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Breastfeeding breaking my heart

(46 Posts)
Beastly Sun 10-Nov-13 16:04:41

All I do all day is worry. I'm certain my DS is not getting enough breast milk, he doesn't seem to like breastfeeding. He has one good feed in the morning and then snacks for the rest of the day. He is restless and fidgets and pulls on and off. I've tried different positions and winding but he works himself up so much I have to rock him off to sleep, and then when he's asleep I sit there worrying and crying because once again he hasn't fed. He generally won't feed unless we are lying down on the bed. It's got to the point where I'm anxious about leaving the house because he just won't feed. He just gets to a point where he won't feed because he's so overwrought and hungry. I've tried expressing, I can only afford a manual pump and its so much hard work to get 5oz out - but I do feel a million times better once he's drank it because 'at least he's had something satisfactory today'. I'm crying typing this now. I really want to be a successful breast feeder but its making me so down.

tiktok Sun 10-Nov-13 16:27:32

Oh Beastly, that sounds hard sad

A lot of what you are saying is normal feeding - though the restless on and off needs checking out.

Have you sought real life help from midwife/HV/breastfeeding helplines?

Post again with more details if you can - age of baby, how he's growing ie weight, if he's healthy, has feeding always been like this?

Beastly Sun 10-Nov-13 16:45:07

I just feel like a failure as I actually trained as a breastfeeding supporter but I only ever encountered women who either were having a really tough time of it eg. Mastitis or who were finding breastfeeding a breeze. I have never met anyone like myself who just struggles day to day.

I fed ds1 (feeding ds2 now) and I never felt like this, it was just straight forward. Now I'm anxious about everything from how much milk he's getting to his weight. I'm sure he's not as big as he should be and I'm going to the clinic next week to get him weighed. I'm dreading them saying that he's underweight.

RiotBecky Sun 10-Nov-13 16:46:16

Don't panic if you start to express feed only, as long as LO is getting your milk, that's what's important. My DS wouldn't latch so I'm expressing as well as supplementing as my supply isn't quite enough yet. I felt bad at first as I wasn't BF'ing, but now I realise that as long as he's getting the milk I'm doing well. <3

tiktok Sun 10-Nov-13 16:46:57

Beastly, still need info on how old he is, what his growth has been, how long he's been like this....

Also, your anxiety sounds very strong, and your confidence sounds rock bottom. I wonder if these feelings are making the difference?

Beastly Sun 10-Nov-13 16:48:08

He's 20wo and very smiley and happy (when not trying to feed)

CraftyBuddhist Sun 10-Nov-13 16:49:42

Beastly. I can relate.

You sound as though you are having a terrible time of it. sad.

Feelings of failure second time around when you're 'supposed to know what you're doing' are very difficult as others sometimes assume you don't need the same level if support ESP as you're a peer supporter. Please keep posting- we will hold your hand.

How old is LO?

UnacceptableWidge Sun 10-Nov-13 16:55:35

Have you tried expressing by hand? I used a pump when feeding my first DC but like you found it took forever for the tiniest amount. I found expressing by hand much faster.

CraftyBuddhist Sun 10-Nov-13 16:56:51

Cross posted.

Op you have achieved so much. 20 weeks! You can do it. Tiktok is here so i will leave the bf business to her.

But if you need a cheerleader I'm here.

[speaking as a peer supporter who fed first child long time and happily save usual first 12 week issues then had second child-and I could have written your exact post. Right down to happy when not feeding. Heartbreak. Anxiety. Got treated for postnatal depression. Tried every feeding position under the sun. Found done that worked. At five months things got better. Felt like such a failure. Things got better. ].

You can do it. But nothing prepares you for second child- what a massive adjustment. Please be kind to yourself.

nickelbabe Sun 10-Nov-13 16:57:12

it might be that he knows the expressed milk is easier to get and that's why he's fussing amd pulling during the day.

what about leaning over him for a bit so your breast is dangling into his mouth?
or massaging your breasst while you feed him?

