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Failed Breastfeeding - Advice needed

(24 Posts)
DesertBreasts Wed 08-Oct-08 10:38:01

I have had big problems breast feeding and want advice about how to do it differently next time.

I have 3dc. First was a natural delivery after which I was given help with 2 breast feeds - both with a terrible latch. dd1 lost weight every day and when on day 12 she was still losing she was admitted to hospital investigated for horrible things and sent out with formula top ups.

For dd2 I tried to see what I had done wrong and do it differently. I made certain she fed every 3 hours from birth. My latch was great from the start (except for a few occasions when I dozed off and she slid off the nipple a bit). I had a section so I had lots of help in hospital and made sure I had a lot of privacy - unlike first time when we were surrounded by relatives. I was much better educated about breast feeding and had learnt how to recognize a let down -from the big chewy motions and swallowing rather than any sensation. Dd2 never got a let down from my left breast. If we had had a pause of about 2 hours between feeds then she would get one let down from my right which would last 30secs. She spent the rest of the time trying to stimulate a let down. Sometimes she would pull off, have a big sigh and then latch on again to keep trying. This is exactly what Dd1 had done. When she had still not done a poo and was losing weight I introduced formula at 8 days.

For ds1 my milk never came in. I took fenugreek tablets from birth to try and increase my prolactin. With both the other two on day 4 in the morning my breasts were full - not engorged- but no longer their normal selves. With ds1 I did have milk as opposed to colostrum after day 4 but my breasts were soft the whole time. Latch no problem - it's easy with a soft boob. Gave up on day 8.

None of my dcs has done a breastmilk poo!

I plan to have one more go. I will try fenugreek again and am thinking of pumping 1 1/2 hours after each feed from birth. I'm not sure if that will be detrimental to the colostrum that baby should be getting though.

I have no other ideas.

Is there anyone out there with a similar experience who managed to breast feed in the end? I would really like to hear how you did it. Any other ideas also v. v. welcome.

tiktok Wed 08-Oct-08 10:49:17

Really, really hope things go better this time for you, desert.

I am a breastfeeding counsellor with NCT. You could call us on 0870 444 8708 or any of the other helplines and go through what happened.

Also, I'd suggest you have a think about whether you are understanding how bf works in a way that helps. Recognising the let down is neither necessary nor accurate - it really does not help with bf. I have bf 3 kids and hardly ever felt or spotted a let down! There are many let downs per feed - I suppose some babies may change the way they suck when one happens but I have seen a zillion babies feed and I do not bother looking for this when I observe whether the baby is feeding effectively or not. I do look for swallowing, and the distinctive way an effectively feeding baby sucks.

No point in expressing half an hour after each feed unless you hit serious supply issues.

This time, keep your baby skin to skin for as much of the 24 hours as poss and do not time or schedule feeds. Every 3 hours may not be enough for some babies, for instance. Watch for your baby's feeding cues and respond to them, and not the clock

You are right to watch for the breastfed baby poos.

Hope you get good help this time.

RedOnHerBeheadedHead Wed 08-Oct-08 10:53:54

Well done for your perseverance! You did well getting the colostrum into your baby! I'm a breastfeeding support peer, and i could tell you all the usual, latch, skin to skin, etc... But you already know all that, and I don't have any personal experience though, which is what you are asking for. However, in my breastfeeding group, a lady there had a similar experience to you, this is her 5th baby and she was determined to succeed this time. He is 5mths now and has only put on just over 1lb since birth - but last week he put on 5oz in that week. She has had to take him to the hospital several times because of failure to thrive, but the past few weeks he has been doing quite well. The specialists have been very supportive of her breastfeeding, and have never pushed her to giving him formula.

I would go into this one with a completely fresh attitute. Try to forget the previous brestfeeding experiences and start afresh. Think of it as your first time to ever put a baby to your breast and see how it goes.
I wish you all the luck in the world.

TikTok is very good, I'm sure she will be able to give far better advice than me. She'll probably pop by when she sees your post.

