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Should I just give her the formula?

(26 Posts)
MyRealName Wed 31-Aug-11 16:26:43

I'm really torn with this one. My DD is 12wks and EBF. She is happy and smiley and chubby. About 3 wks ago, she started sleeping through the night. This is obviously WONDERFUL, and I know I am very lucky. She sleeps in our bedroom and typically she will go about 9-10hrs, and as far as I know she sleeps the whole time. She always has a doze mid-morning and sometimes early afternoon too.

However, my blissful sleep has come at a cost. Firstly, she always did loads of dirty nappies each day, and more recently maybe 3 good ones and plenty more wet ones. But, the morning poo is a sight to behold. Seriously, I'm surprised it didn't make the news yesterday morning as the latest natural disaster. It goes EVERYWHERE. There is not a white spot left on the nappy, and babygrow, vest, sheets and often blanket too go straight in the wash (not to mention my daughter). I put one of those disposable changing mats under her sheet to try and minimise damage to the moses basket. I pick her up as soon as she wakes up, but its usually too late. Her poo is very loose, and baby is very wriggly...you get the picture.

The nappies are an inconvienience I can deal with, but her feeding is the real problem. She spends all evening, 'tanking up' for the night.
Now I know babies do this, but for example last night:
I fed her at 6pm (a decent long feed- both sides 50mins).
Fed her again at 7.30 (another good feed- both sides, 1 hr).
Got her ready for bed, dimmed lights etc and tried to settle her with a feed(9pm ish, about 45mins) and she dozed briefly until I moved her,
Built up from moaning a bit to crying until I fed her some more,
Tried to settle her with her dummy (she only occasionally has it). She wasn't interested, so tried turning the lights off. She was awake and moving but not crying for about 10mins when I heard her do a big nappy. I changed it, and then ended up feeding her again before she finally went to sleep just before midnight.
Now, from 6pm until midnight, I spent the majority of the time feeding her. Maybe the last time was purely for comfort, but I'm fairly sure she was hungry for the rest. I am knackered. It's draining, she's getting heavy to hold for that long, and I'm fighting to keep myself awake. My poor DH hardly gets a look in with baby or me when he gets home, and bears the brunt of any tireness-related grumpyness.

I spoke to the HV this morning, who suggested giving one formula feed (5-6oz) to be given by my DH in the evening. My mum is very supportive of my BF, but she had suggested the same. I think the reasoning is to ensure she gets the volume of milk she wants without it taking hours, because surely after feeding so long my (usually plentiful) supply dwindles. Also to give me a break, even if for an hour of an evening to do wild things such as eat my dinner without simultaneously feeding baby. Might also have the effect of reducing the morning nappy disaster-zone.

HV assurred me that one feed would not affect my milk supply or be detrimental to baby. But I am strangely reluctant to try it. I really want to BF my baby and want to do whatever is in her best interest. Since she is happy and healthy and gaining weight, I feel like I would be putting my own needs before hers. But if I could break the cycle of constant evening grazing, it might benefit her by giving her more time in the evening to just interact with me and her dad.

So in a rather long winded way, I suppose I am asking for reassurance that the HV is right, and that one FF a day will not mean the beginning of the end of BF. How much that missing BF will affect DD? If there are any tips for my nappy-nightmare. And if you would give her the formula.

Any advice would be very gratefully received smile

EauRouge Wed 31-Aug-11 16:43:49

If it were me in your situation then I wouldn't but that's because I know it gets easier. Like, really, really soon. The first 3 or 4 months can be really knackering but it does get easier!

Here's some info on formula top ups- Kellymom.

As for the poo- washable nappies are brilliant for soaking up newborn poo, much better than disposables. Even if you only use one a day and then disposables the rest of the time it will save cleaning up those nappy explosions.

How would you feel about expressing earlier on in the day and then getting your DH to do an evening feed so you can have a soak in the bath or something?

MigGril Wed 31-Aug-11 16:46:54

Nappy nightmare's err my only recomendation there is cloth nappies I find they work way better then disposable's. I even found a cloth nappy cover over a disposable worked much better. But then you mite not be keen on useing cloth nappies so some one else may come along with a better suggestion.

As for the formula. I wouldn't use it but that is up to you. I can tell you this is normal cluster feeding, it will setal down with time and it'll pass before you know it. It is important for her to feed in the evening's for your supply and some women do feel they have less milk. But generaly the milk is higher fat content, the less milk in the breast the higher the fat content. Your milk supply works on a supply and demand basis, the more milk removed from the breast the more is made. Only a full feeling breast stop's making milk, therefore the more you feed the more you make. If you give formula you will not make this feed for her unless you express at the same time. Babies can start to prefer the faster flow of th bottle to although others do manage to mix feed very succesfully.

Oh and just on bottle of formula would have an effect of the gut flora in your babies digestive system (see vergin gut) so your HV is wrong on that score.
Maybe another alternative would be for you to express and your DH feed this in a bottle at bedtime rather then use formula.

My DD did this when a baby but I can tell you by 4months her bedtime was 7pm, they do change very quikly at this age.

