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Cluster feeding round the clock - is this normal?

(19 Posts)
Ven83 Tue 07-Nov-17 06:42:13

DS is 6 weeks old and EBF, suffers with reflux and trapped wind. He’s on Omeprazole and Infacol.

His tongue tie was fixed 4 weeks ago, sadly his latch never improved and I’m using nipple shields. He’s gaining weight and has plenty of wet and dirty nappies. My supply is quite good but I have a strong letdown.

He’s been cluster feeding from very early on. Feeds are normally between 1 and 6 hours long sad

Basically all of his feeds are clustered. Yesterday he spent almost 9 hours on the boob - 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 5 hours of hell between 7 and midnight with only short breaks. He would probably go on for longer if DH hadnt taken him and walked him to sleep as I was breaking down. Then he slept for 4 1/2 hours, only waking up now for a night feed (which has now lasted for an hour and a half sad

Feeds are frustrating too - he fusses on the breast, fights it, cries, cramps from bad wind even though I’m forever burping him and helping him fart.

He has 1-2 (if we’re lucky) long naps a day and a few catnaps on the boob (under 15 minutes). But when he does finally fall asleep he goes on for a good few hours. Even so, he doesn’t sleep enough. He’s awake for hours at a time.

He either actively resists sleep being far too alert, or gets woken up by trapped wind soon after he drifts off.

I’m aware he does a lot of comfort feeding, but I don’t know what to do about it. He sometimes takes the dummy, sometimes refuses it. When he does take it, it doesn’t send him to sleep and buys me maybe 10-15 minutes before he starts crying for the breast.

The midwives, lactation consultant and HV keep telling me to continue with responsive feeding - “as long as he’s putting on weight continue with what you’ve been doing” - and tbh it’s all I know to do with him now. Trying to settle him in other ways ends up pointless and frustrating as I know he’ll just end up on the boob anyway and then I have to nurse him to sleep however long it takes, hoping the wind won’t then wake him up.

DH is involved as much as he can, but his attempts to settle him are often futile as he’s inconsolable without the boob.

I don’t know how much longer I can take, but worse yet, I’ve no idea if this is even ok. I think I’ve become too reliant on the breast to settle him. I thought about introducing a bottle of expressed milk, but I don’t know if that would help at all with comfort sucking - seems like I’d just be giving myself extra work for nothing.

Is there anything you think I/we should be doing differently? Does this ever end? sad

Ven83 Tue 07-Nov-17 06:49:14

Sorry for such a long read - I’m getting quite desperate sad

Ilovelampandchair Tue 07-Nov-17 06:50:04

Hmm, difficult one. And I promise you it will end. 6 weeks tends to be a bit of a growth spurt for a few days in any case but one thing I wonder with the fussing at the boob, that could well be empty boob and not wind. By 6 weeks you might be surprised how fast they feed. Even 5mins can empty a boob. So I'd feed one side till they fuss, then feed the other till they fuss and take them off, wind, and start settling to sleep. I know it sounds like madness but I'm on my 4th and have often discovered they feed quickly at this age and are shattered tired. I've also other toddlers to deal with so would end up plopping immediately in the bouncer with a dummy following a 20min feed and running off only to discover they'd gone to sleep 5 mins later. Believe me they'll let you know if still hungry!

But although I feed on demand, I wouldn't be sitting under a 6 week old like that. No time to! And I think it leaves you anxious and confused about what is actually going on with baby.

Reflux is awful and adds some complexity but try considering if your baby is actually fed much sooner and use a dummy for comfort and settling post feed.

Good luck! It will all be different in 4 weeks again.

maroonishorrid Tue 07-Nov-17 06:50:09

My friends baby was like this, comfort feeding, trapped wind, fussy- turned out it was due to milk protein intolerance- often misdiagnosed as reflux as it presents similar
Any dairy you ingest will have an effect, as soon as she went dairy free there was an improvement within 18 hours, it completely changed her situation, settled baby no longer constantly feeding, worth a try perhaps ? Her HV and GP were sceptical but she has proved it by accidentally ingesting dairy a few times and going straight back to square one

BertieBotts Tue 07-Nov-17 06:50:22

At six weeks and with the tongue tie having been revised I'm not sure this is right actually.

Had the revision been followed up at all? Were you given any exercises to do or just told that feeding would be enough?

Trapped wind - are we talking reflux or possible dairy intolerance?

I don't think there's such a thing as too reliant on boob smile But if it's wearing you out then it's worth addressing, weight isn't the only concern, if you had other DC you wouldn't be able to do this.

Ilovelampandchair Tue 07-Nov-17 06:51:24

I said 20mins but often it would be a 10min feed. shock

humanfemale Tue 07-Nov-17 06:51:25

Feel for you so much, OP. The first eight weeks were hardest because you’re both learning how to feed efficiently. If I remember rightly, six weeks is a massive, significant growth spurt. Normal for your baby to be feeding A LOT. I remember spending an entire day on the couch at six weeks, just BF. But it gets easier very soon.

venys Tue 07-Nov-17 07:00:41

Gosh that time is a blur to me but I do remember being sat down for hours too as LO wouldn't go to sleep lying down in cot. Still won't really at 19 months. I do think it's somewhat normal but I would invest in a stretchy sling to bf in and keep upright so you can do some things other than sit. I would have to get dressed, get her dressed, boob and Chuck in sling to get other kids ready for the day too at that age. They won't be put down for long. Also invest in a litter grabber to pick up things and save your knees.

Ven83 Tue 07-Nov-17 10:13:18

Thank you for all your advice.

