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Breastfeeding problems - please help/give encouragement!

(22 Posts)
Tryharder Thu 07-Aug-08 23:06:12

I gave up breastfeeding DS1 at the first difficult hurdle due to lack of support/lack of information and hence was determined to bf DS2 (now 9 weeks).

However, from Day 1, it has been a total nightmare and while things have settled down a bit, I would appreciate some help and advice from any other mums who perhaps have suffered similar problems.

Firstly, I was unable to latch DS2 on properly and couldn\t get comfortable myself which led to me having chronic backache. This has eased somewhat now.

Secondly, I had thrush and painful nipples (now gone). It's hard to describe pain when you no longer have it but at the time it was like my breasts had been pushed through a mangle.

Now, my problem is that DS2 wants to breastfeed for hours on end and rarely seems satiated from his feeds. He latches on, feeds well for a few minutes then less well for a few more minutes then goes to sleep. If I let him, he will sit on the breast for ages after that doing nothing. After a while, he'll wake up, suck a bit more then go back to sleep. When he eventually comes off the breast (both sides), he seems content for about 30 minutes or an hour tops but then starts fretting for another feed. Even at this stage, I can spend the entire morning or afternoon feeding him on and off. He never seems to have a full feed just snacks.

As a result of the above, I ended up giving top-ups just to have a break and to give DS1 aged 3 some much needed attention, bless him. As a result, I now give 2 small bottles of formula or formula/expressed milk mixed. Not ideal I know, but believe me , I was desperate. I have tried to increase my supply (taking fenugreek, B vits, fish oils, eating well etc, putting DS2 to the breast all the time but to no avail)

I have had my latch corrected numerous times by midwives, LLL BF counsellors and the BF coordinator at the local hospital and some have been more helpful than others TBH. Have also sought telephone advise on several occasions and read countless BF books.

However, I saw a LLL BF counsellor yesterday who came to my house. She said that my baby's latch was not that good and that is why DS1 is taking so long to feed and feeding so often - he is basically unable to get milk quickly. She said that main problem is that he is not opening his mouth wide enough (I knew that)

In her opinion, this is because

1. My breasts are very large, soft and point downwards so DS2 slips off easily.

2. My nipples are very long and aureole very big so DS2 is unable to get much more than just nipple in mouth.

3. DS2's bottom lip is very little so he can't open his mouth very wide anyway.

Plus there are some issues with the angle at which I was latching him on and I'm not always getting him to latch on with his chin first. Again I knew this and believe me, I have practiced and practiced and I know all the theory inside out but my breasts are just so awkwardly shaped - I really, really envy women with small breasts who just pop their babies on. My nipples point downwards which adds to the difficulty. I have what Trinny and Susannah used to call Spaniels Ears for breasts!!

She has made some suggestions about positioning which I sort of knew anyway and she said she couldnt really offer any more help - basically, DS2 and I didnt really gel when it came to breastfeeding but it would get better as time goes on when DS2 gets bigger and stronger and is able to latch on better and get more of the aureole in his mouth. However, whether or not she was saying that because she really meant it or whether it was a copout because she couldnt help, I dont know.

Have any other mums been through similar problems and what was the outcome.

I have cried nearly every day over breastfeeding - I desperately wanted to bf my son and I dont want to give up now as I have sweated blood and guts over this. But it needs to get easier as my family life is suffering and mental health are suffering.

DS2's weightgain is fine BTW. Please help!!!

thisisyesterday Thu 07-Aug-08 23:08:17

how old is ds?
has he been checked for tongue tie?

whomovedmychocolate Thu 07-Aug-08 23:13:08

It is difficult in that situation, I have really big boobs too and DS finds it hard to latch onto my enormous nipples. My daughter (now 21 months) had trouble for the first three months too.

I found the rugby hold helpful as well as having mountains of cushions/pillows, which is fairly limiting in terms of where you can feed but actually if you feed 9 times out of 10 in an ideal position you can cope with the tenth.

I also found going to a cranial osteopath helped DD open her mouth more - she didn't do the gape thing that babies are alleged to do when they want to feed. DS doesn't either though and it's not such a problem with him.

