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breast feeding on demand - advice needed please

(22 Posts)
NigellaLawless Thu 22-Sep-11 22:17:33

Hi all, i am in serious need of advice as I am completely at the end of my tether. I have a 19 day old DS who has been breast fed since birth, after a difficult first week when he lost 8.2% of his weight we got help from a breast feeding counsellor and figured out the latch and he is gaining weight brilliantly now.

But I am absolutely exhausted by how often he wants to feed. We do have the occassional day when he only feeds every two or three hours, but we also have lots of days when he does feeding marathons, feeding none stop for 4-6 hours at a time.

Everyone was putting this down to the 2 week growth spurt and/or him getting me to increase my milk supply, but today he started feeding at 1.30pm and has not stopped. Half an hour ago my husband gave him a dummy as I was having a complete melt down and couldn't stop sobbing, this worked for about 15 minutes but he is screaming to be fed again my husband has taken him upstairs to give me a break but I can hear him screaming and I feel so conflicted, whilst i want to make him feel better by feeding him I am dreading him being brought back downstairs as I am so tired.

I have been told that breast fed babies can't over feed and need to be fed on demand but I can't believe that after 8 hours of feeding (stopping only for burping and nappy changes) he can still be hungry. Also I am absolutely exhausted and don't know how much longer I can take this. As well as the breastfeeding marathons I had a difficult end to my pregnancy and a complicated birth with lost of surgical interventions and blood loss so I can be pretty exhausted just by trying to do the simplest of things like take a shower adding the lack of sleep and the hours of feeding on to that and I don't even have words to express how tired and desperate i feel.

I am going to ring the breastfeeding counsellor and health visitor tomorrow, but to be honest I just don't know how much longer i can go on like this. I am so close to sending my husband to the supermarket to buy formula.

Can anyone reassure me that my DS feeding will calm down soon?

organiccarrotcake Thu 22-Sep-11 22:25:41

Hi OP.

You do sound exhausted, I have to say sad Blood loss is exhausting, too. Terribly so.

It's not possible to really give an answer from your post but either your baby is suckling for comfort, or his latch has dropped off a bit and he needs that extra time to get more milk. Your BFing counsellor will figure this out straight away (your HV may or may not - it depends on whether they're any good with BFing).

There's no doubt that it will settle down if you can hang in there. Try to get through tonight and have a chat with your BFC tomorrow, she'll sort you out smile

1catherine1 Thu 22-Sep-11 22:28:00

You poor thing. My experience is limited as I only have 1 DD who is 6mo now but still EBF (with solids now too though).

IME though, my DD would often feed for hours and "snack" on me as my HV called it. She suggested that I take her out for a walk and do other things that would break up the day so that I didn't have a whole day of a baby on my boob. She was killing them. I really got to a time when I dreaded feeding her. Going out meant that there was a time she wasn't fed and then when we got back it would be time for a feed. Obviously within reason. I also spent a little time expressing and then gave my boobs time to recover. Worked for me as they were really sore and then I could sleep for a few hours to recharge.

She fed for hours at night time for a couple of weeks though. She still likes to feed for an hour at bedtime but it doesn't hurt anymore.

Good luck.

organiccarrotcake Thu 22-Sep-11 22:33:30

You might find this helpful smile

thefeministbreeder.com/a-letter-to-my-friend-with-breastfeeding-struggles/

shuckleberryfinn Thu 22-Sep-11 22:37:16

I understand, it is relentless for a while isn't it? And while it will pass when you're living in it it's hell. Do whatever it takes to retain your sanity. Is it that he really is needing to nurse so much ( it's possible, I have a little girl like that) or does he just want to be close to you in which case some kind of sling can be a godsend.

My 6 month old girl still has her days like this ( though at least its a bit more spaced out now) and I've found taking to my bed with her and my smartphone the path of least resistance.

MrsMumf Thu 22-Sep-11 23:02:04

Nigella, first of all congratulations on your LO and well done for getting this far with feeding. You have given your son a wonderful start. I honestly believe this is the hardest time and it will get better with the proper support.

In my experience once you have established feeding it becomes so much easier. I have gone from feeling like I can't do anything without stopping to feed every five minutes to wishing my 4 month old DD would feed a little more because I want to sit on the settee for a bit.

My advice (and it is only opinion based on my own experience and please don't take as pressure) would be to grasp all the help you can get from helplines and supporters in real life, get some chocolate, a nice cup of tea and watch some TV or practice feeding lying down and go to bed for a bit.

You are doing the best for your son and deserve proper support to continue.

I love, love, love that letter from the feministbreeder.

Good Luck.

kimberlina Thu 22-Sep-11 23:03:49

Could you feed lying down sometimes so that you can rest or even doze off during on of the marathon feed-athons?

I remember that feeling of dread of the baby being brought back down and then one time I tried feeding lying down, inevitably dozed off and woke up about 3 hours later feeling like a different woman!

