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Advice please - Should I stop expressing and give her only formula?

(22 Posts)
HuskyGirl Mon 28-Feb-05 11:33:00

I went through an awful birth and after heamoraging (spelling?!) was too ill to hold my baby let alone try to breast feed immediately as planned, so she was bottle fed formula immediately due to low sugar levels. On the hospital ward everything seemed to be going fine, I was expressing quite a lot for her and topping up with formula when needed. I still was trying to get her to latch on but at 5lb 7oz her mouth was tiny and she struggled to latch on. But the expressing was making me feel dizzy, shaky and lightheaded. After blood tests I was put on tablets for anaemia and blood pressure control, that have affected my milk supply as the doctor warned me (the labetalol tablets).

I am only managing to express about one bottle full a day but the milk seems so weak, I worry that there isn't actually as much goodness in it as there should be, worried about lack of iron especially. Also due to all the events I have completely lost my appetite and have to force myself to eat the simplest things, only because of knowing I must for the sake of expressing. I just don't know if its better for her to have the formula knowing it have the nutrients she needs, as i'm not convinced about the quality of my milk. I am very dissapointed that i havent been able to properly breast feed her but because of her low birth weight at 39 weeks (due to pre-eclampsia) am just paranoid about getting weight onto her. Is one bottle a day better than none at all? I will talk to the health visitor on Wednesday but was just wondering if anyone could offer any advice?

sparklymieow Mon 28-Feb-05 11:36:02

I was told to drink lots of water and express regularly. I managed to express about 180ml a day when my DDs were in SCBU. You have to build up the milk suplly the same way you would if you are bf.

sparklymieow Mon 28-Feb-05 11:41:13

have you tried putting her back on the breast. I managed to breastfeed two tiny tiny tots, was very hard as they had tiny mouths too, but it might get the milk flowing again?

beachyhead Mon 28-Feb-05 11:41:57

I had pre-eclampsia and was on labetamol (sp?) and the same thing happened. The best thing is to try to express/feed as much as you can (without feeling absoulutely dizzy and horrible) and even if it is only one bottle, it is better than nothing. I only managed to express for 3.5 weeks, while baby was in SCBU, and then when she got home, I stopped and bottle fed. I felt pleased that I had managed to do that much as the mw said, ever little bit helps.

Just do what you can, but don't make yourself ill - that is not what your baby would want!!!! Top up with formula as much as you need and as you get better, your milk flow might return to a fuller level.

Good luck and congratulations for getting through the hideous pre-eclampsia....get well soon.

Miaou Mon 28-Feb-05 11:44:42

Huskygirl, b/f milk looks very different to formula milk, like watered down milk - that doesn't affect its quality.

I would say that if you feel able to continue for a little while it is worth doing, even one bottle of b/f milk a day will make a difference. BUT I would also say that if you find yourself unable to continue then don't beat yourself up about it, your dd will be fine whether b/f or bottlefed.

tiktok Mon 28-Feb-05 11:45:13

HG - what a terrible time you have had

To express instead of bf 'direct' means expressing often - at least as often as the baby would be bf, and that means 8 times a day. Anything less than this, won't build up and maintain a milk supply and it will dwindle to nothing.

The quality of your milk will be fine and just as packed with goodness as anyone else's - quality of milk remains fairly constant whatever the mother's physical condition and diet and anyone who tells you different is talking rot - do a seach on mumsnet for more about this.

I don't know why the expressing would make you feel dizzy - sorry.

You can build up more milk starting now if you start exp often....but if you don't then the one bottle a day you are giving is certainly worthwhile.

You can also think about putting your baby to the breast - maybe your HV can talk about this or refer you to someone who can help. One of the bf helplines will talk about this, too.

