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Hungry baby means I'm losing confidence in BF. Is it time to wind it down?

(41 Posts)
herbaceous Tue 27-Oct-09 11:49:18

DS is now 15 weeks, and for the past few days has not really been putting much effort into feeding. Seems to be hungry every 90 mins (though not at night, thank god), but doesn't really suck with the power he used to. And thrashes about, pulling my nipple, and scratching me with his nails. So either he wasn't really hungry, or my supply's dwindling, or, er, I don't know.

He has also slipped off his percentile line - only from 75th down towards 50th - so the HV said I need to feed him more. But how? Do I wait longer between feeds, to build up more milk in the boobs, or what?

He's been feeding every two hours or so for weeks now, so the conventional wisdom of 'feed lots and you'll make lots' doesn't seem to be working. I'm taking Mama More Milk herbal supplement, but doesn't seem to he having much effect, other than making me smell of curry.

I do give him a bottle in the evening, as he cluster-feeds like a mad thing, and my boobs end up like empty socks.

He also doesn't sleep much during the day, making me think that he's hungry. I saw my mum and sis (who has three kids), who both suggested I give him more formula to keep him satisfied (he does cry and grizzle a a lot during the day), as my supply should be pretty established by now. Maybe now is the time to introduce a lunchtime bottle too...

saintmaybe Tue 27-Oct-09 12:04:44

I'm sure someone better informed will be along, but from memory mine did sleep a lot less in the day from this age, so might not in itself be an indication that he's hungry?

Likewise, sucking with 'less power'; it's a long time ago for me, but the feeling does change iirc, does feel less'powerful re let-down etc, and surely if he was really hungry he'd be sucking harder?

Prob not much help! But didn't want you to go unanswered.

howdidthishappenthen Tue 27-Oct-09 12:09:11

Hi - just a quick message of support- babies are sometimes just 'snacky' and I don't think it's nec cause for worry. I know it used to take me at least 2 hours to build up a full boob full of milk so maybe try and distract him? By 15 weeks he's prob ready for a playgym or some dangly whoosites or similar, if you're not already using these? Also, came as a revelation to me that one reason my baby was a bit grizzly was that he was chilly, not hungry (worked this out one day when I was wearing a top & big sweater, and looked down and twigged he was only in a vest & babygro- poor mite!

Also HVs vary enormously but in my limited experience they don't tend to give you lots of support on BFing if you show signs of being disinclined - it's easier just for them to point you to a top up bottle and tick you off the list.
Maybe call the NCT breast-feeding support line, or LaLeche for some ideas instead?
Anyway - keep it up and don't feel you have to resort to more bottles if you want to keep trying BFing- loads of women have hiccups in the first few months and make it through, and it's lovely and easy once it's established fully :-)

eggontoast Tue 27-Oct-09 12:13:34

Reading your thread, it seems that he is comfort suckling, maybe you could try a dummy between feeds (I just went with it myself and found myself sat with baby sucking but not really drinking for a lot of the day and night!) My boobs would try and keep up the supply, but inevitably would end up 'like empty socks' whilst baby insisted on suckling even though there was no milk.

If your baby seems content with the amount of milk and is not crying, I think it must be getting enough?? If baby is only a little below the average, is that something you need to worry about?? Can it be monitored over a period of time to see if it improves??

Do what feels best for you and your baby and will keep you both happy and healthy.

cece Tue 27-Oct-09 12:15:29

Hi herb,
I think he sounds like he is tired. DS2 used to snack a lot and then dose off. Now I am trying to leave him longer and out him upstairs for longer sleeps. He is much quicker now though as he has got more efficent at feeding. Try putting him down more in the day and leave it a little bit longer between feeds. Give him plenty of exercise and fresh air to build up an appetite?!

zombieBOO Tue 27-Oct-09 12:17:03

Do you offer one side or two? Try offering one then the other then repeat (they can sometimes just want a drink because of dehydration/thirst rather than a real 'meal' during the day)
I do remember going through a phase with my dd at abt 3-4 months too. (she's 7m now) Basically she kept seeming to get distracted. And was on again, off again on again off...
I laid down the law (as much as you can) and said 3 big no no's and then I'm sorry and you're done for now. I made her then wait for 2 hours before I'd let her back on. (Unless she really was screaming for more.) We got much better sucking then for longer, and then the messing around started again and I'd kept with the same thing of 3 times and you're off.
Possible reasons for the messing around is that they're exploring their world a little more at that age and possible teething can start.
The other thing to remember is that the less your lo is on the less milk you'll automatically produce. You need their little mouths stimulating the breasts to produce milk. The other thing which my sister of 4 and my mother of 5 told me when I said my breasts didn't feel as full any more (and I worried that I wasn't producing enough) was that the breasts at about this time get VERY efficient and even though they don't feel as heavy or full, they are producing milk at the same rate but more 'on demand,' so when they're stimulated the let down occurs and baby still gets what he needs.

