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Breastfeeding on demand...am I doing it right?

(28 Posts)
MrsPeggyPatch Wed 07-Nov-12 17:56:51

DS1 is 4 and 1/2 weeks old and is exclusively bf. At his weigh in last week he had gained nearly a lb in 10 days.

I'm trying to feed on demand but he seems to demand it all the time- he will always root and it is rare I can distract him with something else. When i say all he time, he can't go more than half hour without feeding. Although if we go out he can go a bit longer. He has started to really cry and the only consolation is the boob.

I'm getting worried that the only way I can console him is feeding and perhaps the problem isn't that he is hungry. When he latches on he sucks for about 5 mins then dozes fora it then comesback to it...no amount of blowing on him or tickling will keep him going. Some feeds are longer 10/15 mins.

We have been to a bf drop in but there was no problem with the latch identified. It was noticed that I have fast let down.

I'm also worried that he may have reflux which I am making worse by all this frequent feeding. At night he gets a lot of spit/mucus in his mouth which he just can't seem to get rid off- you can hear him straining to get rid of it, he doesn,t really posset, and when he rarely (less than once a day) brings milk up it is when he is flat on his back. The past few nights he won't go down in his Moses basket or lie flat and as been very wiggly/thrashing when put down at night. He'll fall asleep on my chest but wakes the minute he is put down. Before this he was getting into a pattern of 2 or 3 hours sleeps between feeds at night.

Sorry for the essay but basically, should I try and resist feeding him/offering the boob so much (although he will cry a lot) and will this get more routine or at last longer feeds? Also should I got to the docs about all the mucus/spit or am I being an over worried first time mum?

Chulita Wed 07-Nov-12 18:09:42

I'm bfing ds2 to sleep at the mo but didn't want to leave you unanswered, i'll pop back after bedtime and post when not on the phone. Keep at it, the first few weeks are haaaaard work!

Chulita Wed 07-Nov-12 19:10:07

I can only say what I've done with mine, I bf'd DD and DS1 for 12 months and DS2 is nearly 8 months and still bfing. Every child is different though and every mum's tolerance level is different too so you'll need to work out what is most workable for you and your DS.

DS2 wouldn't sleep anywhere other than on someone, usually me, for the 1st 8 weeks-ish. He wouldn't go in his moses basket so we co-slept for the first couple of months. Tbh I think that's pretty normal for a lot of newborns, as frustrating as it is, they do grow out of it though. Regression is very common too, so even if he was going 2-3 hours at night, it's not unusual to go back to near-constant feeds.

Wrt fast let-down have you tried block-feeding? Where you offer the same side for a set amount of time (3 hours for instance) and then swap and offer the other side for the next 3 hours. If you can feed lying down that can help lessen the flow enough that they don't drown when you get a let-down.

DS1 had reflux and he'd projectile vomit everywhere several times a day. We put him to sleep on his front (I'm not recommending it against HV's guidelines, I'm just saying what worked for us) we have a motion sensor monitor so I was happy that if anything happened the alarm would go off. You could try raising the end of his bed a little so he's not sleeping flat, or wedging him on his side.

Personally I wouldn't stop offering, I've always offered pretty much whenever they fuss, night and day and both my older 2 self-weaned at 12 months. DS2 is a little cherub and after being stupidly attached to me for the beginning, he'll now snuggle down in bed without a peep most nights so I don't go with this 'spoiling them' idea that some people have (I might just have got lucky though!) As your DS gets older he'll get more efficient and feeds will be a lot quicker and not as often. DS2 has about 6 feeds a day that last a maximum of 20 mins total - a far cry from the near constant newborn feeds.
Mucus is also very common, newborns haven't got the strength or the skill to cough it up yet but if you're worried, have a chat to the HV about it. If you're worried about anything, it's always best to ask than not, that's what they're there for!

Try and make sure you're winding him well after feeds and even pop him off and wind during a feed if you can.

It will get better and easier, honestly it will. It seems like a long way off but you've done over 4 weeks already!

And congratulations on your new little boy smile

confuddledDOTcom Wed 07-Nov-12 19:14:28

For the first six weeks expect to do nothing but feed. It's hard work and you feel like it'll never end but around six weeks things will start to settle down.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 07-Nov-12 20:04:39

It sounds as if, like Chulita says, he wants to sleep with the boob in his mouth. Which is normal - he wants to feel safe, and know where his next meal is coming from. Can you blame him?

Is co-sleeping an option for you?

And when he possets, is he unhappy?

BatCave Wed 07-Nov-12 20:53:46

I could have written a lot of your post! I have a 5 week old little boy. Although he isn't a frequent feeder all the time, he does like to feed feed feed all night, much to the detriment of my sleep! But the straining/wriggling/thrashing, not wanting to be put down, wanting to sleep on my chest - all applicable. For what it's worth, I have been wondering about the grunting/straining, thinking it is trapped wind' but actually I think it's just 'him' being a grunty baby rather than it a problem as such.