MummytoSteven Mon 28-Feb-05 11:45:55

as beachyhead said, every little helps, but only carry on as long as you feel comfortable for.

don't worry as to lack or iron/you not eating enough etc - it won't affect the quality of your milk - it's a bit like PG, that the baby will get first dibs on the nutrients that are available, and won't suffer for it, it's just that you will feel rougher if you don't manage to eat enough. when DS was very little I just ended up having lots of tubs of pate/humous for meals (i.e. things that needed absolutely zero preparation other than getting a spoon out of the drawer!)

how long is it since the birth, as it does sound like you are feeling very down about things - it might help if you could have a meeting with a senior midwife and go through your notes so she can explain why things went wrong.

stitch Mon 28-Feb-05 11:46:23

conratulations on your baby.
i had pre eclampsia with ds1 who was born wighing 5lb 15oz at 37 weeks. breastfeeding was difficult, andi was aadvised to give him a bottle, for my own sanity as the breastfeeding was really takingit out of me.
any breastmilk you give your baby will benefit him, BUT if it is makingyou so unwell, then give him a bottle of formula. its more important he have a sane happy mom, than a stressed out, tired, dizzy mom, but lots of breastmilk.
i agree about trying to get him to latchon again. its worth a try. good luck

MummytoSteven Mon 28-Feb-05 11:47:11

i wonder if the dizziness isn't related to expressing per se, but related to physical exertion whilst you feel weak from the anaemia or possibly a side effect of the bp medication

stitch Mon 28-Feb-05 11:49:09

my health visitor once told me about a study done on swedish women who were starving, but there breastmilk was 'spot on'. anecdotal evidence im afraid, as i cannot remember who did this study or when, but im just repeating it to reassure youthat the quality of your milk will be fine, evenif you are not!

tiktok Mon 28-Feb-05 11:51:45

stitch - I am pretty sure the study you were told about was a famous one when Swedish mothers (who were not starving - when would Swedish mothers starve?!) had their milk compared to (I think) Ethiopian mothers who were on very poor and barely adequate diets, and the milk qualities came out very similar

stitch Mon 28-Feb-05 12:00:51

yeah, i remeber thinking that i dont remember any famines in sweden!
that clears it up!

HuskyGirl Mon 28-Feb-05 12:13:18

Thanks everyone,

The one bottle full I am managing to get out is over the day, as I have been trying to express every 3-4 hours as recommended, but its useful to hear of the study mentioned so at least I can bank that the milk is ok. I'll see how it goes then and hope that the GP will reduce the dose soon. I'm still continuing to try her on the breast each feed, sometimes she latches on for a couple of seconds then stops, but it is improving slightly so i'll continue that too.

MummytToSteven, it'll be 3 weeks Thursday since the birth, i am quite down at the minute but i think i'm still a bit shocked about everything that happened, plus 3 Siberian Huskies to also look after all day, in process of selling our house, and knackeredness! Vicious circle because i suppose stress doesnt help milk production. Have lovely Health Visitor though who is always up for having her ears talked off! and this website is great, although addictive!!!

MummytoSteven Mon 28-Feb-05 12:16:21

at three weeks, fair enough that you'll be thinking about the birth a very lot then! glad you are finding the HV useful. you are doing a grand job perserving with the expressing like that, particularly given the production problems due to the meds side effects

tiktok Mon 28-Feb-05 12:25:42

HG, there is no reason why your drugs would affect production. Don't know why the doc has said this - you can check this yourself on the web. Stress won't affect milk production, either. I can't imagine that your busy life is helping you though - you need time and peace and space to get bf going after a sticky start like yours.....I'd also see if a better pump (or hand expressing) would produce more for you. Tucking your baby up beside you while you sleep/nap is a good thing

HuskyGirl Mon 28-Feb-05 13:07:23

Thanks tiktok, i never even thought of looking into it, i just took the doctors word for granted that they knew what they were on about, should have thought twice after reading some experiences! I'll try a different pump and see if that helps

chipmonkey Mon 28-Feb-05 13:45:57

FWIW i found that putting baby to the breast really helped with mild production even if they didn't take very much

