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Please can someone help - breastfeeding is going so badly and I feel awful!

(61 Posts)
lavenderchocolate Fri 25-Dec-20 17:34:32

Hi, apologies for rather desperate post on Christmas night but hoping someone might be around who can help.

I had my baby nine days ago by emergency section and breastfeeding has never really happened. Various midwives tried to help in hospital but I could only get him latched on with a lot of help and then he couldn’t maintain it. We were discharged 6 days ago and then when the midwife came to visit when he was 4 days he had dropped 12% of his birth weight and a feeding plan was decided on.

He now has a new feeding plan as he just isn’t gaining but I’m really concerned. This plan involves me trying to breastfeed him. Then giving him whatever I’ve managed to express. Then OH gives him whatever I haven’t given him in expressed breast milk in formula, so if he’s had 30 ml breast milk he has 60 ml formula.

It’s exhausting for all of us. This morning baby was beyond exhausted and wouldn’t latch on to my breast at all. I feel like I’m never going to produce milk at this rate and I’m being pushed towards formula feeding and it isn’t what I want. He can breastfeed but only with nipple shields which aren’t ideal. He’s had a tongue tie cut and as I’ve said I’m expressing milk and using nipple shields ... I honestly don’t know what else to do or where we go from here.

OP’s posts: |
Echobelly Fri 25-Dec-20 17:43:19

OP - I have been there. DD lost too much weight after 10 days as she wasn't feeding properly as she was one of those babies that doesn't cry a lot when hungry so it was hard to tell anything was wrong (she was my first). We got put on a pretty punishing feeding/expressing schedule that we did for a week or two until she caught up weight. It was exhausting but worth it.

She did feed after that but it was sloooow and frustrating, had to sue shields, and with a bottle of formula in the evening, and after 12 weeks I stopped bf and went to formula and we were both much happier.

With DS 3 years later, his latch was better but bf was agony for the first three weeks, but I persevered and after that it was fine and I bf'ed until he was 12 months.

What I'm trying to say is don't push it beyond endurance. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with going to formula if BFing isn't working for you. If you are determined, try a little longer, if you cannot bear it, please, please switch to formula.There's no prize for BF, there is a lot of reward to being able to relate to your baby without feeding trauma in the way. I was totally glad I did went for formula with DD just as I was totally glad I managed to stick to BF for DS.

Also, there is no sign at all that DD is in anyway 'disadvantaged' to DS because she was bottle fed - both kids healthy and seldom ill, DS is the one that has slight learning challenges (ADHD, which isn't connected to how babies are fed anyway), both healthy weight.

Echobelly Fri 25-Dec-20 17:44:13

there's *no prize for sticking to BF, I meant!

BumbleNova Fri 25-Dec-20 17:46:23

What help have you had with latching? Can you afford a private lactation consultant? It sounds like baby still is struggling to latch effectively. Is there any improvement post having the tongue tie cut?

WoolyMammoth55 Fri 25-Dec-20 17:51:13

Hi OP - first up flowers for you mumma, I really feel your pain. With my first we had a similar story - baby "failing to thrive", hadn't regained birth weight by day 14. We spent £££s on several appts with a lactation consultant, hiring a hospital grade pump (which never seemed to work that well) and having the tongue tie cut privately to avoid NHS wait. Hospital gave us a deadline to get his weight up or they would admit and feed via naso-gastric tube, so we did the 3-hour alarm for feeding, pumping, expressed milk and formula top ups - wash and sterilise bottles, sleep for 20 minutes, then start it all again...

I just remember crying the whole time as I was in such fear and had such guilt that my body was failing my baby. It was a really hard time, and my heart goes out to you.

The end of our story that time around was that he gained enough to avoid the hospital, but then stopped latching at about 20 days and we transitioned to 90% formula fed with me pumping once a day and giving him my tiny amounts of breast milk until 6 months - argued long and hard for a prescription for domperidone which helped keep some supply coming. It was pretty miserable though all told. He is a very hale and hearty 3.5 yo now and on the whole looking back I wish I had found some peace sooner and not let it torture me for so long.

