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Breast feeding disaster

(21 Posts)
Ericadm Thu 13-Feb-14 02:14:18

My LB had a difficult birth and was not interested in feeding. He then developed jaundice which made him very sleepy. For the first 5 days was fed expressed colostrum and milk with syringe and sippy cup. He eventually started latching although not at every feed. Sometimes he still does not latch ( he is 18 days old) and get very upset. For those feeds I give him expressed milk or formula in a cup. Last week he was weighted, he gained a bit of weight but not much. In the last few days he started to feed for 4 or more hours in a row at night. He seems constantly unsatisfied. Tonight has been feeding from 6pm to 10pm at the breast, than had 50 ml expressed milk in cup but was very agitated and chocked twice, than had a little break in which he was very unsettled, then fed again both breasts for about 40 minutes, fell asleep but woke up when I tried to put him down, seemed to want more but would not latch and my boobs felt empty. Is this normal behaviour in BF babies? I really think he is not getting enough from me due to the fact that he dies not suck vigorously and tends to fall asleep st the breast. Ended up giving him a bottle of formula (didnt want him to chock again with the cup) which he drank very quickly. Any advice?

snowqu33n Thu 13-Feb-14 02:43:05

I might try giving the expressed milk in a bottle rather than the formula if u have some. U can get breastfeeding-friendly bottles.
Has he regained his birth weight? If so then sounds fairly normal to me, but I think more experienced posters will be along soon to advise you. I pumped when the baby slept and gave that as well during the early days to encourage my supply and also soften my boobs to make latching easier.
He'll improve his latch all the time and his mouth will get bigger and latch better very soon. Good luck, hang in there.

threeleftfeet Thu 13-Feb-14 02:43:08

If you want to get a good feeding relationship established, I'd strongly suggest taking a couple of days out and retreat to your bedroom with your baby. Take whatever you need to keep you sane - Box set DVD / computer / box of chocolates etc, and just hang out in bed with your baby, do lots of skin to skin and feed him on demand. Ditch the formula (as long as he's feeding, of course) as formula can really mess up breastfeeding.

Housework, visitors etc can wait for a couple of days, this is important smile
For a couple of days, don't worry feeding too much, just let him feed when he wants to (so long as he's feeding and producing wet nappies).

From your post, if he's feeding a lot - (especially in the evenings), this is not because he's unsatisfied, this is "cluster feeding" and is totally normal. Your body produces milk on demand. He is feeding lots to let your body know it needs to produce more milk. But for the cluster feeding to work, you need to stop using the formula or giving milk in a cup, just breastfeed him.

Also, feeding 40 minutes then falling asleep sounds normal. Your boob can't be "empty", your body makes milk on demand. You can mess your supply up however if you supplement with formula. (If you're happy to end up on formula, that's fine, but if you want to breastfeed, you have the best chance if you avoid formula AFAIK).

Also, a baby will automatically take a bottle if you put it in their mouth, won't they? I don't think this is a sign that he's still hungry necessarily. If he's breastfeeding for 40 minutes, that sounds good. Perhaps he needs something else after? Winding? Or maybe if you feed him in bed for a couple of days, you can just let him stay asleep as you won't have to "put him down" after he's fallen asleep, you can just leave him where he is.

The signs you should be looking at to see if he's getting enough breast milk are that he's putting on weight and having plenty of wet nappies. I don't read anything in your post to suggest he's not getting enough milk from you. Not sucking vigorously is normal, and falling asleep at the breast very normal indeed. Sounds like you're actually doing just fine smile All you need is a bit of faith in yourself and nature. And to ditch the formula!

