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On the verge of giving up bf, any advice? Can we make it work?

(36 Posts)
ClemFandango Sat 28-Nov-15 12:44:03

DS2 is 3.5 weeks old. I was desperate to make bf work this time having failed to bf DS1 and becoming very down as a result. Things seemed to start well, however DS2 lost weight resulting in us being put on a feeding plan. I then found feeding increasingly painful and we found out he had tongue tie. I carried on feeding, expressing and topping up with formula - we give top ups in a bottle as cup feeding was no longer doable. Had tt snip last Tues and was hoping for a big change, however initially things got much worse with baby refusing to latch at all for 24 hrs. Following the tt I had to give him a bottle as he wouldn't latch, I was devastated, the lady who did the tt snip just said 'oh it's because you gave him a bottle' and left us to it. I have since managed to work to get him back to latching on at every feed ,however it is a masive struggle, he gets angry at the breast and even when i do latch him on he pulls back on the nipple and writhes around. I despair that this is ever going to work, I am going to a support group and health visitor came yesterday and was sympathetic but couldn't offer any answers. At the support group my latch was observed and i was told it was fine and he was feeding well, however overnight last night I could hardly get him to latch on at all and he pulled off several times during each feed. I have been pumping and feeding him as frequently as possible to maintain my supply, I don't think I have loads of milk but this morning I had to give baby a bottle as he just would not latch on and both of my breasts were leaking milk as I was feeding him - so demoralising! Sorry for massive post, just need to hear any advice or encouragement at this point. I have spent a lot of the last few days in tears, I know the midwife and DH are worried about my mh, I am almost at the point of giving up but don't want to be consumed by guilt and misery if I do.

mouldycheesefan Sat 28-Nov-15 12:51:28

Op, you didn't 'fail' in not breastfeeding your first baby, it didn't work out. You are being so very hard in yourself, give yourself a break! You are not a faIlure if you don't breastfeed or it doesn't work for you. I spent a month inhospitable trying to get my premature twins to latch on, getting more and more demoralised and fed up. They never latched on even once in a whole month despite every midwife and breastdfeeding counsellor in the flaming hospital helping and I also had no milk sip,y and was in men's for that. After a month I switched to a mix of formula and express milk in bottles so we could get out the bloody hospital! Now I look back in those early weeks and realise how much I wasted on feeding angst.
If it doesn't work for you move on and try something else, you ARE NOT A FAILURE. But enjoying your baby is important and so is your mental health.

Good luck

junemami Sat 28-Nov-15 12:52:50

flowers sounds like you've had a really crap experience + not much support/useful advice. I don't have any experience of tongue tie, but have you tried the national breastfeeding helpline/association of breastfeeding mothers. I think there's a phone no and email to contact (I'll try to link below if I can find it). Hope someone comes along with more practical advice. Don't beat yourself up for doing the beat you can, just take every feed/day at a time.

BettyBi0 Sat 28-Nov-15 12:53:18

It sounds like you are having a really hard time. I promise if you stick with it, it will become easier. Combination feeding isn't the end of the world and I had to do that with DD1 until I eventually got to just BF sometime around 4-5 months.

It must be all the harder with another little one to look after but I think patience and perseverance are key. Just keep offering the boob and keep pumping to keep your supply going.

Have you tried the NCT breastfeeding line? You don't have to be a member to call it. I rang them in floods of tears a few times in the early months when I was struggling and they were so lovely and understanding. It was good to not have the fear of judgement from a local HV too - even though I know that was completely irrational as they are there to help.

BF is a zillion times harder than I thought it would be. You are definitely not alone in struggling hon.

junemami Sat 28-Nov-15 12:54:27

techgirl Sat 28-Nov-15 12:54:14

First thing is you are doing your best and it is not failure to go for bottles if that seems best for health and sanity-pumping is an option remember. Hvs are not experts- ask if a bf supporter could visit at home. Will be lots more advice coming i'm sure but you should not feel guilty.

junemami Sat 28-Nov-15 12:55:45

0300 100 0211 bf helpline no

Yika Sat 28-Nov-15 13:02:51

I agree, get some phone support, call every day if you need to while getting BF established. It's early days, now is the time to get the support in - the few bottles shouldn't have significantly compromised supply at this stage, I think you have till around 6 weeks to establish supply.

