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Struggling to BF - Please help

(17 Posts)
Benjy Tue 25-Aug-09 09:45:18

I gave birth to DS a week ago. He has latched a few times with the help of the breastfeeding support workers at the hospital but once on won't suck. He also struggles to maintain a good latch and seems to push some of the breast out and end up on the nipple. He developed jaundice within 24 hours. I got lots of support from hospital staff this time because they understood how much I wanted to BF but they ended up advising me to switch to a bottle if only as a temporary measure because he also wasn't feeding well from a cup and they wanted to know if there were any physiological problems causing the problem with the sucking.

DS will feed from a bottle though still seems to struggle initially and will sometimes push the teat out of his mouth even though he is very hungry and desperate to feed. Staff said he shows a lot of the characteristics of a tongue-tie baby, though they have checked him for this and it isn't the cause of the problem. He is quite a small baby.

I've developed a uterine infection and because I am allergic to so many antibiotics, I am having to take one that can cause problems with the developing joints in young children so I haven't been able to try and latch him or feed him expressed milk since last Thursday evening.

I am taking the last dose of antibiotics later today and want to try breastfeeding again in a couple of days when the drugs are out of my system. How can I get him to latch and suck? I've tried the helplines though haven't found them that helpful. I have an excellent book (Bestfeeding) and know a lot about positioning, how a good latch should look, etc. I was told at the hospital that I am doing everything right but DS has a part to play too and I can't make him suck.

I have been trying to maintain and build a supply through hand expressing and pumping with an electric pump. I got 1oz the first time but this has dwindled to maybe 5ml per go and I express for probably 45 minutes each time. I know I have to do this 8-12 times a day and at least once overnight but for how long should I be doing this each time and is there any way of increasing my milk supply? Someone mentioned to me mother's milk tea but I haven't heard of this and don't know if it's any good.

I have built up a good relationship with a local breastfeeding support worker but she is away until the end of the week. My local NCT BF counsellor is also on holiday at the moment and the local baby cafe is closed until the second week of September.

I had the same problem with DD and ended up formula feeding because I couldn't get her to accept the breast and suck and don't want to do the same for DS.

Benjy Tue 25-Aug-09 09:46:42

I just realised how long my post is. Sorry, I thought all this info would be relevant but I know it's a lot to wade through. Would really appreciate some help, though

Benjy Tue 25-Aug-09 09:48:48

Should also clarify that hospital staff were very concerned for health of DS and advised bottle feeding because he wasn't feeding well with a cup and not at all at this point on the breast.

bedlambeast Tue 25-Aug-09 10:22:26

Message withdrawn

Caro1302 Tue 25-Aug-09 10:55:34

Hi! My DS wouldn't latch until he was 13 days old but we did get back to ebf eventually and I ended up bf for 7 months. It can be done, good luck.

Benjy Tue 25-Aug-09 11:40:54

Caro, how did you do this and how did you maintain your supply for 2 weeks without feeding?

Benjy Tue 25-Aug-09 19:16:27

Bumping for any evening mnetters who might be able to help.

notforconsumptionbythemail Tue 25-Aug-09 20:59:07

Hi - not at all an expert, but wondered what sort of 'not sucking' ds is doing? Is he getting in a tizzy, or getting sleepy, or what? I found white noise (hairdryer, radio static or similar) helped to calm ds down when he was in a 'I am hungry but this is way too difficult' strop.

suwoo Tue 25-Aug-09 21:03:21

I am taking Fenugreek capsules (holland and barrat) to increase supply.

Hope you get the help you need.

HeadFairy Tue 25-Aug-09 21:13:39

Hi there, sorry to hear you're having problems. I agree with bedlam, if you're expressing to keep your supply up while you're on antibs then you need a good quality hospital grade double pump. stimulating both sides at the same time really helped my let down reflex massively. Also, you need to really really relax when expressing. Lots of books recommend looking at your baby (I used to put ds in his bouncy chair while he dozed and I watched him) but watching something funny on tv also helped me, it took my mind off what I was doing and really really helped the let down. I found Father Ted very good in this situation

There are other things they recommend to increase supply, oatmeal is meant to help. A bowl of porridge every morning, and oat cakes are a couple of things that can help. Also fenugreek as suggested by Suwoo. It takes a bit of time to build up to expressing, I used to express for an hour three times a day, but I was obssessive! Eventually I'd get about 3 oz out of each side in about 20 mins of expressing. But it did take me a couple of months to build up to that.

