BF struggles - really upsetting(21 Posts)
My LO is 11 days old. Was born via ELCS and with low blood sugar because I'm Type 1 diabetic so he was given formula immediately and I've since really struggled to BF. We're still topping up with formula and I'm pumping too to keep my supply up but after less than a week of this I'm exhausted and upset all the time tbh.
He knows how to latch and to suck but basically it takes anywhere from 15 mins to an hour to get him on the breast - he screams, turns his head away, tries to eat his hand etc even when the nipple is in his mouth and I'm squeezing drops of milk into it. I'm getting about 10-20 mls out of each breast when I pump for 10 mins so there is milk in there.
I've seen midwives and lactation consultants and they can usually get him on but then when I'm by myself he just doesn't go on and when he does it's for 10-15 mins max.
I just don't know what to do anymore - I'm trying to tell myself to get to six weeks as that's when BF clicks for a lot of babies and mums but the thought of going through five more weeks of this is soul destroying, especially since it means I'm wishing the time away and I'll never get that time - when he's so small and cute - back.
If anyone has any advice I'd be really grateful.
What a difficult start - not at all surprising you feel so low.
Need more info: what's the story of his weight and weight loss/gain?
What is the amount of formula he's having?
What about poos and wees?
What happens when he and you just snuggle skin to skin?
Has he been checked for tongue tie?
Do you have a smart phone? Download a white noise app. Rock him whilst playing it and when he is calm try the latch. It has saved my sanity with dd2. She's now 9 weeks old and still has times when she screams at my boobs. I find switching boobs sometimes helps. If it's all too much, switch to formula and be confident in the knowledge that you have done brilliantly given the traumatic start you've had. Breast is optimal, formula is a good substitute (and in your case probably saved your baby's life when his blood sugar dropped) and fed is best.
Thanks so much for the responses - will definitely try a white noise app (which one do you recommend?) and I saw on another thread on here someone was talking about playing nursery rhymes/music so I plan to try that too.
It's just every time I give him a bottle I worry it's affecting his ability to BF and killing my supply.
Re you questions -
what's the story of his weight and weight loss/gain?
He was born at 37+4 weight a healthy 8lb 3oz and has lost less than 10% of his weight but that's due to formula - we're trying to switch the BF and he's lost weight on his second weigh-in so I've been told to top up after every feed (either formula or EBM).
What is the amount of formula he's having?
Between 20-60ml top ups after every feed or for a full feed (either formula or EBM)
What about poos and wees?
All good - both are regular
What happens when he and you just snuggle skin to skin?
He goes to sleep!
Ours is called 'Baby Sleep Sounds'. It's a free download. I found standing up and latching dd2 on really helped as she would scream too. Also holding my boob helped. If you think he is seeking the bottle you could try nipple shields as they will feel the same as a teat. Dd2 is ebf but has taken expressed milk from a bottle since week three.
Oh bless you. Congratulations on your lovely little boy.
I had terrible trouble getting DS latched on for the first few weeks. Like your DS, mine kept trying to eat his hands while I was trying to get him latched on, which got him very worked up (and we'd both end up in tears!). My solution in the end was to trap one of his arms underneath my arm (so if I was feeding on the left breast, I'd hold his right arm underneath my left arm, if that makes sense?) then I'd bite the sleeve of his other arm to hold it up and out of the way! That might help a bit. Good luck!
I can understand the concern - he is actually losing weight at 11 days, despite the supplementing with ebm and formula? Or have I got that wrong? Who is caring for you at the moment? Are you seeing the midwife still? When you say poo is 'regular' what does that mean? And has he been checked for tongue tie?
Contact LLL. Everyone I know who had a CS has astruggles to bf. I was advised by HV to bf, ff top up and then pump to increase my supply. As my DD was feeding for 2 hours at a time it was impossible to do. I have heard of people been advised to just bf and to feed, feed and feed more but you specialist advice.
Please don't be worried about use of the bottle. He has to have something if he is unable to BF direct at present. Using a cup or an SNS (google it, supplementary nursing system) is possible, but very very fiddly. When BF starts to be rewarding and productive for him, he should be fine (though do check for tongue tie).
Fighting with him to latch, and overhandling (like when people try to force him on) is far more off putting to BF than a bottle.
Try to be responsive, and keep him skin to skin and see if he will give feeding cues. Also, try co bathing. But no fighting.
Isn't this here an issue with bottles that basically require zero work? Babies will go for the lazy option if there is one. Switching to a bottle that properly mimics breastfeeding might help.
I don't have much advice except to say you have my sympathy. I was in a very similar situation this time last year and it was one of the hardest, most difficult times - you're sleep-deprived and emotional anyway but struggling to breastfeed while facing the endless reminders that it's the best thing for your baby makes you feel like a total failure. I struggled on to six weeks (although had to increase more and more formula from about week 3) and then took the decision that for the small amount of milk my baby was getting it wasn't worth what it was doing to me and my sanity. It was hard but since going onto the bottle my daughter has thrived and she is now a healthy, happy 1 year old and those difficult days are almost forgotten. Whatever happens, know you're doing your best and although breastfeeding might be ideal if possible, formula really isn't that bad and your baby will be fine.
