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Is my experience normal? Will it get better?

(10 Posts)
Noneedtocry Mon 27-Jul-15 18:20:56

Hi all - long time lurker first time poster here. My DS will be 6 weeks on Friday. Feeding has been a nightmare since the beginning. Wouldn't latch, 3 days on labour ward with every BF assistant trying and failing. On the last night we discovered he would latch with nipple shields. I used these for 4 weeks and he was gaining weight but I was worried about long term viability for things like growth spurts etc. I went to BF group where we managed to latch but had to go back to shields after 1.5 days due to pain. Sought lactation consultant who diagnosed posterior tongue tie, which we got snipped. Now he can latch - still painful but not as bad, but still shallow and nipples coming out with ridges. More importantly DS still not a "competent feeder". He will latch, gulp down let down, suck a little, receive any compressions I do and then start fluttering... He doesn't drop off when satisfied, so I have to judge when to take him off. As a result his weight gain slowed (no gain over 5 days last time he was measured). The HV will weigh again tomorrow and if he isn't gaining it's likely we'll have to go to exclusive pumping or supplement with formula. Suffice to say I'm pretty down on the whole thing and feel like switching to ff - I'm almost glad the HV is going to "prescribe" top ups so I can start to move towards a switch. On the other hand I think I'll be missing out - I see my Nct friends who can serenely latch their LOs in cafes with no aggro, tears, pain etc and really wish we could have that. I read on here that things get better after 6-8 weeks so my question is - is this true for cases like mine where there is clearly something not right with latch, or should I cut my losses start the switch and be able to enjoy and bond properly with my baby without having apprehension about every feed? Any experiences?

Hubnut Mon 27-Jul-15 19:30:37

Hi, sorry you're having a rough time of it. I found the first few weeks tough too - we didn't have tt or anything, it was "just" incorrect latch I think, drew blood on occasion so I used shields too. I don't remember exactly when it happened but it got so much better to the point that now I enjoy it (nearly ten months in) and will be sad when it's over. It helped me to take a practical approach and watch videos of correct latch and read la leche book - but I understand that may not apply to your situation. I took it one day at a time and had formula on stand by in case it all got too much. I hope the visit goes ok for you both and that feeding stops being so stressful,regardless of whether it's ff or bf.

Booboostwo Mon 27-Jul-15 19:33:21

My DD had a poor latch for the first 9 weeks and bf was extremely painful. No one could find a tongue tie and I think the problem was that her mouth was small and her chin recessed so she tended to naturally have a shallow latch. I finally solved the problem with the exaggerated latch - is this something you have tried? I had to keep correcting the latch when it was wrong but within a few weeks she learnt to latch better and the pain went away.

However, if you feel you've had enough of bf don't feel bad about mix feeding or switching to ff, just do what works best for you.

Can I ask about one thing though? You say that you have to judge when he's had enough, could it be that you are stopping him too soon? My DD had some epic feeding sessions, 45 minutes to 1,5 hours was all part of the norm and once she fed for 3,5 hours! DS has been a breeze compared to her, a very fast feeder who does not use the breast for comfort, so it has been an entirely different experience.

tinkerbellvspredator Mon 27-Jul-15 19:40:10

You may well need a second tongue tie procedure to get more of it. We had 2.

Noneedtocry Mon 27-Jul-15 20:56:26

Thanks for your feedback ladies. It feels so tantalisingly close - at least once a day I vow to continue, and at the same time once a day I make the "decision" to quit. It's good to hear your experiences.

Boo boo- I think I have a similar issue, small mouth (which he is reluctant to open wide) and recessed chin... And (in my case) paired with big boobs and quite flat nipples. I was shown exaggerated latch at last BF cafe - I did try it, but not with lots of perseverance - I try new approaches / ideas all the time, but if exaggerated latch worked for you I'll definitely revisit.

Taking him off too early is something which occurred to me too after the weight started to slow - compounded the feeling that I'd basically failed motherhood ��!! Since then I've been trying to encourage active sucking for at least 45 mins, but I'd be interested if you think I should just keep going until he drops off..? Can I ask did you just wait it out even when it was just butterfly / flutter sucks? Also what did you do if they fall asleep? Sorry for all the questions - I found MWs and HVs all had different opinions and I got quite confused with what baby should be leading vs me

Littlesarahjane Tue 28-Jul-15 03:24:45

Oh this sounds a little like my experience. My son is seven weeks and we have had a battle from the start. I had a good birthing experience and left hospital within hours. Big mistake as I didn't know how to breastfeed. Baby lost 13% of body weight and was diagnosed with both jaundice and a virus. We were hospitalised for seven days and were kept on after antibiotics because he wasn't gaining weight well. Then things improved, we got his tongue tie fixed but I was told last week that although he is gaining weight he has dropped down a percentile. He latches well initially but then either falls asleep or wriggles and starts sucking wrong. I am exhausted and just feel like I am failing. I am considering topping up either formula if he doesn't gain enough. I feel so guilty when I see how skinny he is and wish he would just get chubby. Did anyone have this experience, did it get better and when? I'm also concerned because during the day he doesn't seem to want to sleep at all. It means I have him on my breast on and off for hours. My whole body aches and I feel like my mood is starting to drop (depends on the time of day).

elpth Tue 28-Jul-15 04:59:46

Yes always let him naturally stop the feed and, once he does, offer him more and the other side. Later in a feed they get the fattier hind milk and the butterfly sucks are indicative of that. If he falls asleep, see if he needs a burb or slightly remove the nipple (that always woke mine). Feeding can take absolutely ages when they're little but they do get more efficient and there's plenty to read on MN in the meantime!
I found this timeline of a BF baby on a thread and found it very helpful and informative.

Booboostwo Tue 28-Jul-15 07:05:09

You have not failed motherhood! First of all motherhood is about a lot more than how you feed in the first few weeks, secondly ff is a perfectly good alternative and finally bf can be quite a technical skill, it takes a bit of learning.

If you think the latch may be an issue persevere with the exaggerated latch for a few days and see what happens. I had to correct DD every time she went for a shallow latch but she got the idea after a few days.

Can you set yourself up in front of the TV or in bed with food, drinks, books, internet, etc and just feed? A lot of the first few weeks, plus growth spurts later on, is all about just feeding, but it does get better after the first few months and you get (some) of your life back!

curlykale Tue 28-Jul-15 07:47:20

Get the tt assessed again - they can reattach, totally or partially and sometimes almost immediately. Also look into osteo treatment - tt causes tension which needs treating following the tt revision to improve gape, latch, ability to suck etc. The person who treated the tt should give you a recommendation.

Otherwise exaggerated latch and also nipple flip technique can help. Also shape the breast like a burger to get as much into your baby's mouth as possible.

But real life help sounds like what you need. Can you see a lactation consultant? They can also reassess the tt.

BoeBarlow Tue 28-Jul-15 09:37:05

I just want to add that all these women you see easily BFing now probably had issues early on. I don't know anyone who found it easy from the off. I had my own issues...cracked nipples, two cases of thrush, compounded by DD refusing to take a bottle. Now she's a champion feeder at nearly 6 months (although still a bottle refuser).
You sound like you're being way too harsh on yourself. BFing is something that both you and baby need to learn how to do at the start and I'm sure in time you'll be just as confident as all these other mothers you see. You are not a failure.
Though as pp has said, you're also not a failure if you have to ff or mixed feed. Do what's right for you & baby.
thanks for you.

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