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Seem to be in a vicious circle with hungry baby BF and FF

(16 Posts)
hal91 Thu 27-Aug-09 09:13:01

I feel like I'm in a very guilty vicious circle with my 5 week old DS. I had planned to EBF but by week 2 was already introducing a formula bottle as the only way to survive his constant feeding and hunger. I feel so guilty for giving him formula and seem to have become trapped with it. He can feed for over an hour on and off and not be satisified but then a 90ml bottle of formula will seem to fill him up. I don't think I have a low milk supply as I get about 90ml off if I express and he seems to have milk around his mouth when he pulls off but feel rubbish that I can't satisfy him.

The problem now is that the formula feeds don't seem to be satisfying him either. Last night was fairly typical and he was at the breast fairly constantly from about 8pm -10pm (not convinced he was actually feeding for all of that time but breasts did feel pretty empty). He then went down in a very restless sleep and woke again at 11pm,fed for 30 mins and went back down and woke again at 12.15 for another 40 min feed. Woke again at 1.15 and had both breasts but was still rooting and seemed really restless so had a formula bottle of 120 mls, still wouldn't settle and in the end DH had to step in at 3pm as I was at my wits end and exhausted. Eventually dozed on and off on DH until 6am with the help of some formula. I fed him again for 30 mins and he went into an unsettled sleep on me for about 20 mins and so this cycle has continued all morning. Most mornings this pattern continues from about 7am until 1pm with him feeding, dozing for 10-20mins, feeding again. I then give in and give him a formula bottle around 12-1 which sometimes gets him to sleep for 30-40mins (when I can hopefully have some lunch myself) and then we start again with the constant BF.

I think that the formula may be causing him to be windy and unsettled as he's become very farty but I can't seem to fill him up with breastmilk alone so I just don't know what to do. I feel rubbish that the formula might be making his tummy hurt and rubbish that I can't satisfy him with breastmilk and he seems hungry all of the time.

I'm exhausted as never really get more than 50min -an hour to sleep and he seems to get so overtired as he doesn't really seem to be getting any quality sleep. He doesn't sleep much during the day and seems to be really overtired by the end of the day which I also don't think helps with getting him to feed.

My nipples are so sore and cracked from the constant feeding (have already had some great advice from you mumsnetters on helping this). I'm not convinced that he is latched right as it is still painful and my nipple is really wedge shaped after feeding so I wonder if he isn't feeding properly when he is on. Have been to local BF clinic a couple of times though and they say he is postioned well and latch is good.

He is v long (length and head measure 98th centile)but weight is 25th centile so GP said she thinks he is trying to catch up and fill his big body hence the constant feeding and need for formula top up. He is putting on weight well though and GP and HV aren't worried.

Sorry this is rambling, there are so many issues and I'm so tired and it just seems to be getting worse when I thought things would start to improve as we headed towards the 6 week mark.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Thu 27-Aug-09 09:22:17

As far as I know, it all sounds normal As long as the baby is putting weight on and having lots of wet nappies then he's getting enough milk, although he might not be latched on right - my DS used to squash my nipple like that, it's really painful I know.
He's probably feeding a lot for comfort as well as food. I might get shot for suggesting this but have you tried a dummy to help settle him? It might help with your sanity and stop you giving him the formula when he might not actually be hungry (although he'll drink it anyway, babies are like that)
Can you express as much as possible so you can top him up with that rather than formula if you feel he really needs it?

fishie Thu 27-Aug-09 09:22:48

poor you hal91, i found it terrible at first too. have a little notebook somewhere when i wrote down how often i fed ds in an attempt to make some sense of it - it is hilarious now because it was about every 6 minutes or something quite bonkers but at the time it was far from funny.

i think you should try ringing one of the bf helplines - there are lots of things in your post which someone could far better discuss with you one-to-one than on here. have you got numbers? i will look for them.

fishie Thu 27-Aug-09 09:28:28

numbers down right hand side

also kellymom on growth spurts.

giving formula is very likely to affect your supply and i think it would be good for you to talk to someone about your latch / positioning, it just so much worse when feeding is painful as well as constant.

herbaceous Thu 27-Aug-09 10:13:08

I was just about to post a thread on exactly the same thing! I've been mixed-feeding my seven-week-old DS since birth, for various reasons, and it's been going pretty well. I've been gradually reducing the amount of formula, and my boobs are doing that dramatic 'let down' thing.

We had a little routine going, whereby he'd wake up about six, have two boobs, then sleep for a few hours. However, the past couple of days he's had two boobs, slept for 40 mins, two more, etc... In the past hour he's had SIX BOOBS and is still hungry. It's now 10 o'clock. My boobs are now flat as pancakes, and my nipples sore, so I'm having to cave in and give a bottle.

I KNOW that giving formula can affect supply, which is why I've been feeding so much from the boob, but there just never seems to be quite enough.

Or maybe this is a growth spurt?

He's also taken to suddenly pulling off the right boob, then crying as if still hungry. I've tried winding him, but that doesn't help.

Better go - he's crying his heart out.

Eirlys Thu 27-Aug-09 10:40:21

OP - A cracked, wedge shaped nipple is a worry that something is wrong- as you have worked out for yourself! Has your DS been checked for tongue-tie at the bf clinic?

