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Can anyone shed any light on why BFing went so wrong for me?

(19 Posts)
BotBotticelli Tue 27-Aug-13 09:52:33

DS1 is now 8mo and a happy, spirited, thriving little boy. I am finally enjoying being his mum after a horrible period of PND for which i received CBT counselling on referral from my HV.

I have tried to put lot of the difficult feelings I had in the early days of my son's life aside, but one thing I cannot stop mulling over is why breastfeeding was such a abject failure for us sad I am so upset and disappointed that I didn't feel able to continue feeding my son, and I hope that by writing down what happened here, someone might be able to suggest what went wrong or what I could do differently next time. I am starting to think about having a DC2 one day in the future, and I really wouldn't want to have this same experience again.

So here goes: DS born vaginally in a hospital. I started off in MLU but had to transfer to delivery suite when my waters broke and were full of dark black meconium. On being born, DS was not put on my chest for skin to skin, he was taken to the other side of the room by doctors to help start him breathing cos he had inhaled some meconium. After a hairy few mins he started crying and was then cleaned up and given to me for a cuddle. We had a little breast feed but then 10 mins or so later the Docs were worried about his breathing and whisked him off to SCBU.

We had to stay in hospital for 3 days so he could have IV antibiotics in case of an infection caused by the meconium. He also kept breathing a but ragged/fast and so had chest x-rays etc to see if there was something wrong with his lungs (there wasn't). DS had a canula in his hand which I was really scared about disturbing so I didn't really get him out of his vest for the 3 days we were in the hospital = no real skin to skin.

Feeding in the hospital was hard: he seemed to latch well (latch checked by multiple people, bottom lip turned out, nice mouth full of breast tissue) but never seemed content after feeding. Always screaming for more boob, very unsettled generally. In retrospect this is probably because an inept registrar couldnt get blood out of his heel and so kept stabbing his foot with a needle every couple of hours. Not the calm lovely start to DS's life i had planned. At the same time, after 3 nights in hospital, plus the night before I had laboured through the night, I hadn't slept more than 30 mins in a row for 4 nights. I felt nauseous and shaking with exhaustion.

We got home on day 4 and DS started a pattern of hideous cluster feeding from 11pm - 5am every night. Literally: 45 mins on one breast. Then screamed for the other, so offered him it. 40 mins on that breast, then still not settled, so 30 mins on the other....etc etc etc. ALL night long. No sleep for either of us. Still crying and hungry at 5am, by day 7 I was insensible with tiredness, couldn't seem to calm or placate DS no matter no much boob I offered. Also, nips were cracked and bleeding despite slthering in Lansinoh and his latch being good. And I offered it all the time. On day 7, DS started coming into the living room at 5am (where I had made a nest on the sofa so I could at least watch DVDs whilst up all night) and in desperation he gave DS 4oz of formula which he nailed down in one and then slept for 2.5 hours. His longest sleep since birth. I was devatsated cos really didn't wanna FF. kept trying the BFing and every night by 5am I was in pieces, gave up and gave an increasingly large bottle of formula (DS was nailing 6oz bottles by day 10).

Ayway to cut a v long story short, was not discharged from MW cos DS was losing weight. At day 12 they said that if he hadn't started to regain weight by day 14 I would have to go back into hsospital, which terrified me, cos that's where this sleep deprivation started sad So I put DS on bottles. Hand expressed a bit for a few days but milk dried up really quickly. Nipples healed.

DS had 7x 6oz bottles per day until 3 months old, and regained his birth weight and stayed on the 91st centile every since (he was 9lb 3oz at birth).

So what went wrong? What could I have done differently? Am thinking of going for a HB next time to try and cut out all that horror in the hospital.

I suspect my suply would have cught up with his demand eventually if I had just stuck out the night feeds f horror, but my bleeding nips and exhaustion meant I just couldnt take it any more sad

Sorry for mammoth post, has been quite cathartic to write it all down, so thanks if you've stuck with me this far.

AMmyboys Tue 27-Aug-13 10:49:52

Hello, I am afraid I haven't got a scientific / professional advice but I just wanted to tell you that I could have write your post myself.

My DS1 was born in a similar situation than your lo and although I BF for 4 months exclusively soon after the 4th month my breast started to dry up with no apparent reason. There were not changes in shit sleeping or feeding, they just dried up.

