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Do I struggle to feed because my babies are too hungry?

(8 Posts)
DigestivesWithCheese Sun 11-Nov-12 14:31:56

Advice please!

I have 2 DC already & have struggled to feed both of then for longer than 2-3 weeks, despite the fact that I desperately wanted to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. I am now pregnant with twins and am planning to try again but not holding out much hope.

With my DS, I found feeding painful from the beginning, he always fed for at least an hour at a time (I had to detach him myself when it got too uncomfortable, it wasn't voluntary from him) and at between 2-3 weeks I ran out of milk one evening. As in, he was still screaming with hunger & my breasts were empty. He was given formula that night and, although I tried to feed, I had to keep topping up with formula and my own milk disappeared after a couple of days.

I found out later he had a tounge tie and I thought that may have been the problem. He was drinking 6oz of formula every 3 hours by 3 weeks.

So, when DD was born, I asked the nurse to check for tounge tie - she didn't have one. I had every midwife check her latch & they all said it looked correct. Despite this, it still hurt, and she still still fed for at least an hour each time and I would have to pull her off after an hour. At between 2-3 wks she started to feed constantly at night, I was determined to keep going this time!

I could feel that my breasts were feeling 'empty' by mid afternoon & when I tried, I couldn't squeeze much milk out. But, I kept going, following the "supply and demand" advice I was given. One evening, after 3.5 solid hours of feeding (and a bleeding nipple), I gave in to the exhaustion and got formula to top her up. She drank 4oz and went straight to sleep (which seemed to confirm that she wasn't getting much from me).

Again, she was taking 6oz, sometimes more every 3 hours. I tried expressing & was only getting about 1oz in a hour. My milk was gone after a couple of days.

More info (just in case it helps anyone to figure our what the problem was!):

- both babies born by c-section and just under 7lb at birth.
-both very sleepy and took very short feeds for first week, often falling asleep on the breast.

I felt, on both occasions, that no-one really believed I had a low milk supply. When I called the midwives for advice I was told it was my 'perception' that there wasn't enough milk. With DD, the only feed that ever went well was the first feed (and sometimes second) of the day - at those feeds my breasts would feel really big & full to start with and at those times she would sometimes choose to come off by herself, after about 40 minutes.

Any ideas or similar experiences? I really want up give it a go again but I know it might be even harder this time.

I've been thinking about approaching the GP before the twins arrive and asking if I can have a "stand by" prescription for something that will help my milk supply. Has anyone done this?

People always advise to check the baby is latched on properly. Last time, I was checked by midwife, H.V, breastfeeding counseller and other mums at a breastfeeding support group. They all said it looked correct. I just can't figure out what I do wrong sad

tiktok Sun 11-Nov-12 15:29:25

Digestives, really hope you can have a better experience this time sad

Your first baby had a tongue tie. This would account for diffculty in removing the milk comfortably and effectively. If milk is not removed then it won't be replaced and your supply would dwindle and go. Solution if this happens again: treatment of tongue tie.

Your second baby is more difficult to 'analyse' as there's not enough info. What was her weight during the weeks you fed her? Feeling the breasts and not getting milk out are not signs of not having sufficient milk - breasts feel soft and 'empty' when bf is going well, too, and squeezing is not a way to get milk out. So I can understand why you were told it was your 'perception' that you did not have enough milk. Expressing - which you later did - is not a way of assessing how much milk you make/the baby gets.

It's not possible to judge whether her frequent feeding was within normal, or if something could have been done to fix things. It's not possible to say if there is an on-going supply issue or not.

How about calling one of the bf lines and really talking through what happened?

DigestivesWithCheese Sun 11-Nov-12 16:10:06

Thanks tiktok - I think it would be worth talking through before the babies arrive so maybe I can make a plan.

My DD had lost weight in the first two weeks - I don't know how much but I remember a midwife saying it was more than 10% - the same midwife also said "you could do with getting a few bottles of formula through her to flush out the jaundice or she'll have to go back to hospital". I introduced formula a few days later & she immediately started to gain weight.

I have made a request not to see that midwife again as I don't think she helped my confidence about trying to feed. Do have any recommendations on who I should phone to try & figure it out? Thanks again.

mawbroon Sun 11-Nov-12 16:39:38

It is quite possible that your second baby has tongue tie too, even if there's nothing obvious to see.

look how many people are told there's no tongue tie by hcps that are not skilled at spotting it. Saying your latch looks ok is pretty meaningless really because what's going on inside the mouth is the important part, which of course nobody can see.

Your supply will suffer if the milk is not being removed effectively and although some tied babies can feed fine, many cannot.

It might be an idea to find out in advance where to go for a proper diagnosis and division of tongue tie just in case you have the same problems with the twins. It is highly hereditary and although not every family has problems with all the children being tied, there are many who do.

MamaChocoholic Sun 11-Nov-12 17:05:06

I have 3 dc, a single and twins, all had tongue tie (as do I). Your description of endless feeds sounds familiar to me, but I also read lots of women on here talking about feeds like that. I remember one woman in here saying her baby had just one feed a day, but it lasted 24 hours!

All my dc got quicker at feeding after the tie was cut. I think if you hope to bf your twins, you need a plan. Can you identify an iblc who cuts tongue ties now? Or you could identity what routes are available through the nhs near you, perhaps get in touch with your local bf group now to ask? I know la leche league groups at least welcome pregnant women.

Bf twins is entirely possible, I did it, lots of women do it, but I found it much more intense than feeding one. But then I found everything about twins more intense! I also know several women who bf subsequent children for longer than their first, but I would suggest you could line up support in advance. The early days of twins can be very busy and it was great for me to be able to pick up the phone without having to research who to call first.

DigestivesWithCheese Sun 11-Nov-12 17:30:54

mawbroon - wow! I've just had a look at that thread about tounge ties & am really surprised. At my local hospital, the tie is cut there now - if it's picked up on after birth. One midwife had a look & I just assumed she must be right. I have a tounge-tie, as does DH, so it did seem likely she would have one, I'll try & have a look in her mouth tomorrow!

Mama - It's good to hear that you managed to feed twins smile. I've bought a twin feeding pillow that I'm taking to hospital with me. I'm praying that they will have a private room available & will let DH sleep there with me so that he can help me sit up and feed at night. I struggled last time after a section and the midwives are just SO busy that they only had time to pass my baby to me, not to actually help get in position.

MamaChocoholic Sun 11-Nov-12 18:26:12

Twin feeding pillow was my saviour, but also felt clastrophobic at times. Feeding them both together was great for dd who was more affected by tongue tie. Ds2 would feed from one side whilst I tried to latch dd on the other, then she would just wait for ds2 to stimulate a let down and the milk would flow on both sides. She was sleepy and lost a bit of weight in the early days, but I fully believe it would have been harder if she hadn't had greedy ds2 on the other side.

Great you have a plan. You could always asks on the multiples section too if you want to hear other's experiences of breast feeding twins.

mawbroon Mon 12-Nov-12 09:28:04

Just be aware Digestives, that some tied tongues can look completely normal unless you know what you are looking for.

DS1 went undiagnosed until he was almost 6yo because his tongue looked completely normal, however it was the back of his tongue that was restricted and now that it's been released properly, I can clearly see how much higher the back of the tongue sits in his mouth. He has had multiple health problems over the years because of his ties (tongue and lip). It might be something you want to look into for your family at some point.

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