NotQuiteCockney Mon 28-Feb-05 14:04:32

The one thing stress can affect is let-down. So when you're breastfeeding or expressing, if you can do yoga breathing, or otherwise do everything you can to relax, things go a lot better.

stewarty Mon 28-Feb-05 20:03:02

I was in asimilar situation to you except my baby was in special care.When he got home he got brest feeds topped up with my expressed milk.He just could't feed effectively from me and I managed to express for 4 weeks but by this time my milk was diminishing.If you are unhappy don't be scared tochange to formula if it is beteer for you and your baby.Must admit thoiugh in hindsight I wish I had persevered with bf and expressing as now 16 wks down the line wish I was still breast feeding.Difficult decision but once made you can move on and make the best of it.Most importantly enjoy your baby!!!!!!

HuskyGirl Mon 28-Feb-05 21:15:26

thanks stewarty, we weren't on special care but we were on the high dependencey ward for 6 days, the problem i found that didn't help was that she had to be on a strict 3 hourly feeding regime to ensure she put on weight, they wrote down exactly how much she took etc each feed, blood sugars etc, that meant waking her up if required to feed and she would not co-operate with any kind of feeding once woken from her sleep bless her, just like me she just wanted to go back to sleep! So i was hoping that once home and feeding on demand it might improve, which it well might once she settles. I'll see if a different pump helps

Hazellnut Mon 28-Feb-05 22:32:38

Hi Huskygirl - I am in a very similar position to you - had dd 5 weeks ago and v.low birth weight (4lbs 9 oz) at 37 weeks due to IUGR and pre eclampsia. Am also on labetalol but hadn't heard about affecting milk supply. DD would not latch either so I have been expressing - still am although same as you only now manage one feed a day as milk is not that productive. Am pleased I have been able to do this and will probably carry on for another couple of weeks. I am now finding it gets difficult to express now that I am getting out and about. I am also paranoid about getting weight on dd (especially as we worried about her growth from 22 weeks) so feel I am doing right thing by mainly formula feeding to ensure I know what she is getting but giving her as much expressed milk as I can to ensure she is getting the benefit of that.

Sorry - no advice really but just wanted to let you know that you're not alone !

Maisiemog Wed 23-Mar-05 20:02:03

Hi Huskygirl, I can totaLLY relate to how you are feeling, it's such a slog for anyone with a newborn, and then add to that problems with feeding and all the associated stressors: weighing, pumping, being manhandled by midwives aargh.
My ds was 3wks early and weighed 5lb8oz, he was a ventouse delivery and had bruising and jaundice. Sleepy baby, couldn't latch on and I had a catheter in and had to stay in hospital for 8days. I had this routine of nappy, attempted breastfeed, formula feed -with one of those medela feeding cups, putting ds down and going on the breastpump 24 hours a day. Have never been so tired!
And guess what? Being really tired makes you feel depressed and unable to deal with things, so that doesn't help.
When we got home we carried on with the routine (using the avent isis) did as much skin to skin, co-sleeping with no pjs etc. I ate cakes. I also went to my local herbalist and got a tincture made up of goat's rue and alfalfa. You can get it online from Napier's the herbalist, that worked really well for boosting and I have also kept great health since taking it.
The other thing was to get the latch right, because I was so desperate to get ds latched on I would tolerate a lot of discomfort - but don't! You really don't need sore nipples on top of everything else. I eventually took ds off until it felt ok, it was worth it.
It all worked, although it took 6 weeks to get him onto the breast most of the time. Now he's 20weeks old and exclusively breast fed and quite happy and content.
And I don't cry every few hours anymore.
Don't worry about mixed feeding, as long as you keep up the breast stimulation, there's every chance you will eventually breastfeed, just give yourself a chance to recover from a very gruelling experience, and your baby a chance to get used to being in the world. Good Luck!!!!!!!

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