RedOnHerBeheadedHead Wed 08-Oct-08 10:54:29

x post with tiktok - i thought she would be here for you!

DesertBreasts Wed 08-Oct-08 10:54:30

Thanks tiktok. I will contact someone.

What I was describing as a let down was the effective sucking and swallowing which was happening sooo infrequently.

i was feeding 3 hourly because all 3 were asleep in between and routed a lot less than 3 hourly.

Elasticwoman Wed 08-Oct-08 10:55:41

Not sure why you gave up with ds1. Breasts do not have to be hard for bf to happen; was there any other problem?

It is quite normal for babies to lose weight in the few days after birth. Sounds like it's normal for yours to establish feeding slowly.

My own dc all lost weight from birth which they did not regain until A MONTH old. The expectation is 10 days but as my dc were all quite large at birth I didn't worry. All went on to bf successfully and are healthy now.

Biggest advice for successful bf: DON'T PANIC.

Contact breastfeeding counseller before birth and discuss your bf history. Then arrange for her to visit you in hospital as soon as convenient after the birth.

DesertBreasts Wed 08-Oct-08 10:56:34

Thanks Red - it does help to know I'm not alone.

Elasticwoman Wed 08-Oct-08 10:57:53

Like Tiktok, I didn't feel the let-down either.

Elasticwoman Wed 08-Oct-08 11:02:19

Also, my 3rd baby did not feed at all (after initial introduction to the breast which was not a proper feed) for 15 hours because he was asleep most of that time. Every time he stirred, I offered the breast, but he was not interested.

I believe it is important not to force the baby in that first 24 hours, as it can cause breast refusal. Baby will be well nourished from the placenta so no chance of starvation. Skin to skin much more important and following baby's cues.

tiktok Wed 08-Oct-08 11:08:25

Desert - then that's not a let down. A let down is a surge of milk, from the storage parts of the breast, and it is also known as the milk ejection reflex. It happens several times a feed, but absolutely not with every suck.If you were looking for it, you might only see it infrequently. I am still not sure what you were looking for, sorry

I think you will be helped a lot by someone listening in real life and answering their questions. I worry that you are going to 'over engineer' breastfeeding, and start supplements of fenugreek, expressing after every feed, micro-analysing the whole thing....vast majority of bf relationships need to be no more than 'enabled' by having mum and baby close, tucked up together, feeding ad lib

DesertBreasts Wed 08-Oct-08 11:20:28

Elasticwoman - thanks for your reply. Dd2 basically fed 3 hourly and I woke her once each night - to avoid a longer gap. Once awake she was routing and we were off. Ds1 did have longer gaps because he was too sleepy. I don't think you can really force breast feed can you? I stopped with Ds1 because we was not pooing was losing weight and feeding constantly. Dd2 and ds1 had limited skin to skin in first 24 hours as they were c sections but as soon as I could they were in bed with me with skin to skin and stayed that way for a week.

Tiktok- with dd1 I think one of the mistakes I made was to not interpret every cry as hunger and we weren't tucked up together. The others I have done differently.

I'm not sure we're going to get anywhere with this - but what i was trying to describe was the moment when the baby goes from doing little sucks to big jaw moving bites with swallowing and milk pooling at the sides of the mouth. That is what was only happening for 30 secs and only if there had been a 2 hour gap.

You are prob right about me overengineering it - but after not managing 3 times I really want to do everything I can to give it the best chance.

tiktok Wed 08-Oct-08 11:28:46

Desert - what you are describing sounds like normal breastfeeding

MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 08-Oct-08 11:39:26

Desert Call a bfing helpline in advance of the birth.

The biggest danger to you successfully bfing this time is thinking and worrying about it too much. It's hard not to, especially with your experiences so far but it really doesn't need analysing UNLESS your baby is consistently loosing weight, OR your nipples are gatting damaged.

BF is one of those things where relaxing, trusting, letting go of control, trusting your instinct are much better and efficient tools than equipment, analysing, controlling, timing, watching etc. etc.