With my DS2 who was premature, I BF for 5 1/2 months by mix feeding because my boobs wouldn't produce enough and although every single HV/MW told me to carry on and that the milk supply would increase eventually it just never happened, actually to keep up with his demand I had to express everyday. By the 8th week I was literally crying every single night and I decided to mix feed.

I don't know either what happened to me, why some women can actually BF for so long and I just couldn't.

Maybe you have a point on the HB option, as both my deliveries were vv stressful.

The most important thing is that we tried, and although was for a short period of time, we gave them the best we could.


itsaruddygame Tue 27-Aug-13 12:34:42

I had a sticky start with bf. DS was early and small and could not latch at first. He was also whisked off when he was born and we were then on transitional care for a week with jaundice and had to top up (donor breast milk then formula at home) but we were able to get him fully on to the breast within 2 weeks. For weeks and weeks we had horrendous cluster feeding and it was painful. I nearly quit so many times just because I was so exhausted. I managed not to by the skin of my teeth and only survived because I pumped so that my husband could do one night feed which enabled me to get 2-3 hours sleep in one go. I was a zombie for weeks!!

I managed to keep going and am glad I did because its easy now but without DH feeding me, doing all housework and the night feed I would have had to stop. I was lucky enough to have plenty of milk and he gained weight well - if not I definitely would have stopped!

Don't beat yourself up or dwell on it - you gave it a good shot! For some people it is straightforward and easy but not for everyone and sometimes you are both better of FF. I think my baby being small and early were what made it especially tough for us and I wonder if he arrived full term and bigger we would have found it easier. You had a bit of a traumatic start and I am sure that played a part.

Try and put it behind you and give yourself a pat on the back - you gave it a good shot and you survived pnd. New babies are hard enough without pnd as well. You may find next time is easier if things are more straightforward.

hazchem Tue 27-Aug-13 12:36:19

Can I suggest you put a call into the NCT there support lines are staff by breastfeeding councilors who can talk through not just the mechanics of breastfeeding but the emotions that surround them. They could also help you form a breastfeeding plan for next time. The support you will need things to try, how to get help, what your partner can do to support you, how to co sleep to help with night feeding.
For what it's worth I think learning to come to terms with how we expect parenting to be not happening is one of our hardest tasks as mothers.
Remember too each breastfeed, each single drop of milk you gave DS has done amazing and wonderful things for him and for you and you should be incredibly proud of that.

NothingsLeft Tue 27-Aug-13 12:38:31

I had a pretty similar start with DS. He fed every 40 mins for the first 12 weeks. Turns out he was tongue tied and it took us that long to get it sorted. Improved a lot after that. Was your baby checked for TT?

daluze Tue 27-Aug-13 14:37:56

You did nothing wrong - you did all you could. Sleep deprivation is incredibly exhausting. I was in similar position. The problem is, you get so much contradictory advice, and unless you find a good BF counsellor that you trust, you are stuck. I remember crying from exhaustion whilst still in hospital, feeding all night and still hungry baby after a week in NICU, and nurses just telling me, "keep feeding and your milk will come". To which I nearly shouted back - "it's not working!".
However, I was lucky to meet am excellent BFC who deviced a plan, which included a combination of expressing after each feed, taking domperidone amd topping up with first formula, later, when I expressed enough, just expressed milk. It also ensured that I got some sleep. It was still pretty hard, but we had a plan and I felt much more in control. It took 5 weeks until we could abandon bottles for good, and I still EBF (and started solids at 6 months).
Don't beat yourself up, your DC won't need to put whether he BF on his CV! You gave him the bedt start, and that is the most important! It is just very difficult to establish BF when the baby dpends first few days not with you!
It is extremely unlikely you will have the same issues with yhe next child, but just know that there are more options than just feeding round the clock, and look for advice from someone you trust!
And, whenever I cried giving my DS formula, my DP said that we are lucky it exists and the little one is full and happy!

mawbroon Tue 27-Aug-13 15:36:53

Another voice suggesting tongue tie as a possiblity.

There is a thread on here with loads of people who were told by multiple HCPs that their babies were not tied, only to find out later, when checked by someone who knows what they are doing, that the babies were indeed tongue tied.

poocatcherchampion Tue 27-Aug-13 17:47:15

I'm not sure you will find a definite answer but you need to realise that you had a really difficult birth experience with your ds.

