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can breast feeding still improve after 11 weeks? (long post, sorry)

(25 Posts)
mololoko Sun 19-Oct-08 21:31:13

hi all,

i have dd 11 wo (pfb). i have been bf since birth but we have had so many problems that i'm seriously considering giving up.

when we have a good feed, it's the best feeling ever. but we have so many feeds that are really painful or i have no milk which end up with one or the other of us crying

i never realised how strongly i would feel about wanting to breastfeed and i feel that if i give up i won't forgive myself. i am also surrounded by friends that breastfed up to 2 yrs + and i feel really jealous of them.

has anyone still had a nightmare with bf at the 11 week point and managed to improve it and carry on?

is it still worth me trying to improve her latch? (i think she latches poorly due to an earlier tongue tie problem which I think is the basis of the low supply, sore nipples etc, but all the bf consultants i have seen say her latch is fine!) or will it always be like this now as she will have got into bad habits?

we'd been having a nightmare from 3 weeks old - she had her tongue tie snipped at 7 weeks old. that seemed to help initially, but that was 4 weeks ago and it's awful again

i have been to loads of different clinics and lactation consultants, read every page of kellymom, try to pump as much as poss and taking motilium and herbal remedies to increase supply...and we're still struggling so much and topping up with formula and i have SUCH sore nipples i end up dreading the next feed

sorry for the long post. anyone else had a similar experience? if so, what happened next?

btw dd is a happy lovely little thing when not struggling to get milk. dh thinks if we moved to formula both dd and i would be happier? opinions?

thank you

OP’s posts: |
Guadalupe Sun 19-Oct-08 21:41:36

Hi Mololoko - breastfeeding never really settled down for me until after the three month mark. Sometimes it was fine and then we'd have long patches of bad latching, blocked ducts and lots of visits to the cranial osteopath which seem to help. Then it just clicked and everything was quicker and easier.

It sounds like you're doing really well getting to this point when it's been so hard for you but I reckon it's worth persevering if you can as you say it's so enjoyable when it works. Eleven weeks is still quite early though I expect it seems forever to you!

I'm sure others can help with more practical stuff, I don't know anything about tongue tie, but I think I have read on here that top-ups can confuse the breastfeeding latch so it might be worth getting some help with that again from your bf councellors. Good luck with it and congrats. smile

naturelover Sun 19-Oct-08 21:51:36

Hi there, it took me and DD about 13-14 weeks to really get the hang of breastfeeding. Our problem was recurrent thrush but I also had latch problems. DD wouldn't open her mouth wide enough which made feeding her quite painful. With a lot of persistence - and help with the latch from a very knowledgeable bf counsellor - I was able to "teach" her to open her mouth wider. Basically I had to unlatch her if the latch wasn't perfect. It was a tedious, frustrating process, but I tried to take one feed at a time and after a while the good feeds outweighed the bad.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that 11 weeks is still quite early and you've done so well to continue this far in the face of lots of difficulties, so where there's a will there's a way and if you really want to continue then it's probably worth giving it a bit longer. I'm no expert and I experienced different problems to you so I can't comment on the particular problems you've had, though.

I'm still bf DD aged 14 months and I can honestly say it's a real pleasure and she's thriving.

Hopefully one of the bf experts on here can give you more specific advice. Best of luck

mololoko Sun 19-Oct-08 22:01:14

thanks guys, naturelover - sounds familiar - i also have thrush and dd also doesn't open her mouth wide enough - she seems to hang on to the end of my nipple rather than getting a mouthful. that's when it gets really painful!! have tried unlatching, but often i can't get a good latch even after repeated tries and she gets really upset

OP’s posts: |
Guadalupe Sun 19-Oct-08 22:04:47

Can you show a bf councellor the bad latching and maybe they can show you how to correct it?

mololoko Sun 19-Oct-08 22:07:45

i do know that ff can interfere with supply and bottles can cause nipple confusion, but when she was 3 weeks she was losing weight so mw told us to top up 2oz after every feed (i was so upset that i'd been making my baby go hungry that i did it without thought or hesitation).

we have got that down to top ups just after the 7pm and 10.30 pm feeds now (she is fed on demand during the night and day, but dh wakes her for the 10.30pm feed and feeds her whatever milk i have managed to express (it's never much ) and formula).

my nipples are so painful by the evening that i can't face cluster feeding in the evening any more, if we don't top her up at 7pm she cries all evening and can never get any milk from me. it's awful.

OP’s posts: |
mololoko Sun 19-Oct-08 22:11:34

thanks guadalupe - all the breastfeeding counsellors i've seen so far have said her latch is ok because her ears are moving etc etc but i'm SURE her mouth isn't open wide enough.

i have large somewhat saggy boobs with big nipples and i don't know if they're too big for her little mouth

have tried loads of different positions etc too. one problem is that every bf counsellor i see offers different advice!!