Saucia Thu 13-Feb-14 02:43:24

I would get him checked for tongue tie and in the meantime either continue to express or use nipple shields, I used them.with my tongue tie baby as she was able to latch to them but read up on them as they have their downsides.

gingercat2 Thu 13-Feb-14 02:46:17

Not an expert but mum of two bf babies. That "cluster feeding" that goes for hours of an evening is very normal, so may be a good sign that things are going well!

threeleftfeet Thu 13-Feb-14 02:48:27

Here is a useful page on what to expect when BFing a newborn

Also if you do take a couple of days in bed with your baby to get BFing properly established (I highly recommend it!) it would be a good idea to be aware of safer co-sleeping guidelines incase you fall asleep yourself.

Sunnysummer Thu 13-Feb-14 02:49:17

Poor you, this sounds like really hard work and you are doing exceptionally well to keep at it! Have you spoken to a lactation consultant? In situations like yours where there are difficulties in the first few days and questions about weight gain they can be really helpful.

Some HVs and midwives can be great with bf advice but others are not so clued up, a good LC can often point out things from small and simple like positioning to more complicated like managing mixed feeding without affecting milk supply if it turns out that you need it for a bit.

Really good luck, you're doing so well and thanks for the meantime!

threeleftfeet Thu 13-Feb-14 02:53:47

Sorry I should have said to up your supply, you need to stop giving formula in a cup. If he's having problems latching, of course giving some expressed milk is a good idea.

I agree with getting him checked for tongue tie. And if they say he hasn't got it, but he's still having problems latching, ask for advice about tongue tie on mumsnet, lots of knowledgable people here. It's surprising IMO how many babies with tongue tie get misdiagnosed at first, or so it seems from posts here anyway, so if he does have TT, it's possible you may need to fight his corner a bit to get it diagnosed.

threeleftfeet Thu 13-Feb-14 02:57:12

I should also say ('m also not an expert! My advice is only from my experience and what I've read on the interweb.

Speaking to a lactation consultant would be a great idea.

La Leche League are great too. They have a helpline and give free advice over the phone.

Also if Tiktok joins this thread, listen to her, she knows her stuff! smile

TinyTwoTears Thu 13-Feb-14 02:57:59

That sounds normal. I have been told that feeding loads in the night is very normal and its when the good milk happens.
You are describing cluster feeding for the 6pm till 11pm feed. Also very normal.
You need to go to a breastfeeding clinic to get help with his latch.
Someone who knows will no doubt answer but I need to keep myself awake to feed DS who doesn't wake for night feeds.

Justgotosleepnow Thu 13-Feb-14 02:58:40

Hi congratulations! Sorry you are having a stressful start to bf.

You don't mention if LO has been checked for tongue tie. Can they stick the tongue out?

The evening cluster feeding is normal, along with you feeling empty. Installing on the sofa with snacks for you is a good idea.

Well done for the expressing keep that going. I think you should go and see a bf expert in person. Do you know what help is available locally?

Call up la Leche league (sorry on my iPhone I can't easily do links) and see if they can help. Did you know there are lactation consultants? They are the experts, if you can get to see one ASAP they can help you.

And don't worry about the formula being drunk fast. Drinking from a bottle seems to be waaaay easier, and lots of babies would neck a bottle fast. It doesn't mean they prefer it to your milk.

I have had lots of bf problems (lo is 10m now) and I think I wouldnt still be bf without using Medela bottles for the top ups. Bf after using normal avent style hurt me a lot as she had to work soooo much harder to bf.

Is your lo gaining weight ok?

I predict your HV will say "just top up with formula" but if you don't want to go down this slippery slope insist on seeing a bf counsellor.

Levels of expertise, starting at the top:
Lactation consultant
Bf counsellor
Bf peer supporter
A woman who bf & has her own experience (ie me!)

Midwifes & HV do not necessarily have any bf training (I didn't know this). If you are lucky they might have, but most haven't.

Keep persevering, it's really worth it.
But at the end of the day your baby will be fed & happy, so please don't stress.