La Leche League is another one. Definitely get specialist breastfeeding, not just HV, advice, from numerous sources if needed.

Please don't be disheartened if it doesn't work though - formula is a great thing, a life saver, can raise a lovely healthy baby on it! (I look back at my long struggle with breastfeeding and sometimes wish I'd just FF instead of devoting my entire energy to BF all those months).

flowers and congratulations on your new baby.

SouthYarraYobbo Sat 28-Nov-15 13:08:16

Dd2 had tt snipped and hasn't been back on the breast consistently since (having been ebf before the snip). I started expressing to protect my supply and hope she'd go back on. She hasn't but I've managed to continue to give her bm, would that be an acceptable compromise? I'm only doing this for a few more weeks (until 3 months ) and then l will move to ff as it is a pita expressing, but l found it a compromise l could be happy with if she didn't want to bf.

ElphabaTheGreen Sat 28-Nov-15 13:53:02

OP - you seem to have had poor advice and poor support from the start so if you are unable to get BFing to work, it is most definitely not your fault.

Following a TT snip, latch will get worse and, especially if it's a posterior tie, can take up to a month to see any improvement (if any at all - TT snips are not the cure-all that MN would have you believe).

The very best advice I can give you is to get in bed with your baby, skin-to-skin, and stay there for at least a couple of days, letting him feed on and off for as much as he wants, for as long or as short as he wants each time. Unless we're talking really serious weight loss, don't top up with formula. Some babies can swap happily between breast and bottle from early on, but a baby who doesn't latch well will pretty much always go for the easier option of the bottle. When he stops feeding on the second side, offer the first side again - there will be plenty of milk there. Try different positions - lying down or tiger in the tree to optimise skin to skin. Try getting him to latch on when sleepy or even sleeping. When you or he get bored of the bed, get in the bath with him and try and get him to latch on there. Get your DP or other family to take care of DS1 for now - a newborn, especially one who's having difficulty taking to the breast, needs undivided attention from mum and unrestricted boob access.

ElphabaTheGreen Sat 28-Nov-15 14:06:54

Another thought - when DS2 was having problems latching after his posterior TT snip, I found the rugby ball hold useful for a couple of reasons. One reason was because while he'd latch OK-ish on the left, he went completely off the right, so with rugby ball, I could trick him into taking the right as I could get him latched on without changing his position after feeding on the left. The other reason was because he'd feed pretty much on his back and I could get him to latch really deeply by getting my nipple right to the back of his (wide open and screaming) mouth, thereby stimulating his soft palate and triggering a suck reflex, overriding his refusal to latch.

You do have to get through a lot of screaming to get breastfeeding established - a lot. It's one of the many, many things they unhelpfully omit in ante-natal breastfeeding classes. An interesting article was on the BBC recently that indicated that BFed babies are 'fussier' (read - screamier) than bottle-fed babies, but it's part of the way they learn communication of needs and modulation of how they communicate needs.

magpie17 Sat 28-Nov-15 14:07:08

I can't really help but I have been where you are and know how devastating it feels, hugs to you.

My DS never latched at all after tongue tie snip and that was the end of our BFing journey. I expressed for four more weeks but it was soul destroying and I wasn't producing enough to keep up with DS anyway so we moved onto formula.

I'm not telling you to stop, you have to keep trying as long as you feel you want to, but please know that you CAN stop. You won't be a bad mother and formula isn't poison. I think I wanted somebody to give me permission to stop because I was torturing myself and now, when DS is 4.5 months old, I don't know why I gave myself such a hard time. Don't be too hard on yourself if things don't work out, BFing is such a small part of your parenting journey.