I also have to shape the nipple and hold my breast up so it's not a huge weight on him and he can actually grasp hold - particularly when my breasts are very full.

Do keep trying, you sound like you've done really well given the problems you've had and tried to get help. Keep asking people - someone will give you a little bit of info that might do the trick. Good luck

thisisyesterday Thu 07-Aug-08 23:15:24

ditto rugby hold.
I also liked using the cross cradle hold, so I was holding the boob I was feeding from with the hand on the same side.,
and squidging nipple a bit to ensure plenty was posted into ds2's mouth

thisisyesterday Thu 07-Aug-08 23:16:15

itr does get better though. I remember when ds2 finally "got it" and it's really great. he can latch on by himself now and everything.
it honestly does get easier

JacobsPrincess Thu 07-Aug-08 23:16:48

I have large breasts too, and find positioning difficult. Also have panics about smothering the poor LO nose!
Best position for me is the rugby / clutch hold, with lots of support under my arm. this isn't always practical if we are out of the house though.
I'm lucky in that my little one has been able to latch on quite well. He does hyave very long feeds, like your DS2, and like to suck, rest, suck, rest etc etc.

whomovedmychocolate Thu 07-Aug-08 23:18:23

Also try a V pillow and get your baby nestled into it, so he can't wiggle around - then slowly depress your nipple with one hand so it's shaped right for his mouth and wait for him to open and then pick up the pillow and baby in one movement into his mouth (it's the 'don't move you, move the baby' thing which I find difficult even now after nearly two years successful nursing because with huge boobs, it just doesn't work - but the alternative gives you backache - as you've discovered).

WilfSell Thu 07-Aug-08 23:21:34

Can you feed lying down also? I have quite big norks and once I'd got over the C-sec, lying down was sometimes easier: allows you to, er, arrange them as required...

For all that advice is not to hold your breast these days, I think for us ample ladies it does sometimes help. Compressing and 'posting' the nipple did help a bit I found even though it is not always advised.

Have you been given any advice about trying to encourage him to open mouth wider? For example, stroking from nose to chin with your nipple and waiting waiting waiting...? Or gently pulling his chin down with a finger?

9 weeks is early days, really: I struggled for few months with all mine and am still BF happily at 12m now: just saying that to show it can and does get better...

ilovemydog Thu 07-Aug-08 23:27:15

Totally agree with whomovedmychocolate - pillows are a big help. The trick is to move the baby to you, not vice versa.

My DS was tongue tied, which fortunately resolved.

What you have to remember is 'nose to nipple'

Also, it can be such hard work. I had this idea that it would be like a Klingon - put the baby to the breast and it just happened. It doesn't.

But you will get there. smile

And it gets easier....

whomovedmychocolate Thu 07-Aug-08 23:38:42

Nose to nipple is bollocks IME grin DD actually attached quite forcibly to my nose once, will not be repeating that mistake. shock

Babies do have to learn to breastfeed too though - I'll give you that - and some of them appear to forget what works between feeds. hmm

DS (3 weeks old) has an endearing habit of using his hands to pull my nipple forcibly out of his mouth shock

TinkerBellesMum Thu 07-Aug-08 23:52:12

It's supposed to be their nose, not yours!

Tryharder, don't mean to get personal, but how big are you? I'm an H cup (and growing) and have fed my daughter to two and still going, so it is possible. I do get cross (at so called professionals) when they blame big breasts because it's bit of a cop out. My daughter was a 31 weeker and I didn't have the biggest breasts in the unit! I was friends with one lady who's breasts came to her waist (literally! I met her at clinic one day a few months later and she said "notice what's different?" she had "normal" breasts lol) and her baby was smaller than Tink. She was one of the best on the unit for breastfeeding.

