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BFing a newborn - am determined to get this right next time round. Please help

(10 Posts)
stillstanding Tue 22-Sep-09 12:19:07

When DS was born - apart from knowing that I felt very strongly about breastfeeding him - I really was clueless and struggled in the beginning. I am now pregnant again and am determined to ensure that I have all the facts at my disposable so that I can avoid the mistakes I made first time round.

I had written a long post with my long, sorry story but thought I had no hope of getting anyone to respond (!) so in bullet points:
- Long, traumatic birth which ultimately led to an emergency c-section.
- Only got to hold DS about an hour after he was born due to complications with anaesthetic but DS didn't latch properly then.
- DS had ingested a lot of meconium during the birth and it was explained to me that he needed to feed a lot in the next few days in order to make him throw this up.
- Over the next three days DS did latch for short periods but never for very long and the nightshift nurse told me that he was not getting enough milk. My father (a surgeon but no expert in bf-ing) said that he thought this was just because DS felt so rubbish after the birth and meconium and that this shouldn't worry me.
- The nightshift nurse would help me express colostrum into a syringe (can't remember how much but it was a little syringe which I nearly always filled) which DS would have. When she didn't have time she would put me on an electric pump which was agony and not as effective. This was done every two hours at night which seemed a great deal to me.
- In the day I was mostly left alone and the midwives did not seem overly concerned. They didn't make me express and only encouraged me to put DS to the breast regularly (about every three hours) which I did although I often struggled to get him to latch and he never stayed on for very long when I did.
- At night though there was a lot of pressure from this nightshift nurse who after a while got fed up with me insisting on breastfeeding and said that I was endangering my baby with the course that I had chosen, that not all women could bf and I was clearly one of them, that he was very hungry which evident by the rooting which he was doing and that given all this she had to follow the protocols and top him up with formula.
- I was very upset by this obviously and ultimately agreed to the topping up but only if it was done from sipping a little cup as opposed to a bottle.
- I discharged myself after three days because I was so miserable and felt so bullied on the feeding front although they were angry about that as they said I hadn't established proper feeding yet.
- Ultimately it all end happily as once I got home my milk came in within a day and, with a few issues along the way (mostly to do with incorrect positioning and cracked nipples), we were off and I bf DS until he was two - hurrah!

But it was a long, agonising process and I am determined that this time I will go into the hospital knowing EXACTLY what the facts are with respect to what a newborn needs.

Sooo ... please could you tell me what those facts are. In particular I would like to know:
1) how regularly does a newborn need to feed?
2) how much milk do they need? (I had thought that it was just a little colostrum but the nightshift nurse looked with utter contempt at what I produced when expressing ...?)
3) when is topping-up with formula necessary?
4) are there any downsides in letting the nurses top DS up with formula when they insist if it is only once or twice?
4) any other advice/tips you have for me for the early days.

Many thanks for your help!

sleepsforwimps Tue 22-Sep-09 14:34:33

I'm so sorry to hear about your experience.

In short my dd didn't feed for the first 24 hours, luckily I was told this was not a problem for a baby not to feed atall for the first 24 hours by a lovely midwife just after my dd was born. During the night though I was pressured by the nightstaff to give dd formula.. I stuck to my guns though, carried on trying to latch her on and waited until the next day when the pro breastfeeding midwife came back on duty. She kept perservering with me to get my dd latched on, I don't know what I would have done without her. My dd did seem to want to feed but couldn't, she eventually after a bit of help from the midwife brought up a load of mucus, hence why she couldn't feed, and she then fed beautifully there onwards. So I can definitely say 24 hours is fine without anything.

The hospital I was in was very busy and didn't really have the staff to help with breastfeeding, (I think I just got lucky with the midwife that helped me) I had been told that if my dd continued not to feed they would transfer me to a Hospital with a birthing centre where I could stay with my partner and get lots of help until my dd was breastfeeding well. Maybe something your area would do as well? Although I was told nothing of this beforehand.

Regarding frequency of feeds, I don't think there is a right amount of time that a baby should feed for or a right time period between feeds. My children have fed very differently.

My dd as a newborn fed about every 2 hours and would feed for 20 mins or so. This could span over an hour. My ds as a newborn fed every 4/5 hours and fed for 10 mins.

