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Help! Sleepy feeder, sore nipples, shall I just express & feed?

(30 Posts)
LadyLotty Sat 20-Jun-09 17:41:06

My little one is 3 weeks tomorrow and he is such a sleepy feeder. On the boob for max 10 min before falling asleep and I've tried taking him off, waking him up (nappy change, taking layers off, playing) and putting him back on again but each feed can take 90 min or longer!

As each day goes on I'm just becoming more and more stressed, exhausted, and resentful... My nipples are so painful and raw pink I joke (bitterly) they may even glow in the dark...

But more disheartening is the fact that because he doesn't take enough at his last night feed, he often wakes up 2-3 times at night (that is between mid night and 8am) which is absolutely draining for me. I'm now a walking zombie.

Has anyone else come across sleepy feeding babies, and if so how have you coped with continuing with breast feeding? Do things get better if I perserver?

I'm also thinking maybe I should just express before each feed, and then give it to him in a bottle? I can get 3-4oz of milk into him at least for each feed and ensure he eats regularly. Has anybody tried this?

mears Sat 20-Jun-09 17:55:06

Does he need more than 10 minutes?

mears Sat 20-Jun-09 17:56:37

I would not express and bottle feed - that will just increase your workload. Make sure he is fixed properly - your nipples should not be painful if he is. Try breast compression to keep him interested?

LadyLotty Sat 20-Jun-09 18:06:11

Yes he needs a lot more than 10 minutes, usually needs to go back to the same boob twice or more (and I'm giving both boobs for each feed).

Nipples are painful because he latches on and off approx once every hour at this rate...!

The express and bottle feed I'm comtemplating may seem a lot of work but to me, its so easy and stress-free compared with just breast feeding -- because currently I'm spending around 9-10hrs a day (this is excluding night feeds!) breast feeding.

Only thing is I'm worried I won't be able to produce AND express much more than I'm currently doing, and so when the little one is older I'll be stuck hmm

giveloveachance Sat 20-Jun-09 18:22:35

My dd was a bit like this, HV recommended, keeping her feet bare and tickling them to keep her awake, and making sure she is not too warm, also the advice was to put her down if she started to fall asleep.

It took a while but the foot tickling worked best for me.

Could your DS be tongue-tied? Often tongue-tied babies will feed for short periods of time and find it exhausting - hence the frequent naps and frequent feeds - and sore nipples.

You will be able to produce and express as the more you do it the more you make - keep your own food and fluids intake up though. Expressing after so many feeds is exhausting - been there!!

Is there a breast feeding advice centre near you?

giveloveachance Sat 20-Jun-09 18:23:59

oh - forgot to mention - it does get better.

CoteDAzur Sat 20-Jun-09 18:28:27

Maybe try giving him only one boob per feed? (Offer same boob if refeeding soon)

Your DS might be 'snacking' - taking the easy (flowing) milk in each breast for 5 mins each. The problem is that this bit is also very watery and low in fat. So it won't keep him full for very long.

By the way, waking up 2-3 times a night for a feed is very good for a 3 week old baby.

tiktok Sat 20-Jun-09 18:37:51

LadyLotty - is your baby gaining weight and thriving?

Some babies take what they need in a few minutes and are perfectly ok - they drop off to sleep and then wake up by themselves and want a bit more.

It sounds exhausting trying to make him wake up and it is stressful, too, as you say.

What would happen if you fed him in line with what he seems to be 'asking' rather than trying to wake him up?

Waking 2-3 times between midnight and 8 am is normal for a new baby....sorry. I don't think it has anything to do with anything being wrong.

I agree with mears - I am not sure how expressing would help in any way and it would make life even more pressured, or it could.

tiktok Sat 20-Jun-09 18:40:50

Cote - I think the concerns about babies 'snacking' are misplaced, sorry. We don't normally need to worry about this. It is one of many normal ways for a new baby to feed

Short, frequent feeds don't mean the baby is taking watery doesnt work like that.

See for a good explanation.

tiktok Sat 20-Jun-09 18:42:01

And one breast per feed is not a good idea, not with a new's fine if the baby shows this is enough, and fine if the mother is trying to reduce her supply. Because that is what one breast only reduces the overall volume and for a new baby that may not be a good thing.

doulalc Sat 20-Jun-09 19:18:40

What's his weight gain and output like? How often is he feeding in a 24 hour period? If you just let him sleep after he comes off on his own, how long before he wakes for another feed on his own? Any issues with jaundice...that sometimes shows up after the first couple of weeks and can cause him to be sleepy.

You could try to encourage him to stay going a bit longer....massage the breast and/or compressions while he is latched on, sometimes the slight movement of the nipple will cause him to suck a bit could do this a few times if he keeps dozing off. If he is absolutely out, let him sleep as long as you feel he is doing fine.

If he is feeding fairly frequently, that can actually keep the hindmilk to the forefront.