I'm sorry I can't help with getting your baby to latch better. DS never used to open his mouth wide enough, and used to slip off and down the nipple. I used to gently pull down his chin using my finger to help him open his mouth again and get him to slip back on up, as it were. Might be worth a try?

Thinkstoomuch Tue 25-Aug-09 21:16:48

Just wanted to give you some encouragement for keeping going when things have been tough for you.

Hopefully someone expert will be along to give you more advice, but I'd second the advice to have loads of skin-to-skin contact and I would think the main thing is to get a BF counsellor physically there with you. The hospital staff may be well intentioned but might not know what to look for.

I was discharged with my DS1 apparently feeding well. In fact I was in shock after a traumatic birth and as much as I fed (about 10 hours a day), and my latch appeared to be sound, he was dehydrated and losing weight. We both had to be readmitted to hospital; he had to have formula top-ups, sadly. Eventually after lots of pumping with hospital-grade pumps I got my supply going. DS1 also had to be constantly jiggled, blown on, stipped naked, etc. to keep going. It took until about day 10 for us to be on the right track.

Good luck.

Caro1302 Tue 25-Aug-09 21:20:04

Sorry for the delay, was getting DD to sleep. I started expressing on day 5- until then he'd only had formula. I was able to express about 5 times a day so it maintained an OK supply but not brilliant. Even when DS managed to latch we didn't have a good latch and I found BF excrutiatingly painful for a few weeks, and mixed BF/FF/EBM. I got help with our latch and BF became a joy, and that's when I started to wean him off the formula.

I expressed as much as I could, took fenugreek tablets and fennel tea etc to boost my supply. I always offered the breast before topping up with formula and slowly he took less from the bottle and I decreased the amount by 1oz at a time, then dropped a bottle at a time. It probably took me around 6 weeks to ditch the formula completely. I have to say that my supply never fully recovered and I did reintroduce 1 bottle a day which we maintained until 7 months when I gave up BF completely.

If you do get fenugreek tablets be aware that you need to come off the tablets gradually once your supply is where you want it. If you go cold turkey your supply will drop dramatically. The best advice I have is to feed, feed, feed. Much better than expressing and your supply will be boosted far more effectively.

Good luck and I hope you get DS latched and sucking very quickly.

fishie Tue 25-Aug-09 21:27:45

benjy sad what dreadful luck.

dimly recall advice to express at least twice if not three times overnight - sorry that will be grim.

lots of skin to skin / baths together.

i didn't get ds to latch till 5 days and then it was dreadfully painful because i was so grateful to get him on that i didn't/couldn't deal with the positioning. i do wonder now whether he had tongue-tie or something which prevented him gaping properly. anyway, of course mouths grow, so it stopped being a problem.

as others have said, protect the milk supply and make sure he is fed on something and hopefully you will soon be breastfeeding happily.

pinknosedevereux Tue 25-Aug-09 23:13:44

I know this may be unpopular but, not breastfeeding is not the end of the world. You've obviously tried really hard, but if you and your baby can't get the hang of it; that is what formula is for.

I think you should allow yourself to concentrate on getting strong and bonding with your son and getting on with family life.

Some babies won't feed and in the past may have failed to thrive just like mothers and babies died before safe cs.

Try and accept that it's not working out for you.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Tue 25-Aug-09 23:20:41

Or don't accept that it isn't working out for you hmm and carry on doing what you're doing which is seeking good advice, finding an alternative, and trying to work out if there is physiological reason why things aren't going well while keeping your supply up.

I just wanted to say how brilliant you are that you are trying these things, and that what you probably need right now is some really expert help from an experienced BF counsellor and perhaps some advice on extended expressing and relactation.

I am not that person but I know that the BF lines might be able to find someone who can help with such a complex set of issues. If you can't find someone to come to you, can you afford to pay a private lactation consultant until your local contacts come back?

There are a few people on MN who have expressed for a long time...

Good luck and keep going while you still have options...

JetLi Wed 26-Aug-09 07:56:23

Hi Benjy - there is certainly hope - DD & I went from fully bottle fed back to fully breast fed. It really sucks and I hated every minute but the regular pumping is crucial to maintain supply (even when it looks like nothing is coming out). And you need to do it at night too. Double pumping was advised to me by these wonderful Mumsnet folks and it really helped.
Got to go feed now but will pop back later smile

Benjy Wed 26-Aug-09 19:37:28

Thank you all for your encouragement. I spoke to my doctor today over the phone who agreed to prescribe domperidone. Does anyone know the dosage I should be taking?

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