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Anxiety, work and breastfeeding

(26 Posts)

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bubbleboo23 Mon 16-May-16 14:35:05

Hi all,
After some advice- hoping someone else might have a similar situation or know of any ideas to help solve my issues!

My third baby is 11 months and still bf day and night. I've returned to work full time as work wouldn't let me reduce my hours. I work shift work including earlies lates and nights. I managed 11 weeks back at work- and have now been signed off sick for a month with anxiety as I was reaching breaking point. Crying all the time, contemplating doing something silly to myself and super angry with all my children and dh :-(
I haven't had a full night sleep in almost a year- she wakes every 3 hours to feed.

I pump whilst at work day or night and she has ebm at childminders.
My boss thinks I need to get my dd out of our bed, into her cot and sleeping through the night to help my anxiety and cope better with full time work she also wants me to reduce the amount of times I pump at work (currently pumping 3 times a shift)

It doesn't feel right to stop feeding her at night if she still wants it and likes it. But I am desperately exhausted and don't know what to do for the best? She eats 3 meals a day but still breastfeeds a lot when I'm with her.
I also don't know whether to reduce pumping at work at my bosses suggestion as in a few weeks time- she's one.. but I still want to feed her until she's ready to stop and I worry that if I stop pumping and work full time my supply will dissappear.
I am having cbt for my anxiety and starting counselling soon too. Not keen on starting medication but really struggling with what to do.
Any ideas very welcome.
From a worn out mama of 3 xx

maybebabybee Mon 16-May-16 14:36:17

I would ask this to be moved to the infant feeding topic as you will get better support there x

bubbleboo23 Mon 16-May-16 14:37:30

Thank you- how do I do that? New here :-) x

AddictedtoSnickers Mon 16-May-16 14:43:39

Your supply won't disappear if you stop pumping at work, don't worry. I only feed my 14month old at night now. Just feed evenings and during night and your supply will settle into new rhythm. I had to stop feeding my middle child at 11 months for health reasons. He went from being an awful sleeper (several night feeds) in our bed to sleeping through in his cot by his 1st birthday. If your health is suffering, I would considering beginning a gradual weaning process, it's not a guarantee but may lead to more sleep. Good luck

NerrSnerr Mon 16-May-16 14:45:45

I went back to work when my daughter was 1 and I was still breastfeeding day and night. She refused all expressed milk at nursery so she just has milk morning, after nursery and night now. She is now 20 months and still breastfed and my supply has remained. I think if you're still feeding once or twice a day it won't dry up as it is so well established. In your position I would try and stop expressing if it's causing so much stress.

bubbleboo23 Mon 16-May-16 15:00:06

Thanks ladies,
I did think about just doing morning and evening feed but then what do I do on a late shift? Not pump? Because then she would need a bottle of milk for my dh to put her to bed with. So I'd have to pump somewhere.
It's so difficult with shift work :-/ what would you both do? Xxx

jessplussomeonenew Mon 16-May-16 15:06:02

With an established supply I think you'd be fine to reduce feeds during the day, though best to do it gradually. On sleep, I've been working for a year now with at least 3 wakeups a night. The thing that has saved my sanity is doing shifts with my other half so we each get an uninterrupted stretch of sleep - do make sure that you've rebalanced child and home care tasks since your return to work. You should be able to agree a phased return to work which may help. It's entirely normal to have a dip in confidence when returning from maternity leave, but with time and the right support you can rebuild confidence and get back onto the top of your game.

BeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-May-16 14:37:02

Hi bubbleboo - would you like us to move your thread to Infant Feeding?

bubbleboo23 Tue 17-May-16 15:06:08

Yes please xx

BeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-May-16 16:49:11

We'll pop it over there now. Take care of yourself and best of luck flowers

Cornberry Tue 17-May-16 20:59:45

I am struggling with the same issue but just one baby! super tired and anxious and due to go back to work soon, but have health problems which I think are exacerbated by anxiety. I really wonder if BF is making me anxious. I have a history of anxiety and I have put its reappearance down to sleep deprivation and stress but if it's possible BF is causing the anxiety and making me worse out I feel like I have to wean. My LO is 9 months and I feel the same as you. She is still keen to BF, refuses a bottle and I don't know where to begin. Not much advice, just wanted to offer support and say that if you think BF is making your life very difficult then don't feel bad about stopping. People keep saying to me "oh 9 months is good" as if to say there's no need to worry about stopping, but i really wanted her to self wean and avoid formula if possible and people saying that i've "done enough" is really irritating. But if my health is suffering I think i have to admit it's time to stop. Good luck x

bubbleboo23 Tue 17-May-16 22:12:15

Oh bless you. It all sounds very similar. I was adamant I wanted to get to a year so I didn't need formula.. and in 3.5 weeks I've achieved that which is a bonus.
I don't want to stop bf but with the stress and pain of full time shift work I can't manage both and I feel like I have to stop bf to accommodate work.. which really sucks and through reading my rights on the Internet it doesn't sound legal either.
Why does life have to be so complicated! Thanks for your reply xxx

Cornberry Tue 17-May-16 22:48:06

No, work shouldn't stop you from breastfeeding if possible but it's not always practical! Congratulations on getting this far! You've done a fantastic job x

Writerwannabe83 Wed 18-May-16 20:57:08

I am a nurse so am out the house for 14 hours.