Above all else, have his latch and sucking pattern checked. Even with frequent feeds, you shouldn't be getting so sore or the nipples turning pink. It could be he is not moving the milk as efficiently as he could due to his latch, which tires him out, and causes you to be sore. If his latch is off a bit, it may make all the difference.

onehitwonder Sat 20-Jun-09 19:20:26


Just to say that my ds is nearly 2 weeks old and also a sleepy feeder. But he seems to be pretty efficient. He is feeding for 10 - 15 mins off one side about every 2 hours in the day and 3 hours at night. I was worried at first as I used to feed my dd for up to an hour at a time and try to keep her awake to do so. But had ds weighed on thursday and at 11 days old he has gone over his birth weight by 2 ounces - maybe your ds is getting enough in the initial 10 mins? how is his weight?

Tiktok - just a quick question, I rarely get him to take the second breast in one feed. Should I be worried, as long as he is feeding this frequently?

tiktok Sun 21-Jun-09 09:32:56

onehitwonder - no need to worry at all. I should have clarified a bit more. Offering the second breast each time is a good idea for new babies without worrying if they dont take it, if their weight and overall health is it often is and clearly is in your baby. Often babies who signal they don't want the second breast(and who are really not aware of being offered it ), by going to sleep soundly are indeed feeding fairly often anyway.

onehitwonder Sun 21-Jun-09 16:10:21

Thanks Tiktok. I used to post as Mandymac and it was thanks to advice from you and Mears 4 years ago that i ended up happily feeding my dd for 2.5 years grin. I am glad you are still around this time round smile.

mel1981 Sun 21-Jun-09 16:35:49

Im affraid ive got another side to this- but bits might help. My son is 3 weeks old and he was a sleepy feeder. At 4 dyas old we had an overnight stay in the childrens ward at hospital for another reason while there I described his feeding and they were concerned, he was very sleepy and id already tried tickling his feet (which i think he enjoyed!), taking off clothes etc to keep him feeding and yes this was very exhausting to do at EVERY feed. He has also lost a bit too much weight for their liking 8lb 6oz at birth down to 7lb 4oz within 4 days.
I reluctantly tried formula at the hospital (as I was desperate for him too feed and they wanted us to stay longer if he wouldnt feed) and he took to it better. I said to the nurses i'd try to feed him expressed milk from a bottle at home and they were happy enough.
Anyway sterilising, expressing and feeding was VERY time consuming- even with my OH at home& especially with two other kids at home too. He was drinking it better but still only very small amounts approx 20ml. It all got too much so in the end I decided to give him formula as a one off but found that he drunk double what he would of, so it continued. I am very dissapointed that I couldnt breastfeed as have done with my previous and love the closeness and the extra chance to bond. But at the same time im not gonna beat myself up about it as I know that in a way im doing the best for my son as he is slowly gaining weight now (7lb 110z last week and is being weighed again tues-so fingers crossed he has gained more) and as long as hes healthy then im happy.
If your HV is concerned about weight try expressing but it is time comsuming and might not be a long term solution, but its worth a try.

mel1981 Sun 21-Jun-09 16:40:16

Forgot to say my son (after a while of him trying to latch on) would have two sucks then fall asleep so maybe your little one is having enough trough a 10min feed- every baby is different. Waking 3 times in the night isnt bad going at all at 3 weeks. We also have to wake my son every 4 hours for a feed as he is that lazy he generally wont wake for feeds even now.

tiktok Sun 21-Jun-09 18:10:17

at onehitwonder - glad I helped

mel1981: your situation is as you say totally different from the OP's. If the OP's baby is gaining and thriving - as I said - then there may be no need for concern. Certainly, 10 mins may be fine in a baby of this age.

It's sad you had the experience you did and the worry of it. The weight loss at 4 days was large enough to prompt action - it's not clear that the help you got was good, and on the face of it, it wasn't. Without clinical signs of dehydration, your baby may well have been fine with extra attention paid to effective bf. He was sleepy because he wasn't getting an effective feed - and then he would not get an effective feed because of being sleepy. So the cycle needed to be broken. Expressing and feeding by bottle is massively time consuming, and it has to be done at least 8 x in 24 hours - in practice, most women simply can't keep that level up for long, as so the supply dwindles

It's good your baby is slowing gaining weight, but it's clear there is an issue with this, even on formula, so he's had a difficult first three weeks. If you decide you want to return to bf, this would be possible, but it would need a lot of time and motivation - and a return of your confidence, too. Staying with formula is an understandable reaction to this. If you want to ask more about returning to bf, just post a question about it

tiktok Sun 21-Jun-09 18:11:31

Just to add, mel....your baby is not lazy. He's only three weeks old! He is sleepy, but there may be a reason for this. Sorry - I get uncomfortable when little babies are labelled like this

chibi Sun 21-Jun-09 18:29:01

hijack tiktok can you advise on my thread please? here

CoteDAzur Mon 22-Jun-09 13:08:23

tiktok - OP may decide not to try what I have suggested, which is her prerogative, but I don't appreciate being told what to say. Kellymom is just some 'lactation consultant' and hence not gospel, and babies do 'snack' - i.e. drink little and often. When you manage to delay a feed by an hour, you see baby's 5 min/feed habit go up to 15-20 mins, and then he goes longer until the next feed. That is my experience anyway.