OP’s posts: |
moondog Sun 19-Oct-08 22:14:27

The toppoing up isn't helping because your body is not able to guage how much milk your baby needs. The more she sucks the more you make. Your body therefoe is being tricked into assuming the baby needs less, so it makes less.

Nasty vicious circle. sad

Have you zapped the thrush with fluconazole?
There will be some useful info here

Sorry you are having a grim time. I've been there. it's horrid.

Guadalupe Sun 19-Oct-08 22:22:31

Did they see her just chewing the nipple when they said her latch was fine? It is so frustrating isn't it, I wish I had better advice.

Like Morroco says though, your body makes the amount it thinks it needs from the feeding and although some people find mixed feeding works for them it sounds as though it's really confusing your body and your dd. It must be tricky to get her latch right if she does it differently with bottles.

Can you spend lots of time snuggled up and try and feed more often? Do you need to wake her for the 10.30 feed, can you be led by her a bit more? I guess that's hard if the hv has worried you about her weight.

frazzledfairy Sun 19-Oct-08 22:27:34

i found bf got easier (bearable!) at about 11-12 weeks, and from about 15-16 weeks became enjoyable smile still going strong at nearly 1 year smile

this is with dd, i gave up bf at 12 days with ds1 and 5 weeks with ds2, both experiences were a nightmare and i completely understand where you are coming from.

every bf counsellor i saw gave different advice and in the end we just muddled through (or not!) on our own.

i would give it a bit longer if you can, i think 3-4 months is often a turning point.

can't recommend lasinoh enough for sore nipples, about £10 a tube from boots and worth it's weight in gold!

not quite sure how to phrase this, am v tired! but imo bf is only one thing out of 100's of things you will do for your baby, and not everyone can get it 'right'. i have ff 2 babies and bf one and there is no difference in how i have bonded with them or their health or anything. in a few years time how you fed your little one will probably feel irrelevent! don't beat yourself up over it smile

poisondwarf Mon 20-Oct-08 10:29:48

Sounds like you're doing brilliantly - well done for getting this far.

I had a similar experience to you in that DS was tongue-tied - his was diagnosed and snipped at 6 weeks. Where we had ours done (King's College) they do loads of babies at the same time - all the other babies there were 1-2 weeks old and their mums got immediate relief. It was different for us as DS was older and took longer to learn to relearn the technique, plus my nipples were in tatters by then and took a while to heal. I saw a bf consultant the day after and she told me that as it was done at 6 weeks, the rule of thumb was that it would take at least another 6 weeks for my supply to catch up, and she was exactly right. So in your case try and give it until at least 14 weeks to build your supply up if you can. Sounds like you're on the right track anyway.

In terms of getting my supply up I tried everything you've mentioned (and more) and over 5 weeks or so I got the formula down from 400ml to 200ml a day, but the big breakthrough for me was when I started to express before feeds rather than after (I can give you more details of the "regime" I followed if you're interested). It took 2 days of that to get from 200ml to zero and I never looked back (and never looked at my sodding breast pump again either). Oh and another tip I got from a midwife/bf specialist at Kings was to get your DP on the case - she reckoned it worked like magic. Must admit we only tried it the once and it felt like having a horse's head down there so we didn't pursue it further ... might be worth a try though if you're game!

Can't offer any advice on the baby feeding at the end of the nipple as we didn't have that problem, but I will say that as DS's mouth got bigger and neck control got better it definitely made for a more comfortable feed.

Also don't underestimate the effect of the stress, worry and exhaustion caused by this whole situation. If you're not feeding then you're pumping or preparing bottles, which means that you are missing out on the rest you need. It sounds like you heading in the right direction and hopefully should feel the benefit soon.

I breastfed DS until 17 months in the end and once we'd finished with all the pumping and topping up it was such a pleasure and so worth those first horrible weeks.

becaroo Mon 20-Oct-08 10:44:21

Frazzled fairy - what a lovely post smile

I wish I had seen it 2 weeks ago when I gave up trying to bf my ds2...feel very guilty about stopping but the poor little guy just wasnt getting enough food and we were both very miserable. (I am still anaemic from a difficult birth which may not have helped matters.)

I also talked to bf counsellors and midwives who all assured me his latch was fine, but like the OP I have very large boobs and nipples and I think it was really hard for him to latch on to empty the breast efficiently. After 3 days of feeding 20 hours out of 24 I gave up. Tried expressing but only ever got an oz which ds2 wouldnt take from a syringe sad

I also tried nipple shields - perhaps the OP may find them useful? - didnt work for me, but who knows?

