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I underfed my baby for about 4 weeks, can't belive or forgive myself

(59 Posts)
Miha17 Thu 22-Mar-18 15:34:54

I have an almost 5 month old baby girl whom I underfed from about 8 weeks to 12. She was mixedfed from birth due to low milk supply and I was working on increasing my milk supply. Once it got to a level where I had about 70% breastmilk (by expressing roung the clock) I was told to drop the formula and give the baby the breast instead as this would increase my supply. This didn't seem to go according to plan and my baby was constantly crying which we put down to colic (she was very colicky from 1 week old) or silent reflux. She didn't gain any weight for about 3 weeks and then only 100g for 2 weeks when we realised she was starving. Since then I have been feeding her between 30 and 35 oz per day and she put on 2 lb in 4 weeks and she is now the happiest baby ever. Very good sleeper too. However i cannot get over the fact that I was almost starving my beautiful, healthy baby. It is killing me day and night sad(( Has anyone had a similar experience? Did babies catch up and did well both physically and mentally when growing up?

OP’s posts: |
OldHag1 Thu 22-Mar-18 15:40:08

Someone gave you advice - you followed that advice, you thought you were doing the right thing and what was best for your baby.

I know I have done things I give myself an incredibly hard time over and no matter what anyone said I still found it hard to forgive myself.

You have identified the problem, you have fixed the problem and you have a beautiful happy baby. Forgive yourself mistakes happen especially if it’s your first.

She will catch up and will grow as normal.

HeedMove Thu 22-Mar-18 15:45:51

When my dd was first born she would latch on but not suck. In hospital they were syringe feeding her. She was four weeks early and I was 19 so quote overwhelmed. We were discharged and that was it. No advice or anything about feeding. It was just after new year so i was at home for three days before I seen a midwife. Id just soldiered on trying to feed her.

Turns out shed lost quite alot of weight and wasn't really getting much at all. She didn't really cry much at all either so id had no idea.

In your opinion, who was at fault there?

reallyanotherone Thu 22-Mar-18 15:49:38

In reality the chance are slim that she was starving. If she were she would have dehydrated first and that would have happened very quickly- in 3 days. She would also have lost weight very quickly.

Bf and ff is very different. It is easier for the baby, so they will take more. It is less digestible and stays in the stomach longer, so they tend to go longer between feeds. This all helps them gain weight more quickly, and sleep better, as you are seeing.

What you are seeing as signs your baby was “starving” can be normal for a bf baby- slow weight gain, constant feeding etc.

You’re ff now and obviously happier. Don’t punish yourself- bf is hard and very difficult to judge as you are guided by the baby. But even from here i’d be pretty confident she wasn’t starving smile

Jellybabie3 Thu 22-Mar-18 15:50:45

Please try not to beat yourself up. I know its difficult, I really do, but put it behind you and squeeze your beautiful baby.

My DS was born after 3 day Labour and emergency c section. I was exhausted, suffered blood loss so was very weak, a new mum, had no idea what i was doing and was in a very unsupportive hospital. Me and DS fell asleep on the second night we were in hospital for 6 hours. When the midwife came by the next morning she ripped my head off that i had allowed him to sleep so long without a feed. I said he was obviously tired and she responded, and I quote 'you have starved him so much he is too weak to cry'. That sentence has haunted me every single day. My DS lost 14% bodyweight. I blamed myself for this. However, the chief midwife told me as I was discharged that the midwife should never have said that and they had failed me by not supporting me. The reason he had lost weight was because my milk hadn't come in due to the emcs and noone at the hospital had prompted me with what to do.

