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36 hours in and already failing. I need help.

(31 Posts)
MeanMrsMustard Tue 03-Sep-13 06:40:49

Dc1 was born on Sunday night. I'm trying to breast feed her, but since leaving the hospital yesterday afternoon I've been completely lost. She had 2 good feeds on the ward and I'd felt like I'd got the hang of it but obviously not.
Dd knows what to do. She seems to be able to show when she wants a feed by rooting or sucking on her own hands. She is mainly happy to latch on, and its me who can't do it. Since leaving the hospital I've not been able to get the positioning right, or mainly get my nipple in the right bit of her mouth. My breasts are f/g cup and quite saggy, and my nipples and areolas are large too which doesn't seem to help. At the very least it makes it very hard to see whats actually going on. Already I've got sore nipples which hurt when I try to feed and I'm finding it impossible to tell whether its the current or previous feed that is causing the pain. Dd sucks for ages, which I think indicates I'm getting things wrong. If the nipple comes out slightly wedge shaped that's wrong isn't it?
Dd wants to feed quite a lot and I'm worried she isn't getting any colostrum. (Due to poor positioning) I tried expressing some by hand but with no luck. Am I able to use my electric pump to express a bit of colostrum so I at least know she feeds a bit? I'm also worried that if colostrum isn't being used up I won't get any milk in.
I'm also confused about whether dd wants to suckle for comfort or food. Sometimes she seems happy to suck her own fist or my finger, or even just make sucky mouth shapes. If she is just sucking for comfort does it matter if she does so on the nipple or can this lead to infections?

Sorry this is all over the place and probably totally unclear. I am shattered and achy all over. I'm not sure what I want to know really. General tips and information about how to muddle through the next 24 hours I guess. Dh and I are going to look at what community support we have access to today, but I'm not confident we'll be able to get instant support and I need help to tide me over so not to give in to formula.

And thank you for reading.

MyNameIsSuz Tue 03-Sep-13 06:53:11

So sorry you're finding it tough, I remember it well, I was exactly the same. I can't help you with positioning without seeing you, but I'd suggest you call your midwife this morning - they have to help you and will most likely send someone over or have you come in so they can help you with your latch.

Otherwise, how are you sitting when you try to feed? Make sure you're in a nice upright chair, either quite low on the ground or with feet on some books so your lap is flat, and lay a nice firm cushion on your lap for the baby. I'm large of boob myself and found one hand under the baby's head/neck and the other supporting the boob worked.

Good luck, keep us updated!

Lagoonablue Tue 03-Sep-13 06:53:17

Congratulations on your baby.

OK more expert people than me will be along but thought would reply as you are struggling. Yes access BF groups asap, ask to see your midwife to check positioning today and use the NCT helpline or La Leche. They may be able to send someone to see you.

Look at positioning videos on YouTube in the meantime. Does sound like you are struggling with this. Once that is sorted you should be away.

Baby needs a wide mouth as she comes to latch on. Don't worry if she sucks for comfort as will stimulate your milk.

Good luck. It is hard at first I know.

Theironfistofarkus Tue 03-Sep-13 07:01:08

Poor you. First thing to know is that how you are feeling is completely normal. You are learning a new skill which takes a while to perfect, not failing. If you don't already have it send someone out for some lansinoh and keep applying. Works wonders on sore nipples! Try feeding lying down in bed. You lie on your side with baby next to you . It's a lovely way to get some skin to skin contact and relax. Don't worry too much about wedge nipples. I know people say that isn't right and that it's not right if it hurts a bit to start with. Read the threads on here and you will see that many experienced breastfeeders disagree. I have fed 3 for 1 year, 1 year and still going with number 3 at 2 years and I have had pain and wedgies to start with each time. Call the la leche league helpline. There are some fantastic supporters there who you can call at any time for help. You are doing great. It is early days and you will get there.