ClemFandango Sat 28-Nov-15 15:50:45

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read and reply. I think overall the support I have had has not been terrible, at the support group they are helpful but things seem to go ok when I am there but then badly once I'm home again! We have had a marathon feeding session today for about an hour and a half. He settled initially after this but I had to change his nappy and he seemed hungry again. I couldn't get him latched on but he fell asleep after 30ml formula which is less than he usually ends up taking so I feel a bit heartened by this. I wonder though if it is taking so long for a feed if that means that he is still pretty inefficient at getting hte milk out? I did try the whole going to bed thing but I think I am out off by the fact that overnight feeding is such a nightmare so the bed seems like the scene of failure for me. I hadn't thought of trying the helplines, I had wondered how helpful they could really be over the 'phone bur sounds like it's worth a try. Thanks all for your kind words.

ClemFandango Sat 28-Nov-15 15:51:48

Oh and the comment about screaming really rings true thank you, I feel as though I am torturing him at each feed! Also in all hhe bf videos it is always such a lovely cal baby they show! Another thing the midwife mentioned was that he has a high arched palate, not sure if this makes things more difficult too?

ElphabaTheGreen Sat 28-Nov-15 16:17:30

Both of mine screamed and screamed and SCREAMED their way through their first nine or ten weeks, and were boob monsters thereafter (15mo DS2 is on the boob as we speak grin). It makes me sad when people say that part of the reason they felt breastfeeding didn't work for them was 'because my baby hated it'. Well, no. That's normal baby behaviour when establishing feeding. It has just been collectively forgotten due to the vast majority of people turning to bottle feeding in the first difficult days. As a culture, a settled, quiet baby is 'normal' and 'healthy' to us and the fast route to that is a bottle.

Next time he won't latch on, try:
- stripping down so you're skin to skin
- get your little finger in his mouth so that the pad of your finger is in the roof of his mouth
- try and walk around a bit if he still won't settle
- get him in a position where you could latch him on
- try and swap your finger for your nipple - get him 'mid-suck' as it were.

White noise and a dimly-lit room may also help with the above (mimic womb conditions, basically)

You may need to repeat this several times, but do persist. If he's fed 90 minutes previously, he's not going to starve if he has to wait a bit longer to get the hang of latching.

ElphabaTheGreen Sat 28-Nov-15 16:19:15

Try also Googling 'suck training'.

Maybe throw in breast feeding as an added search term so you don't end up with anything dodgy...grin

ClemFandango Sat 28-Nov-15 16:47:58

Ha! Thanks, got a sheet of suck training exercises I am supposed to do before each feed. I am trying my best but again he gets upset when I do them and I am trying to keep him calm to feed. Am keeping him close and my boobs accessible in dimly lit room.

Yika Sat 28-Nov-15 17:34:54

Oh yes phone helpline saved breastfeeding for me! Do try it!

KaluzaKlein Sat 28-Nov-15 20:18:30

I don't have any advice but as someone going through her own bf-ing challenges right now you have my sympathy! It's so, so much harder than I thought it would be. I had very realistic visions of how pregnancy and birth would be but breastfeeding has really knocked me for six.

I hope it works for you and your little one. I can second the 'go to bed and have skin to skin for a couple of days' idea above. I did that when we got home from hospital (I could barely move) and it did help us both I think.

ClemFandango Mon 30-Nov-15 08:09:28

Thanks, hope thing get easier for you. I had expected it to be gruelling in terms of needing to feed frequently but was not expecting to have a fight on my hands at every feed! Had a bf support volunteer come to see me yesterday. I managed some feeding overnight. I will just keep trying.

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 30-Nov-15 12:49:51

Well done OP. It is so, so hard. If you can get through it, the sense of achievement is absolutely indescribable, so I can only imagine that if you really want to feed and can't, the opposite is true.

If I had my way, I would completely overhaul pre-natal breastfeeding classes. They present breastfeeding as this easy natural thing, with just a bit of extra feeding needed. They do it so they can encourage as many people as possible to try it. Bullshit, I say. Bullshit.

I think they just need to write-off trying to convince the 'my boobs are for my boyfriend' brigade - if you can even talk them into taking it up, they'll never stick with it anyway.

