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Trying to BF - pumping - feeling despondent

(20 Posts)
LJMilkTea Sun 13-Dec-20 22:10:48

Hi everyone,

I know these posts are probably ten a penny but I just had to get something ‘out there’.

Baby was born at 36 weeks via c section. Sugars went down after 24 hours despite me feeding colostrum via syringe and trying to feed via breast. We were advised to top up with formula which we tried to do via cup at first but then transitioned to bottle. Jaundice followed which seems to be clearing now.

I am desperately trying to up my supply and feed via the breast. Trying to put her on each feed but she often just sucks the nipple shield or refuses the boob. I’m pumping 8 times a day but only getting 1oz each feed on average (no idea if this is ok or not). Started fenugreek today and am using the sistema pump. Topping up with formula, trying to pace the feed. I’ve started dreading the pumping as I’m worried about the supply/how much I’m pumping.

I just feel like a bit of a failure at the moment with the breastfeeding. Trying to remain calm but it’s hard. Got a lactation consultant hopefully coming this week as the midwife just says ‘you’re topping up though so that’s ok’. She also has a small posterior tongue tie but I’m not sure if that is affecting things.

Just wanted to see if anyone’s supply improved, or if they had a similar experience as I feel quite alone with it right now. I think hormones, and lack of sleep is not helping.

I just keep thinking she’s 36 weeks, she needs the breast milk and I’m failing her if I don’t up the supply/switch the balance of formula. I wish I didn’t think like this.

Grateful for any responses

OP’s posts: |
Thatwentbadly Sun 13-Dec-20 22:18:52

Pumping 1oz a session is normal. Pumping is not just a physical thing it also needs an emotional response. Try covering the milk bag/bottle with a sock so you can’t see how much your pumping and cuddle and sniff your baby’s head or look at photos of her while pumping. A lactation consultant will be able to help.

Have a look on the kellymom website.

I ebf from 6 weeks to 6 months and I couldn’t express a full oz. Pumps are not as effective as babies. Getting your baby on the boob will be good for aim for if possible but at the moment you are doing amazing.

Phizpop Sun 13-Dec-20 22:24:18

I've no experience of pumping or 36 weekers but wanted to say you are doing an amazing job, even though you dont feel it at the moment!

Youve not said how old baby is.
Milk can take longer to come in After csection. Its possible, with the right support and advice, to get back to fully breastfeeding after weeks of top up if that's what you want.

Lactation consultant is a great move.

Other tips I've seen re pumping. Put a sock over the bottle so you can't see it. Relax, have baby or something that smells of baby nearby to help.

Hormones and lack of sleep definitely make everything feel a lot worse. Can your partner take baby out for a walk in the morning and you go and sleep. I found I could sleep deeper if I wasn't listening ojfor baby. I had the best hours sleep after the midwife sent me to bed and helped DH get 5 day old baby ready to go out for a walk.

It's hard but it does get so muhh easier and better. Keep seeking support. Kellymum website a great place for guidance too.

BritInAus Sun 13-Dec-20 22:26:25

You poor thing. It's very early days, and breastfeeding can be HARD!
My tips would be 1) don't kill yourself over it - yes breast is ideal, but millions of people don't and their babies are ok. 2) check you have the right 'flange' size for your pump (isn't that a god awful word?!) 3) i used to get triple the amount pumping in the morning - wasn't worth it for me at night 4) 1oz is loads, especially for a small, early baby 5) be kind to yourself... it will happen. also drink LOADS of water - ridiculous amounts, eat more than usual and make/get some lactation cookies if you can, they made a difference to me. Also eating oats helps!

LJMilkTea Mon 14-Dec-20 00:09:49

@Thatwentbadly thank you for your reply. Can I ask what you did prior to 6 weeks? The sock is a great idea. Trying so hard to get her on the boob. Will keep trying and hoping that the lactation consultant can help.

