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Trying to breastfeed - feeling like the worst mother ever. Please help if you can.

(29 Posts)
Hippymama1 Wed 22-Jul-15 16:33:28

My baby is two and a half weeks old and was born by C Section. I didn't have any milk for 5 days so fed him on formula and when I did have milk, he couldn't latch on and would become frustrated and cry, I would cry too - there was lots of crying. I would then give him formula.

Eventually we started to get the hang of it and I started to combination feed with my minimal amounts of breast milk but then he was really sick - not spit up sick, projectile run to the out of hours GP sick.

GP said that it was likely a change of milk or a combination of the milks making him sick and to stick to the formula and keep expressing until I get enough breastmilk for a whole feed and then give him that with the aim of getting my supply up and then solely breastfeeding.

I have been expressing and have enough for a whole feed but I then made the mistake of calling the NCT breastfeeding helpline, who told me that he was being sick because I was overfeeding him, I was stretching his tummy and shouldn't be giving him so much formula as he would get greedy and become fat (FAT?! HE IS TWO WEEKS OLD?!!) and should forget expressing, just put him on the breast. Thanks very much for that! If only it was that simple?! There have therefore been more tears - I feel like an awful mother and that I am not doing the right thing for my child... I just keep getting different advice and I am not sure what to do...

I am now, in addition to worrying that I am not breastfeeding, worrying that I am overfeeding my baby - I feed him until he refuses the bottle and then wind him etc and he goes to sleep fine - he usually has between 50 and 80mls of formula per feed and isn't sick afterwards...

Has anyone here ever had combination feeding make their baby sick?

If you did combination feed, how did you do it?

How much formula did you give your baby?

Any help or advice anyone has would be gratefully received - I am trying my best but know it isn't good enough and there is so much judgement around from my parents, inlaws, NCT... I have tried the National Breastfeeding Helpline but there is no-one available...

lilac3033 Wed 22-Jul-15 17:31:54

I have had to combo feed and am weaning off the formula. DD wasn't ill but took ages to latch so I had to supplement to start. I did the following.

Offer breast until DD was fretting or upset (my supply wasn't great).
Then offered bottle top up of formula or expressed milk until she refused it.

It worked fine. If he will breastfeed you are best to do that as it will best maintain your supply. Expressing isn't as effective; frankly I found it stressful and a pain in the ass. Saying that if it works for you carry on! I highly doubt you are over feeding him!

Try not to worry too much! It is tough when everyone says different things but you know your baby best. Listen to advice and follow what you think is best for you and baby. I find it is usually a mix from various sources.

CultureSucksDownWords Wed 22-Jul-15 20:30:52

Using formula to help feed your baby is not failing or being not good enough. Please try and look at the formula as a tool or medicine that you need to use at the moment.

I've been in a similar circumstance and got back to 100% breastfeeding. It was hard going but we got there.

If your DS will latch on and isn't causing you any pain/damage to your nipples, then I would concentrate on directly breastfeeding as much as possible. Can you enlist some help from a relative or friend to help you with other things whilst you concentrate on feeding? My mum came to stay for a week when my baby was 3 to 4 weeks old to help with this. They can do house stuff, shopping and meals and you do nothing but sleep and feed.

I had to do an intense period of cluster feeding to boost supply, and drop the amount of formula each day. I also found that expressing was more hassle than it was worth, so stopped that and just fed as much as I could.

CosmicDespot Wed 22-Jul-15 20:38:51

Can you take to your bed with him for a day or two and try to get your supply up that way? Make a nest for you both and get someone to provide food and drinks? I remember the first few weeks of motherhood, howling child, poor supply, constant contradictory advice from all and sundry - it's hard to deal with. If you can hide yourself away, you and he might crack it.

tiktok Wed 22-Jul-15 20:38:55

Hippy, so sorry you are going through all this sad

I am an NCT breastfeeding counsellor and while it is possible that large amounts of formula/breastmilk may be too much for a baby and may mean the baby throws up, I am shocked that you were told this would make your baby greedy.....let alone fat sad

If you feel able, you can complain about this - it's just not true and the counsellor who took your call may need some refreshing in her training and knowledge base.

I can assure you - normally we would not say any of that sad

paddlenorapaddle Wed 22-Jul-15 20:39:53

Your LO may have mucus in his tummy from the c section and that needs to be vomited. So its not necessarily the milk.

As for the NCT helpline ! la leche league were really helpful try and find a local bf clinic you need support, its hard work but you can get through it

Nolim Wed 22-Jul-15 20:42:04

I had to mix fed due to low supply. I felt bad about not being able to bfe, but then i realized that Formula is not poison, it is baby food!