Keep me updated who you manage to see.

threeleftfeet Thu 13-Feb-14 02:59:11

Here's a really useful page on feeding

TinyTwoTears Thu 13-Feb-14 02:59:30

There you go, in my tired state people have already given sage advice and I somehow didn't notice!

threeleftfeet Thu 13-Feb-14 03:00:33

Oops that link went wrong! Let me try again ...

A useful page on Cluster Feeding

Ericadm Thu 13-Feb-14 05:24:54

Thank you all. He has been checked for younger tie by two different paediatricians. As he has difficulty latching I am only able to feed him sitting on a chair in the cradle hold. I have tried many times in bed but he does not work. So if he is up all night cluster feeding like tonight it means I get no rest at all (i got two hours of sleep so far afyer i gave him the bottle). This is not sustainable for me. We have seen the breastfeeding coordinator at the hospital, breastfeeding support workers, health visitor, midwifes, doula, and la leche league people. Nobody has really been able to help much. La leche league lady after seeing how much we struggle for latching and how much he gets upset has agreed that we need nipple shields. However we are struggling a bit even with those as he tends to latch on the nipple only (he latches correctly without them, on the occasions when he does latch)

Ericadm Thu 13-Feb-14 05:34:21

I mean tounge tie not younger tie!

snowqu33n Thu 13-Feb-14 06:26:33

You need to get some sleep in order to produce milk. I usually pump more in the morning and DH can give that milk in the evening to give me a break and I used to use that time to have a nap before the nights fun started.
I suggest if u do give formula then make it count for u, express a similar amount to get a head start for the next feed, then go STRAIGHT to bed for a sleep. Maybe someone can then give the expressed milk to give u a longer naptime before u go back to it. 1 bottle of formula here or there at this stage wont derail everything. If it doesnt become a habit then u can just go back to exclusive breastfeeding.
It sounds like it has been tough for u and 4 weeks in is a hard time, u get to the end of the phase of running on adrenaline alone and start to really need a 4 or more hour stretch of sleep here and there. Do whatever works for u to get thru this stage and contine to breastfeed as long as you wanted.

tiktok Thu 13-Feb-14 09:22:58

Happily, milk production is not dependent on sleep...but of course all mothers need sleep.

Erica, I second the suggestion to see someone about all this. It sounds like you have had a whole lot of people involved already - probably a dozen in just 18 days sad sad

That's confusing and it would be amazing if your head was not spinning with all the different ideas and opinions.

Can you pick one person you thought did get a handle on what you needed, and ask them again?

It's not possible to tell from your post how well bf is going - some of what you say is normal (frequent feeding, baby falling asleep, breasts feeling soft) but a baby falling asleep before he's fed well is a red flag, and you don't give sufficient details of weight and wet/dirty nappies to know what's happening....someone who knows what's what needs to observe you feed and give a full assessment.

I really hope you find the right person.

tiktok Thu 13-Feb-14 09:23:59

Meant to add, the persistent difficulty with latching is not normal and is a sign you do need some expert help.

Ericadm Thu 13-Feb-14 10:49:28

He is producing lots of dirty nappies (like 10 or more a day) and wet nappies. He is slowly gaining weight but not a lot. le leche league lady thought that as he struggle so much latchong maybe he is burning all the energy of what he eats so thats why is not putting on much weight despite tons of dirty nappies. The problem is quite opposite tiktok, none of the people I have seen has come up with much ideas or comments except saying to keep doing waft we are doing (give expressed milk if he does not latch) and that I gave been very good to persist so far (which make me feel like they think we are a lost cause!)

threeleftfeet Thu 13-Feb-14 10:59:09

If he's still having problems latching, I wouldn't rule out tongue tie, even if he's been checked twice. I've read loads of posts from people saying TT was missed several times by health professionals before finally diagnosed. and there are types of tongue tie that are much harder to spot than others, e.g. posterior tongue tie if the posts on mumsnet are anything to go by.

Possibly a red herring, but could be worth bearing in mind if his latch isn't great.

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