I am about to have our second and have been working (via facebook) with an Australian breast-feeding coach called Dr Robyn Thompson who has a PhD in supporting breastfeeding mums. I'm hoping that her methods will help us - she has a lot of info online which might help you. One of her pieces of advice is that weight gain is different in BF babies vs formula-fed - often slower than the charts would indicate - and that as long as baby seems well and alert and has no signs of dehydration then you can trust your instincts over blunt-instrument weight-gain goals.

But the truth is that BFing doesn't work out for all mums and babies and if it doesn't, all that matters is for you both to be happy and healthy and enjoy the special newborn time - you don't get this time with your tiny baby again, and in my case I wish I'd enjoyed it more instead of beating myself up for SO long for being a 'breast-feeding failure'.

Wish you all the best X

Hollywhiskey Fri 25-Dec-20 17:53:08

Hi
I had a Christmas Eve baby some years ago now and I thought there was no chance of help on Christmas Day.
You are in literally the same situation I was only I didn't have nipple shields at first so I was expressing and syringe feeding. If they work, great. I beat myself up about them for so long but they're fine, think of it as your baby drinking through a straw.
Keep putting baby to breast, skin to skin, have a bath together if you fancy it.
Mine lost a similar % to yours and I was recommended a similar feeding plan to you but I refused to express - I'm not a medical professional and I can't advise you on that though.
The breastfeeding network helpline is open today (I hadn't know that, things I wish I'd known). If you can pay privately, do a zoom consultation with an ibclc. They can help so much. Join the Facebook group breastfeeding the younger baby and beyond.
You've got this. Xxx

MrsPatrickDempsey Fri 25-Dec-20 17:55:20

Take a deep breath. It's still really early days and your LO still has to master breast feeding. Just because you are topping up and using shields now it doesn't mean it's forever. I have supported many mums who have used shields for a good few weeks then successfully made the transition to feeding without.
Take each feed one by one. Try him at the breast. Just do what feels right at each feed.

cretelover Fri 25-Dec-20 17:55:51

Ah that's tough especially at Christmas. I was going to suggest tongue tie but see that's been addressed. All I can suggest is don't be afraid of the shields, we used them for 3 months as dd couldn't latch and I was in agony, there's no harm in using them, although feeds will take longer. Sounds like you're doing everything you can. Best wishes x

HoneyWheeler Fri 25-Dec-20 17:58:06

You're going to get loads of advice and my point have been mentioned already, but I just want to say, you're doing a FANTASTIC job. Feeding a baby is no joke and it's easy to feel like you're failing. You're not. You're doing wonderfully and are exactly the Mama your baby needs. Whatever path you go down next, just know you are fabulous.

lavenderchocolate Fri 25-Dec-20 17:59:08

Thank you.

The lady who sorted baby’s tongue tie was also a lactation consultant - she couldn’t get him to latch! I think it’s my nipples that are flat. I’ve ordered some nipple shields that are good quality but they won’t arrive until the 27th. I know he can feed, he had a good feed last night. But he’s just exhausted during the day.

I have been on the hospital pump but there’s no discernible difference in that and my home pump (it’s a Lansinoh double electric pump) I get about 30 ml a time but would like this to be more.

OP’s posts: |
MrsPatrickDempsey Fri 25-Dec-20 18:00:07

Sorry - posted too soon

You said he can feed with the shields. This is really really positive. You have had a blip - this happens. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

sparklesandmoresparkles Fri 25-Dec-20 18:05:29

I agree with PP about the nipple shields. I fed both of mine with nipple shields for I think about 3 months before it was no longer painful to breastfeed without them. And in both cases we carried on for at least another 9 months after that. If breastfeeding is important to you, then stick at it. 9 days in is at the toughest part, especially when you’ve had an EMCS. You’ll be thoroughly exhausted from lack of sleep, worried because of the feeding plan and stressed because breastfeeding is hard. Nobody medical seems to like to say how bloody hard it is (I found when I had mine anyway - and I’m so thankful for MM for the support I had back then). I promise you will get through it and things will get easier.