Are you eating lots of milk-enhancing foods, OP?
What you need to know is that this can all be ok. Eleven days is nothing. It can be three months to establish breastfeeding to the point of confidence, and then you change how you do it every few weeks according to how the baby develops and what s/he needs.
Give your baby formula, top ups, whatever you need to keep him well. Don't panic. I was a shit hot breastfeeder (eventually) and my little one had soya top ups from four to eight weeks. My dd grew up to be a champion breastfeeder herself, and her baby had top ups whenever it was best for the family.
There's a whole load of not worrying needs to come down on you.
So, put away your breast pumps. Ban any other non-natural device like nipple shields. Put aside any 'routine' or 'training' plans you might have had.
Give some formula. Get a sleep in here and there when you can. Have a shower. Then put the baby back to the breast. You know he can latch on, so that's ok. You're aiming for 24/7 at the breast and you'll get there before three months. The suckling prompts the supply, that's why it matters. No dummy/pacifier.
Expose your nipples to the air when you can, to keep them healthy. Eat well, don't get dehydrated. Allow your baby unlimited access to the breast. Don't think of bfg as food, think of it as what the baby does, awake, asleep or in-between.
Find a way to express by hand - it's fun. It doesn't work until you're relaxed so don't worry if you're only getting a drop or two. When it happens, when you get the hang of it, you'll be able to shoot breastmilk 12-20 feet across the room. If you're as daft as me and think that's funny...
So, in brief:
Get some sleep, food, drink
Top up as necessary
Offer breast constantly
If the baby sleeps off-breast, hand express for a laugh at first, and to save and feed when you get the hang of it.
Hang in there. Good things are coming your way.
My DD is 2.5 weeks old and breastfeeding has been a bit of a struggle. I found the Medela Calma teat helpful because she has to work at it in a similar way to breastfeeding rather than having the quick flow of standard teats. I use it for every bottle I need to give her. My DS couldn't get the hang of it at all when he was a newborn though. Nipple shields have also been really helpful and are giving us a bit of space to get the latch right without damaging nipples. DD also keeps falling asleep at breast so as advised to do a nappy change or strip her to wake her up.
With my DS, I gave up after four weeks and just hired an efficient, medical grade pump and did that for a few months.
Congratulations on your new baby and sorry you're finding it hard. It's not easy.
I also had the most awful difficulty getting my DD to latch when she was very newborn - she would scream and writhe about and I would get hysterical and cry and it was just awful.
What helped me was actually syringe feeding. We did a little bit of it in hospital with expressed colostrum and once with a tiny bit of formula. At home I expressed milk and fed her just a few mls with a syringe (you can buy sterile individually wrapped ones on Amazon). This calmed her down enough that I could get her to latch. After a few times doing this, just knowing I had the option kept me calm, and I found it easier to get her to latch without even using the back up expressed milk. Before too long I stopped even thinking about it.
I found the first 6-8 weeks of breastfeeding to be very intense and difficult, but then it improved in leaps and bounds very suddenly, and I'm still feeding my DD now at 9 months. Good luck!
Thank you for all the responses. Lots of tips here that I plan to try. I just can't believe how difficult bf is given the human race had to survive on it for thousands of years!
Sorry. We weren't doing anything else while we did that! No tidying/hoovering/baby massage classes etc!
Also, the infant survival rate was much lower! You are doing great!
Sugarcoma I could've written this.
Baby born on 15th via emcs st 37+5 weighing 8lb 3oz. Tried bf from day 1 but he was hungry before my milk came in and having urates in nappy so in hospital they gave him formula top ups. My nipples were ruined from poor latch since he was fighting screaming when trying to get him on, getting very frustrated. Since day 5 I've been expressing with medela swing to still try get some breast milk into him.
I did manage to get help with the latch and he was checked for tongue tie but the nipples were so sore by then and I couldn't keep up with the constant feeding he needed on the breast. I don't know how people manage it! I was on the brink of giving up bf completely and feeling very distraught and upset but I decided to just stop latching him on to give the nipples time to heal and continue with the expressing. 13 days old today and I can express between 2oz (60ml) and 3oz (90ml) usually. Topping up with formula and we are both much happier.
My nipples have healed now and I might try and get him back on the breast if I can for daytime feeds but if not then I'm not going to stress myself. I don't want to miss out on these early days!
I have no words of advice, I just wanted to tell you, you're doing your best and not to feel bad whatever happens.
I had an emcs after a long induction and my lo just never latched. I had plenty of milk so pumped exclusively for 6 weeks (stopped trying to get him to latch after 2 weeks). It was exhausting and stressful trying to keep ahead - 6 hours a day pumping and then I still had to get the milk in him. Feeding every two hours but it took minimum 45 minutes to pump so you can imagine sleep was fun! Switched to ff at 6 weeks for my sanity.
I felt horrendous at the time, like I'd given up. While not managing to breastfeed is still upsetting, I refuse to feel bad about it. I was doing my best. And so are you. Hugs!
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