DesertBreasts Wed 08-Oct-08 11:49:47

Moonlight -your right. I do find it hard to relax about it. I always manage to happily convince myself that it's going to be "different this time" and I am truly relaxed for the first few days. However, as soon as we get on to the constant 24 hour feeding bit, with 10min listless naps, I lose confidence and become really anxious, esp when there's no poo.

DesertBreasts Wed 08-Oct-08 11:50:47

It also doesn't help that i feel the older ones need my attention too and I quickly feel unable to cope.

DesertBreasts Wed 08-Oct-08 11:51:10

Sorry - you're right

desertbreasts Thu 09-Oct-08 10:33:30

Red - I have been thinking about the woman you described. I don't think I could do what she is doing no matter how much I wanted to breastfeed. I know that breast milk is full of micronutrients that formula lacks but if they don't grow then surely they are not getting enough of any nutrients. I would rather feed my kids nothing but mcdonalds (which they have never had) than give them the most nutritious food in the world in a quantity that prevents them growing.

Please tell me why I'm wrong on this.

fishie Thu 09-Oct-08 10:48:34

desert i struggled to establish bf, there was much pain and ds was a bit skinny. but i did persevere and am so glad i did.

sometimes it doesn't always go easily at first but there is plenty of time to sort it out so long as you are getting proper support - you are looking at a feeding relationship of many months once past the initial stage.

i do agree with everyone here who suggests you talk to a bfc before you have the baby so that you are confident in getting help if you need it.

Aitch Thu 09-Oct-08 10:57:45

only because you're not that woman, desert. smile of course you should do what you are happy doing, as should she, so long as her doctors agree no harm is coming of it.

it's accepted that babies should put on weight quickly etc etc, but whether or not it's actually such a great thing for all babies in all circumstances is moot, i think i'm right in saying.

i had a v similar situation to yours with dd1, supplemented from day 12. wish i had got help to come off the top-ups, but it wasn't offered. never had exactly engorged breasts, don't feel let-down etc, and was Very Surprised to post about it here recently and see heaps of posters i know to have bf successfully say they hadn't either. why don't you start a thread with let-down in the title and see what everyone says? it sounds to me that apart fromt eh help with those first poos and pees, your supply might have been helped by removing the topups grdadually. although i didn't know this myself with dd1. smile

desertbreasts Thu 09-Oct-08 11:05:21

Thanks Aitch.
I'm sure you're right that the point is moot about how much weight gain matters. As far as I know noone has looked at the benefits of breastfeeding in babies who aren't growing on it. Perhaps they should.

I did get support to come off the top ups with dd1. I tried for 2 weeks, once we were out of hospital and used a supplementary feeding system which gives the baby the formula while still stimulating your nipples. The result was that she didn't regain her birth weight until 5 weeks despite being on formula. I stopped in the end because I was getting referred for PND and decided I would be better off accepting that she needed a little formula and that at least the rest was coming from me.

ilovemydog Thu 09-Oct-08 11:14:37

May I just add, do not buy any books on breastfeeding! Biggest mistake I made as I was comparing what DD and DS were doing rather than realizing that their needs were different than, um, the textbook version.

Aitch Thu 09-Oct-08 12:28:05

pmsl (in a nice way) at the supplementary system... i had one of them too...

that are SHITE. no wonder you were getting PND signs, that was the end for me, sitting there with stupid little milky threads taped to my tits, trying to kid myself on that i was a human being. grin i think they should be banned, seriously.

desertbreasts Thu 09-Oct-08 12:38:28

LOL Aitch. I remember endlessly trying t get her latched on with the tube in the right place so milk would come out of it. It always ended up at the side of her mouth and so she couldn't draw the milk out. Putting it in the bin did wonders for my mental health.

I still am bit miffed as to why they ask you how you are sleeping as a question to determine PND.

Aitch Thu 09-Oct-08 12:42:06

so glad it's in the bin.

am bfing dd2 at the mo. it's going okay. bit fraught, natch. i did give her some top ups wit formula but not for long.

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