SweepTheHalls Tue 03-Sep-13 07:01:59

It sounds mad, but gather the nipple up in your hand to make a good target, and when she opens her mouth up, place it into her mouth, up to the roof of her mouth like you mean itsmile. Every time she comes off, slather yourself with Lansinoh. Snuggle up on the sofa with a box set and lots of water and keep going. Some people find breast feeding easy, I know I didn't, and sometimes saying just 1 more feed, or just until tomorrow helps you get through it, and the all of a sudden you realise you haven't needed that crutch any more for a while and you have cracked it. Congratulations on your daughter

Janek Tue 03-Sep-13 07:21:07

Breastfeeding is really hard and i'll deck anyone who says it isn't! It is a brand new skill with a steep learning curve and you often have to be very tenacious to manage it.

But PLEASE take all the help that's out there - when i had dd1 i didn't want to 'bother' anyone, but now i realise that anyone who has trained to be a breastfeeding counsellor is desperate to help you breastfeed, if that's what you want, heck i'd come round and help you and i'm only an enthusiastic amateur!

Your milk will come in anyway, no matter how much colostrum the baby is getting. Don't forget, the baby's stomach is the size of a walnut, so it won't take much to fill it. My milk took ages to come in (hindsight tells me i wasn't doing it right to begin with, and dd1 slept through the night the first night (shock), which was great for me for recovering from the birth, not so great for the baby.) Also she was born at half 6am, so when she was 24 hours old it was already called 'day 2' which didn't make much sense to me and seemed to put pressure on as she was already 2/3/4/5 days old when she wasn't iyswim.

You will do it, you are doing great so far, but get as much (good) advice as you can. And i second the upright chair/pillow in lap advice up there ^ ^ ^.

MeanMrsMustard Tue 03-Sep-13 07:23:40

Gosh thanks for the quick responses. I don't think I'm feeding in an optimal position so I'll try out your suggestions when she wakes up. (Currently lyiing peacefully on my lap, making sucky noises of course).

I will call some helplines as soon as they open and try and get someone to make a visit. Until then ill be on YouTube!

Interesting about the nipples and pain comment. For the moment I will power through then!

Dh has a list of things to get from the chemist, just added lansinoh to it.

Hopefully I will be able to update later with some level of success. Thanks for the replies. I feel buoyed up!

Dd is a lovely funny little thing but has already got that guilt trip look sussed out!

Janek Tue 03-Sep-13 07:24:05

Oh one more thing - i found breastfeeding toe-curlingly painful at the start of every feed with both my babies, and that is normal, but the pain should subside as the feed goes on (and after a while it no longer happens at all grin). If the whole feed is painful something is not quite right with the positioning. Good luck, you can do it!

BrieMonster Tue 03-Sep-13 07:25:41

I am no expert but just wanted to say I know it's hard and especially in the beginning. I stayed in hosp a couple of days extra with DS2 just for this very reason... Because I found it so hard with DS1 and wanted to give myself the best chance for continuing.
In fact hard is a bloody understatement and she is so new, as are you as a mother!! At times I thought it was impossible and would never work out. I'm big boobed too and found it tricky getting him on and me comfortable but you really do need to be relaxed (which in my case only came from being told I was doing ok and that it was early days and knowing.) Do ask for help.... Loads of people on here have good practical advice. I never used the phone lines but some people swear by them. For me though the breastfeeding clinics were a godsend. Do you have any locally? I realised after a few weeks I was there for moral support as much as anything but they were fine with that!
I was told only to hand pump for colostrum but not sure why. I couldn't hand express to save myself but the midwife got a few mls. I don't see one one visiting you at home wouldn't help you with that. But it was sore. I found pumping did more damage than good but that's only because I couldn't relax and saw nothing come out so ended up feeling worse than when I started.

I am rambling as much as you thought you were... But you made perfect sense because it a tough thing you're doing. I'm not sure if you want to hear "it just is hard but stick with it"? But that kind of sums it up I think... You will think you can't possibly keep your eyes open/stand up again/try to get her latched on again but we all get through it somehow!

Local practical support def worth it's weight in gold, and if you need to travel to a not so local one to get help earlier it might be a good idea. And just trust yourself, assuming midwife/hv has no issues then don't try to create any (guilty of that myself).

