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Struggling with breast feeding, need support

(27 Posts)
Scubes Tue 31-Jul-07 14:39:15


Our LO was born last Friday by ventouse and despite my birth plan I was whisked away for repair surgery and did not see her for over an hour by which point hospital said we needed to syringe feed just to get something in to her.

Whilst in hospital midwives helped me with feeding but since we have been home she does not latch on. It got so bad I reluctantly resorted to expressed milk and formula in bottles which I have found upsetting. I know it doesn't make me a bad mother but it was not what we had planned. Going to bf clinic tmw for more advice and seeing Cranial Osteopath this afternoon but I am concerned that the longer it goes on the less likely I will be able to breastfeed - any advice welcomed.

Artichokes Tue 31-Jul-07 14:45:21

I am sure loads of experts will come along soon but in the mean time this is what helped me:

Try and relax. Even if it takes a while your LO will not starve.
Drink loads of water and rest. Don't do anything other than hold your LO and get to know him.
Try lots of positions for BF.

Take you LO into your bed with you and lie on your side with your top off. That way you are skin to skin and LO can smell you. Make sure his nose is level with the top of your nipple and let him latch on naturally. If it takes a while don't stress just lie there cuddling and relaxing. In my case LO eventually opened her mouth latched on and never looked back.

Good luck.

lljkk Tue 31-Jul-07 14:46:33

No first-hand experience, but I've heard cranial osteopath can do wonders for ventouse babies reluctant to breastfeed at source, it's really common what you're experiencing.

If you take fenugreek and express at least once at night those things may well boost your supply so that you can give more expressed milk than formula. I've known a few women who only bottlefed expressed milk for up to 10 months or longer -- just saying it's another option for babies who won't latch on, although obviously not ideal.

I really want to write more but 3yo screaming at me. Keep bumping this, I'm sure lots of MNers will want to help.

dm1 Tue 31-Jul-07 15:16:10

1stly - congratulations. You sound like a great mum trying to give yor lo the best start in life.
I don't have much advice but....
Don't be afraid to spend almost all your time trying to get it right - when its working well, it is so brilliant, easy and burns 500 cals a day
Relax yourself, water, remote control, top off, lots of cushions. You can call nct or la leche league bf counsellors. Don't know numbers but they'll be on the interweb somewhere. They may even come round to visit.
Good luck. It may be frustrating but will be worth it.

hotcrossbunny Tue 31-Jul-07 15:31:46

Again, haven't experienced this but did bf for nearly 18 months and can highly recommend it if it works for you! Firstly it took me nearly 6 weeks to feel happy about it/latch/not be so painful and I so nearly gave up. However after that time it suddenly clicked and worked really well for us.
I'd agree completely with Artichokes. Bfing in bed was what made it all work out for us. Suddenly I was comfy, relaxing, and getting to know my dd face to face (or nose to nipple!) In fact I think bfing in bed was probably the easiest way for us all the way through... Make sure you put off visitors as much as you can - there's nothing like a critical audience to make things ten times harder.
I really hope it all begins to work out for you. But you sound like a great mum and if bfing doesn't happen, its not your fault and your baby will be lucky to have you as a mummy who cares. I'm sure someone with first hand experience will be along soon. Good luck! HTH

LIZS Tue 31-Jul-07 15:33:24

Have you tried nipple shields ? It could make the situation more awkward if you were ot use them long term but they worked to establish the b'feeding habit with ds(similar delivery, sleepy and jaundiced) within a short period of days, during which time I got more confident with varying position and hold. Is there a qualified breastfeeding cousellor (as opposed to a mw or hv with an interest) at this clinic tomorrow ? If not call one of the specialist helplines. It is still very early days and can still improve with persistance. Good luck

CarGirl Tue 31-Jul-07 15:35:18

I second get lots of skin to skin and try stay relaxed - hard I know!

laundrylover Tue 31-Jul-07 15:50:43


I think it would be good for you to call one of the bfing helplines today instead of wating until tomorrow as you may get more specialised help than at the support group (but do go there too if you are up to it).

It is not too late to establish bfing at all and do follow all the excellent advice on here about skin to skin etc. As other posters have said you need to concentrate solely on this and nothing else for a few days to get going. Do a search on here as in the last few weeks there have been lots of links posted to a video and advice on letting babies just latch on themselves (going right back to basics) and this may be just the job for you and your LO.

I know it's so hard to relax and think straight in the early days but honestly just you and the babe go to bed, take a bar of choc for you and a boob for her and see how it goes.