MrsWembley Thu 22-Sep-11 23:04:03

Ahhh Nigella, I have been there and can say, this too will pass.smile

My DD cluster fed for the first 2/3 months from around 4 in the afternoon til 2/3 o'clock in the morning - at least 40 mins out if every hour! It became so emotionally and physically painful that I started giving her one bottle of formula a day just to give me a break and to let DP have some cuddle time! The pain, btw, was never properly explained, it wasn't the latch (no bleeding), I was negative for thrush, the only thing mw and hv could suggest was let-down pain that didn't go away.hmm

DS is a completely different child, only cluster fed for a couple of weeks, feeds for half the time and often sleeps through (from 6 weeksbear)! So don't let it out you off having another.smile

Nobody, I mean absolutely nobody mentioned cluster feeding, all the books and all the mws seemed to imply that bfing was, if not easy then at least workable into the normal day.angry I think they just don't want to put new mums off the idea of bfing, but I would have preferred honesty and better information when making my decision. Not that it would have made me decide to ff, but I do like to be given some credit for intelligence!!

Thank god for Mn, the place where I came to for advice and where I found out about cluster feeding.

Tigresswoods Thu 22-Sep-11 23:04:46

Have a break, eat something, this too shall pass.

Lots of good advice above. If you are confident he is latching properly he will eventually give in.

smile

MrsWembley Thu 22-Sep-11 23:09:59

Oh and as for practical advice, books, DVDs and record anything you want to see off the tele that's on during those moments you actually get to sleep. Midnight and nothing on is depressing enough when you can't sleep, let alone when you're not allowed to.grin

1catherine1 Thu 22-Sep-11 23:10:32

definitely second the advice of MrsMumf. Learning to feed lying down is the only reason I have managed to keep breastfeeding for 6 months. Now my evening cuddle with my DD is one of the best parts of my day. She has her feed and I get a cuddle, control of the remote control and an excuse not to move grin. Also - even though some advise against it, it was the only way I got any sleep at the start. co-sleeping saved me from insanity.

NigellaLawless Fri 23-Sep-11 09:45:42

Hi everyone, thanks for all your responses. My health visitor is coming out at 1 and i am waiting for my breast feeding counsellor to ring me back.

He eventually finished feeding at 11pm last night (having started at 1.30pm) thankfully he slept until 3 and fed again for an hour then slept again until 7 and fed for another hour so i did get some sleep.

I am quite confident that the latch is right as I am not getting pain in my breasts/nipples and he certainly seems to be swallowing well.

I have tried feeding lying down but it doesn't work out so well for us: if i don't sit up to burp DS regulalry he vomits (this has happened from birth, I had to feed lying down for the first week as I couldn't sit due to my stitches and I think his weight loss was largely due to me not having figured out the burping thing so he vomitted most of his feeds back out) he also vomits if I don't burp him before I put him down to sleep after a sitting up feed.

I am also so tired most of the time that I am really afraid of falling asleep and smothering him, I honestly don't understand how to avoid this, those of you who manage it can you explain how you do it? My breastfeeding counsellor just says that you shoudl never sleep and feed and if you feel sleepy you should get up.

I have got a breast pump so am going to try expressing.

I just keep getting so tearfull because I feel like I haven't enjoyed a moment of my son's life so far, between how unwell I was for the first week and a half and now with the crazy feeding I have been so miserable. I don't want to waste his early life by feeling so unhappy and i really want to be able to leave the house again, I have no worries about feeding in public, but I am worried about needing to feed for hours at a time when I am not at home.

Sorry I sound so whingey! I just feel so torn and honestly don't know what to do, whether to persist for another week and risk another week of misery and exhaustion or switch to formula and feel guilty for not giving my DS the best food available for him

NotQuiteCockney Fri 23-Sep-11 10:02:46

It sounds like you're having a really hard time of it.

Sleeping next to your baby is perfectly safe, assuming you follow some basic precautions (no smoking. Nobody drunk or drugged in the bed. The bed should be reasonably hard. The baby shouldn't be under a duvet. It should not be possible for the baby to end up under pillows, or between a bed and a wall.)

Breastfeeding mothers do not smother their babies - they have a special sleep state that lets them sleep and also keep an eye on their baby. Sharing a bed is normal in most of the world, and has been normal, everywhere, for most of human history.

But of course if he needs to be burped, this is a bit more tricky.

kimberlina Fri 23-Sep-11 11:16:50

I think HV and BFC's tend to say not to sleep whilst feeding just to cover themselves from being sued if something awful did happen. But likecockney says - women have been sleeping with their babies for thousand of years.

I would lie on my side with knees bent at 90 degrees which stops me from rolling forward. DD would lie in the hollow of my body. My underneath arm would come forwards just above DDs head to stop her wriggling upwards towards the pillow and my upper arm would be out straight over the top of DD again to stop me rolling forwards. Actually reading that I've made it sound more complicated than it is!

I would try feeding lying down again - perhaps after the first bit of feeding and burping is done as maybe he takes most milk at the first part and then its more comfort in which case vomiting will be less of an issue. Also his stomach will be LOADS bigger now than in the first week.

Final thought - you could start of lying down with your husband watching just to reassure you that no harm will come to your son.