Around 6 months my baby was throwing up at night after her last bottle, the gp said we were overfeeding so we dropped that bottle and the baby was fine. But she was 6 mo and actually showing symptoms! As long as your baby is healthy and thriving do what works for you and ignore all the know-it-all in the world.

Good luck flowers

TeaPleaseLouise Wed 22-Jul-15 20:47:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

marshmallowpies Wed 22-Jul-15 21:00:10

Are there any BF drop in groups or cafes you can get to? Real hands on help is what helped me when my baby refused to latch - literally hands on, as the midwife helped get her head in position so that she could latch properly!

Regarding combination feeding, I kept offering the breast first, but often (especially in public places or where there was noise/distraction) she'd refuse to feed so i'd have to offer the bottle first. So I concentrated on getting her to BF for the first and last feed of the day, when she was relaxed, and then went from there, dropping formula volumes where we were able to (or rather not increasing them). We were able to drop a formula feed altogether when she started sleeping longer, and now at nearly 6 months I'm hoping to reduce formula a little more to help keep BF going. However it did get harder & harder for me to express significant amounts so I may need to keep formula going to make up for the fact I'm stopping expressing imminently.

Good luck - really hope you get some RL support!

LowlLowl Wed 22-Jul-15 21:13:23

I mix fed for 3 months (which was when DS gave up). I had to feed him every 3 hours because he'd lost more than 10% of his birth weight, so there was never any 'on demand', and the instructions were to get as much down him as possible! I used to bf for as long as he would go (anywhere between 10 min and 40 min at which point he'd refuse to re-latch), then switch to bottle and let him have as much as he wanted (around 50ml at your DC's age I think was what he used to take). He was a bit sicky but nothing like what you're describing. Looking back it freaked me out at the time but was probably just normal baby behaviour.

I had a cs too, and other than the projectile vomit could have written your post. My advice is BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Your body has just been through a big physical trauma, your hormones are out of kilter, and you are (understandably) worried about DC and suffering the onset of the ever-present MotherGuilt.

Express lots, relax lots, eat well and know that mix feeding is FINE if you can't get ebf established. Don't feel guilty. You're loving DC and caring for DC, and don't let MotherGuilt rob you of this beautiful time. In 6 months you'll winder what all the fuss was about.

Hang on in there, you're doing a great job I promise. X

swift13 Wed 22-Jul-15 21:17:51

There is so much pressure on new mums sad

Please don't think that you are not doing good enough - you are doing fine!!

Try not to worry. I didn't combination feed so I can't help with advice there, I just wanted to say you are doing just fine

Diggum Wed 22-Jul-15 21:37:26

Oh Hippy you poor thing.

I haven't much to add except to just say how tough it is in the early days. Especially when you've got family around who haven't breastfed themselves. It's such a massive learning curve and it feels like it's all on you.

You are doing brilliantly and your instincts are absolutely sound. You won't make your baby greedy- FGS he doesn't even know what eating for pleasure is. He's eating because that's what his body is telling him to do. And quite rightly given what a massive amount of growing he has to do in the next year.

I haven't got experience of mixed feeding but I think the poster above who mentioned maybe trying him on the breast first and then topping up with formula had good advice. You could even try topping up with expressed milk if you can manage some expressing sessions after feeds to be given at the end of the next feed IYSWIM.

With the best will in the world a pump will never be as efficient at removing milk and building up your supply as a baby is, so the more boob-time he has the better if you're aiming to transition to more BFing.

As an aside when I gave expressed milk to my DD I was advised to use the slowest flow teat (newborn and small opening) as that slows down their feeding a bit and makes them less impatient with the somewhat slower flow and more effortful (sp?!) sucking of BF.

But look, the ONLY thing that really matters here is that you and your lovely DS are ultimately happy. If that's a mix of FF and BF, or one or the other, it really matters not a bit in the grand scheme of things.

Hope it works out for you OP. It's a tough start but you're not alone and many of us out here have been in the very same boat.

Congrats and thinking of you x

Hippymama1 Thu 23-Jul-15 00:32:59

Thank you all... I am really grateful for your replies. I have managed to feed DS some expressed milk this afternoon as well as formula and he has spent time on the boobs this evening too - no sickness so far so keeping everything crossed that he can tolerate both milks.

My boobs are sore and feeding is painful though so I think there is still a problem with his latch. There is an NCT breastfeeding clinic near me and I'm going to give them a go - I went to a class before my baby was born and the lady there was really helpful and encouraging so I am hoping she will be there. I think that's why I was so surprised and upset when I called the helpline - I was expecting the lady to be more constructive and understanding. sad

I'm a bit intimidated by some of the bfing groups - I am worried they would think I am not bfing enough to go to the group or people there would judge me for the bottle feeding. I will try to call them tomorrow though and see what they say about joining.