Their uptake of breastfeeding stats may get worse, but I think rates for those who continue would improve if they just tell it like it is, so that we can, as a culture, re-learn normal breastfed baby behaviour:
- when they say 'frequent feeding', it doesn't mean two hourly as opposed to four. We're talking upwards of 18 times in a 24 hour period. THIS IS NORMAL. It doesn't mean you're not producing enough milk.
- CLUSTER FEEDING. Nobody tells you about cluster feeding. You put them down on their back in a nice 'safe sleep' position in their own cot? They scream and want to feed again. All night. THIS IS NORMAL. Here are detailed instructions on exactly how to co-sleep safely to maintain sanity, not just a blanket ban on bed sharing.
- babies scream their tits off when learning to breastfeed. They hate it - of course they do. They've had effort-free feeding through their navel for nine months, of course they're going to object to having to come to grips with something like continuous sucking while also sensing that mum is stressed. THIS IS NORMAL. Here is how you calm babies down using skin to skin, dim lighting, swaddling, white noise and sucking, then you try again, and again and again. And ditch the guilt-inducing crap about 'crying is a really late feeding sign that they're hungry'. Thanks. Got it. Show the early feeding signs only and park it.

And while I'm on my soapbox and setting the breastfeeding world to rights, weight gain! Arrrrgh! It is just something for new parents to get terrified about and breast feeding is the first thing to get blamed if the numbers don't go completely in the right direction. I was SO LUCKY in that when DS1 lost 11% of his birthweight, the midwives looked less at the numbers and more at the squalling, pooing, weeing baby in front of them and advised switch feeding, then, because my nipples were shredded, cup-fed top-ups of EBM. Their guidelines told them to admit to hospital (where he would almost certainly have been put on formula); their common sense told them to trust the evidence and resources in front of them which has kept babies alive for millennia.

^^ None of this is aimed at you OP. I think you're doing a terrific job and your desire to feed is palpable. I just think the vast majority of women feel they are unable to breastfeed due to basic misunderstandings that need to be sorted from the get-go, and it breaks my heart, so I'm ranting for the benefit of the lurkers grin

easterlywinds Mon 30-Nov-15 13:00:43

OP, how are things going? You have done a fantastic job to get to this stage. Your baby has had 3.5 weeks of breast milk; even if you've supplemented with formula, it's a great start to life.
Have you tried laid-back feeding? We recommend this at our BFing group and mums are giving us lots of positive feedback, even with the difficult feeders and babies with tongue tie. It sometimes takes a bit of tweaking but once you've mastered it, feeding becomes much easier. Have a look on YouTube for a video.

FreeButtonBee Mon 30-Nov-15 14:33:23

Agree with everything Elphaba said. I had 3 babies with tongue tie and while in ds1 case, it was almost miraculous (latched for only 4th time ever immediately after the snip at 8do), it wasn't instantaneous perfect. There was a lot of screaming, shouting and crying (me, them, occasionally my DH!) until about 10 weeks with DT and 6 weeks with ds2 (who was snipped privately at home at 2.5 days old - didn't even bother asking midwives/hv).

If your room has some bad associations, do you have a spare room you can use during the day? Just for a change of scenery? Also MILLIONS of pillows - they help get a littler baby into position so you can have both hands to move them about better.
Good luck!

zeeemum Tue 01-Dec-15 09:07:56

i know how much you want this to work ... i can only advice you through experience of my 2 boys ... i used something called the nipple shield please please look it up it protects your nipple from any damage and makes it very much easier as the silicone cover is soooooo light feels likes skin but it makes baby latch much better and faster ... and even helps develop the nipples to be more applicable for feeding in a way ... it won't hurt to give it a try ... i got mine from target and it was actually introduced to me in the hospital . ALLLL THE BEST

Rachel8615 Tue 01-Dec-15 13:02:52

I also had loads of difficulties feeding premature DD to the point where one day she just gave up and wouldn't nurse. So for two weeks feeds were from the bottle (either EBM or formula) and I used the time in between feeds to practice her latching on. Then I gradually phased out bottle feeds as we both got more comfortable with the breast. There are still difficulties and my approach wouldn't work for everyone. Whatever you do, don't berate yourself: breastfeeding is hard and doesn't always work. What matters is that your baby is well fed!

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