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Difficult night feed - par for the course or downhill from here?

(41 Posts)
berolina Mon 20-Jun-05 05:03:48

In my short bf career so far, the night and early morning feeds have been the best ones - ds is at his most efficient, gets a lot out in a short time and is also satisfied afterwards and will go to sleep, whereas in the afternoon and evening he will feed constantly and seem to be making a lot of effort for very little. Tonight though I've just had a very difficult feed, the reasons for which I don't quite understand. It had taken me a while to settle him after the last feed. Anyway, he woke up at 3.50 (I'm an hour ahead of you) and I put him on the boob, he drank for a few minutes then was suddenly sick - more posseting than anything, but it was very surprising as he was still in the middle of the feed IYSWIM. He was still hungry so I put him on again, he sucked away and seemed to get basically nothing. I was in a real state as I was more or less falling asleep over him (haven't mastered the art of feeding lying down), was very sweaty (used to happen a lot in the early days when I was stressed at feeds) and whatever I did, could not get comfortable. I had to put him down a couple of times because of this. Anyway, I put him on the other boob, which felt a lot fuller, and he was a lot happier and more efficient on that, though it still took a couple of goes at it before he was seemed to have had enough. Then the poor mite got hiccups so we had to wait before he could go back on the boob, which he'd decided he still wanted to. I've just got him off to sleep - it's 6.00, we were feeding for 2 hours so I'm dreading him waking up hungry again very soon. To make matters worse, while I was stumbling about tired I caught his head slightly on a clipboard we've got hanging on his moses basket with detals of his bfs. He protested briefly but seemed OK after that - I'm still worried I've hurt him, though.
As I've only just managed to get bf established (see lengthy thread!) and my worst fear is him starting to refuse the breast again, I'm worried tis could happen after this experience. Is it normal for a feed to be this difficult once in a while after it seems to have been going well - or am I going to carry on struggling?

franke Mon 20-Jun-05 07:00:51

I think it is normal to get the odd difficult feed. He's only a few weeks old isn't he? He may be feeling a bit hot, if he was sick he may be a little bit windy, he may have cottoned on a bit to you feeling a bit anxious this time, it could be any number of one-off reasons. I doubt you hurt him with the clipboard - he would really have let you know if you had!

Feeding lying down will make a big difference once you master it - but give it a few more weeks for that one, baby needs to be a little bigger iirc.

I remember how difficult these early weeks are and the worry that baby isn't getting enough particularly if it's taken a while to get br established. But tbh I think if he really hadn't been satisfied with this feed he wouldn't have gone off to sleep. Some feeds just take longer than others and although this one sounds quite fiddly it sounds like he got all he wanted in the end. I'm sure a bf expert wil come along soon and give you some proper advice. But seriously, I had a tough time with ds (fiddly feeds, difficulty with the latch, constant worry about milk production), but managed to bf for 6 months against all the odds. Try to consider this as a one-off and you'll be back on track with the next feed hopefully

hermykne Mon 20-Jun-05 07:13:41

berolina
i dont know how ols your babay is, will check out your other thread, but in the early days its normal to have periods like you describe.
my ds was a fidler feeder never quite latched on , came off, on again and i use to think he was getting nothing from me. there is that you stop the feed , 2 hrs is too long for him to be latched onto you and its comfort, after 20mins feel your boob and if its v soft and floppy hes got the lot! early feeding for both boobs shoud take maybe 40mins, i never feed longer than that with either baby. now they may want more in an hr and a half but you need a break. he'll have to learn that!

but i did structure my day losely around gina fords times for feeding, so i knew he couldnt be hugry if it was only 1 hr after a goood feed from both breasts. that IMO paid off as he always settled at 7pm and the morning feed was at 6am, and up to 7 1/2 mths he had a feed at 11pm but i cut out night feeds at about 6mths by just not offering him anything, as i knew he had enough. he was 11lb2 at birth, gained alot til about 5/6 mths and then he lost a bit but with solids intro, i knew he was ok.