I'm sure in the time it's taken me to write this there will have been more succinct replies. But my number one tip is that in the long run this is such a short time, and you and your daughter are what matters so get your DH to do everything non boob related and banish any visitors who take the attention away from feeding. Just focus on her, and feed lots even if you think it's for comfort. My step mum told me that she just fed her daughters all day long. I remember finding that not at all helpful but it is what I did with DS2 and the days spend cuddling my baby, eating chocolate, drinking loads of water and watching tv were well spent in my opinion. And yes it's nights too... But it does get better! And I hope the mums of older babies will say the same to me!

Bit of a novel sorry. Good luck.

BrieMonster Tue 03-Sep-13 07:26:59

Wow I must type/think slow!!!

Bambamb Tue 03-Sep-13 07:36:42

Just wanted to add that the part right before your milk comes in does feel like this as colostrum volume is so small. But that volume is correct for your baby at this stage and they do just suck and suck. Then when your milk comes in (which it may have by now) it all changes and suddenly it's squirting everywhere! So don't panic yet, it's like a new beginning once your milk is in. And don't be hard on yourself, it IS hard to master but make sure you use all available support and hopefully you'll be a pro soon.
Best of luck. Xx

aliciagardner Tue 03-Sep-13 07:38:44

Some good advice already. Just wanted to say don't worry about how much your DC is getting - colostrum comes in tiny amounts and is really calorie-dense so just keep going and feed as much as your baby wants (at least every 3 hours in the day, and I wouldn't leave longer than 4 hours in the night for now if it were me). It can take a good 3 or 4 days for your milk to come in. Don't panic, all normal. Just persist and keep telling yourself all normal.

Most important - keep putting on the Lansinoh after every feed! Others will disagree and say its wrong if its hurting but my experience (twice!) is that even with a good latch, it hurts for a couple of weeks. Then it's completely fine. Worth going through a bit of pain (pain's prob too strong a description also, lets say discomfort).

Other thing that helped me while newborn mouth is so small - hold the breast so you make a c shape with your hand, to flatten it a bit. Imagine your baby's mouth is a burger bun and you need to make your breast a burger shape! Easier to get in the mouth.... Then make sure as much of the nipple and areola are in there as possible, right to the back of the baby's mouth.

Good luck, I bet you're doing brilliantly.

MeanMrsMustard Tue 03-Sep-13 08:03:23

Seriously thank you everyone for replying. I am so touched.

I'm especially happy that there seems to be a consensus that feeding can be painful at first. It makes me feel less useless.

I'm off now, but will post an update when I get the chance.

GiraffesAndButterflies Tue 03-Sep-13 08:13:30

Dd sucks for ages, which I think indicates I'm getting things wrong.

Not in the least!!!

Lovely description elsewhere on MN is that sucking for ages is baby's way of telling the milkman they want an extra pint tomorrow grin

Long feeds may be to stimulate your supply, for comfort sucking or simply mean your baby eats slowly, but definitely don't indicate a problem. Watch the nappies instead to check how she's doing. And congrats on your new baby smile

Theironfistofarkus Tue 03-Sep-13 08:14:34

Janek is totally right. My DH used to laugh every time I started a feed as my toes literally curled with the pain for a minute or two. With my first I got v v worried by all those people who kept saying if it hurts then you are not doing it right as I thought I was failing. But I remembered my NCT teacher saying that she fed 4 and it hurt her every time and when I asked around I found that many, many others had the same experience. I do wonder sometimes whether people say it doesn't hurt to encourage people to try. But I nearly gave up the first time because I thought I was failing so I think it can be counterproductive. Good luck OP! You CAN do it and you are doing great.

GiraffesAndButterflies Tue 03-Sep-13 08:16:32

Useful link here - Kellymom is a fab website for breastfeeding advice. This page has details on what to expect in the early days, how many wet/dirty nappies, etc.

sparkle12mar08 Tue 03-Sep-13 08:22:13

The one thing that absolutely leapt out at me was your description of the nipple being 'wedge' shaped after some feeds - that can be a classic indicator of tongue tie, which would also explain the pain your'e feeling. Ask your midwife and HV to check the baby again, and again if necessary, and see an independent feeding specialist if possible. Keep a close eye on things over the next few days - if it is a tie you need to get it cut as fast as possible, waiting for a few weeks 'to see what happens' as I was advised, could seriously jeopardise your feeding relationship.