I say this because I know how you feel as a mum. But as PP said you did what you thought was right, and your baby is OK. Please try to let it go.

flowers for you OP

Justanotherzombie Thu 22-Mar-18 15:51:44

Don't worry! Feeding is a tricky balance and all babies end up hungry at times if you bf, it's part of the process. Babies don't get enough for many reasons, it's not your fault. My first was ebf and cried and cried for the first month of his life. We also though colic but he wasn't gaining so looking back he was hungry. But my nipples were split and bleeding and I had MRSA from the hospital and was so ill. I guess I just couldn't feed him as he needed for those weeks. We are all just doing our best. And babies don't come with a manual or the ability to clearly tell us anything.

Miha17 Thu 22-Mar-18 15:56:02

I think the NHS has gone too far with the exclusive breastfeeding...it doesn't work for everyone, in which case topping up with formula is a very healthy alternative to starving your baby. I have been expressing 4 to 6 times a day (and night) for months and feeding the baby from the breast too and I'm still topping up with formula as I've got a hungry baby.

OP’s posts: |
Miha17 Thu 22-Mar-18 15:59:51

Justanotherzombie...sorry to hear that sad How old is your baby now and has he caught up?

OP’s posts: |
ButtonLoon Thu 22-Mar-18 16:00:12

I have a friend whose baby was tongue tied and didn't gain back birthweight for six weeks until the TT was corrected and they started mix feeding. He's a bright little chap now. smile

My own DC latched but didn't suck and lost 15% of her birth weight in the first week, had to be readmitted for dehydration and everything. I cried my eyes out for days convinced that I'd damaged her but she's totally fine!

CoCoCoconut Thu 22-Mar-18 16:04:48

Miha, you sound like a brilliant, loving, attentive mother. "She is now the happiest baby ever"... you did that.

I was desperate for breast feeding to work and it just didn't, my supply just never picked up. I got all the advice from midwives, bf consultant, friends who had bf, you name it... "Keep at it and the milk will arrive, don't use formula as it will interfere..." I listened, refused to use formula, pumped and nursed around the clock... and my baby had to be admitted with dehydration at a week old sad. I can't even look at the newborn pictures with the little chapped lips and jaundiced skin. I wonder how I didn't see how desperate things were getting. I feel sick when I think of what might have happened of it had gone on another day, another weekend....

It's so hard though, when you're a new mother you don't really know what's normal, you don't know if they're not getting much or if it just feel that way.

I beat myself up then for 'failing' to bf and having to use formula. I beat myself up later for being so obsessed with 'breast is best' that I let my baby go hungry and become ill rather than give a perfectly suitable and available substitute. So I understand why you're beating yourself up, but you shouldn't. You don't deserve it and neither did I.

There were no ill effects at all once my baby started gaining. Happy, healthy, thriving from the first bottle of formula on. It's a decade later and I have a very bright, very athletic, very social, very happy, very wonderful kid.

Situp Thu 22-Mar-18 16:07:54

When my sister was born 40+ years ago, a doctor told my mum to not feed her more often than every 4 hours. She screamed the whole time of course and my mum sat in tears trying to stick to the advice. When she had no weight gain, another doctor told her to feed her now 4 week old baby raw egg confused

Point is, you are given expert advice and you follow it. You can only do your best with the information you have. DSis is in the peak of health by the wayflowers

mamahanji Thu 22-Mar-18 16:09:53

I completely understand how you feel. I breastfed my baby for 9.5 months. She was born on the 75th venture and quickly dropped to the 9th. At the beginning she was constantly in pain and had awful nappies and never gained weight. I spent ages figuring out her allergies and then she got better and started gaining weight albeit slowly. She was always sort of pale with massive grey bags under her eyes.

When she got to 8.5 months, I started to wonder if my milk had dried up as she barely fed at all, and only wanted to eat food and I believe was dehydrated. I finally moved her over to formula when she was 9.5 months after she hadn't fed for days. She instantly gained weight, became fat and pink and healthy.

I wanted to breastfeed as I loved it but she wasn't getting anywhere near enough, and/or there was still something in my milk that was hurting her.