Having said that, if you don’t want to breastfeed then that’s perfectly ok too. As long as baby is fed, it really doesn’t matter.

It’s a bit of a cliche but be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. You’re doing a fantastic job, at one of the hardest times of your life.

Imaginatrix Fri 25-Dec-20 18:05:48

My son was born with a complete tongue tie which had to be divided twice, massive issues with feeding and weight loss. It was suggested that we try a chiropractor who specialises in paediatrics. It’s absolutely resolved the issues, a tongue tie can be cut and issues still linger we also saw a private lactation consultant who put us on a much more manageable feeding plan as like you we’d been on a punishing regime. I know it doesn’t seem like it now but it will get better and it can get resolved as long as baby is getting fed it really doesn’t matter how, we are now five months into breastfeeding after taking us nearly three months to establish. You’re doing a great job

lavenderchocolate Fri 25-Dec-20 18:06:02

I know but it’s just that he needs to be feeding consistently. I don’t necessarily mean a full breastfeed every time but if he’s only feeding at night my milk production is down. So looking at my milk diary (!)

6pm Christmas Eve offered breast but didn’t take much

9pm Christmas Eve offered breast and took a lot of cajoling but did latch and feed

1am Christmas Day enthusiastic breast feed

5am Christmas Day enthusiastic breast feed

730 am (baby woke up) wouldn’t breast feed, fell asleep on breast

11 am Christmas Day, as above

215 Christmas Day became very fractious and cried with frustration when couldn’t latch.

So it’s only three feeds in 24 hours.

OP’s posts: |
lavenderchocolate Fri 25-Dec-20 18:07:43

By the way I do appreciate everyone replying especially at Christmas time!

I also know that he will be fine on formula milk but it makes me sad, I can see I’m producing milk and he can feed ... I just want to. I really want to. Maybe it’s making us both unhappy, though.

OP’s posts: |
olderthanyouthink Fri 25-Dec-20 18:10:07

I didn't have an issue feeding DD but when I expressed I got 15-50ml each time. Bottle fed babies seem to be given an extraordinary volume of milk in comparison

camoflaguesocks Fri 25-Dec-20 18:14:55

I had a baby 7 days before Christmas. He didn't latch and lost 16% body weight by Christmas Eve. I was offered admission to hospital as long as I agreed to accept formula. I declined. I'd successfully breast fed an older sibling through cracked nipples and really wanted to preserver. Christmas Day I sar sobbing naked from the waist up talking to a lovely American lady at the nct helpline at 7am. At 9am i rang the maternity helpline asking someone to come and help me latch him as once he did he fed well. A very grumpy midwife turned up with 4 bottles of aptamil and said just give him those, I don't have time to help you. We will see you in a week or so.
That incensed me so much I ploughed through that day with expressing and syringe feeding and on Boxing Day I rang the local nct breast feeding lady. I was at her house by 10am and she helped me latch him a treat. He was like agustous Gloop! He had regained his birth weight (taking into account his 16% loss) by the time the grumpy midwife returned. She said 'ah, I thought you'd go down the formula route when I saw you so upset on Xmas day'.
Her face was a picture when I said it was all breast milk.
I'm not someone who can't see the attraction and value of formula but I just think so many women are not supported enough to continue breastfeeding through the tougher times.
I went on to feed my son until he was 13 months and his sibling until his was 2. I needed to believe in my body's natural ability to feed my children and the support to get there.
Whatever you decide OP you have my support and respect but don't give up if you feel deep in your heart you want to carry on. Just hang in their and believe in your body and biology but don't feel sad if you take a different path. Happy Christmas with the most amazing present ever!