Hope things improve for the OP soon....my ds2 is now taking 5oz of ff every 3 hours and is much happier and now my dh can do some of the feeds I get to spend some time with ds1 too smile

I also second what frazzled fairy said....

"bf is only one thing out of 100's of things you will do for your baby, and not everyone can get it 'right'. i have ff 2 babies and bf one and there is no difference in how i have bonded with them or their health or anything. in a few years time how you fed your little one will probably feel irrelevent! don't beat yourself up over it"

mololoko Mon 20-Oct-08 10:44:53

thanks everyone. we've had a couple of better feeds overnight and i'm not feeling quite so desperate. it's also good to get the moral support.

moondog - my gp won't prescribe flucanazole because i'm breasfeeding, even though i took that information to her. she gives me canestan cream and lots of paracetomol(!). i think the grapefruit seed extract i'm using might be helping though. i have been studying mn threads on thrush for a while!

poisondwarf - thanks for your post too, could i have details of your regime please? if i pumped before i fed dd, then i think there'd be nothing there for her (am i wrong?), but if i pump afterwards i get about an oz in total if i'm lucky. it's also good to know i shouldn't have expected the instant miracle after having the tt snipped that i was led to believe!

well, i won't be giving up today (i keep saying "one more week", but sometimes i really am at my wits' end). thanks everyone.

OP’s posts: |
mololoko Mon 20-Oct-08 10:53:27

frazzledfairy and becaroo - thank you both as well. i find you get inundated with information saying everyone can breastfeed if they try hard enough.

believe me, i am trying so hard and have been for weeks and weeks, so i am certain that for some of us it will simply never work

(i'm still going one feed at a time at the moment)

if i do stop bf, then i will be rereading those posts to stop me feeling so guilty and miserable about it.

OP’s posts: |
poisondwarf Mon 20-Oct-08 11:53:18

Yes I must admit I had the same misgivings but I would have tried anything at that stage! Like you I found that if I expressed after a feed I just got a dribble, and I might have spent 40 mins to an hour doing it.

I basically scheduled feeds every 4 hours and gave myself about an hour to complete each session (the idea was to get loads of rest between sessions). So say the first feed was at 7am it would be something like:

6.45am express left breast for 15 mins max
7am feed from right breast for 25 mins max
7.25am feed from left breast for 10 mins
7.35am top-up until the baby refuses more
7.40am back to bed until 10.45am

The next cycle would start at 10.45am with expressing from the right breast.

Obviously you can tinker with these timings to suit your body and your baby.

Initially the top-ups were a mixture of whatever I'd managed to express and formula, and the top-ups were much more than I'd normally do (like you, I'd got down to topping up at 1 or 2 evening feeds most days) so it felt a bit wrong at first, but I could feel my breasts getting fuller almost straight away so I kept going. By the end of the 2 days though I found I had enough expressed milk to fill him up at the end of each feed, at which point I went back to feeding on demand. BTW 2 days wasn't the aim initially (in fact I was hoping it would work over about a week), it was just how long it took for me - it will be different for everyone.

I have always fed on demand but this regime meant suspending that for a couple of days - DS never went hungry I hasten to add, as I topped him up to the absolute max after every feed with whatever I had available. He didn't at any point cry for food before his next feed was scheduled (your baby might be different though - you might need 3.5 hours or less).

I was lucky in that I had DP around to help so I made sure he did all the sterilising, cooking, cleaning, looking after DS in between feeds etc. You might want to try it over the weekend or perhaps invite your mum or a friend around for a couple of days to make sure you do nothing but feed & rest.

I got the idea from the Gina Ford book (I know) and adapted/simplified it. I'm not naturally a routine kind of person but tbh I was amazed at the results. However I will say that there was nothing holding us back but my supply at that point (i.e. DS no longer had problems removing milk) - it might possibly not work quite as well for you if your DD is still not feeding well because of latch problems/thrush/whatever.

Guadalupe Mon 20-Oct-08 12:55:30

Could you try going back to the beginning and acting as if she's newborn again? Cancel all arrangements, turn off the phone and go to bed! Snuggle up and feed as often as you can and try and get the supply up.

If this is your first and you're still on mat leave would this be possible? It should be enjoyable at least. grin

Guadalupe Mon 20-Oct-08 12:59:33

Sorry, looks as if I'm completely contradicitng poisondwarf's regime that you asked for, I hadn't read that before posting.