I don't really feel like I can complain tiktok as I don't want to get anyone into trouble and I'm sure she thought she was doing the right thing by telling me to just get him on the boob... I'm just really emotional about it - maybe it was my fault and I just took it the wrong way. sad

I'm really trying but bfing has become such an emotional issue that I almost feel I'm self sabotaging sometimes and avoiding it because I get so upset when things don't work. The midwife and health visitor seem happy that he is gaining weight and is happy and I am almost happy bottle feeding him as we are in a routine and he sleeps well and hardly ever cries for anything - I just have the guilt that I am not giving him the best start if I can't BF and I worry we are running out of time to get it sorted out. All the other mums seem to be doing fine with bfing.

Sometimes I just feel such a failure. I had preeclampsia and refused induction as I just wanted to get him out, and out of any potential danger hence the c section (we were 40 weeks so not prem at all) and I feel like I couldn't carry him until he was ready to be born, couldn't give birth to him properly and now I can't feed him properly and I am letting him down. sad

I know I'll feel better tomorrow after some sleep and that this is just a day. I'm sure I'll wake up all determined again, today has just taken the wind out of my sails a bit.

weeonion Thu 23-Jul-15 00:46:53

Hippy - you have been through the mill over the past few weeks. You aare doing a great job. I agree with other posters that you need support around you.

with dd1, it took ages for us to crack feeding and I had to use formula to feed whilst we got the latch sorted. Once we did - it was grand and my supply built up.

dd2 was an emcs. My milk didn't come in for days so I was expressing and feeding every 3 hours with a few formulas. It is tough to do with a c-section and you have done well to come this far.

at my bf support group no-one is judged for having difficulties or using formula. It has been a great space for support and hopefully there is one close to you.

hopefully you can get the support around you that you need and allow you to feed in whatever ways you want and need.

congratulations btw on your new wee one.

LittleBearPad Thu 23-Jul-15 00:47:53

Big hug.

It's so overwhelming to begin with. Keep doing what you're doing. Go to the drop-in and see about his latch. Keep practising. You and he are both learning smile.

Equally if you want to ff that absolutely fine. I have one bf and one ff child and I doubt anyone could say which was which.

The amount of formula sounds reasonable for his age. Don't worry about making him fat -silly person suggesting that.

You are in no way letting him down. A CS is a perfectly sensible way to give birth in certain circumstances. In many ways the recovery is tougher on you so give yourself a break.

Hang in there.

CultureSucksDownWords Thu 23-Jul-15 00:54:09

It's a really emotional time, so it's not surprising that you're feeling strongly about what happened. But really and truly nothing that happened is your fault, and has not caused any problems for your son. I had an induction at 42 weeks, which didn't work and ended in an emergency c-section. I gave birth the best way in the circumstances, and so did you. For all you know, an induction might not have worked either! You took a considered decision to deliver you DS safely, which you did. You carried him to term, and he is healthy and growing. You are feeding him properly - formula is designed to be appropriate for babies that need it, and he is also getting breastmilk so benefiting from antibodies and all the nutrients that breastmilk has. So you ARE breastfeeding him.

if you're in pain from feeding, it does sound like his latch might not be right. Have a look online for videos of how to do something called an exaggerated latch, and perhaps try different feeding positions such as the rugby ball hold, or laid back feeding. I found that if I had pain for more than a few seconds on latching, then the best thing to do was to break the latch using my little finger and then re-latch. Use a cream like Lansinoh if you're not already.

Has anyone checked his mouth for tongue tie? It can be quite easily missed, and often midwives/HV are not expert at checking for it.

Please don't worry about going to a breastfeeding group - they are there for women in your situation! They should at least be able to listen to you and share their experiences. Also, do try the La Leche League helpline, as this is what they do. The NCT person you spoke to sounds like a complete idiot and should not have made you feel that way when you clearly needed support and empathy.

flowers flowers flowers

MaMattoo Thu 23-Jul-15 01:23:22

What nonsense!! Fat!! Nonsense!! Some of these advisors should go on long haul hikes!
Am sorry to hear about this, it's total deja vu. I had a csec. Little milk first few days and then it came like mad. I did formula feed and my son drank increasing quantities of it. As my supply picked up a few days later i left formula for mornings and night only, after 6 weeks he was on breast milk only. He never latched on but he got only breast milk till 6-7 months when I could not express anymore. It was exhausting! He was fat - but then I think all babies should be juicy. And i say fat in the kindest cutest sense of the word.