@Phizpop thank you. Again the sock idea is great, going to do that now. Baby is 10 days old today. I felt a change in supply early on but it has plateaued the last few days despite the pumping increasing. Have ventured over to the Kelly Mom website and will keep looking as some great stuff there. Good shout about my partner. I am really worried about sids and have a habit of not sleeping when she is as I’m watching her. My partner, Mum and I were doing shifts which is just not feasible.

@BritInAus thank you. Haha yes, flange! Have moved one boob up to the large size (who knew my nips were that big?) but still a bit sore so need to work on positioning. Did you exclusively pump?

OP’s posts: |
PlantDoctor Mon 14-Dec-20 00:13:26

I ebf my baby and never really managed to get a decent amount out when pumping. I did it occasionally so DH or others could feed her. As someone else said, babies are much more efficient than pumps. That said, the more you do it (especially while calm and watching a video of baby) the more you get out over time!

Enough4me Mon 14-Dec-20 00:25:12

My first had exposure to meconium fluid and bad colic, so I expressed so she could bottlefeed more upright as laying back made her bring it all up. It was a real struggle to pump and I stopped before 10 weeks. Second DC was fine and BF for a year.

I felt incredible pressure and guilt with first, but as older DC now they are both equally healthy and same bond. If I could go back I would tell myself that trying your best really is enough.

You are doing a great job, whatever happens with feeding try not to pressure yourself as this is one stage of your child's life.

Milcd Mon 14-Dec-20 05:43:35

My DC is just over 8 weeks old and has never been able to latch so I have been expressing and giving breast milk via a bottle from a couple of days old. I have a hospital grade pump and use it as a double pump as it is supposed to help increase yield, and I ensure I drain both breasts everytime I pump. I was finding it difficult to keep up and like you felt like I was failing him and also felt very alone. A couple of weeks ago I came to terms with the fact that my baby will probably never be able to latch and decided that I would exclusively pump, once that decision was made I felt happier as trying to do both was draining me mentally and physically. My supply has increased significantly just using a pump, so it is possible. In the last week I have been able to keep up with the demand and freeze some milk as I can get up to 380ml per pumping session and he takes 1ltr a day. As the previous posters said, make sure you are well hydrated and flange size makes all the difference. I eat oats every day, putting them in my morning smoothie, and I have started drinking a tea by Pukka for breast feeding mums to help keep up with the supply. Please don't feel like a failure, sometimes breast feeding just doesn't work out, you are doing an amazing job and haven't given up. Whatever happens, just remember you tried hard to get it to work and you should be proud if yourself for that.

CouldntThinkOfAUsrname Mon 14-Dec-20 06:16:18

Hi darling, just want to say you are NOT failing your baby and you’re doing a terrific job even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. My baby is 12 weeks old now and I breastfed him for the first month and found it very difficult, and I just knew for me that it was time to switch to formula. I did mixed feeding for a week (expressed breast milk via bottle and formula), then switched fully to formula. For me, it was the best thing I did in terms of reducing my stress and managing to sleep a bit more. I don’t say this to encourage you to quit breastfeeding because I know lots of mothers push through the difficulty and love it. What I am saying is if you do decide to switch to formula please don’t beat yourself up about it. I have no regrets and my baby is thriving smile. Take care x

MOGMOGMOG85 Mon 14-Dec-20 17:06:02

Hello Mumma,

You are in the same position as me. Mine was born 5 1/2 weeks ago at 35+5 by section. He was in the high dependency unit on oxygen and tube fed for 2 weeks. During this time I tried to pump as much as I could but I had a shit pump (realised in hindsight) and also don't think section and being a month early is ideal for your milk coming in. I was so busy going up and down to the hospital I was lucky if I pumped 6x a day, and I started sleeping through the nights because I was so exhausted after the surgery.

I tried to EBF using nipple shields at the hospital but he started losing weight, stopped pooing and wouldn't sleep and just screamed all the time. I started topping up with formula, at first just at night. I tried to cut back on the formula but he again was just screaming all the time and not resting so I increased the formula. He has gained loads of weight now on a 90% formula diet so don't knock the formula, it does a great job!