Im glad you had a good feed last night. I hope you can get the help and advice you need, it is so miserable when it's tricky. I had recurrent mastitis with ds2 and that was exhausting and painful, not sure how I got through that but he's 21 months now and is not as keen as I am to start weaning!

poisondwarf Mon 20-Oct-08 13:17:47

Don't worry Guadalupe, no offence taken! We're all different and so are our babies, and I think it's just a case of trying every method and combination of methods until you find something that works for you - there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I have to say though that out of all the different things I tried your suggestion was probably the least effective for me - my baby actually lost weight when I tried it! I think that was probably because DS just wasn't good enough at breastfeeding at that stage - much as I hated expressing, it definitely helped me to have something other than DS removing the milk until my supply was fully established and DS was proficient enough to keep it going.

monthlymayhem Mon 20-Oct-08 21:22:11

mololoko - hang in there if you can. BF for me was hellish and painful for the first 12/13 weeks, at which point it did suddenly click into place and get better. I always heard people talking about it getting better after 6-8 weeks and really worried when that didn't happen for us, but it just took a little longer.

I remember it being truly awful dreading the next feed, being in tears with the pain, and thinking I would never enjoy it. However, I'm now just starting to cut down bf'ing at 7 mo and am really quite sad about it coming to an end , but really glad I persevered.

When the pain was at its worst and I was about to give up I used nipple shields, just for 6 or so feeds on one really bad day, and it was just enough to give my nipples a bit of time off and make the next feed without them more bearable. I think alot of people frown on them, but they kept bf'ing going for me

Best of luck, getting to 11 weeks is already a big achievement

LadySanders Mon 20-Oct-08 21:25:20

got much easier for me around 4 months with ds2, don't know why, is now a breeze at 8 months...

Expectant Tue 21-Oct-08 10:54:10

My DS is nearly 11 weeks too and I have to say that it is only in the last week or so that bf has got easier for me. I have had thrush and mastitis and also a sore patch on my nipple that confounded the lactation consultants that I saw to the point that they were about to send me to a breast surgeon to see if there was anything they might suggest.

Finally though the nipples appear to be less sore after trying a number of different things. One of the things I did try was tri-derm cream which should help the thrush and soreness.

I hope things start getting better for you. It's really hard not to beat yourself up about it when it is something you feel strongly about and there is so much guilt associated with it but I'm really pleased to have got so far and so should you be.

chandellina Tue 21-Oct-08 17:12:04

Moloko - i totally relate, we are just now getting to an ok point and it's 12 weeks now. like others said, just hang in there, things do change. DS had a terrible latch - his ears also would move and he would swallow, but he was too tight on the nipple and i was in incredible pain for the first 7 weeks or so. i dreaded every feed and felt terrible.
his latch slowly improved and now it only hurts on one side, where he still likes to clamp down! (but that maybe is even getting better too this past week - my nipples aren't permanently in a wedge shape.)
re: your boobs. they sound like mine and it really helps if i hold the boob. don't know if you are already doing that but it seems to help the latch. I also switched from cross-cradle position to normal cradle just a couple weeks ago and that is so much more comfortable. At first i had to put him in the cross-cradle though or he would just not get a firm latch at all.
re: supply - i worry about this too, and we still have nights where he is just not satiated. we also top up with formula and my EBM, but only once, in the morning.
Taking Fenugreek capsules has seemed to help, so you may want to give that a go.
the expressing regime mentioned above sounds interesting - my only issue is DS wants to feed as often as every two hours and when i express, i really feel like i am depriving him of his next meal. (i express before the feed following the bottle feed - but even then only get about 90ml at the most.)

MrsNormanMaine Tue 21-Oct-08 23:42:54

Also understand. With DD1 we struggled for 12 weeks, also seeing every counsellor going, hiring a pump, mastitis, blood everywhere etc. For me I did stop and move onto formula and had a few weeks of feeling I had failed and let my beloved baby down etc. I wish it had worked but life improved for us all immensely once I stopped and then stopped worrying about having stopped. My Dh and I did one night on, one night off then with feeding, which was fantastic.

Also my ff babies are free of allergies, unlike the rest of us in the family who were bf, me included. It helped me relax about what felt like a failure at the time.

I'm NOT trying to persuade you to stop (but if you do don't think of it as 'giving up'). Only posted because I got to a point where I was still asking for advice about continuing but realised I was actually asking for 'permission' to move onto formula. I hope it works out for you in the best way for the happiness of your household.

Willr024 Tue 01-Oct-19 01:57:59

Hi mololoko . Just came across your original post from 2008 and a lot of what you wrote resonates with our breastfeeding journey re: TT division at 7 weeks, poor latch, pain and not resolved still at 13 weeks. Just wondered whether things got better for you? Like you mentioned, I am so so set on breastfeeding but am struggling with the pain.

Harrysmummy246 Tue 01-Oct-19 13:05:40

@Willr024

Probably worth getting checked whether tie has reattached or was actually fully snipped

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