DS is 4 weeks old, so this is a subject I have a rather refreshed experience of. I gave both breasts to DD and she would rarely get to hindmilk. I'm giving one breast per feed to DS and, if anything, I have better supply this time.

tiktok Mon 22-Jun-09 14:21:29

Sorry you are offended, Cote; I tried to be polite. This is a discussion board so other people's contributions can be discussed. I explained in brief why I had a concern about what you said, and linked to a website which explains, with references for further study, which would explain further.

You cannot tell if a baby gets to the hindmilk or not, and even if you could, looking at the clock would not help you.

Your advice and experience does not 'fit' the OP's situation, and in fact her situation could well have been worsened if she deliberately restricted her baby to one side only. I thought it was important to explain this - you interpreted that as some sort of personal criticism. Shame.

CoteDAzur Tue 23-Jun-09 13:01:26

Do discuss. Don't be a Kellymom groupie. The real 'shame' is that there is too much of latter and not enough of former on these feeding threads.

You (well, most people) can tell if baby is getting hindmilk, from color and thickness of milk. Separate baby from breast. Press near areole of said breast. Observe the drops of milk that appear.

CoteDAzur Tue 23-Jun-09 13:02:46

Aureole, rather.

tiktok Tue 23-Jun-09 19:45:08

Areola, Cote....

I have to go out, but will expand more tomorrow and explain why separating the baby and squeezing tells you very little.

MoshiMoshi Tue 23-Jun-09 21:36:24

ladylotty - I hope it is getting better now? My DD1 was a terribly sleepy feeder and was asleep for most of her first week and I swear didn't open her eyes until the second. It was a shock to deal with as my DC1, DS, had been alert and crying for feeds regularly from birth. I managed to get her to feed more efficiently over time by stripping her for all of the feeds and if, she fell asleep, by putting her on the floor (had to be a cold, hard and draughty floor, as the bed or even a soft carpet was enough for her to get comfy and fall asleep again). After the first couple of weeks I felt the cycle had been broken and she was giving me the cues more than me watching the time and waking her for regular feeding. But it was hard work and so I wanted to say to you, "hang in there", as it can suddenly change for the better even though you will like it won't ever. I recall each of the toe-curling feeds during that time as I was so tired I was not ensuring a good latch and had cracked bleeding nipples from the start.

I also had to feed from one side as she had difficulty feeding from the other for the first 6 weeks (it has a larger nipple) and so also expressed every feed from the side she didn't feed from to keep the supply up and her intake up too. This meant that I was constantly sterilising and expressing but it did mean I could have a break from the toe-curling feeding every so often which, despite the extra work, was welcome at the time. So I do understand where you are coming from!

I have recently had DC4 and she also started life as a sleepy feeder. On the advice of an anxious midwife I took her to A&E at 4 days as she had lost 11% of her birth weight. I felt at the time this was probably her being over-cautious as all other signs were good (she was alert, wet nappies although slight meconium in poos still, not the yellow stuff) but of course on day 4 I was right in the middle of the Baby Blues and so was inclined to do what anybody told me at that stage even though I knew in miy heart that I just needed to be left at home to get her feeding more often and BFing established while my DH was on paternity leave and could focus on the other DCs. It turned out to be a huge PITA as the medical reaction was to be extremely cautious and admit her for monitoring of feeds where I had to express and feed her by bottle so they could record the quantities she was taking. Needless to say, after being discharged I had a further battle on my hands to get BFing properly established again! (cue: much cursing of the aforementioned midwife during this time!)

Anyway, I digress, because it sounds as if your problem is just a sleepy feeder and not weight gain as you have not mentioned other signs of problems. But my point is that I have had two sleepy feeders (I am not even going to mention DD2 who refused point blank to BF so prompting me to express to feed her BM) and various issues in connection with each of them, but after persevering, I managed to BF DD1 for a year and plan to do the same with DD3 for at least that long. Along the way I have had to express and bottle feed EBM, use nipple shields to get DD3 to accept the nipple again after feeding her EBM in bottles for 24 hours because of the sodding medical intervention and deal with one-sided feeding until the little burgers can get their chops around my larger nipple, but it has all been worth it and although it seems like an eternity at the time, it has really been just a minor blip in the grand scheme of things looking back now.

Just a thought: if you feel a bottle of EBM would help you, why not? Just be prepared for what that may entail for the relief it may give you (eg a bit of nipple confusion possibly and lots of extra washing and sterilising) and keep an eye on where it may lead you. I have used bottles very early on with mine for reasons described and found that I had to watch the ratio of bottles to boob to ensure it wasn't detrimental to the BFing. Now with DD3 I keep it to just one a day to keep her used to a bottle and find that more than twice can make it tricky for example. It is always a personal choice but watch you won't end up going where you would rather not!

PS - I have found the advice here and, in particular, that from tiktok absolutely brilliant from whom I have learnt much from (even on my fourth DC!) But do make sure you do what you want to do based on what you have been advised. You are the mum after all! Then if you mess things up you have only yourself to blame wink. But conversely, you can pat yourself on the back for the successes!

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