I've just had dd2 and it has made me realise how difficult dd1's birth and early weeks were. I experienced a lot of the physical elements you did - sleep deprivation, shakes exhaustion, couldn't think straight etc and we had a lot of problems getting feeding started which I now ascribe to my milk being slow to come in and dd being sleepy.

we were admitted for weight loss which was hell on earth in our physical state. dd lost 18%

we had far fewer interventions than you too.

dd2 has been a breeze in comparison and I can only now realise that what we went through was a big deal. dd2 was also an emcs but not really an emergency situation and she has fed like a dream every 2 hours, needed no help with latch and loads of weeks and poos. we are on day 6 today which last time was the day we were readmitted. I could hardly walk and was sick and shaky with a temperature, I'm currently relaxing on the sofa eating cake and mn-ing while I feed her one handed.

I guess two things strike me - 1) that you should feel you had a hard start because you did and 2) if you are thinking about number 2 it might be a whole lot better second time round.

I hope that is some use!

Pachacuti Tue 27-Aug-13 18:06:00

I would guess that the traumatic first few days meant that your milk was later than normal coming in, which led to some of the other problems (constant feeding/cracked nipples/no sleep) and because of everything both of you had been through you just didn't have any reserves of energy at that point. There could have been other factors (e.g. tongue tie, latch not being as good as everyone told you it was, etc.) as well but it's hard to do anything more than speculate about that.

stargirl1701 Tue 27-Aug-13 18:48:52

I had a hard time with bf but it has helped me to do lots of reading. I think I have read about 10 books of bf (prob should've done that while pregnant). I understand bf much more.

I plan to hire a lactation consultant if we have another.

NothingsLeft Tue 27-Aug-13 19:04:53

I saw a lactation consultant too after the tongue tie snip and she was amazing. I saw her every three weeks until around four months. She really built my confidence and put an end to all the contradictory advice.

dizzy77 Tue 27-Aug-13 19:06:15

Hello, you poor thing. This sounds like hell and you did brilliantly, your DS sounds lovely.

I'm really impressed you're addressing this now. I had a rotten time bf'ing DS1 without anything like the rocky first few days of SCBU etc, just that he was never satisfied and lost too much weight so we he was then admitted to SCBU on day 5, where he was topped up with formula until he'd gained sufficient weight. I didn't really connect with properly informed bf support until week 3 (had been warned off the local peer supporters and LLL by the midwives hmm) by which point returns were diminishing and my appetite to do more hard pumping work had reduced. I handed in the towel at week 10 after the time at the boob was almost nothing and the "supplementary" formula bottles were huge.

Second time round I raised this with my midwife after a bit of a meltdown at the antenatal class when I was 36wks pg. she actually recommended La Leche League who were wonderful. They helped me recognise I needed to "grieve" for the experience not meeting my expectations and helped me inform myself about what went wrong. They were very non judgemental and one particular leader went out of her way to help me work through my choices and options to empower myself when DS2 arrived. As it was, after 24 hours of doing everything by the book, when bf wasn't straightforward and I had flashbacks to the early days with DS1, I chose to top up with formula and not head off to the expressing room - I closed the shop. This was a really positive choice for me and my family and I feel good for having made it: DS2 is now 12wo and wonderful and I have shortcut all the angst and work of worrying whether I was doing it right. That choice is not the same one everyone would have made but I'm pleased to have done it in the full knowledge and education of what I could have do e further.

This got very long. I really wanted to recommend one of the books I borrowed from the LLL library: Breastfeeding Take Two which was a great help in helping me come to terms with and understanding what happened first time round.

MichaelBubleBath Tue 27-Aug-13 19:56:40

wine brew cake

Please please please give yourself a pat on the back for what you did manage to do. You went through the mill and you have a thriving lovely baby.
Having read your post it would seem that you had a really tough start.
All interruptions/interventions take their toll - i have ebf three kids and my third was the trickiest by far with establishing bf. I put that down to his low blood sugar levels meaning he was being taken off me every four hours for the first 48. He was also topped up by the hospital for the first three days.
He was losing weight and in retrospect the staff were very pushy about my relaxed attitude - pretty sure I would have ended up ff had he been my first.

My only advice to you for next time is...and I hate the phrase, sorry in advance...but if possible a babymoon i.e. you and baby naked bar nappy/pants on double mattress on the floor for as long as you like.
DH gets you loads of water, snacks, vitamins and drift in and out of sleep as you can - sleep when/if baby sleeps - minimum interruptions/visitors/trips.

The second tip I have and I say this on every thread - breastfeeding tea i.e teabags with fenugreek in. Swear by them.