Try holding on for another week. And if you really don't think it's working then perhaps go with more formula.

snowgum Tue 27-Oct-09 12:18:02

> at least 2 hours to build up a full boob full of milk

This is not a good idea. Actually your breasts make milk all the time the baby is sucking, so even though they 'feel empty' they are not. Also, when they feel full, milk production slows down. You are much better off to feed your baby *more often* if you think they need more milk. A lunchtime bottle may interfere with your milk supply so it is probably not a good idea if you are worried about your supply.

see www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/milkproduction.html for more information.

> Maybe call the NCT breast-feeding support line, or LaLeche for some ideas instead?

This seems like a good idea.

herbaceous Tue 27-Oct-09 12:19:12

Thanks ladies.

Eggontoast - he has recently started to appreciate the distracting charms of play gyms and the like, but is a sensitive soul, and will only stay there for 5 mins or so, or not at all in many cases. He goes through phases of screaming, and only being consoled by being held up, looking out of a window. Which, while effective, is a little tiring on the wrists!

The thing with feeding is that he doesn't seem to be content with the amount of milk. He used to fall away from the boob, all milky-mouthed, but now pops off, and immediately roots about to go back on. If I try the other boob, the same thing happens.

He's doing plenty of wees and poohs, though, so maybe I should just carry on...

herbaceous Tue 27-Oct-09 12:27:48

He's now asleep on my lap, after a good wail, s maybe he is indeed more tired than hungry cece. But then gain, he's pretty crap at eating first thing in the morning, too, after 8 hours sleep, when you'd have thought he'd be starving.

I'll get him weighed this week, and go from there. There's a lovely BF counsellor I can see on Fri if necessary.

cece Tue 27-Oct-09 12:36:12

herb,
Remember this is just a phase. I agree about persisting for another week before giving formula. DS2 has had bad days/weeks with his feeding and so far it has always been OK once I have ridden out the bad 2 or 3 days (or however long it takes).

LeLeche League gave me good advice a couple of weeks ago when DS2 was biting me with his sparkly new teeth. grin <ouch>

herbaceous Tue 27-Oct-09 12:58:45

TBH, I'm a bit scared of LaLeche League. I've heard some stories of pretty didactic advice, leaving mums feeling utterly shit for using dummies, let alone the evil bottle!

This phase has been going on for a couple of weeks, really. I do try and impose a two-hourly feeding schedule, but it never lasts long...

daisyj Tue 27-Oct-09 13:05:14

Hi herb. Some of this sounds quite similar to my dd at this age. I know someone else has suggested it, but it took me ages to work out that her problem was tiredness and that she needed a nap about 1.5 hours after she'd first woken up for the day. Used to be she'd only sleep in her pushchair, so we had to be out of the house by about 9. Now she takes a good nap in her cot at that time. She's still a cat-napper and takes less than a lot of babies, but even half an hour made a difference (although some will tell you it's no good if it's less than an hour or so, that's nonsense ime)

whydobirdssuddenlyappear Tue 27-Oct-09 13:13:19

Perhaps he's starting to get teeth. It must hurt even before they become visible. That happened at about that age with my 2, and it made them want to comfort suckle a lot more, and would account for the grizzliness during the day. I also found that they'd be fussier while nursing as their latch got a bit unsettled for a little while when their mouths were sore.

PoisonToadstool Tue 27-Oct-09 13:22:00

You are describing my DS at that age perfectly - suddenly I no longer felt engorged and I stopped getting those milk-drunk smiles from him. It was a growth spurt in our case, and I suspect the beginnings of teething. He fed two-hourly well beyond six months though so I really would not assume that frequent feeding means he is not getting enough.

Oh and the four month growth spurt lasted about 6 weeks for me!

I am not sure imposing a schedule is doing yourself any favours either - it sounds as though the RL advice you're getting is, while undoubtedly well-meaning, only diminishing your confidence further.

If I were you I'd just feed feed feed as often as he wants.

eggontoast Tue 27-Oct-09 15:06:25

At 12 weeks, my son was feeding that frequently and for that long that I almost gave up completely; I did not want to bottle feed and it would have broken my heart, but I was at my wits end.

I decided to give it a couple of weeks and see if things improved. It did. What I am trying to say is, like others have said, there are a lot of phases with babies and although a nightmare at the time, a lot of them pass over and leave you wondering what all the fuss was about. Some don't, and then you have to re think things.