She's 16 months now and I still feel guilty that she was undernourished for so long. But I did what I thought was right.

halfwitpicker Thu 22-Mar-18 16:14:54

I think the NHS has gone too far with the exclusive breastfeeding

I could not agree more.

I gave DS formula at 6 weeks and he seriously necked it down. Then he slept for 5 hours. He had been starving for the past couple of weeks!

Don't feel guilty OP - though I know it is easy to feel so.

Mother's guilt + NHS propaganda to breastfeed is a dangerous combination

Justanotherzombie Thu 22-Mar-18 16:18:36

Miha, that baby is now 5 and he's definitely caught up😂 To be honest they remember nothing from their newborn days (thankfully as we all get lots of things wrong). He gained weight just fine once I got over that hump of first time feeding. But I've had 3 more babies and it's never easy establishing bf and keeping babies happy. Babies are often the most vocally unhappy buggers in the world. But looking back I sometimes think they were sometimes screaming the place down because their sock was on squewy.

Miha17 Thu 22-Mar-18 16:19:57

Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. It makes me feel so much better. I had been crying for hours every day since we realised what we've done, especially considering she had a very good start. She only lost 3% of her birth weight due to mixed feeding (I also had an emergency c section and milk didn't come til day 4) and was doing very well until I decided to try to ebf. I will bf until it doesn't make sense anymore as I enjoy it, but I no longer treat the formula as some kind of 'poison' as I was made to believe by the midwives and health visitor..and friends who had succesful ebf experience.

All the best to everyone!

OP’s posts: |
SecondaryConfusion Thu 22-Mar-18 16:22:21

Don’t beat yourself up. I had similar experience with DC1. I gave him a bottle at 1 month and I’ll never forget the look on his face as he managed to actually drink - BF had been such a struggle for us with undiagnosed tongue tie and poor supply.

I felt guilty for ages that I’d been underfeeding him. The guilt has faded - although I still get a little twang of ‘I wish BF had worked for us’ whenever I see a baby feeding.

DS is now a strapping boy of 11, clever and tall for his age, so that early feeding experience didn’t affect him at all in the long run. You can’t tell who was BF/FF from his friends.

You did the best you could with the advice you were given at the time. If you’d carried on mixed feeding and your supply had dried up, you’d have felt guilty about not BFing. As you’d have felt guilt either way, be kind to yourself and keep reminding yourself you took the best decision at the time with the advaiebthat professionals gave you.

Be pleased that you took the decision to start FF again, rather than regret not doing it sooner.

DrHumphreyCat Thu 22-Mar-18 16:24:21

I hear you. I think I did a similar thing as a result of what I can only describe as propaganda. My ability to feed was affected by a serious emotional shock and despite this I continued to try and feed with my child crying constantly (and losing weight).

I continue to think that breastfeeding is best, however, the attitude that you are doing your child a disservice has to change

MinaPaws Thu 22-Mar-18 16:26:13

Forgive yourself. You will not get through motherhood without making mistakes. Some of them will be massive and serious. However conscientious you are, they come without a rule book but people are forever giving advice, not all of which will suit you or your child. What matters is that you noticed something was wrong and did your best to put it right. That's good mothering.

Ohyesiam Thu 22-Mar-18 16:29:21

Now you are a parent you have to get good at forgiving yourself. You flowed advice in good faith.
I forgot to put my second child onto solids...... I had got good at bf by 7 months and suddenly went “ hang on, WEANING”.
He is in year 7, and one of the tallest in his year, no harm done.

MummyFoxy Thu 22-Mar-18 16:31:41

Please don't beat yourself up. Feeding a newborn is a rollercoaster and no one gives you a manual of what to do. There is an assumption that bf is natural and should come as second nature to a mother, but it doesn't, it's flipping hard work! My DD had a tongue tie and lost 10% birth weight. She was constantly crying, I realise now because she was tired and hungry, but in the blur of exhaustion (and getting over that bloody hard process of childbirth) I just didn't have a clue what was going on. She started gaining again once the tongue tie was sorted.