Especially at this age, but in general breastfeeding is designed to help mum and baby get to sleep, it produces lots of lovely sleepy hormones so they do use a few sucks to go back to sleep as well as for feeding. The frequent feeding is also natures way of establishing a good milk supply.

I would carry on the way you are, he's still very little, and things will change as he gets older anyway. chulita has great advice! I too have a very fast/forceful letdown and have been advised to try biological nurturing, which I'm trying to find out more about tonight.

Oh the other thing that may help you is to use a sling, my son sleeps for longer periods when being carried. A boba or moby wrap stretchy type sling is excellent (and keeps your hands free to do stuff while they won't be put down).

tiktok Wed 07-Nov-12 21:14:16

He may not be hungry all the time, every time - no problem there, because the great thing about bf is that it is more than food and drink. It is very important comfort, contact and security, and all the evidence is that responding to this need is good for babies, and that they build trust and confidence in themselves and the world.

You are right to feel that refusing this and distressing him is not a good move.

He is a very new, very small, very dependant, very needy little person - as all 4 week olds are. He will develop other ways of comfort and contact as he grows older and bigger - at the moment, it's mainly you smile

mawbroon Wed 07-Nov-12 21:19:49

Most of the things you mention make me wonder about tongue tie. Has he been checked properly for it?

have a read of this note the part about stuggling with the milk flow giving the appearance of an overactive let down. Do you see that there is loads of milk (maybe squirtng everywhere?) or has this conclusion been reached by seeing your baby's behaviour?

MrsPeggyPatch Wed 07-Nov-12 21:22:42

Thanks all loads for the help and guidance! It's good to know that this is normal newborn behaviour!

I guess it just seemed like we had taken a bit of a step backwards after so,e good nights and days, but it makes so much sense that he is just seeking comfort. He is becoming so much more alert so the world must seem scary and he likes the comfort of mummy.

We'll keep going, onwards and upwards! Thanks loads again.

Iggly Wed 07-Nov-12 21:23:16

Mawbroom beat me to it. Yes to tongue tie (dd fed all the time). Also it gives symptoms similar to silent reflux because they end up taking down so much air so are in pain and want to feed to help - vicious cycle.

I had to wind dd quite thoroughly (best way was lying her on her left hand side across my lap with her head facing me and on my right leg. Then gently wiggle and it would come up). If I got all the air out, she'd be much happier between feeds.

Iggly Wed 07-Nov-12 21:25:21

I will be controversial here and say feeding every 30 mins all the time is not normal. If he wants comfort then I''d be asking why.

I speak as someone who went through this, was fobbed off as it being normal when I knew something was up. I didn't resent feeding my baby all the time, but wanted to make it better for them.

mawbroon Wed 07-Nov-12 21:27:49

Me too Iggly. I didn't know ds1 was tied and sometimes he would spent 16hrs a day on the breast. Not normal!

Iggly Wed 07-Nov-12 21:31:50

I'm glad I'm not the only one who mentions this! I didn't know anything about it with DS so when DD came along I got a shock when it all went wrong and I didn't know why.

I've been reading into it and it could be relatively common but as BF rates are low, BF knowledge isn't what it was (ie based on experience etc), so MWs don't know what to look for. In years gone by they'd have spotted a TT a mile off and fixed it.

It could also explain the diagnosis of reflux, babies are then given medication which doesn't work because reflx isn't the problem at all.

<gets off high horse>

tiktok Wed 07-Nov-12 21:40:42

I would be very surprised if this baby was on the breast every 30 mins...this is not what the OP says.

She says that at the moment he is off the breast sometimes for no more than half an hour - that is not the same as feeding every half hour (do the maths!) and that he has gone longer especially at night in the recent past (it must be the recent past as the baby is only 4 weeks old).

Subsequent post indicates this is likely to be a temporary needy phase.

Yes, there may be something else going on....but chances are this is normal and it will pass.

mawbroon Wed 07-Nov-12 21:54:47

She said "he can't go more than half an hour without feeding, although if we go out he can go a bit longer"

Subsequent post may well be a x post.

Coupled with all the other stuff she mentions, tongue tie needs investigating and the sooner the better.

Iggly Wed 07-Nov-12 22:07:19

I don't think there's any harm in ruling things out. Just passing them off as normal can prolong things unnecessarily. I speak from bitter experience!

confuddledDOTcom Wed 07-Nov-12 22:11:49

He's gaining a good amount of weight so obviously is getting enough, surely if it was all down to TT then he wouldn't be doing so well?

mawbroon Wed 07-Nov-12 22:18:02

Not at all confuddled.