I do remember meeting a Breast feeding consultant a few hours after birth who convinced me that not breast feeding will lead to my baby getting diabetes and other related health issues - I will neither forget not forgive that woman. She made me cry so much!! I would urge you to ignore any such weird advice. If baby is drinking it's good. A kind health visitor advised me and said babies are smart, when he is done, he will let you know. This was in response to my asking when to stop giving him more milk..? As he was round, drank well, slept well and was generally content.

Take care and go with your gut instinct...don't cry...and congratulations!!

Caterina99 Thu 23-Jul-15 02:11:28

I'm in a similar situation, but I do feel like I've had good support and advice. Apparently my supply is low and baby wasn't gaining weight.

We were advised to breast feed every feed first, then when he's done offer either expressed milk or formula until he's full. Hopefully my supply will increase enough for him to move to ebf, but I wouldn't mind keeping some formula top ups, just not every single feed, as it's hugely time consuming!! Oh and also told to express after each feed to also build supply. Not exactly practical when you're alone with a baby all day, but I do try.

Fingers crossed for us both. It's rubbish, but don't feel guilty ( need to take my own advice). Baby eats what he needs and as long as he's fed that's all that matters!

Nolim Thu 23-Jul-15 06:03:04

I'm a bit intimidated by some of the bfing groups - I am worried they would think I am not bfing enough to go to the group or people there would judge me for the bottle feeding.
It will be ok, those groups are for support, not judgement. And support is more important when you are struggling. I mean if bf were easier for everybody those groups would not exist!

Nolim Thu 23-Jul-15 06:08:32

Sometimes I just feel such a failure. […] and I feel like I couldn't carry him until he was ready to be born, couldn't give birth to him properly and now I can't feed him properly and I am letting him down.

You are not letting him down! Be kind to yourself. Motherhood is not defined by vaginal birth or breastfeeding. As long as your baby is born healthy and thrives the exact logistics of said birth and feeding are irrelevant.

LowlLowl Thu 23-Jul-15 06:28:17

More and more hugs to you Hippy. I know EXACTLY where you're coming from on the 'I didn't do it properly' thing (failed induction + emcs for me). I spent a long time agonising over 'not being a proper woman/mother' to the point at which it was affecting my bonding with DS and moving towards pnd (I'm not saying that's the same for you, just telling you what I went through). Thankfully I had a really supportive health visitor who got me through. I thought I'd dealt with it but I'm pregnant again and it's all coming back. My midwife has suggested a birth reflections session (my NHS trust do then thankfully) which I'm going to do in a month or so. Is there anyone you could talk to (friend, sibling,parent?) who's had a similar birth or is just very supportive? Or is there any postnatal counselling in your area? It just did me the world of good to talk to people who had had similar experiences and were feeling/had felt similarly, and to know I wasn't alone. You aren't alone, but MN isn't enough sometimes!

All mothers have their own stories & their own journeys, all are different but all are valid. But we need to stick together and support each other because it's such blooming hard work!


TeaPleaseLouise Thu 23-Jul-15 09:23:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hippymama1 Thu 23-Jul-15 15:04:06

Hi All,

Thanks again for all of your support - it has certainly helped me to feel better about things and feel that there is hope for the bfing.

I am also hopping mad wink - I went to an NCT drop in this morning and it turns out that DS has tongue tie. A pretty bad one too and that is probably the reason for the initial problems latching, the pain, the low supply and his frustration.

When he was first born the MW thought he had one but other midwives told me not to get hung up on it as it doesn't always affect feeding and I should just crack on, and no-one has asked or looked in his mouth since the day he was born, despite me saying I was having bfing difficulties. Then after my conversation with the NCT helpline yesterday I nearly gave up on the whole idea altogether and it turns out that it wasn't my fault after all!

I am so pleased I posted here and you all encouraged me to go to a face to face group... You were all right about the overfeeding too - the lady today also told me that you can't overfeed a baby, only make him uncomfortable or sick... No stomach stretching, greedy, fat baby. I think I am going to email the NCT about the helpline yesterday as I was so upset afterwards - if I can stop that happening to someone else then it is worth sending the email.

Thank you all again - I really appreciate all of your help and advice.

Nolim Thu 23-Jul-15 15:19:43

Good to know that things are progressing op

cookiefiend Thu 23-Jul-15 15:33:08

What a terrible time you are having. My experience was very similar with pre eclampsia although I allowed an induction which dos not go to plan and ended up with the cs anyway! Pre ec and cs can both cause problems with supply and when I went to the bf support clinics near me many of the women had similar stories so you are not alone.

Now that you have the tongue tie addresses that will help- but you wi still need to build your supply up so don't be upset if it is not a miricle fix. I had to combi feed and eventually got back to ebf though it is hard work. It was so worth the work and at almost 2 years old she is still bf.

Keep coming here for support. You are doing really well.

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