She is sitting in front of me in the high chair now tucking into some pear with the chubbiest cheeks ever and you would never know what went on with her feeding in the first few weeks. Please do not worry smile

gluteustothemaximus Thu 22-Mar-18 16:34:53

My firstborn, now 15, I was told to feed every 4 hours.

I did as I was told, and DS1 screamed. A lot.

In the end I fed more, but HV was very cross with me, making a rod etc.

Since having DD and DS2, who both fed on demand, sometimes every hour, I feel very guilty that DS1 was screaming for milk.

But, he’s fine. No damage done. And I did follow advice from a ‘professional’.

From then on though, I pretty much ignored the HV’s.

Try not to feel guilty flowers

Whatthefoxgoingon Thu 22-Mar-18 16:35:19

I too think the nhs has gone too far with exclusive breastfeeding. It wasn’t the case when I had my babies.

The fact is that bf is not going work for some babies, and in the days before formula these babies would have dropped weight and some will have died. Now we have a perfectly good alternative. It is very wrong for anyone to make new mothers feel bad about it. It is like using medicine for any illness, do you consider anyone with diabetes a failure for needing synthetic insulin? I should hope not. Some babies need formula to thrive and grow. It is no failure on any mother’s fault.

Nettleskeins Thu 22-Mar-18 16:36:46

same thing happened to me with eldest. Hard to look back at the pictures. However, a lot of babies of that age can be suffering from colic, allergy to cows milk, reflux, cricked necks, and can be miserable, or their mothers can be miserable from PND, whether their mums are feeding them abundant quantities of milk or not. It is the time when babies cry a lot, and mums cry a lot, which is why it is known as the 4th trimester, not the crying bit, but the fact that they, we are still coming to grips with baby's new life on this planet. I've talked to about three people who experienced variations of what we went through, and I began to discern there was a pattern, everyone feels they were to blame through misinformation/deluded ideas about what was right, lack of support, but actually it is commonly a very traumatic time in lots of mother and babies's lives, for as I said, lots and lots of different reasons. Feeding being a more common one.

Talking to someone who has been there and talking to other mothers and listening to some of their experiences, can help a lot.

EmmaGrundyForPM Thu 22-Mar-18 16:41:20

This is very similar to the experience I had with ds1 except that I didn't mix feed. He was premature so had a low birth weight. He failed to gain any significant weight, and I also put his constant screaming down to colic. He was referred to a paediatric consultant at 12 weeks for failure to thrive. At that point he weighed just over 7lbs.

The consultant said I needed to introduce formula. I cried and cried as I so wanted to ebf. However within 2 days of having top up bottles my starving baby became a smile, happy gorgeous boy and I felt REALLY guilty for not realising he was starving. I felt I had failed him.

Fast forward 21 years and he is now a lovely, 6 foot tall young man with seemingly no long-lasting effects from his poor start in life.

When I had ds2 I was fully prepared to mix feed if we had the same experience. Ds2 was 10 lbs at birth, and was ebf for 6 months. In fact, when I went back to work he refused a bottle and went straight onto a sippy cup.

I know how guilty I felt, but please don't beat yourself up about. Your baby will be just fine.

HeyRoly Thu 22-Mar-18 16:42:09

Oh love, I really do understand flowers

No one seemed to notice that my newborn was getting nothing from my boob for her first five days. No one saw her having violent attacks of jittering. She was so unsettled and we thought it was wind but she was hungry. My blood runs cold when I think about how bad it could have got (I figured it out, thanks to absolutely no HCP input whatsoever and switched to formula) but the important thing is no harm was done. And no harm was done to your girl either.

I understand the regret and the anger and feeling that you were given shitty advice, but try not to dwell on it. Sadly it's not uncommon.

Be kind to yourself. It wasn't your fault.

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