now he only has am and pm feed - so quick i dont know what he could be getting, and iam not concerend about his milk intake i think some breast babies dont need as much as formula babies get in bottles, provided the solid intake balances calcium etc etc.

tiktok Mon 20-Jun-05 09:43:37

berolina - everyone gets the occasional 'poor feed' - could be your little boy was just hot and bothered, and didn't know what he wanted, really! The swipe on the head - forget about it

Hermykne - sorry, your info is just not correct. It is not helpful to suggest feeling the breast after 20 mins and if it is soft and floppy the baby has had the lot. It's especially not helpful to berolina to tell her to space feeds and not to feed more than 40 minutes. All this may have worked well for you, but one of the arguments I have with GF style regimes (however loosly appplied) is they do not allow for individual circumstances or individual babies. Sorry to sound critical, as I am sure you mean to help and support.

throckenholt Mon 20-Jun-05 09:52:33

berolina - relax - sometimes it will be a bit tricky - but it won't be longterm.

They often feed a lot in the afternoon and evening - in my experience - often called cluster feeding - they just seem to like it.

I am sure he (and you are fine)

chipmonkey Mon 20-Jun-05 10:10:20

btw berolina, when they have the hiccups, I would still feed, it can actually help to relieve them!

berolina Mon 20-Jun-05 13:13:38

thanks.
it was briefly better in the early morning but since mid-morning he's been feeding fairly constantly, not satisfied, not getting off to sleep. OMG I'm knackered! It's really really hot here - I'm really suffering with it - so that might have something to do with it, I suppose. We popped out with him in the pram this morning to do a couple of errands - we didn't manage to get off as early as I'd have liked (he was, guess what, feeding!) so by the time we got out it was already pretty hot - that prob isn't helping, although I can't see signs of dehydration or anything. At least he's not refusing - at times like this one has to look on the bright side! It's not so much the difficult feeds that are the problem for me - after all, I'm getting pretty used to being permanently attached to ds - it's the worry that it'll all start sliding downhill and our brill progress with the bf will start going backwards IYSWIM. I'm so bloody-minded about bf that I am prepared to start all over again - it's just that I don't want to have to! Ideally it would all work and I'll bf well into his second year, but I've promised myself that if it stays a battle for whatever reason, I'll keep trying it for as long as I was pg with him, which in my case was 38 weeks.

berolina Mon 20-Jun-05 13:21:38

Quick questions while I'm at it.
1) Soft and floppy boobs does not = no milk, am I right? I never got very engorged and while my boobs do feel harder and fuller when (e.g.) I do the first night feed, a lot of the time they don't feel very full - but when I squeeze them I always get something either dripping or a thin jet shooting out (have managed to hit ds in the face with it several times ). Sometimes when ds is on one breast the other will drip like a tap - but that doesn't always correlate with the full feeling. What's going on there?
2) If he's feeding not very efficiently (sorry, I think grammar went out of the window there), is there any point in using the times he's not feeding to express? Haven't expressed for a few days now because of him going on the boob at every feed.
3) I think milk supply is just about adequate now, but will I keep up as he grows? I'm putting fenugreek seed on one meal a day and taking some homeopathic stuff and drinking a milk-boosting tea from the chemist's. Anything else I can do?

tiktok Mon 20-Jun-05 13:41:36

Berolina....is there any way you can relax and just enjoy the way things are going well???! You are doing brilliantly and you have nothing to worry about as far as I can see - it would be no more than you deserve to chill a bit and maybe talk to other mothers and have a chat instead of worrything that things will somehow stop going well

Soft and floppy breasts are normal. This is what happens with established bf - the fat that gives the breasts their usual (non-pg shape) has been replaced by milk making and storing tissue. You also stop 'over producing'. Result: softer breasts.

Your milk supply will keep up with his demand because he will feed as much as he needs and you will produce in reponse to this. This is how it works.

You do not need to express.