I now have a hospital grade pump, I have breast compresses, I take fenugreek, brewers yeast and raspberry leaf extract, and I pump at least 7x a day including at least once or twice between 1am and 5am. I pump for 15m a session and include one power pumping session a day. For a while I was on the pump 6 hours a day power pumping at every session but this was unsustainable. I regret to tell you my supply has never really increased. I get variable amounts between 10ml and 50ml depending on the time of day (so I guess averaging 1oz like you), which comes to about 10% of my babies food a day, or one full bottle.

I reached the stage where I was so emotionally drained from constantly "failing" to up my supply and failing to latch my baby (forgot to mention, baby has recessed chin, slight tongue-tie, and is majorly used to the ease of the bottle. When he is on the nipple shields he just sucks the tip - same as what he does with my nipple but at least it doesn't hurt! ), that I decided to call it quits and just exclusively pump for less hours a day in order to just give him a little milk.

My friend who is a GP told me that the colostrum that you give the baby at first has huge immune benefits, and the first few weeks make a real difference, but after that it's negligible. I know how it feels to desperately want to breast feed - especially after a difficult birth. I started to feel like I couldn't bond with my baby without breastfeeding - which is crazy. If you feel like this, get your baby sleeping on your chest and get as much skin to skin as you can - especially if you were robbed of this at first. Not to fix your supply issues but just to cuddle and bond and relax with your baby. I can't recommend it enough - those first weeks I was so distraught and desperate around feeding I was missing that cuddle time as I was always thinking "I need to pump or my supply will drop" and in my experience you just can't pump and cuddle at same time - I couldn't anyway.

I'm now pumping 2.5 hours a day instead of 6 - cuddling my baby skin to skin as much as i can, and have basically given up on breastfeeding. i will continue to try latch him as and when it is relaxed for us both, which is practically never! I haven't closed the door on breastfeeding but I've basically told myself its not going to happen and my aim now is just to continue giving him little bits, around 10% or so breastmilk, but by bottle. Giving in to the formula and admitting that the obstacles against breastfeeding may be too high in my case is a huge relief mentally. I am no longer aiming at (what feels like) the impossible and so I don't feel like I'm failing every day.

I am going to speak to my dr about Domperidone - at first I was concerned in case it would have an effect on baby but my health visitor today told me it used to be prescribed to premmie babies in the NICU for reflux issues, and also the amount they get through your milk is negligible. Its my last shot at increasing my supply - it may work, it may not... worth looking into if you still really want to up your supply and have tried everything else. Other things that were recommended to me (which I've been doing for 2 weeks now with no results): breast compressions, warm compresses, double pumping, power pumping, pumping 8-10 times a day (ok I never managed that one, occasionally I get to 8x a day but usually 7 when my baby feeds), fenugreek, brewers yeast, blessed thistle (can't find this one so not taking), raspberry leaf tea, loads of skin to skin with baby (like i said i never managed this whilst doing my insane pumping regime) and a hospital grade pump. But essentially none of these are the magic bullet and for some women, like me, they don't work.

Good luck, and remember as others have said - your mental health is really important too. I found my obsession with trying to breastfeed was making me so miserable I was veering into depression and wasn't bonding with my baby, which is crazy when you think about it. A fed baby is a happy baby, and your baby will love you and attach to you no matter how you feed them. Ease up on yourself, you've done amazingly and its clear how much you care for your baby and want to do the best for them - trying your best is the best you can do xxx

MOGMOGMOG85 Mon 14-Dec-20 17:11:57

Oh yeah and 1-5am apparently the golden hours to pump for boosting supply, also drink loads of water and eat oats - apparently. Again none of these worked for me (ok so I didn't always pump between 1 and 5 and usually only once, occasionally twice). Good luck with all of this advice I hope it doesn't drive you nuts like it did me! Remember breastfeeding is such a short part of your babies life overall - your job as a mum will be so much more than just that, and this period of time will pass, you won't be stuck here forever xx

MOGMOGMOG85 Mon 14-Dec-20 17:18:55

Oh yes paced bottle feeding too - which you are doing!

