We've spent weeks researching and testing breast pumps and bottles in real homes with real families. Read our baby feeding bottle and breast pump reviews to find out which ones were awarded Mumsnet Best.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Breastfeeding isn’t working and I feel so sad(31 Posts)
My baby is 5 days old and we have struggled from the start to get him to latch. 8/10 times he ends up frustrated and screaming and I then have to calm him first, the whole thing makes me feel extremely anxious for his next feed.
Today has been the worst, he hasn’t latched even once so I have hand expressed and fed through bottle but now I worry I’ve made it worse as the bottle flows so much quicker and he took it really easily.
Shall I keep trying? Or accept I have to express? It was so important to me to breastfeed I am permanently close to tears and feel I’ve failed him. I can’t bear to see him hungry so I gave the bottle but I can’t imagine he will latch now.
Shall I try nipple shields?? My head is all over the place I feel actual fear about him waking and the screaming for milk beginning again when I am clearly incapable of meeting his needs.
I can express about 3oz each time, is this even enough?! I reqlksie I sound mental and dramatic
Nipple shields have worked fantastically for me, I would highly recommend giving them a go. I was at the stage of giving up, and my baby took them instantly and as I type I have a wee 5 month girl sucking away!
Brilliant I will get some tomorrow. Thanks
Have him assessed for tongue tie by a qualified and insured practitioner - tbat wikl not be your average midwife or GP so dont be fobbed off by a midwife saying all OK. You can ask for an NHS referral but be aware tgat there can be fairly long waits and sometimes posterior tongue ties in particular are not divided either at all or without further referral. If you want to go privately, you can find a practitioner on the Association of Tongue Tie Practitioners website
Sounds like my daughter who was very tongue tied. Once we had it snipped our lives improved greatly!
Def keep trying!
Has he been checked for tongue tie? Can you get to any drop in groups next week? My local bf group was a god send with my second daughter who had tongue tie.
In the mean time..
Lots of skin to skin. Express to keep your supply going.
Bf is a skill that you both need to learn.. so just keep practicing. Its def early days still.
I used nipple shields as well as bottles from the day after dc was born. After a few months we moved just onto breastfeeding fairly easily after I managed to get my supply up. Just because you've given a bottle or used shields it doesn't mean you won't establish breastfeeding.
I struggled with both of mine. First I ended up combined feeding and then by 7 weeks was completely on formula. My second however I tried and tried and used nipple shields and thought I'd end up doing the same as first but the nipple shields helped and it worked and she's nearly 2 now and I'm finally getting her weaned off me! (Would have liked to have done that a year ago but hey ho)
So yes if you want to and both you and baby are happy then keep trying! But don't make yourself upset and exhausted over it! You're doing amazing!
Keep trying the bottle with expressed milk. My baby didn't latch until 3 weeks old so used expressed from a bottle until able. Ignore anything your hear about "nipple confusion" as it is nonsense. I know mums who at 6 months cannot get DC to settle or take a bottle, all because they didn't want to introduce one too early. Other friends introduced an expressed bottle straight away and have no nipple confusion issues. Breastfeeding is tough. It is something we are told is very important, however we are offered very little support to help maintain it.
I feel your pain. I was desperate to breastfeed mine and they just wouldn't (for a combination of reasons which I won't bore you with).
I'm really sorry, but I can't tell you how to make the breastfeeding thing work (clearly I didn't manage it myself). What I can do is tell you that your baby will not go hungry. He will be well fed - via breast or expressed milk or formula - and will be well nourished. You are doing everything you can to care for him and he is very well cared for.
Please go easy on yourself - I know this is easier said than done in this situation - and don't beat yourself up over stuff you can't control.
Everything is highly stressful for you right now because your baby is very new and your hormones are still in flux. I was really desperate as well, but in retrospect both my baby and I would have been better off if I had focused less on the feeding method and more on looking after myself. I know this feels immensely important to you, but please believe me when I say that it is much, much less important to your baby.
Incidentally, both mine have grown up fine.
I've just posted this advice on a separate thread but I'd recommend the same for you! hand express some so the breast isn't too full and try the rugby ball position. A few midwives told me that my ds was latching correctly but it didn't feel right to me- lactation consultant recommended the rugby position and it improved his latch straight away- a few days in the rugby ball position and I was then able to get him to latch in any position. 1 badly latched feed can leave you hurting for days!
I didn't get my DS to latch after my milk came in until nearly 2 weeks old, but then breastfed him until 20 months. He actually never took a bottle again after those first 2 weeks, which wasn't ideal either, but hey ho. I had great help from a breastfeeding specialist midwife in my area, and I definitely wouldn't have managed it without her. I strongly suggest getting help; and if the first person you see doesn't help you, then keep trying. I saw a breastfeeding counsellor won was useless, then this woman who was amazing. It could be tongue tie, could be something else, but it's likely it can be solved so don't give up if you're keen to breastfeed.
Yes agree with pp's - definitely get checked for tongue tie. If breastfeeding is important to you, you can a absolutely still do it! There were so many mums in the breastfeeding group I went to who started off in similar situation to you - by a month down the line they were finding much easier!
Get the nipple shields and keep expressing. Hope you can access some support through hospital/ breastfeeding club!
Sounds just like DS who turned out to have a tongue tie. One bottle won't have ruined things, if you can find the root cause. La leche league was very helpful where I live - I think they are in the UK too. Or maybe you have a breastfeeding peer support group near you?
One thing that can really help a baby organise his behaviour is if you swaddle him in advance of every feed. This means that you are not dealing with flailing limbs as well as trying to get him to latch... look up swaddling / wrapping techniques on YouTube and give it a go. It’s not the answer to everything but it does mean you’re not wrestling the baby while trying to latch too.