Oh and lucky you on the sleep front that's wonderfull at this age.

MigGril Wed 31-Aug-11 16:48:44

sorry terrable spelling

MyRealName Wed 31-Aug-11 17:08:41

Thank you both.

Hadn't considered cloth nappies, but will definately be getting some to try.
I knew that FF babies had different gut flora, but hadn't realised one feed would affect it much. Thanks for the link, I'll have a closer look.

I know I'm lucky with her sleep, and I coped with far worse tiredness in the early weeks. It's just so hard to know what to do for the best when she is changing so fast. She has always been a hungry chubby baby, and a lot of people have been surprised she is EBF when they ask how I'm feeding her (why is it so interesting to people!?). There is a strange general expectation you should give them at least some formula- and that's after all the pressure to BF in the first place!

I was planning on giving her the bottle tonight and see how we all feel about it, but I'm not so sure now.

BaronessBomburst Wed 31-Aug-11 17:28:03

I wouldn't give the formula. But it is up to you. You've come this far and the cluster feeding will slow down and stop. Another 12 weeks and you'll start weaning! And those will be nappies and a half..... grin Wish I'd known about the cloth nappies though. DS regularly exploded through a disposable one.

KD0706 Wed 31-Aug-11 17:31:27

If it was me I would try to keep going with the ebf too.
I can vaguely remember those exhausting evenings of cluster feeding. I used to call it feeding dd into submission! I sat for hours just swapping sides. It's totally normal and it does pass.

I really understand you wanting a break and wanting your DH to be more involved. But it's amazing how quickly the cluster feeding passes (quickly when you look back on it, I mean. I know it feels like forever when you're in the middle of it).

You do what you want to do, not what anybody is telling you to. If deep down you feel uncomfortable about the formula I would just hold off and maybe in a week or two either you will feel the time is right for formula, or the cluster feeding might have calmed down and you'll feel happy to continue ebf.

I'd also second the advice to look into the virgin gut theory so that if you do give formula you're doing so from an informed position, and you won't later find something out which might have changed your mind, iykwim.

pookamoo Wed 31-Aug-11 17:33:57

Another vote here for reusable nappies to contain poo explosions!
I'd also second the advice about cluster feeding - it really does get easier very soon, but it it so, so tiring at the time!

MyRealName Wed 31-Aug-11 18:15:17

"Feeding into submission"- I like that smile

Thank you for replies. I will be getting some reusuable nappies tomorrow. Are you all referring to the old-style terry nappies, or the more structured ones, or doesn't it matter?

I think I will give it a few more days to see how it goes before making any decisions on feeding. I've just remembered that she has her next lot of jabs tomorrow, and based on the first experience she will be fractious and clingy, so maybe now isn't the best few days to start changing things. Very grateful for all the useful advice given smile

crikeybadger Wed 31-Aug-11 19:04:58

Could you look at ways to make the cluster feeding a bit easier for you MyRealName?

Can you feed lying down so that you can doze whilst she feeds?

Oh and your supply won't dwindle with frequent feeding- the milk never runs out (think rivers rather than buckets)and she will just be tanking herself up for that long sleep later on.

Not everyone subscribes to the virgin gut theory, but it is worth a look.

Anyway, sounds like you have a wonderful, happy baby and that is all down to you. smile

RobynLou Wed 31-Aug-11 19:10:42

DD2 was a serious cluster feeder, I just didn't take her upstairs - she stayed down with us in her bouncer/ our big beanbag, and I fed her whenever, whilst watching telly/knitting/eating kilos of choc....

SarahScot Wed 31-Aug-11 19:56:22

Do you feed her sitting up or can you lie on your side in your bed and feed her that way? My DD feeds every hour to two hours through the night (reverse-cycling, I'm back at work - eek!) and I couldn't physically get through it if I wasn't lying down.

Moulesfrites Wed 31-Aug-11 20:19:21

my ds was like this - he cluster fed all evening until he was just over 3 months. We used to keep him downstairs with us. Only started the bedtime routine once the cluster feeding had stopped. If I were you I wouldn't give formula as I would imagine she will settle down pretty soon, as will the explosive nappies.

Your milk supply will be fine if you are feeding on demand. Giving formula probably will affect your supply though. so again, this is a reason I wouldn't do it, especially as she is sleeping well as it is.

I know how frustrating it is to have to eat your dinner with one hand every night - but it will pass, and I bet it does pretty soon. Most people I know who have tried mixed feeding at an early stage (like 4 months or earlier) have ended up giving up bf pretty sharpish because of the effect on their supply. I don't mean to scaremonger, and I know mixed feeding can be done, but I wouldn't want to do anything that could jeopardise succesful bf at what is still really early days.

Good luck whatever you decide smile

BreastmilkDoesAFabLatte Wed 31-Aug-11 20:22:10

It doesn't sound to me as though formula would help with the nappy situation. But certainly, the evening cluster feeding is exhausting. I agree with RobynLou that serious amounts of chocolate are a good way to cope...

