supply with a slow gaining, permanently feeding, non-sleeping baby. I also got blocked ducts from pumping (became very adept at clearing them too), and was refused domperidone at first.

I printed out a fact sheet on domperidone and asked another doctor outright for a second opinion, explaining that I WOULD buy it online anyway without prescription if she also refused, but preferred the monitored, prescribed approach. She prescribed. I actually found a concoction called "more milk plus" to be quite effective too. Vile but it worked.

Apologies if you've already tried, but breast compressions were helpful too. Also useful was the knowledge that in other parts of the world, babies feed several times an hour as quite normal behaviour!

I'm afraid that only after my second baby gained weight at three times the rate of my first, with better sleep and feeding intervals, did I let myself off the hook and realised that I probably didn't actually ever have low supply. It was just the way dd fed, her natural pattern.

You are doing so amazingly well to persevere. This phase will pass. Things WILL improve in time. Don't forget how incredible a job you are doing. Well done!

MigGril Tue 30-Aug-11 08:43:13

Have you been checked out, there are some medical problems that can cause low supply(thyroid problems being one) . So a full helth check for you mite be a good idea. If you don't fancy an argument with the doctor trying to get a perscirtion have you considered taking herbs to help boust supply. Fenugreek being one which has shown to help see link for info on how much to take.

Sounds like you've been doing a great job in a difficult situation well done.

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