Hawkmoth Tue 03-Sep-13 08:28:58

It gets markedly easier after day four IME (if no tongue tie etc). I felt that it took that long for the nipple to change and the skin thicken up. Then I stopped crying before every latch on.

I'm currently feeding my almost ten week old third. She was biggest of the three and best at feeding but I found it hardest pain wise. Now I can hardly feel it some times... But the gulping gives it away!

LillyofWinchester Tue 03-Sep-13 08:34:54

Just wanted to add my congratulations and support, please call the helplines and or go to a support group (there may be one at you're local hospital). Breastfeeding is really hard at the start especially these days when women leave hospital so quickly after birth, you are not alone most woken will have felt like you at the beginning.

And also, while I think it is painful at first it shouldn't be painful for the while feed and your nipples shouldn't be cracked or misshapen, if you are unsure get someone who is trained to cheek the latch

worldgonecrazy Tue 03-Sep-13 08:42:31

A lot of us have been there. It can be tough in the early days. The best thing I did was find a group. It was still tough, but somehow, the support group kept me going. If you're anywhere near Birmingham, the one at Kings Heath is fabulous.

Your baby's mouth is still very small, and you AND your daughter are both still learning how to feed. Be patient with yourself, ensure that you are being looked after so that you can focus on baby.

And this evening, when the "breastfeeding witching hour" starts (which is what my breastfeeding HV called the evening feed, which seems to go on for ever, get your partner to bring you a small glass of wine and some nice nibbles/cake at the start of the feed. They will help make you feel human again. (Yes you can have a small drink and breastfeed.)

AFishWithoutABicycle Tue 03-Sep-13 09:09:29

Bf was painful for me at first too. I found that the 'rugby ball' position worked best for me. I used nipple shields, they don't recommend them as it can make you LO confused but if your on the verge of giving up then they might help enough to keep you going. (They come in different sizes so get the large ones).
And most importantly congratulations on a lovely baby! And we'll done for getting this far.
-Ask the breat feeding people if your okay to take painkillers too.

kohl Tue 03-Sep-13 10:42:47

There's lots of great advice here, but I just wanted to say that the first few days/weeks are hard, YY to lasinoh after every feed, seeing your midwife/calling La Leche League, and boxsets.
I found a breastfeeding clinic that kept me nursing (crap positioning) when I was about to give up in agony.
You are doing brilliantly. Make sure DH puts lots of chocolate on that shopping list!

MeanMrsMustard Tue 03-Sep-13 14:14:48

I can't thank you all enough. It's wonderful reading a different experiences and knowing it's not just me and that it gets better.

I am feeling more confident already. I managed to sleep for 2 hours just after my last post, and then as if by magic 2 community midwives for my day 2 visit. I hadn't known they were coming, but they checked dd and she is fine, and I am feeding her properly, although they told me how to put her arm out of the way.. They even brought lansinoh samples!
Dd fed happily for 45 mins and is now sleeping on my lap.

The combination of them and this thread has helped me so much. I feel a million times better, so thank you.
I know I'll have ups and downs, and I'm still going to ring the la lache league. I have been warned that the early milk days can be tricky and i want to be prepared for that too.
And at least I know that tonight may be tricky and lonley and tiring, but I am doing it correctly.


MeanMrsMustard Tue 03-Sep-13 14:46:37

Oh, and I think changing where I sat made a big difference although I still could do with getting more upright.
I didn't see the tongue tie post until after the midwife left, but I'll get her to check tomorrow when she returns.

soupmaker Tue 03-Sep-13 14:49:53

Great to hear that you're doing well. A few hours sleep always makes a difference. It's really worth learning how to feed lying down. It's so easy for both of you and especially when your DD decides on a marathon feeding session. I was a bit PFB with DD1 and only fed in a chair, with DD2 I was taught how to feed lying down, as we had difficulties due to a tongue tie for the first week, by a community midwife. Has been brilliant for night time feeding and for when I'm knackered and need a snooze while DD feeds. We are 5 weeks in and it does get easier as you both gain in confidence. Good luck, sounds like you're doing an amazing job.

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