I went back to work when DS was 11 months.

As my return to work date approached I knew I had to do something to make things easier for me as DS was still co-sleeping and breast feeding about three times a night.

Me and DH consulted a Sleep Specialist and under her guidance we moved DS into his own room and following her sleep training methods (too long to go into) we had DS sleeping through from 8-6 within a week.

When I first returned to work I would BF before I went, express at midday, express at 5pm and then express when I got home. It didn't affect my supply at all.

After a month or so of doing this I then reduced my pumping sessions to twice a day, then to once a day and eventually to the stage where I didn't need to express at all at work or when I get home.

It took about two months to get to this stage but a woman's milk supply does adjust.

It eventually got to the point where, due to my shifts, I would be away from DS for 48 hours and I didn't have to express at all and he'd still breast feed fine when we were reunited.

He's 2yrs 2m now and still breast feeding.

Returning to work doesn't mean an end to breast feeding but you do need to find a way to make things easier on you so working and breast feeding can occur in harmony.

bubbleboo23 Wed 18-May-16 21:27:57

Oh wow! Thanks for your reply. That does sound really positive.
Maybe I need to contact a sleep specialist?
One question though.. did it involve lots of crying? I would dread this :-/ xx

Jenny1s Wed 18-May-16 23:14:23

You poor thing! Sleep deprivation makes everything seem worse. You should be able to cut down feeds and still feed at night but only do it if you want to not because of pressure from your boss! I fed my little girl first thing in the morning, at bedtime and then a couple of time during the night and cut out daytime feeds.
Another thing to be mindful of is that when you cut down feeds your hormones can leave you feeling a bit flat for a couple of weeks-a bit like pms feeling. X

TheGirlWithTheArabStrap Wed 18-May-16 23:27:53

Hello I'm another breastfeeding shift worker! I went back to work when my DS was 9 months old but didn't start the full shift pattern till he was 18 months. I didn't pump ( I tried but never got very much) so he just had a bit of formula when I was working and made up for it when I was home. I was knackered! But it actually got better when I started nights again because for a few weeks before I had done some gentle night weaning (Dr Sears ) which wasn't completely successful by the time I did a night shift but made it easier for DH to takeover. After a few more night shifts his sleep really improved. I carried on feeding him till he was 2.8 years old and my supply adapted fine. Good luck smile

Writerwannabe83 Wed 18-May-16 23:36:56

bubble - the Sleep Specialist charged £90 for her services but she was amazing. She re-jigged everything about DS's routine but I genuinely think the most influential factor in his improved sleep was putting him into a cot in his own room.

I sharn't lie, there was crying involved but with her step-by-step plan on how to deal with it made things so much easier as I just focused on her instructions and had no reason to question what I was doing. By having instructions to follow it enabled me to emotionally detach from it a little bit. It was the usual set up of leaving them for 1, 2, 4 and 8 minutes and having minimal interaction with them when you go in to attend to them.

On our first night the crying was on and off for about 50 minutes but this then reduced each night we did it.

Me and DH had reached a point where we HAD to do something about DS's sleep as I was at an emotional breaking point, I just couldn't cope anymore and I knew there was no way I could return to work on so little sleep.

bubbleboo23 Thu 19-May-16 08:10:09

I'm there. I'm at that point! :-(
Did you choose to stop night feeds and Co sleeping in one go or master one thing at a time?
Thank you so much for you advice x

ToniWol Thu 19-May-16 08:20:07

With regards to pumping at work - do you have a stash or do you pump fresh for every day. I know as my DD approached one I was able to get away with pumping less as she reverse cycled (would basically have a bumper feed morning and night and not be too bothered during the day - she was fine with water.

Also, will she settle to sleep without milk. I have evening commitments and DH has never used EBM to get her to sleep. She's always settled for him with just holding and rocking. Not sure if that would help in your situation though as I'm not sure if you're bed sharing or not.

Writerwannabe83 Thu 19-May-16 11:11:43

We changed everything from the same day.

The Sleep Specialist came recommended to me by two unrelated people so I thought she must be good. I contacted her and she emailed me a really in depth questionnaire all about DS, his personality, his sleep issue, his daily routine (I.e meal times and nap times), what methods had we already tried to deal with his sleep and what kind of parenting style me and DH used. She also asked for a detailed breakdown of his previous 5 nights sleep, I.e when he went to bed, times of every wake, the time he then went back to sleep and how we achieved it, did I feed him back to sleep etc.