Just don't give up or substitute for formula if you really want to breast feed. I persevered through my lowest point and came out the other side. My boy had his last breast feed age 2 and a bit.

kitkatcadaverqueen Tue 27-Oct-09 15:33:24

Herb, I'm sorry I haven't read all the posts but I just read the bit about your baby having a feed:

"The thing with feeding is that he doesn't seem to be content with the amount of milk. He used to fall away from the boob, all milky-mouthed, but now pops off, and immediately roots about to go back on. If I try the other boob, the same thing happens. "

It really struck a chord with me because my ds does exactly this practically every feed. I have a very fast let down and he has to gulp so fast at the beginning of the feed that he ends up taking in air at the same time.

If I just carry on feeding him then he quickly pops off and fusses at the boob, clearly wanting more but not feeding and getting really cross.

If I stop him after the 1st let down wind him really well and then put him back on the same side then he's fine and feeds properly.

You need to have a bit more faith in your boobs. go on the kellymom website and read lots. If you want to breastfeed you can and you will have enough milk. If you substitute feeds with more bottles you will risk undermining your supply.

Can I ask why you are feeding him to a schedule? I only ask because in 53 months of feeding I have never done this. Babies are random creatures and get hungry when they will. (I've never seen a mummy cat with a watch ) In another few weeks he will be different again, they change so fast at this age, give the babe the boob and don't worry about how long he feeds or how long inbetween.

I use my babies feeding time to MN or read books to the older children. Its a reason for me to sit down.

Just out of curiosity, what colour is his poo?

daisyj Tue 27-Oct-09 15:47:00

Oh god, yes, I'd forgotten that - dd often did need to be winded mid feed, and then would be happier going back on again. Good point!

eggontoast Tue 27-Oct-09 15:59:29

Yes, I'd forgotten about winding mid feed as well. If he started pulling on nipple and coming on and off; after a big burp, went back on!! Sorry - memory is a strange thing!

herbaceous Tue 27-Oct-09 16:12:43

Gosh! What a lot of lovely advice. He's just had two naps, at peak grizzle, so he obviously has been tired.

It could be teeth-related, too. For weeks now he's been drooling, and sticking his hands in his mouth the whole time, but various people had said it's just a developmental stage, not necessarily teething.

His pooh is usually dark greeny brown, and runny, but sometimes mustardy and sticky. I think the former are BF poos, and the latter formula.

The schedule idea came from a bf counsellor, who said that at his age he should be able to go at least 2hrs between feeds, and that feeding him more frequently meant he would never get quite enough each feed, be never quite full, and never let my boobs catch up. I suppose a mild schedule just allows me to know when I can go to the shops, do the washing up, get dressed, etc...

herbaceous Tue 27-Oct-09 16:25:46

I'm getting a bit tearful today. He's been feeding every hour, if not more frequently, and just crying in between. I feel such a bad mother.

kitkatcadaverqueen Tue 27-Oct-09 16:51:28

Nooooo! you are not a bad mother but you are getting lots of conflicting advice.

I have no experience of formula poo, but green b/f poo normally means too much formilk ( so I was always told anyway ) and if you see green poo keep putting baby on the same side for longer iyswim.

Does he seem windy to you?

Is he worse at any particular time of day ?

What sort of pitch is the crying? low whingy / high waily?

Hang in there ...

kitkatcadaverqueen Tue 27-Oct-09 16:52:20

Nooooo! you are not a bad mother but you are getting lots of conflicting advice.

I have no experience of formula poo, but green b/f poo normally means too much formilk ( so I was always told anyway ) and if you see green poo keep putting baby on the same side for longer iyswim.

Does he seem windy to you?

Is he worse at any particular time of day ?

What sort of pitch is the crying? low whingy / high waily?

Hang in there ...

cece Tue 27-Oct-09 16:52:30

you know i think i agree with the idea that he may be teething too. thinking back ds2 was like this before we saw he was teething.

herb, you can do it. i understand the tears but remember in a weeks time it will all be forgotten!

kitkatcadaverqueen Tue 27-Oct-09 16:52:48

Nooooo! you are not a bad mother but you are getting lots of conflicting advice.

I have no experience of formula poo, but green b/f poo normally means too much formilk ( so I was always told anyway ) and if you see green poo keep putting baby on the same side for longer iyswim.

Does he seem windy to you?

Is he worse at any particular time of day ?

What sort of pitch is the crying? low whingy / high waily?

Hang in there ...

kitkatcadaverqueen Tue 27-Oct-09 16:52:48

Nooooo! you are not a bad mother but you are getting lots of conflicting advice.

I have no experience of formula poo, but green b/f poo normally means too much formilk ( so I was always told anyway ) and if you see green poo keep putting baby on the same side for longer iyswim.

Does he seem windy to you?

Is he worse at any particular time of day ?

What sort of pitch is the crying? low whingy / high waily?

Hang in there ...

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