Have you had a look for a local group? It was the best thing I ever did for our nursing relationship.

wastingmyeducation Fri 08-Aug-08 11:21:21

Hi Tryharder! I too have large floppy toe-gazers, and struggled with positioning and latch for weeks.
Their mouths do get bigger eventually!
I found that by stopping worrying about doing the whole tummy to tummy 'perfectly', that we found a position that suited us. The pain went when I stopped using a feeding cushion, as I had to lift my boobs upwards toward him, but I do have to hold my boob, or he couldn't get the nipple.
My DS did have weightgain issues, but switching has also helped with the interminable length of the feeds. As soon as he stops actively drinking, or starts fussing, I put him on the other side, and so on. This keeps the flow up, and wakes him up a bit. Breast compression also helps.


Tryharder Fri 08-Aug-08 21:52:40

Thanks for all your support and advice ladies. I was shown the cradle hold early on but havent used it for a while as I was desperate to get to grips with cradle hold so i could bf when i was out. Will try it again. Have also got hold of a v shape pillow so will give it a go as well. I may also investigate cranial whatsit as the bf counsellor mentioned it.

Its nice to know that others have had problems also and have worked through them- most of my friends-with-babies are the sort of people that have had twins, latched them both on instantly, fed them almost from the start with some fantastic 4 hourly feeding routine and look at you blankly when you say you are having problems. I dont have any problem with giving some formula but it would be nice to continue bf for as long as possible particularly as I have sweated blood and tears in getting this far.

I feel so bad that Ive had all these problems and i feel that it's sort of ruined the early days with DS2 as i spent so much time fretting and worrying.

pollyanna Fri 08-Aug-08 21:58:36

I have similar issues with my 4mo. It is getting better now, but he still doesn't have a wide gape, and i think the shape/direction of my nipples doesn't help!

One bfc I saw suggested rolling up a muslin or something and putting it under the breast - this makes it more perky smile - have you tried this?

Also, I can't remember what it's called, but have you tried letting your baby crawl over to the nipple - they are good at positioning themselves? if you recline right back then there is no problem with the nipple drooping downwards. I did this alot in the early days and it really really helped.

thisisyesterday Fri 08-Aug-08 22:08:18

biological nurturing?
google it

Tryharder Fri 08-Aug-08 22:33:09

Hi Pollyanna, yes, tried the cloth under the boob thing which helps a bit depending on how full my breasts feel. I generally just support my breast with my other hand but then of course you dont have a hand free to read a book or eat or drink anything. Another bfc suggested that I make a sling to hoist my boob up. My mum made me one but it's a bit uncomfortable. But can you imagine bf in public and putting a sling around your boob!!!!!!!!!! I'm even kinda embarrassed to wear it around DH.

thisisyesterday Fri 08-Aug-08 22:40:41

tryharder, do get him checked for tongue tie.
it doesn't always hurt to feed a TT baby, but it can affect their latch

Tryharder Fri 08-Aug-08 22:55:10

Thisisyesterday, who do I ask about the tongue tie - Ive never heard of it. Can you tell me more about it?


thisisyesterday Fri 08-Aug-08 22:57:46

it's when the bit of skin (frenulum) under the tongue is attached too close to the front of the mouth.
it can make it hard for them to stick their tongue out, and hard to stay attached to a boob

it can be snipped, ds2 had his done at 3 weeks. they do it without anaesthetic or anything, which sounds horrendous, but it doesn't hurt them. ds2 didn't even wake up when his was snipped, and there was no blood, but feeding was better immediately.

sometimes they have a dip in the centre of the tongue when they poke it out, sort of heart-shaped

thisisyesterday Fri 08-Aug-08 22:59:42

tongue tie pic
(I think that's joined pretty close to the frnt of the mouth. severity can vary, so may not look that bad.
when ds2 cried you could see his clearly, he couldn't lift his tongue up to the roof of his mouth

thisisyesterday Fri 08-Aug-08 23:01:19

heart-shaped tongue

and some info on tt and breastfeeding

Tryharder Fri 08-Aug-08 23:12:58

Thanks for this Thisisyesterday. Had a look through the information you attach and the effects of tt sound pretty close to what i am experiencing. I havent noticed anything wrong with DS2's tongue but then I havent been looking. I\ll discuss it with the HV.

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