TomThumbMum Thu 27-Aug-09 11:03:40

Hal91 I thought this link might help you. Its some of the great advice I received regarding constant feeding.
My ds started on 9th centile but was very long and seemed hungry all the time - this lasted for about 8 wks and then things really started to settle down.
You could definitely benefit from a daytime nap by getting someone to take your ds out in a sling straight after a feed. At six wks old my ds went out with dh for an hour and a half and then had a really good feed on his return. These good feeds meant he would start going a little longer each time.
Also we saw a cranial osteopath as ds had a traumatic delivery, she advised that a dummy would really help as ds was sucking to reieve tension headaches. I know its not always advocated at an early stage but it really helped us and I only used it after a good feed, when I could tell he was satisfied and it helped him sleep.
Hope this helps, you need to sleep, can someone take ds out for a short time today?
You also need some rl breastfeeding support - could you ring a helpline or go to a local support group? I dragged myself out of the house to the local clinic, cried on arrival and got great advice and support from people who completely understand what you are going through.

TomThumbMum Thu 27-Aug-09 11:13:37

sorry i see you have been to a clinic, definitely try one of the helplines then. Sling, swaddle and consider the dummy. HTH.

FanjolinaJolie Thu 27-Aug-09 12:01:33

Yes, a compressed nipple is a sure sign your latch isn't quite deep enough, even though you well might be almost there.

Are you anywhere near Oxford? The breastfeeding clinic at the John Hopkins is one of the leading ones in the UK and so so so helpful.

FanjolinaJolie Thu 27-Aug-09 12:11:21

John Radcliffe, sorry

hal91 Thu 27-Aug-09 13:17:26

Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to reply.

Herbaceous - my heart goes out to you - it's rotten isn't it? I hope some of the advice I've been given here is helping you too.

Unfortunately Tomthumbmum I'm pretty much on my own most of the day and night - DH works in London (2 hour commute each way) so leaves very early and gets home late. I've insisted that he sleeps in the spare room as he can't function on the ridiculous amount of sleep he will get if he stays in the room with me and DS. Last night desperation got me to wake him to help but I try not to. We both lost our Mums when we were quite young so it's hard not having them around for assistance and advice. I do have my sister in the next town and she has been very supportive but is on her own with her DD and working so can't really come round much during the day. None of our friends are local either. I will try a sling for myself though - might at least release me from the chair I spend my whole day chained to so that I can make myself a drink or something to eat without having to put him down and deal with him screaming. Have also had 2 sessions of cranial osteopathy as my DS also had a pretty traumatic birth. He diagnosed a few problems which he seems to have made some progress on - we are going back next week so hopefully it will improve the feeding and general unhappiness he seems to have. Have tried a dummy but he really doesn't seem that impressed and keeps spitting it out.

I'm going to try a different BF clinic tomorrow and see if they can help to sort out the latch.

got to go - my 10 mins freedom are up and he's screaming for food again.

FanjolinaJolie Thu 27-Aug-09 16:57:11

I know this will be of no help to you today (or tomorrow for that matter!) but it is normal for your baby to be very unsettled between four and six weeks, so not all of it may be down to the feeds, but just a stage that all tiny babies go through.

My babies weren't keen on dummies either, Neither was I, particularly. But when little babies are unsettled then can be very useful. Mine used to like being held along my arm on their tummies, I put the dummy in their mouth and because they were face down they couldn't spit it out. Not forcing it in, mind!! Babies do get comfort from being held in this position.

herbaceous Thu 27-Aug-09 17:39:40

I'm going t have to start using a dummy - he's been feeding every 30 mins all day today. I'm just worried about how to tell if he's hungry, or if he just wants to suck. If there were any pattern to his feeding it would be easier to tell - I can see why people want to impose routines...

TomThumbMum Thu 27-Aug-09 21:47:23

sorry if that advice wasn't immediately helpful, hopefully your dh has a day off and could assist then. I personally think it really helped us to space out the feeds a bit. If this isn't an option maybe you could visit your sister and take her dd for a walk so you get a little baby free time whilst your sister comforts your ds. This is just personal opinion obviously, but it really helped me to space the feeds out.
If you have just fed your baby he should not be immediately starving again and could be comforted until you return. I certainly had an hour or more time at a wk old so am sure your baby at 5wks could go this long - again, personal opinion and only you know if this is an option for you.
We had tommee tippee dummies to start with which ds didn't like so tried the mam silk instead, which he took to straight away, maybe try a different sort?

hairymelons Thu 27-Aug-09 22:56:03

hal, my DS was just the same at 5 weeks, he was a very big, hungry boy. Lots of babies feed constantly like this at first, especially if like ours they have a lot of growing to do! It is utterly exhausting but it does pass, promise.

Have you tried swaddling? It was a revelation for us, DS started sleeping for longer than 30 minutes at a time...The baby sling was great too, especially when DH was wearing it and I was in bed having a nap!

Also, I would highly recommend the LLL helpline, it was my lifeline when I was struggling to cope. They may well come out and see you if that's what you want, otherwise just talking to them will help 0845 120 2918

Don't feel guilty about the formula, you are only human and when faced with a seemingly endless and impossible task it's perfectly reasonable to want some respite.

Equally, don't doubt your ability to produce enough milk for your baby. Next time your DH is off could you go to bed with your LO and spend the day feeding and dozing whilst DH brings food/ drinks/magazines? Or could DH take baby for the day and just bring to you for feeds?

You mention that your friends live some distance away, is there a BF group you can attend locally?

You're doing an amazing job, it's so so hard at the beginning. It gets easier, honest!

hal91 Fri 28-Aug-09 13:51:08

thanks for the support. I've got the tommee tippee dummies too Tomthumbmum so will try the mam ones and see if we have more success. Really do appreciate your suggestions, thanks.

Have been to GP today and he thinks LO has oral thrush which may explain the constant on/off feeding and my pain. Have been prescribed a cream to apply to his mouth and my nipples so hopefully that will help things to improve. Fingers crossed.....

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