Do not beat yourself up about it. There is a script which talks about how bf shouldn't hurt and shouldn't be hard. Having fed two to 2+ years I cannot agree with this - often and especially at the start it can be blinkin painful and cluster feeding is like mental torture. Sleep
or lack of makes a huge difference as do calories - you need an extra 500 for a reason.
So in terms of why it didn't work out this time around for you, or at least for as long as you planned it would be down to
a. interruptions b. sleep deficit c. added stress/pressure re weight loss
d. introduction of formula because of worries about 'failure to thrive' - i was all ready to mix feed if necessary for dc3 because of his weight loss. Fortunately he slept solidly for 5 days and i caught up sleep which was lucky as he cluster fed from day 8 as if catching up. Secondly i have dc2 who was tandem feeding so got milk supply going when he was out of it. I would be proud of a thriving baby whether bf or ff tbh so as I said at the start give yourself a pat on the back. flowers

SugarMiceInTheRain Tue 27-Aug-13 20:08:37

Agree with all the others that you did brilliantly in what sound like horrendous circumstances. I won't repeat the excellent advice you've already had upthread, particularly from MBB. One thing I would say is that I'd read up a lot on BFing beforehand and heard from others that a lot of health professionals know little/ nothing about BFing having no experience themselves. If I had a tenner for every time a doctor or midwife or health visitor told me something inaccurate about BFing, or gave me some completely dud advice on latch position/ milk supply/ frequency of feeding etc..., I'd be rich. If I'd listened to most of them, I'd have quit. As it was DS1 was fine, and I had to trust my instincts and continued when they told me to stop (including when several health professionals tried to force me into stopping when I was hospitalised with mastitis, when stopping is the worst thing to do in that case). Eventually they got sick of me ignoring their (wrong) advice and transferred me to another hospital where they commended me for sticking to my guns and backed up what I'd been saying!!

BTW oats are supposed to be good for milk supply - perfect excuse to eat lots of chocolate chip flapjacks grin

Please don't beat yourself up - you did and are doing your best.

Poppet45 Tue 27-Aug-13 23:00:00

Another vote for suspected tongue tie. Frequent feeds, mangled boobs and lipstick shaped nipples are telltale signs of tt. Its woefully undiagnosed and hampers a baby's ability to bf but not ff. I was left v traumatised by ds's birth when I ended up in hdu after a relaxed waterbirth turned to a crash section and bleed. Did everything to ensure dds birth would be better, healing even. She turned up by crash section at 27 weeks, apgar of 1, ventilator, brain bleeds, months in hospital. Her birth didnt traumatise me... As i knew things could go tits up and didnt have any naive expectations second time round. Point is history rarely repeats itself but if it rhymes you're prepared second time round. Dd has a lip tie and had a tongue tie (missed by dozens of paeds) which my hv got snipped and is still bf at 2yrs. Chin up and go easy on yourself

Haddock73 Wed 28-Aug-13 08:44:17

OP please please do not beat yourself up over this. Far too much pressure if placed on mothers to breastfeed. Yes we all know the benefits, we all its the best for baby etc - I myself breastfeed ds1 til 9 months and breastfeeding newborn ds2 at moment. However, I am a firm believer in doing what's best for the baby - he obviously needed food and sleep, you died your ver best and managed to give him colostrum and some milk before switching to formula, you did amazingly, considering what a rough start he had.

Draw a line under this, and try not to get sucked into things that don't matter - what matters is your son is born hes healthy, he's thriving now and you're in a much better state to look after after.

Please do not beat yourself up over being a "failure" because you're not. Breast milk is not magic, it won't mean they never get ill and your dooming your son to a lifetime of illness because he's had formula. Try to look at the bigger picture - you're doing a great job looking after him - he wouldnt be here without you.

Haddock73 Wed 28-Aug-13 08:45:09

Sorry did your very best, not died.

MistressofPemberley Thu 29-Aug-13 17:14:01

I seriously think the success of bf can vary from child to child. I could not feed my DS for longer than about 10 days. My nipples were in shreds, we were both in tears etc. I introduced formula just to get a break from the hell. I felt so guilty and such a failure.
This time, with DD, it's working. No idea why. I really think it's down to the individual baby.
If it's any consolation 5yo DS has turned out better than alright, despite the lack of bf! And I got over the guilt.

jfp34 Sat 31-Aug-13 11:07:29

Things didn't go very well for me either first time round, despite all my best efforts - but if it helps to know this, second time round it was totally different and am still BFing now many months on.

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