Tyranttoddler Fri 25-Dec-20 18:17:43

If you end up doing formula it doesn't mean you can't stop and get back to just breastfeeding. My mistake was thinking it was one or the other and it isnt.

abersinas Fri 25-Dec-20 18:22:12

Attempt to feed far more often. At this age, 4 hours is far too long to go between feeds.

BlenheimOrange Fri 25-Dec-20 18:25:04

I found electric pumps miserable. If you really want to express have you tried a haakaa / naturebond style one just popped on the other boob while you’re feeding on one side? That was the only option I found fine because I didn’t feel like a cow, I got as much as with the electric pump, and it didn’t take any extra time that I wouldn’t have spent feeding anyway.

Nipple shields are fine. Formula is fine. Bf is fine. But whatever makes you feel a bit more ok at a tough time - whatever that is, it’s great. They talk about the mother/baby dyad and it is so true, baby is not a separate being who should - or even can! - thrive at the expense of mum. You are part of each other just now. So whatever makes mum happier will help baby too.

PolloDePrimavera Fri 25-Dec-20 18:28:51

Feeling slightly anxious about posting but can you just not do formula?! Would it be so terrible?? On the basis that I was bottle fed and have turned out ok, I bottle fed my DD now 16, when the BF midwife agreed BF wasn't working. I just straight away bottle fed my DS, 8. They've both turned out pretty well if I may say, no allergies, healthy and strong... But whatever you do, be kind to yourself and don't put yourself under too much stress.

giftponderings Fri 25-Dec-20 18:29:20

You are exactly where I was, my little girl fed using shields for 4 months, and then one day she decided not to. As I type just now, she's feeding to sleep. She's turned 3 in November, so it definitely worked for us!grin keep up with the shields would be my advice!

boredinthouse Fri 25-Dec-20 18:29:42

OP I was previously a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter. If you want to continue breastfeeding please consider contacting either the NCT or Le Leche League as both have experts that can support you. Also don't wait for 4 hourly feeds, feed your baby as and when they want to. I was advised by my midwife not to use nipple shields but it was so sore without. I managed to breastfeed DS just fine with them. Good luck 💐

Mumoftwoinprimary Fri 25-Dec-20 18:32:05

Oh Op - it sounds like you are doing brilliantly. flowers

Ok - few thoughts.

When you express are you with your baby at the time? I found that sniffing my baby while expressing helped. Also mentally picturing them breastfeeding. (You know how the edge of the nipple sort of goes in and out as they feed - I would picture that over and over.)

Keep expressing. Even if nothing comes out. You want to convince your breasts that there is not just one baby to feed but an entire village worth. If you have a nice big supply then it is much easier for the baby to get at milk even if the latch is not quite right.

Go to bed! For the next 48 hours the only things you should be doing is feeding the baby, expressing, cuddling the baby (preferably with both of you without tops on so lots of skin to skin), admiring the baby and how clever you are for growing the baby and eating the lovely food that your OH brings you on a tray. OH should also spend lots of time in bed with you two admiring the marvellousness of the baby and the brilliance of you for growing him and only getting up to change baby’s nappy, sort out baby bottle if needed and providing you with delicious meals and snacks. Cleaning, tidying, washing etc can wait.

Take care of yourself and let your OH take care of you. Breastfeeding uses up a similar amount of calories as manual labour. 9 days ago you had major surgery. And now you are up all night doing effectively manual labour. When you think about it, it is ridiculous what we ask for from postpartum mums.

sproutsnbacon Fri 25-Dec-20 18:32:41

Not raft
If he’s gaining weight on the feeding plan stick with it, when they get bigger and stronger from more food they can breastfeed better. Try to feed and do skin to skin as much as possible.
If he’s not gaining weight and you’re putting all that food in both bf and ff then there’s some other problem with my second it was CMPA. I kept feeding her, they wanted me to top up with formula but when they saw how much I was expressing gave up on that idea.
How are the poos and wees?

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