Let us know how you get on late please.

gloslass Tue 31-Jul-07 22:05:16

Lots of people have great things to say about cranial osteopaths helping babies so I hope yours will be another to add to the success stories.
The first few days can be so overwhelming - I was completely geared up for the birth but had somehow not anticipated the relentlessness of the need to feed and positively dreaded the passing of the 30 mins or so between marathon sessions. IT GETS BETTER - honest! (Should say after pain for about 6 weeks it all became so much easier and quicker that I even started to look forward to feeds and found them weirdly short) Kick myself for not speaking to breastfeeding counsellors much MUCH sooner. They're fantastic (all volunteers) and well worth a phone call:

National Childbirth Trust - 0870 444 8708.
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers - 08444 122 949
Breastfeeding Network - 08700 604233
La Leche League - 0845 120 2918

The links laundrylover mentions would also have helped me I'm sure: original and follow up with 3 week old.

Another good place for sound information is kellymom website. This link is for latching but there's heaps of other stuff too.

berolina Tue 31-Jul-07 22:10:57

I have been through something very similar. Long long labour, ventouse, bad 'advice' in hospital to top up (with bottles), ds eventually refusing breast, several weeks of fairly unsuccessful expressing and formula top-ups.

ds is 2.2 yo now and still bf. He had his last ever bottle - of either formula or EBM - at 4 weeks.

The key was persistence - I just kept and kept trying ds at my breast, even if he refused and it was very upsetting holding him while he screamed. I would always try for a few mins before 'resorting' to the bottle. Eventually he simply stopped refusing.

Good luck

determination Tue 31-Jul-07 22:32:45

Hi Scubes,

You REALLY need to express much more than just once at night.. as per lljkk. Please express *AT LEAST* 8 times in 24 hours please read here Also, you could take Herbal Tinctures or Teas to increase you milk supply ^as long as your stimulating your breasts often enough^ please check here for more information regarding herbs and breastfeeding.

Please check here for information on why babies won't nurse. And also positioning and attachment information here

The more skin to skin contact you have with your dd the easier it will be to get her to latch. Bath together and rest together lying on your bed. Use a sling rather than a push cahair if your going out - for extra closeness.

Trying to get her to latch using a nipple shield is probably the best idea yet.. this is how i managed to get both my dds to nurse initially as they both had no idea what to do! I managed to get them both weaned off the shield by arounf 10 weeks. It is better to use a shield and successfully breastfeed than to not use a shield and not. There are LOADS of people who would say stay clear of them but if thats what you need to get things going then... what is there to loose? I would also request a large feeding syringe from your local chemist or use a softcup and *Ditch those bottles*

You definately will still be able to breastfeed. Just please ensure that you scream out for the support that is needed and then take it with open arms
Here are the supporter lines numbers;

The Breastfeeding Network (BFN) - Supporter Line 0870 900 8787 - The service operates from 9.30am to 9.30pm every day of the year.

La Leche League Great Britain - 0845 120 2918

National Childbirth Trust - 0870 444 8708 - 9am to 6pm, seven days a week.

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers' - 0870 401 7711 - Open every day from 9.30am to 10.30pm

You will get loads of encouragement at MN

welliemum Tue 31-Jul-07 23:27:23

Hi scubes

Lots of good advice here, so I just wanted to say, I had a really terrible time getting bfeeding established with dd1 and I remember very well how worrying and upsetting it all was.

Some problems are fixable and some aren't - I was one of the lucky ones - but as far as I can see, it's early days for you and there are lots of things to try (as others have mentioned). So I think you can be optimistic and "go for gold" ie decide what you'd ideally like to do.

From my own experience I would say:
1) Get help quick - the earlier the better
2) For boosting your supply, effective breastfeeding is better than expressing and expressing is better than formula. In practice that means getting a reasonable latch sorted out asap and then feeding endlessly. Once you have a good supply you have much more leeway and you can decide what suits you best wrt feeding.

Can others (DH/DP, Mum etc) hold the fort for you while you go to bed and feed?

Good luck!

laundrylover Wed 01-Aug-07 10:15:20

Hey Scubes,

How you doing today?

lljkk Wed 01-Aug-07 17:04:46

I want to know, too.

Scubes Wed 01-Aug-07 18:33:53

Hi all

Just a quickie as am about to have a bath with dd! SAw counsellor today and even she didn't have much success but she was very positive and gave me some tips. Wants me to see her again on Friday.

Osteopath was also great and said ventouse has caused a high palette which means gag reflex is troublesome, hopefully this can be resolved with a couple of sessions.

It was heartbreaking today listening to dd crying whilst everyone tried to get her to latch on and I really want this to work so when I've had my bath I will follow the links provided for more info. Just wanted to get back to you all to say thank you and I will keep you updated.

hotcrossbunny Wed 01-Aug-07 20:08:07

Well done! We're all rooting for you (excuse the pun!)

determination Wed 01-Aug-07 21:10:28


I have just added in another post too...

to express until your milk starts to letdown then put the nipple shield on. This way the smell, taste and flowing milk is there like in a bottle just ready to be sucked.