Beastly Sun 10-Nov-13 17:15:38

I have tried expressing by hand but it made my breasts really sore, the manual pump is a bit rubbish but I can get a 5oz out if I pump first thing in the morning. Hopefully I can save a bit and get an electric one. He fusses a lot when drinking on the bottle too.

I have a lot of stress in my life at the moment and I'm unhappy, I think this is having a major impact on the feeding. I just get really panicky.

It's good to know I'm not the only one who has felt like this!

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sun 10-Nov-13 17:26:55

You can formula feed if you want to, you know. It really isn't the work of the devil. Nobody will judge you or criticise your decision. Please don't break your heart over feeding your baby. There wil be so many more battles to deal with!

And I say that as someone who tried to feed dd1 and failed. When it got to the point that both she and I were in tears every time I went near her, my dh and my HV begged me to stop. The relief when I did was overwhelming and we were both so much happier. And then I breastfed dd2 for months. She was easy to feed and I really enjoyed it second time around.

Please don't be disheartened. Formula milk doesn't mean you've settled for second best. It's just milk. Your baby will be on to solids in a few months and then you've got years of worrying about their diet.

I hate all this pressure on mums to breastfeed. Yes it's lovely but if it doesn't work for you it's actually a lot of unnecessary bloody stress.

Sunflower1985 Sun 10-Nov-13 17:30:41

I was able to borrow one from a breastfeeding support group for free - any chance there's something like that in your area?

RiotBecky Sun 10-Nov-13 17:38:00

I was using a manual pump and not getting much, and the pump was being used so much it developed the most irritating squeak! I saved up for a bit and got this one and it's incredible. But don't beat yourself up, the fact you care so much is a good thing.

tiktok Sun 10-Nov-13 18:12:13

Thanks for the info, Beastly.

I don't think there is a feeding problem to fix.

I don't think getting more out with expressing, using a different pump, switching to expressed, or switching to formula will help in any way at all. His behaviour has nothing to do with working out that the bottle is easier because a) it isn't easier and b) 20 week old babies don;t have the congnitive skills to draw these conclusions.

This is a baby of 20 weeks old - unless you tell me in your next post that he has had long-standing difficulties gaining weight, and he is now, at almost 5 mths old, skinny and miserable because he is not getting enough to eat (and I don't think you will), then we can look at his behaviour rather than his nutrition.

At this age, babies take much less time at the breast. They are done in a few minutes. If their mothers insist on putting them back on again, they will object - they may bob on again and then come off and behave restlessly and seem unhappy.....because they are unable to communicate in a way that gets what they want.

It is highly relevant you are stress and unhappy in other parts of your life. This has a number of effects: for a start, it leads you to micro-examine your baby's reactions and behaviours and interpret them in a way that leads you to think you are failing somehow; this doesn't help, and it makes you more stressed and anxious, which makes the issue worse; your stress distances you from your baby, and he picks up on this, not in a cognitive way, but in a feelings way, and this affects his behaviour.

Finding ways of dealing with the stress and anxiety without the panicky responses you say you are experiencing will help - but you won't get that help by thinking it's a feeding problem, I don't think.

Getting help will mean you and your baby can tune into each other better and this will mean feeding does not add to your stress.

Have you got a good HV you can talk to, about your stress, your unhappiness and the lack of confidence you feel?

I hope some of this strikes a chord with you.

Beastly Sun 10-Nov-13 19:15:24

Thank you so much for your post, tiktok

No he definitely isn't skinny and miserable, but he doesn't seem 'satisfied' between feeds. Perhaps he's just a restless baby?

It's good to know that they can feed in a few minutes, I thought at least 10 minutes was a minimum per side. Once he pulls off and I try to put him back on he does try to latch on though, is it still instinct at this age or would he keep him mouth closed if he was full?

I'm definitely going to start dealing with the anxiety and stress - I'm going to book a GP appt first thing tomorrow.

DS just had a lavender bath and is all snuggly and has fed, the relief that washes over me when he feeds well is immense!