I went dairy free about 10 days ago, and my diet’s been pretty bland in general: I basically live on oats with coconut milk, apples and bananas, chicken, rice, carrots. I haven’t seen much improvement tbh but I understand it can take a couple of weeks for the dairy to clear out of the system so I’m not giving up just yet.

We haven’t had a follow up after his tongue procedure, but I noticed that he’s able to stick his tongue out a lot more than before. He just doesn’t do it when he latches on. The service at the hospital was quite rubbish tbh, we weren’t told about the exercises, just that it should immediately be better, and it not, well, that was the last option exhausted.

I only found out about the tongue exercises 5 days ago and have been doing them since, but there hasn’t been much improvement yet. I hope it starts working soon, but I’m not sure if nipple shields are getting in the way of progress. My nipples are quite sore from all the feeding so I wouldn’t last long without them, plus they’re inverted which is why we started using them in the first place.

He fusses when he latches on and tries to push away, if I let him he cries to go back on it. I understand this is symptomatic of reflux and also of fast letdown. After the first few moments he calms down, except when he starts straining to pass wind. He comes off the boob after about 20 minutes maybe, looks calm, gives me hope, but then as soon as he burps or passes wind he starts rooting for more. Taking him off early has the same effect.

He’s also a noisy eater, he grunts and wheezes, sometimes in his sleep too. Again we were told by the midwives that this was normal, but I’m not so sure anymore.

You are right, this would not be possible if I had other children. We would probably be on formula by now. This is really wearing me out, i feel trapped and isolated and like we can’t leave the house for more than half an hour. I can’t think of a feasible way to feed him anywhere outside the house, with these marathon sessions and fussing.

Perhaps I really do have to just stick it out, but I’d just like to know I’ve done all I can to help him, and that I’m not setting us up for more issues down the road.

bedtimestories Tue 07-Nov-17 10:27:11

I had a baby with reflux he was my 2nd both ebf, reading your post was like reading my life when he was little except for the colic. The constant feeding stage passed at about 8-10 weeks, we then got into a routine like any other baby. Propping him up after feeding/never laying flat , minimal burping and dummy all helped. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, promise smile

Ven83 Tue 07-Nov-17 12:27:37

Thank you bedtimestories, this gives me hope. I can hold on for a few more weeks. I just want him to be happy, and I want at least a little bit of my life back.

allisbright Tue 07-Nov-17 12:43:55

Has a lactation consultant observed his latch since the revision? You mention he is noisy when he feeds, does he dribble milk while feeding?

My daughter was similar to what you describe and after four months we identified that it was due to her tongue tie. The tie had been observed when she was born, but the midwife said she didn't think it was going to be a problem as the latch looked fine and when baby put on weight without problem, it was forgotten about.

We went through suspected silent reflux, colic, intolerance, etc. but once the tie was revised, we saw big improvements with everything. Basically her latch was not an effective seal so as well as dribbling milk, clicking while feeding, etc. she was gulping air during a feed, leading to trapped wind and discomfort. Maybe see a breastfeeding support midwife/lactation consultant to rule out a problem with his latch?

Ven83 Tue 07-Nov-17 13:04:29

allisbright he does dribble milk, at least sometimes.** His tongue tie had already been revised a month ago, sadly it didn’t help with his latch. We weren’t initially given exercises to help stretch out the tongue and jaw muscles - I only found out about them last week from the LC. Been doing them for a week, his tongue seems more mobile but the latch issues are still there.** I try to latch him on without nipple shields but he’s not having it so we end up using them again.**

bedtimestories Tue 07-Nov-17 16:53:25

@Ven83 have you tried releasing some milk before you feed to stop the 'gush' at first

Ohyesiam Tue 07-Nov-17 22:33:35

You could have been me with my first. It's grim isn't it?
With hindsight, I think I should have has a review at 12 weeks, and thought about ( gasp) going onto formula. I say that because I went on to get quite depressed , isolated, and feeling like a general failure because all my baby wanted to do was feed.
I was reluctant to because
1. My dh and I are both eczema, asthma and had fever suffers, which dairy aggravates.
2. I wanted to do it 'right'
3. I couldn't actually make any decisions because I had baby brain, felt guilty etc.

So op, give this your Best shot, buy a sling as pp suggested, and if you end up feeling like it's going to break you, remember that a happier mum might be great for your son.

But it does end, it will change, and you are allowed to deviate from your best intentions.

newmummysw Wed 08-Nov-17 12:42:19

I really feel for you, the first few months felt like hell for me at the time though it's a bit of a blur now!

We had many of the problems you describe, & in the end we started combination feeding. I breastfed all day & bottle fed in the evening, in the end it was the only way we could cope. I beat myself up far too much about it though because I felt that I was failing him. I realise now that wasn't the case & I was doing the best I could!

Ven83 Wed 08-Nov-17 13:12:46

Thank you for all your kind words. It’s sad you all had to go through it but at least I know it can be done, it is somewhat normal and it will end. At the moment I try to take it day by day. I have considered introducing formula too, except I know FF babies also suffer with wind and reflux, and yeah there’s the pressure of doing it right. Funny that, I would never judge a FF mother or think she wasn’t doing it in her child’s best interests, but somehow I don’t allow myself the same sad

bedtimestories Sat 09-Dec-17 15:15:22

How are you getting on? Did you know breast milk is good for helping with reflux?

Ven83 Sat 09-Dec-17 16:07:01

@bedtimestories Thanks, it has improved actually. He's not cluster feeding anymore except when he was poorly after his shots. Feeds still last for a good while - 30 minutes or so, but I can live with that. As far as reflux goes, he's throwing up more now but it bothers him less or hardly at all. So he's a happy chucker. You're right, breast milk does help and I'm glad we stuck with it. He's putting on weight and generally seems like a much happier baby.

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