I then emailed it her back so she could formulate her plan and then she phoned me about 5 days later to discuss her ideas with me. The phone call is scheduled to take place over 2 hours, as is part of her package, but we were on the phone for nearer 2.5. She spoke to me all about the mechanisms of sleep, why its so important that babies get enough sleep and then the different stages of sleep with explanations as to why DS was always waking up. She then went through my questionnaire me in more detail and then gave me her new routine for DS, set meal times, set nap times, a very detailed plan on how to break the feed and sleep association and then gave me a very specific bedtime routine to follow. She explained why things that I was doing as part of his bedtime routine were contributing to the problems we were having and why her changes would improve things.

She then discussed the different types of Sleep Training she does, I think there are about 6 options, and we decided to use the Controlled Crying technique as the other approaches were a lot more gradual and a lot slower to take effect and I just couldn't bear the thought of that. We then discussed Controlled Crying specific to DS, including when to go into him, when not to go in to him and what we should say and do if we did go into him. It was all just so specific which made it so much easier to execute as I wasn't having to second guess myself as to whether I was "doing it wrong" because I absolutely knew it wasn't.

Me and DH chose a week that suited us both to tackle it together (about a week after the phone call) and the results were amazing.

Within a week he wasn't feeding to sleep, was self settling to sleep, was having two cot naps a day, each lasting 1.5 hours and then sleeping through from 8-6. The woman literally saved my life, and my marriage probably.

She then sent me a follow-up email a few days later to see how things had gone.

She has about 4 different packages, I went for the most basic one, but you can progress through the stages if the one you choose doesn't work out.

We were worried about changing things all in one go, I.e own room, not feeding to sleep and not bringing him into bed with me, but I knew I needed fast results.

A woman I know used a Sleep Specialist too with her 12 month old and she chose a much gentler method of sleep training, which although did have full effect, it took over 6 weeks for the method of training to be complete, so there are more gentle methods available.

I didn't find doing CC hard as I really was at breaking point, I just couldn't have coped anymore with his poor sleep (day and night) and the fact the specialist had outlined everything in such a strategic and methodical manner just made it so much easier to carry out.

bubbleboo23 Thu 19-May-16 14:35:21

Thank you to everyone for their suggestions and ideas. Certainly going to give this a shot xxx

NickyEds Thu 19-May-16 18:29:28

I more or less agree with pp, night wean, baby in their own room and sleep train. Pick a weekend when you can have some support and do it! We I did cc with ds at 11.5 months as he was waking every 90minutes -2 hours and I was pregnant, knackered and throwing up every day. Best thing we have ever done. One shit night, one poor night then ds has slept through every night barring illness since. Similar to writer I didn't find it as upsetting as I thought I would because I had just reached The Point, where something just has to be done, I felt like it was all a step towards things being better rather than just constant reinforcement of bad habits.

weebairn Sat 21-May-16 08:26:00

hi, i am a junior doctor in acute medicine, so I work nights, evenings, weekends etc.

Both of mine have been ebf and neither ever took a bottle.

With DD1 I went back to work when she was 10 months. By 12 months I was cracking so we night weaned (she was going without some nights anyway as I was at work). I just basically put my foot down and said I was sleeping in spare room with ear plugs. Sleep massively affects my ability to function safely at work and as nigth shift works we all struggle with sleep deprivation anyway.
Sleep improved somewhat off milk but if she did wake my boyfriend could deal with her. (he offered cuddles, water) We still fed till 20 months (and only really stopped then because I was 20 w pregnant).

DD2 I was planning to night wean at 9/10 months because it had worked well with DD1. She was very ill though at 10 months and I did not return to work till 13 months in the end. We did a gently-gently night weaning - dropping one feed at a time - it took about 6 weeks. Sleep HUGELY improved a few weeks after full night weaning - she went from waking 4 times a night to sleeping straight through and has since. it may have just been her age of course.

Still bf. She is 21 months.

I have never expressed at work, my supply adapts. On days off with her I can feed a few times if I want to. I can also go away for a weekend. I think we are winding down bf, though.

Hope any of that helps.
I am guessing you work in health care due to the shifts. We are all under enormous pressure in an understaffed underfunded undeappreciated service that deals with life and death. Be very kind to yourself. Feel free to PM me about any of the above.

weebairn Sat 21-May-16 08:29:43

Our night weaning didn't involve too much crying. Boyfriend basically co slept with her in the other room so she got plenty of cuddles.

I was worried that we were replacing me feeding all night with him having to wake up to cuddle her all night, but both times it massively improved sleep (not instantly - after a few weeks)

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