The best thing I did prior to having my baby/breastfeeding was attend a breastfeeding workshop at my hospital (the one with the birthing centre where there was more breastfeeding support) it really set me up for all the problems I may encounter., hopefully someone will reply who can give you some more information on your other questions.

sleepsforwimps Tue 22-Sep-09 14:47:02

Oh and I forgot to add, after your crappy experience, a big hurrah for then feeding for two years. smile

Hopefully your experience will be very different this time. I was rushed to theatre after my first and then the whole non feeding for 24 hours.. but my second fed straight away it felt amazing, I hope you get to experience that feeling this time too.

stillstanding Tue 22-Sep-09 14:53:18

Thank you, sleeps - your experience is very reassuring and I think that is excellent advice re going to a breastfeeding workshop. I will definitely look into that. I hope that my second experience will be more like yours!

BertieBotts Tue 22-Sep-09 15:03:01

Sorry to not have much to add, but I think it would be useful to put in your birth plan that you want skin-to-skin contact immediately after the birth of possible (and if baby is well but you are not, for your DH to have skin-to-skin, it apparently helps the baby's hormones to trigger the sucking reflex)

cassell Tue 22-Sep-09 15:12:13

My experience was that ds latched on straight away after he was born for about 10mins or so. I then couldn't get him to take anything for the next 12 hrs as he kept falling asleep rather than latching on. They were a bit concerned he hadn't fed so the breastfeeding specialist mw (there should be one on every postnatal ward I think) then spent ages with me helping him to latch on and showing me how to keep him awake long enough to feed, he finally got the hang of it properly about 24 hrs after he was born and after that he fed about every 1-2 hrs for 20-30mins for the next 8 weeks (when he thankfully(!) started cutting down a bit). I was lucky in that nobody even suggested giving him formula but he certainly had very little in the first day or so but he was absolutely fine. It may be different I guess where the baby is unwell/low weight etc so if the mws try and insist you give your second dc formula maybe you should try speaking to the paed on the ward? They should be able to give you a better answer as to whether you need to give formula or not.

KirstyAnn Tue 22-Sep-09 16:25:53

Hey stillstanding

My daughter is 8 days old now and only just started to latch on two days ago. Its been traumatic, but I'm so glad I stuck with it (although if you read my other post today, my nipple is about to fall off...)

At no point did any of the 10+ midwives I saw in the hospital suggest formula. I had a traumatic labour, ending in an emergency c-section and wasnt able to hold her until the following day.

I used a pump, an electric pump, syringes and eventually small bottles and teats. I wasnt afraid to ask for help at every feed and wouldnt leave the ward until I reached a point where there was no more to be done. I stuck with it at home and two nights ago she just latched on. She hasnt stopped since, but I'm not complaining.

They just kept an eye on her weight and she has gained weight today, but as long as she hadnt lost more than 10% of her starting weight they didnt seem too concerned.

If it doesnt go well to start with, stick with it. All the posters and info I saw on breastfeeding seem to feature a chubby three month old happily chomping away. This wasnt what I saw on the ward I was in and I now realise its a bit misleading.

It will come good for you in the end, no matter how bad it starts with.


stillstanding Tue 22-Sep-09 17:03:22

That sounds brilliant, KirstyAnn - well done you for sticking with it. I think one of the things I was most naive about about motherhood was that the bfing would be a breeze when in actual fact that was the most difficult thing for me in the beginning.

Confuzzeled Tue 22-Sep-09 17:25:16

I just wanted to say that I was worried about bf my new ds after a hard start with my dd 2.5 years ago.

We were lucky to have a natural birth and when put on my chest I left him to find his own way. It took him 40mins to latch on and for the few feeds after that I let him find his own way again. I think it's called natural nurturing and I found it much better than letting the midwives try and force my nipple into dd's mouth.

He'd swallowed allot of fluid as well so spent allot of time vomiting. I then spent lots of time feeding, sitting up was getting sore so I tried lying down and it worked fine as well.

4 weeks on and bf has been incredibly easy in comparison to dd.

I hope it works better for you as well this time.

Good Luck.

KirstyAnn Wed 23-Sep-09 16:40:08

Stillstanding - absolutely. Just keep going. I know its difficult when you feel everyone is watching you both trying to wrestle each other.

There is also no shame in switching to bottle feeding either, you have to look after you too.

DD had a terrible night last night, I was sitting in the dark covered in puke at 4am with cracked nipples. I wonder what the hell I'm doing but it'll be worth it one day!

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