AND the shield is the same texture as the bottle teat. Please try this...

mumtodd Wed 01-Aug-07 21:27:58

Hi Scubes, I would agree about giving the nipple shields a try. My dd was a very sleepy baby and I had trouble getting her to latch on at the start. I ended up with very sore nipples after a couple of days. I tried the nipple shields and they helped her latch on and seemed to draw out the nipple. She didn't seem bothered at all by nipple confusion and as soon as things were better I stopped using the shields.
Also I found I couldn't hold baby to feed her comfortably in the way the midwife insisted and once I relaxed and held her in a way I was comfortable with, things were much better.
It does get so much better. I struggled for weeks and all of a sudden it clicked and we went on to breastfeed happily for 10 months.

Anonymama Wed 01-Aug-07 21:39:13

Hello. Just to let you know that your experience is not so unusual. I had a horrible forceps delivery followed by an hour of embroidery, so none of that oh-so-crucial skin-to-skin breast-crawling that I'd written in to the birthplan

Luckily, there were no naughty MWs offering illicit drinks to the baby in the interim. I offered boob alone once I was reunited with DS, but it took ages for it to take off. 6 days later he had lost more than 10% of his birthweight, and the MW who visited us said ominously that if his weight did not plateau/go up overnight, it was the bottle for him...

He gained 3oz overnight, and was breastfed for 11mths.

You can do it if it is really so important to you. It takes a while - sometimes a couple of months before it becomes "easy", but at some point you will actually start to enjoy it.

Other posters have given you some excellent advice. is an excellent resource for now, and throughout your breastfeeding "career". Make sure you are getting loads of rest now. Keep your feet up, let other people do all the housework etc., and offer your DS your breast at every opportunity. Try not to stress out over it all, as this may not be helping you produce milk and I guess your baby may pick up on the stressed vibes. (Easier said than done I know.)

At some point soon, your baby will get the knack of latching on, have faith in your ability to feed your own child - and sometimes it feels like blind faith, as it seems impossible to believe your breasts can produce enough milk at first to sustain your baby. But they can! Good luck.

angie0201 Wed 01-Aug-07 21:40:11

oh i feel for you the same thing happened to me exactly my dd skin was ripped of her head and she was so sleepy with it she wouldn't latch on and they sent me home without her having anything, in the end my midwife made my dp go to the shops to get bottles etc, i felt like such a failure but she was dehydrated etc and needed food, got post natal dep over it and really did beat myself up, but you must not get down about it, it was the last thing i wanted too but i have a healthy 2 year old who has hardly ever been ill, and she would take occasional feeds from breast as well

LIZS Thu 02-Aug-07 09:35:46

good luck with following the advice

KITTENSOCKS Thu 02-Aug-07 12:43:16

The main thing is to keep your milk going, how it is fed to Baby isn't so crucial. I had a forceps delivery, and a very hungry baby, my milk didn't come in until day 5 so I had to resort to formula, he was feeding from me every hour and really hungry, colostrum just wasn't enough. Then both nipples cracked badly and got infected, and due to the ointment I was using needed to express milk by pump. I fed from one breast and pumped the other, then fed him the expressed milk by bottle.I swapped to treat the other breast when the first was healed. After that it was exclusive breast-feeding. All this took 5 weeks!!! but was well worth it in the end. Good luck.

Anonymama Thu 02-Aug-07 14:07:15

Have to add Scubes, that our well-intentioned encouragement to plug away with breastfeeding is just that - well-intentioned. Don't let it make you feel crap if you feel you can't do it. Loads of beautiful and healthy babies get formula, and if that's how things pan out for you, go easy on yourself.

It is easy to beat yourself up over every thing when you have your first baby. Don't be too hard on yourself.

Good luck with the bf-ing though, and let us know how you get on.

zebedee1 Thu 02-Aug-07 15:34:23

Hi Scubes, I hope that the advice here has helped. My DS was also a ventouse delivery and had big troubles feeding. He would latch on but pull off screaming after a few seconds. We took him to a cranial osteopath and he's a changed baby, stays latched on for the full feed and no more screaming. I hope the cranial works for you also.

fearscape Thu 02-Aug-07 15:50:54

Have only read OP. No advice but hopefully some encouragement - one of my friends had a prem baby (35 wks) who refused to latch on after having bottles in SCBU. She finally managed to get him to bf after many trips to the bf clinic when he was about 9-10 weeks old and is still bf at 1 year. Am sure lots of other people will have given helpful advice, hope the clinic is good, good luck!

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