Just read through and I sound like a lying-down-is-the-only-way nutter! Obviously do you what you are comfortable with, but it was a life saver for me

NotQuiteCockney Fri 23-Sep-11 18:57:24

Well, if you're trying to comply with the baby-friendly initiative, you have to encourage sharing a bed, because bed-sharing increases the chance of women continuing to breastfeed.

Loopymumsy Fri 23-Sep-11 20:58:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

orchidee Fri 23-Sep-11 21:59:03

Been there and it did pass.

DS cluster-fed for hours most evenings. It seemed to be constant growth spurts. He had significant weight loss but gained lots, went to 91st centile. Seeing him thrive helped, but it seemed relentless.

It just got easier with time. It's a new skill we both had to practice.

Practicalities-
I made up a small bag that followed me around the home to make it easier for when I was stuck on the sofa. Remote control, phone, tissues, muslin...
Try to make up e.g a plate of sandwiches, tub of chopped/washed fruit etc and leave it in the fridge so that you can grab ready-prepared stuff when you need it
I used a Moses basket initially- it was fine but I got a bedside cot (cosatto, from boots) and it's excellent for my needs. DS likes contact with his mum all day / all eve and babywearingg and co-sleeping seem to have helped his confidence / trust that his mum's there for him (he's 4mo and we also had a difficult delivery- theatre etc)
Feeding lying down- spin your baby 90 degrees after feeding I.e. baby's feet on bed, tummy against your side above your hip. A little pressure on their tum helps get the wind up. DS had less wind feeding lying down than when I was sitting up.
For side-feeding latch him on while he's lying on your chest, had toward your head, feet toward your feet, then lie on your side by rolling over and he'll be on his side too (now facing you)

Get help- practical and emotional - and forget about non-essentials. Rethink expectations. Decide you're having a babymoon.
It's a relatively short time. I know it doesn't feel like it now.

cantthinkof1 Sat 24-Sep-11 16:18:10

Just wanted to add - make sure you are eating and drinking plenty

NigellaLawless Sat 24-Sep-11 22:18:09

Hi every one thanks again for all your help and suggestions. My health visitor was a great support when she visited yesterday. She is conidient that we have the latch right and that DS is just trying to get my supply up. He has gained tonnes of weight, (8 and 1/2 oz in five days) and is finally approaching what was his expected birth weight (when he was born he was 1 and 1/2 lbs smaller than expected and I was told that my placenta 'looked worse for wear')

for the last two days he has been back to feeding every two to three hours for around an hour, which is far more managable.

thanks for the feeding lying down suggestions, I will try the winding method you advised orchidee. Although when I mentioned vomiting to health visitor she said it is worth keeping an eye on it as it could be indicative of reflux.

We have a moby wrap, but it can't be used until he is 8lbs but at the rate he is going he should hit that mark by next week, can't wait to start using it, although I may have to fight DH for it as he is even more excited to use it than me smile

We are going to a breast feeding support group next week which I hope will help keep me sane but just in case we have bought a box of formula so that if we have another insane marathon and I lose the plot again, DH or my Mam can give me a break.

Thanks again everyone, you really have helped restore my sanity over the last couple of days grin

peedieworky Sat 24-Sep-11 22:48:51

Just a quick reassurance that things get better. I had an ECS, ended up in high dependency (me - not baby!) & DS had a tongue tie. I can honestly say the first 6 weeks were hellish - with his 6 week growth spurt being the cherry on top. I tried to take him out to "get a break" but he screamed in the car seat, and the pram..and in fact anywhere that wasn't my boob. If one more effing well meaning person advised me to sleep when he sleeps I would have had a breakdown. He never slept! And - like you - I couldn't do the feed-lying-down thing for fear of smothering him. Harumph! In the end I resigned myself to being in the house and adopted the mantra (advised to me on Mumsnet!) that you can't change the baby - so you can only change your expectations of the baby. Endless days holed up with DVDs, snacks etc on sofa were miserable but more bearable when I'd accepted that was my fate! I swear DS was a different child when 7 weeks hit! It was like all those earlier weeks had been spent establishing my supply (I did entire days of skin to skin - it stopped him screaming and was all that got me through the 6 days till my milk finally came through..). 4 and a bit months in and am so proud of my chilled out little man. He takes 5 feeds a day, sleeps 8pm-7am enough days per week for me to brag and make out he does it every night most nights & is totally different child from his early baby self. Good luck!

Loopymumsy Sun 25-Sep-11 06:15:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

orchidee Tue 27-Sep-11 15:30:55

Great news.

Just to add, and forgive me if you're an expert babywearer already smile: I found a ring sling very, very easy for the early months; quick on/off etc. Much easier than my stretchy wrap. You can pick them up pre-loved. If you want help / advice / rassurance on slings, find out if there's a slingmeet.co.uk near you. They usually have a good library that you can try, with guidance on the various carrying positions. YouTube's handy too.

Re: vomiting - remember there's a difference between vomiting and possetting; (amount / partially digested/undigested etc). If it is reflux then keeping your baby upright for 30m or so after feeding should help. A sling is excellent for this.

In general, I'd recommend browsing around kellymom.com when you have time - I found it informative and reassuring.

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