Good luck, you sound like an amazing mum
It is very early days still and all these issues can be resolved hopefully with some support. I had 3 and breastfed them all for a long time and there was no one who was less completely clueless with my first (despite attending classes etc. before the birth).
I had support from my local hospital here in the US and went in a few times as the breastfeeding support was always available. The nurse told me in the first 7 days after birth that my dd was 'a Piranha' as she was such an aggressive feeder and I was already getting cracked nipples and bleeding. She advised nipple shields and I used them for months and successfully fed.
She also made me feel a lot better by telling me that most new mothers have no idea what they are doing when they begin breastfeeding and everyone had to learn (it is not innate). She said the only problem was when a baby had no idea or was not interested.
If your baby is not tongue tied another good tip I got regarding latch is to aim your nipple at the top of the baby's mouth, that way they get a lot of the areola where the milk ducts are.
The La Leche League have support groups all over the country and a phone line to give breastfeeding support too.
Congratulations on the birth of your baby
Should have mentioned the cracking etc. was because of a bad latch as I didn't know any better .
My dd1 didn't feed from the breast until she was three weeks old. It took another three weeks til she was reliably feeding through the day and a further three til I was able to feed her at night. I then fed her through my subsequent pregnancy and tandem fed until I got pregnant with dc3. All is not lost.
Things that worked for me:
Feed the baby formula. It's not poison. It's absolutely fine. You need to take the pressure off yourself and your baby. Most important is to get the baby fed.
Pump loads and loads. Keep your milk in. Aim for something like eight 10 minute sessions on each side every day. It helps to have a double pump, ideally hospital grade. You can hire them.
Loads of skin to skin.
Nipple shields. Again fine. I was able to get rid of them no bother.
YouTube videos of breastfeeding. The Pump Station was a good channel.
Biological nurturing was an absolute life saver. There are videos online showing how to do but essentially you lie back and let the baby latch on rather than man handling yourself into awkward positions.
UKBAPS on Facebook.
Good luck, OP!
Thanks so much everyone I have actually teared up reading all your lovely and supportive comments. Will take the advice on board.
I think half the problem is I am so tense and anxious he senses it and that doesn’t help. He seems t latch better in the middle of the night when he and I are both calm and the atmosphere is peaceful.
Five minutes ago he just latched and had a five minute feed so at least I know he is still capable. Will get the nipple shields tomorrow. Thanks again
I don’t think I’d managed a feed with DS1 by day 5, but I ended up feeding him for a year in the end. This doesn’t need to be the end yet. Nipple shields helped (I suspect it was undiagnosed tongue tie). Topping up with formula, until such a time as I didn’t need it. Trying as many breastfeeding groups as I could. Expressing and bottle feeding when the latch wasn’t working. Loads of YouTube videos. Ignoring the shit advice of some HCPs. It was a truly truly shit time but I did the mantra... one feed at a time... and it worked in the end.
(Different problems with DS2, but I’ve used nipple shields to feed him since week 8 and he’s just weaned at 2).
Is he producing plenty of wet and dirty nappies? If so then keep going (if that’s what you want) and get all the face to face help you can, as well as the great advice on this thread. If you’re worried about wet/dirty nappies/sleepiness etc then feed the baby from a bottle and don’t feel bad. Bottle feeding doesn’t necessarily mean the end of BF but you do need to make sure your baby is fed.
Everything you are experiencing OP is perfectly typical. You also just gave birth to a live human!!! You are a superhuman and your body has done and will continue to do amazing things. Your hormones will be on a rapid descent back to normal levels after the "babymaking chemical stew" it had been formulating for 9 months. So you will get lots of "withdrawal symptoms" such as feeling weepy, insecure, vulnerable, not 'yourself' etc. these will all get better as the weeks go by but try and be understanding and gentle with yourself the first 8 weeks particularly.
You are also going through culture shock of suddenly a big responsibility and role change, all of this will become your new norm but it takes a while and again is all normal.
If you continue breastfeeding the good news is that the act of feeding produces hormones (prolactin and oxytocin). Oxytocin promotes bonding (love) and is an anti-depressant. Oxytocin has been shown to improve mood and satisfaction in mothers.
You've been given lots of advice already but thought of a couple of things that haven't been mentioned yet...
Try and make sure you are picking up on your baby's early feeding cues. These include licking lips, chewing fists, rooting. Crying is the last feeding cue. Trying to feed baby before he is agitated can help with the latching. If he does get fraught, try and settle with skin to skin or sucking on your finger before trying again.
Also, if you do give a bottle try and pace the feed so they're not gulping down milk all in one go! Kellymom has a good guide to paced bottle feeding.
The early days are HARD but it does get better. I spent a lot of time skin to skin with baby in bed, just focusing on cuddling and feeding my baby. I think someone mentioned biological nurturing, where you lay back with baby between your breasts and with patience baby will crawl and find the nipple. It really helped when my lg's latch was painful as she then latched a lot deeper.
Hope you've had a better day today x
If you can find one and afford it try a breastfeeding consultant and generally get all the help you can from La Leche League etc. Also Kellymom.com is a good resource.
Keep going if you can (and want to) and switch to formula if it gives you back your sanity.
Breastfeeding is bloody hard work!
I used nipple shields for 6 months plus with all 3 babies. Bit of a faff but kept us going! The avent ones are a bit bigger than the Medela ones. They stick on better if they are wet and I used to scald them with boiling water and had a little tub of dilute Milton to sterilise properly. If they work for you then get lots and always have a spare in your handbag! Good luck and don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work out - nobody can tell the difference between bf and ff children/adults in the end!
Please login first.