Beastly Sun 10-Nov-13 19:16:34

Thanks for your suggestion riot

That is a very impressive looking milk pumping machine shock

RiotBecky Sun 10-Nov-13 19:25:13

It looks a lot scarier than it is!! The pump motor bit is actually quite little and can run off batteries if you need to use it whilst out...not that I have ever or would ever use this function hmm

HandMini Sun 10-Nov-13 19:27:13

he doesn't seem 'satisfied' between feeds. Perhaps he's just a restless baby?

This was my DD1 exactly. She just wasn't a contented, placid baby. She fussed and fretted and squealed and yelped and threw her limbs about. It was just the way she was. I, like you, endlessly worried about her seeming "dissatisfied" and never being all milky and replete like some babies are.

I bf her for 8 months and it never changed. Shes now a very chilled and relaxed toddler, so who knows what it all means.

I know it's only one other experience, but there you are. There is someone who felt the same as you.

As others have said, providing your DS weight is good i would just try not to focus on how often or how much he feeds. Keep up the great work!

OhGood Sun 10-Nov-13 20:28:17

beastly I came on here to write almost exactly this post. Your baby could be my DS, who is also DC2, and DD was lovely and easy and relaxed to feed. DS is a lovely adorable wiggly squidge of a baby, but he has been a nightmare to feed from the off, which meant he failed to regain his birthweight and I was deeply upset by this (and by the way HVs dealt with me, but that's a different story.)

He is on and off in a few minutes, entirely distractible (distractable? sp?), and screamy when I try to encourage him back on for more. I also always feel like he has not had enough and share your anxiety and stress about this.

What tiktok said actually describes him exactly.

I am sticking to a strict 'only weigh once a month' thing as I got to the stage where even going to the stupid weighing clinic made me cry, but he's going to be weighed on Weds, and if he is ok, I am going to keep going and stop trying to force him back onto my breast.

And won't introduce formula, which is where I was headed.

hettienne Sun 10-Nov-13 20:34:45

There's no minimum time for feeds, and babies often get quicker as they get older.

Have you tried just following your baby's cues? Feed on one side, when he comes off offer the other side, when he comes off offer the first again until he doesn't want any more. Forget the clock and just watch the baby.

Laquila Sun 10-Nov-13 20:36:37

Have you tried anything to increase your milk supply? Anecdotally, fenugreek tablets can be effective - I have a friend who absolutely swears by them. Oats can also help.

I have to agree with tiktok that it actually doesn't sound as though you have a feeding problem (and I mean that in the nicest and most supportive way possible! )

It will get easier - chin up and make sure you talk to your GP smile

FrauMoose Sun 10-Nov-13 20:41:47

I would have thought your anxiety around feeding wasn't terribly good for the baby. Obviously you can't reason yourself out of being anxious. But I'd agree with the poster who said formula feeding is an okay option. If being able to see that your baby has had x amount of milk gives you some reassurance, then might that help.

It's not that I'm knocking those who idealise breast feeding. But if it becomes a battle where you are trying to get a baby to take more than the baby wants to take, it that still automatically the best option?

Beastly Sun 10-Nov-13 20:51:14

handmini thanks for sharing your experience with your dd, hearing other stories is making me feel a lot more relaxed about the situation

If all is well at the clinic next week I think I'm going to try weighing ds monthly as well ohgood

I'm definitely booking GP appt first thing tomorrow

tiktok Sun 10-Nov-13 21:52:43

Some mothers may find switching to formula helps....but what a risk. The amount in the bottle becomes a 'target' amount and the anxiety then focusses not on the time time baby is on the breast, but on the volume of milk left in the bottle. Where's the gain in that? 'You know how much the baby has taken' can be tyrannical - see the threads in this folder from mothers anxious about their baby of x weeks who takes y ounces, and is that normal, should he have more, and so on.

Time on the breast does not even equate to volume of milk taken - babies who are on the breast 5 mins don't take half the volume of milk that babies on 10 mins take, or quarter of the volume taken by babies who are on for 20 mins.

20 week old babies who are healthy know what they need. Following cues is absolutely fine. Struggling with the baby because he hasn't been on for some arbitrary length of time is stressful, ineffective and affects the relationship between mother and baby - it's a bad idea!

Beastly, do share your worries with someone in real life who can listen, understand and support.

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