It's like a sliding scale. Some tt babies can feed perfectly well (ds2) with no problems and others can't feed or even latch at all. And all things in between.

DS1's weight gain was okish, it just took him all day to get the milk.

tiktok Wed 07-Nov-12 23:02:17

No harm in ruling things out, agreed, as long as this is done without pathologising normal behaviour, and done simply and efficiently. Prob not enough info to know if this behaviour is normal, agreed, but it is consistent with it, put it that way.

This baby is sometimes not going any longer than 30 mins without feeding. That is not the same as feeding every 30 mins - not sure how to explain this without spelling out the obvious, but here goes: baby feeds at 12.00. He stops feeding at 12.15. He does not feed for 30 mins. So he feeds again at 12.45.

Iggly Thu 08-Nov-12 07:04:18

My dd piled on weight with TT - I have over supply so she just looked at my boob and out it came. Same issue with ds...!!

MrsPeggyPatch Thu 08-Nov-12 08:52:40

Thanks all for the help.
I've been aware of tt as my husband is tt. Because of this I've asked the midwife to look as well as having our feeding observed. Whilst I know this isn't conclusive he doesn't seem to have obvious tt.
In my sleep deprived/panicked state I wasn't clear about the frequency of feeding-this has increased the last few days. At night he can go 2-3 hours. I thought about it a lot last night and think he is seeking comfort, possibly due to over tiredness as he fights sleep so much in the day now.
I 'm going to try and work on helping him sleep more but keep an eye on it and if it doesn't change look into the possibility of tt.
Thanks again to you all!

beginnings Thu 08-Nov-12 08:59:43

I read the OP and thought to myself, I hope tiktok sees this smile

Many congratulations on your lovely boy MrsPeggy.

You've been given loads of great advice so I just wanted to add that my DD seemed to want to be on the boob loads although I think for different reasons. Then she got to a stage where I was fearful I wasn't giving her enough as she wasn't really ever demanding to be fed so it does pass, and quicker than you think it will.

When she was going through her "40 minutes on each boob, feeding every 2.5 hours" phase I remember ringing a breastfeeding helpline and them saying that if I thought she'd had enough I could always take her off but I never did as it just felt totally counter intuitive!

Also I'd agree with the wedging. My DD was quite windy and spent a good few weeks with her Moses basket propped up on DVD box sets. I also kept her upright for 20 minutes after every feed.

She's been sleeping 7 til 7 since she was 13 weeks daytime naps not great but hey, beggars can't be choosers and is still BF now. She's self settled at night - her choice - since 7 weeks. She lets me know when she's ready to go to bed and stops shouting before her little head reaches the mattress on her way down. All of this is to back up the comments that doing what you're doing won't spoil him. In fact the confidence of knowing that his mummy is there I think helps stimulate independence.

HarderToKidnap Thu 08-Nov-12 09:08:35

My DS would root, get boob in mouth, suck once or twice, spit boob out and get cross, root again, rinse and repeat. Different pattern of behaviour to your DS, but it seemed clear to me he wanted to suck for comfort as your DS might also be doing. The solution for me was a dummy. It didn't seem to stop him asking for food, although after an excellent start we dis have a drop down the centiles after three/four months, I don't blame the dummy but some might. He is well and happy and breastfed now at just under a year.

BTW, at four weeks my DS was sleeping in my armpit. At ten week's he was in his cot a little of the night, by twelve weeks it was most of the night, and at six months it was all night. They do get there eventually, they just "get it" at some point. Good luck!

Iggly Thu 08-Nov-12 09:27:57

Can you try a sling? I found this invaluable for when mine got to that more alert stage. I'd get a decent nap out of them by putting in sling and taking them for a walk by a busy road.

mawbroon Thu 08-Nov-12 09:39:50

Ah, your DH has tongue tie. TT is highly hereditary and there is a very strong liklihood that your ds is also tied. If there is nothing obvious to see, then it could well be that there is a posterior tie where the frenulum is close to the base of the tongue, or could even be buried in the membranes like this no sound on this video btw

some info here with pictures

Dr Kotlow is a leading expert on tongue and lip ties. Have a look at his article on reflux and colic due to tongue and lip ties. Perhaps this is what is going on with your ds?

There are pictures in this article of lip ties. Have a look at your ds to see if there is a lip tie, and in most cases, where there is a lip tie, there is almost always a tongue tie, usually posterior. Also, does he have a high palate? Not all high palates are caused by tongue ties, but many are.

I would also recommend that you join the tongue tie babies support group on facebook. There are some real experts on there who really know their stuff about ties.

As the mother of a 7yo who has had multiple health problems because of his undiagnosed ties, I would urge you to learn as much about it as you can, because the medics are lagging way behind on this stuff and it seems to be up to the mothers to seek out information and find knowledgeable professionals to help.

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