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Breastfeeding a 5 week old (adjusted age of one week) - feeding for over an hour each time - is this normal?

(12 Posts)
zoefirsttimemum Sun 23-Feb-14 19:17:16

Hi all,

I have a 5 week old who was born 4 weeks premature (i.e. he's one week adjusted age). We really struggled with breastfeeding from the start because he was so sleepy and wouldn't latch on. This meant he lost a lot of weight initially. After this we were put on a strict feeding plan by the hospital midwives and I have been breastfeeding him (using silicone nipple shields), expressing and feeding him a bottle of EBM every 3 hours. In the last week or so this routine has normalised a bit and I am now mainly breastfeeding him using the shields and topping him up with EBM a couple of times a day, mostly in the evenings when he seems to be hungrier.

However, he's now going for ages on the breast. I think around 30 mins on each side and then still seems unsettled when he's finished. I feel like my breasts are empty after he feeds, but he is often really unsettled and screams and arches his back and kicks out his legs. This is really taking its toll on me and I'm sure on him too. I just don't know how to make it easier or better for either of us.

Does anyone have any advice to share?

zoefirsttimemum Sun 23-Feb-14 19:25:09

Also meant to say that up until now he's been gaining weight at a good rate (since Week 2). He's now over 7 pounds and up from 4 pounds 9 initially.

wokeupwithasmile Sun 23-Feb-14 20:09:02

Congratulations on your baby!
Mine fed for literally hours for the first couple of months. I also felt that my breasts were empty, but he kept going.
Afaik your milk isn't established yet, so his is a way of requesting more. Also, ime and looking at posts on MN what you are going through is absolutely normal.
If it helps, the fact that he was feeding ALL the time meant that he was not crying. I know many parents have a difficult start with crying babies. In our case my nipples were really sore and I was stuck on an armchair for ages, but he was happy.

You say that this is taking its toll on you. That you have a constant feeder or that you do not think he is satisfied after a whole hour on both breasts? Do you think he is unsettled because he wants more or because he has wind, for example? Apart from the sheer boredom, is there something preventing you from following his cue if what he wants to do is latch on even if to you it seems there is not much milk left?

Fuls Sun 23-Feb-14 21:29:11

Hi my ds was also born at 36 weeks and he will be 10weeks tomorrow for the first 6-7weeks he just fed constantly. He is just building up your milk supply, you probably need to knock the bottles on the head because evening times is when they increase your supply and cluster feed. My ds cluster feeds from about 9-12 every evening and is on me constantly for those 3 hours but now he can sleep up to 4hrs of a night and he goes 3hourly in the day. Believe me it's worth it in the end and some days you just feel like giving up! The other thing you have to remember is that when he reaches term he will change his behaviour cuz when they're prem they feed sleep feed sleep but when they reach term it's like oooooo hello I'm here! Enjoy xxx

qumquat Mon 24-Feb-14 17:32:04

Completely normal! Box sets have been my saviour.

qumquat Mon 24-Feb-14 19:23:55

Feel guilty for my glib answer. I've had an absolute nightmare feeding and spent most of the last month in tears. What I have learned however is that babies can feed for longer than you ever though possible. My lo feeds all day and evening still at 6 weeks, accepting at has made things easier (along with a lot of painkillers! But hopefully you're not in pain).

zoefirsttimemum Mon 24-Feb-14 20:08:06

Thanks for the advice and insights from other Mums. I was having a really tough day yesterday with the constant feeding and unsettledness. However, in what seemed like a miracle he actually slept really well last night between feeds and I managed to get about 8 hours sleep (spread over about 14 hours) so am feeling much more positive today. He's also not been feeding for quite as long today - more like 45 mins each time.

I am in some pain but not huge amounts. I think it's more a psychological thing. Because he came so early I wasn't really mentally prepared for his arrival and the whole labour and early weeks have been a bit of a shock to the system. I totally adore him but feel very overwhelmed a lot of the time.

zoefirsttimemum Mon 24-Feb-14 20:10:02

I've also got through four series of the Good Wife.

Ericadm Tue 25-Feb-14 18:34:02

I am in exactly the same situation, only difference my baby was only two weeks early. If he is awake he likes sucking my nipple (well, nipple shields) the whole time, often three hours in a row or more. I am not even sure he really feeds, I think he use me as a dummy too! If I need a break I take him out for a walk or with the car, that sends him to sleep for a few hours and I can have a nap.

minipie Tue 25-Feb-14 18:51:44

I had a 6 week early baby and she was sleepy too, until about a week past due date. After that she "woke up" and fed much better.

However we still had all sorts of BFing problems... and wind problems...and occasional reflux. We eventually discovered she had posterior tongue tie which was behind it all.

So I'd say, things may well settle down for you soon. BUT if they don't, try to see a breastfeeding adviser who is qualified to check for tongue tie. It's easy to put everything down to prematurity and forget they can have the same issues as full term babies such as tongue tie.

katemeister Thu 27-Feb-14 05:49:29

I just wanted to say I was in a similar position 16 weeks ago - DD arrived 5 weeks early, felt so unprepared in every way, she was sleepy, couldn't latch well, feeding would take an age and we had cup then bottle top ups with formula and expressed due to slow gain and jaundice......16 weeks on and I am exclusively beast feeding and it's so much easier (half hour feeds, more sleep at night, no pain) took until about 6-8 weeks to click but it gets so much easier - think it also has taken until now to come to terms with being at work one day, having a baby the next! You are doing great.

MightBeMad Thu 27-Feb-14 05:59:53

You don't say why you are using shields. In case no one has mentioned it to you, nipple shields can be associated with inhibiting milk transfer from mother to baby and can jeopardise successful breastfeeding. Not the case for all of course but it is worth trying to get off them if you can. If feeding without them is making you sore then there's something else going wrong with the latch that needs addressing. I realise it can be very hard to get a tiny premie to latch on, but he's a good size/weight now. Might be worth another go?

I don't know where in uk you are but I cannot recommend the Oxford John Radcliffe breast feeding clinic highly enough. And they have given me advice over the phone before,

Good luck!

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