Forgot to say in response to your post, apparently some breast milk goes a long way so it doesn't have to be 100% breastmilk to have a big impact on your baby, you've already done amazingly for your child xx

user1471457757 Mon 14-Dec-20 17:22:29

My son was born at 35+5, he also had jaundice. He was too weak to feed directly from the breast so I did a mixture of feeding him pumped milk and using nipple shields. I kept on trying to feed him directly but he just kept on refusing, I guess he was too weak. It was starting to really upset me but then around his due date he must have got stronger and began breastfeeding directly so I didn't need to pump anymore.

I would recommend you join the UK Breastfeeding Support group on Facebook, they're very supportive and give loads of good advice.

MOGMOGMOG85 Mon 14-Dec-20 17:38:24

Oh and invest in a couple of pumping bras if you're going to send a lot of time on the pump.

Sorry I could clearly write a novel!

But seriously if all this gets too much for you its 100% fine and in fact best for you and baby to just choose formula - there is no shame in it - not everyone has the same ride with breastfeeding and some find it easy where as some seem to get all the obstacles so dont compare yourself to others. I know it feels like everyone else is succeeding at this but my GP friend told me that only 31% of women are still breastfeeding at 6 months so an awful lot of people have problems with it xx

kylieJ1 Thu 17-Dec-20 06:13:00

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LJMilkTea Thu 17-Dec-20 12:19:04

@Milcd thank you for your reply. That’s so encouraging and fees like the light at the end of the tunnel to be able to pump that much in a session. Was it a gradual increase for you or did you always have a very good supply. I have seen an increase in the last few days but still very slow, but powering on. Thank you for your kind words

OP’s posts: |
LJMilkTea Thu 17-Dec-20 12:24:57

@MOGMOGMOG85 thank you so much for taking the time to respond. Your post actually made me cry, in a ‘someone else completely gets it’ way and also your early experience sounds so stressful.

Your advice is fantastic, trying to my best to follow it. There are good days, and then I will see a post online of an ebf Mum and feel that pang of sadness. But whichever way we are so lucky to have our baby girl, this stage won’t last forever and I want to remember the great parts and not just be consumed with all the negative thoughts around feeding. All the best to you as well xx

OP’s posts: |
LJMilkTea Fri 18-Dec-20 00:53:00

@CouldntThinkOfAUsrname thank you for your reply. I think it makes complete sense and has been something I’ve been mulling over for the last couple of days. I think I was so panicked about volumes when pumping and it was becoming so stressful that I was dreading it. I’ve adapted my thinking but my partner and I have said that we are very open to switching to formula if my mental health deteriorates. All the best to you, it sounds like you absolutely made the right decision and your little one is thriving x

OP’s posts: |
peachypetite Fri 18-Dec-20 02:20:38

@LJMilkTea my little girl was 10 days early and wouldn’t latch or even try snd latch in the hospital. Was in for a couple of days and in the end had to ask the midwives for formula so she could eat something. Since coming home had a couple of really emotional days where she wouldn’t breastfeed so I bought a pump. At the beginning I was hardly getting anything but I think this was because of how stressed and upset I was! I ate a load of oats and oat milk and started pumping regularly just for ten mins. After a few days I noticed it would start increasing. I had made my peace with not being able to breastfeed and I think feeling more positive helped a lot. Please don’t be too hard on yourself.

Milcd Fri 18-Dec-20 22:51:14

It has been able to increase with my baby's demand so fairly gradually, but when we got to week 7/8 it seemed to increase quite a bit so I have been able to freeze a couple of feeds a day as well. Have you tried power pumping? It mimics cluster feeding so should help increase supply.

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