RitaMorgan Wed 31-Aug-11 20:24:12

Cluster feeding doesn't last forever, and once you get the hang of feeding lying down you can doze through it. Saying that though, my ds had formula and is still breastfeeding at almost 13 months, so it's up to you and how important exclusive bfing is to you.

For the cloth nappies - go for a two-part nappy, something like a Little Lamb nappy with a wrap that goes over the top. I found them great for poo containment. If you get some fleece liners too they will keep your baby's bum dry in the night.

Mandyville Wed 31-Aug-11 20:29:18

The virgin gut thing isn't particularly scientific. Personally, I would disregard it.

I didn't give DD1 formula, loved breastfeeding, did it for 15 months. I'm NOT planning on doing the same thing with the baby I'm expecting next year. This time, if I feel that tired, that fed up, that trapped, the babe will be getting formula as a top-up. I tried to express and give bottles, but I think I left it a little late in the day and DD wasn't having any of it. (Didn't help that my milk tasted seriously weird after freezing...)

pookamoo Wed 31-Aug-11 20:33:02

Re the nappies, I would agree with RitaMorgan about 2 part nappies, we used Totsbots Fluffles, which are also a fuzzy liner part with a wrap. Why not see if you can find a local agent in your area, who might have a loan pack with different types, so you can experiment.

RobynLou Wed 31-Aug-11 20:37:18

re th nappies, the cheapest way to go, is terry towelling, and folding them is very very simple once you've done it a couple of times.

cloth is def better for containing poos, we went away when DD2 was 8 weeks and used sposies, there was far more laundry due to nappy leaks than we get just from washing nappies!

wearymum200 Wed 31-Aug-11 20:46:14

DD2 did this and it is tiring, but the clusters don't usually last long, often related to (yet) another growth spurt. I suggest lots of cake/ chocolate, an MP3 with something good to listen o and roll with it. I vaguely recollect that I would spend almost all evening from 5-11 feeding (bar the 20 mins it took me to physically get DS1 to bed) at that age, but by 14 weeks, DD2 was down to a final feed at 8pm, slept till 6 and continued like that till weaning. All babies are different, of course, but I would not be in a hurry to leap to formula as your DC obviously is getting enough food.
as for the nappies, I second the cloth idea, or a cloth nappy wrap over a disposable; in addition a baby sleeping bag is quite good at containment and may mean you only have to change 1 piece of bedding.

MyRealName Thu 01-Sep-11 13:47:48

Thank you all for your tips, I'm very grateful. I didn't give her the formula last night, and have decided to give it another week and maybe experiment with expressing even just a little bit so DH can give me a break. Nice to hear from people on the other side, I'm sure she will settle herself down eventually.

I have tried feeding lying down quite a few times, but even with the aid of various pillows I can't seem to make it comfortable for me or baby. I think it's because I'm not especially blessed in the boob-department, and baby has to be so close, she keeps letting go. I did rediscover the long beany pillow thing I had when I was pregnant last night though, which did make it more comfortable.

On my shopping list today:
-chocolate
-cloth nappies
-cotton wool
-jet-washer

stargirl30 Thu 01-Sep-11 14:53:43

Have you tried block feeding in the evenings? i.e. instead of swapping boobs when she comes off you feed on one side for a set amount of time, then swap.
I am small boobed too and my technique for lying down feeding is that for the "top" boob I roll over a bit so I'm almost lying on top of baby. Then for the bottom boob I sometimes find it easier to put baby's head on my arm like a pillow. I can only feed lying down on my left, for some reason I can't do it the other side. So try a few different positions. Or if you really don't like feeding lying down then prop yourself up on loads of pillows and doze a bit. Alternatively get some good books? Oh and chocolate as mentioned by everyone else! 12 weeks is a big growth spurt from what I remember.

RitaMorgan Thu 01-Sep-11 16:24:20

Won't block feeding reduce supply though?

stargirl30 Fri 02-Sep-11 13:48:25

Maybe, but not as much as giving a bottle I reckon. It might help with the explosive nappies, as means she'd be getting more hindmilk and less foremilk which can make them gassy.
(Now I've typed that I'm thinking I read somewhere that this foremilk / hindmilk theory may have been disproved, hopefully someone more knowledgeable will be along in a minute).
You could try shortish blocks, say 30 mins, and see how that goes?

mawbroon Fri 02-Sep-11 13:52:52

Re the exploding poo, you could always use a disposable with a waterproof reusable cover on the top. Best of both worlds! smile

MigGril Fri 02-Sep-11 17:24:48

I don't think Block feeding would be much help in this case there is no weight gain issue and as baby is cluster feeding all evening it's best just to offer one side then switch when they fall off then offter the seconed side. Or as rita said it could reduce supply.

Dito what other's have said about having baby down stairs with you, we where much more relaxed seconed time round and did this. Still haven't got DS into a bedtime routine as such, (he's 10months) But he just natrually wants to go to bed at around 7.30pm (varries a little from day to day). There was no need to instill a bedtime, and looking back although I tried to instill a bedtime with his older sister I think she gernatly just fell into a bedtime around 4months. I don't really think anything I did made her do this.

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