Enjoy

kama Mon 20-Jun-05 14:12:47

Message withdrawn

tiktok Mon 20-Jun-05 14:37:11

Hi, Kama. Yes, fat is replaced after you stop bf, but it may take a little while to come back. You might have heard mums complaining they have spaniels ears after a period of bf! But 'normal service' is resumed, if you give it a little time

We are unusual as mammals in having breasts when we are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Most (all?) other mummy mammals are relatively flat-chested except at those times.

Tessiebear Mon 20-Jun-05 14:48:37

Berolina - havnt read this whole thread but here are a few "pearls of wisdom" from my breastfeeding career to date
1) Make sure you drink plenty all through the day (i used to drink quite a bit at night too)
2) i used to find that my boobs were more "empty" feeling towards the end of the day - which is understandable if you have been feeding a lot etc.
3) if you are giving the last "bedtime feed" at say 8pm i would try and allow myself 3 hours if possible before that feed to not be feeding - so it gave my boobs chance to fill up nicely for a good feed at bed time.
4) the LIFESAVER for me was to feed laying down - then if you both fall asleep it doesnt matter. I tried to sleep sitting up ONCE at night and nearly fell asleep and dropped the baby!
I wouldnt worry too much about routine feeds etc at night - the baby wont recognise much of a routine at such a young age. Just do what you have to do to get a good nights sleep. Is bringing the baby in bed with you an option??

Tessiebear Mon 20-Jun-05 14:50:09

Sorry - that should say "i tried to FEED sitting up ONCE in the night!!!!!

tiktok Mon 20-Jun-05 15:04:32

Tessiebear - the advice to wait three hours before an 8pm feed may have helped you, but it won't help most people

Waiting does not increase the amount of milk. It lessens it.

That won't matter if you have confidence in your milk supply and your baby tolerates a gap of this long.

Neither of these points apply to berolina!

kama Mon 20-Jun-05 15:23:17

Message withdrawn

berolina Mon 20-Jun-05 16:55:07

Thanks tiktok! Not worrying is easier said than done especially when you're worrier of the year at the best of times... but I'll do my best! Have just finished a feeding marathon and put ds down. It is SO HOT!!! I wonder if it's bothering him as much as it is me.
Tessiebear, I feed at night when ds wakes me up, which tends to be every three hours or so, but sometimes closer together, sometimes further apart. He is fed on demand and I'm not worrying about a routine yet - suppose I assume that will happen naturally. We have him in bed with us because I like being next to him, but I haven't got my head round feeding lying down after failing at it in the hospital . ds is small and light so I tend to hold him against me with both hands to feed.

berolina Tue 21-Jun-05 17:00:40

Today he keeps feeding (mostly reasonably well, I think) for 10-20 mins and then falling asleep. A couple of times I haven't woken him to carry on feeding as he really seems to be out of it. Also normal?

tiktok Tue 21-Jun-05 17:14:45

Yes - normal

Judging - and feeling confident in that judgement - what your baby needs (as you are doing, looking at his little face all zonked out!!) is what mothers do all the time, and they get better at it as time goes on. Sometimes, even so, they get it wrong, and the zonked-out baby perks up ravenously hungry 15 mins later!

hermykne Tue 21-Jun-05 18:11:42

tiktok i did say initially that i didnt know how old berolinas baby was/is, i too feed constantly in the early days with both babies,
perhaps you can explain, i did print of your links to "how it all works" ages ago to undestand breastmilk and its production, why on ds that my boobs were empty after long stints of feeding, either at night or in the afternoon? he would be suckling and suckling and i felt that there was nothing there after maybe 3/4 hr, and take him off and nothing would come out so i'd stop. or he'd feed well and maybe 40mins later there wouldnt be much if i went to express.

2nd time round i couldnt express anything like i did for dd. I had a friend who found this too.

dd was 23 mths around the 4wk stage of ds, so i was quite busy and perhaps stressed. i physically, later on, was exhausted at 5/6 mths with him always "hungry", maybe i read the signs wrong.

now at 11mths and still feeding ds, twice a day, he stops after 10mins maybe less and i think what did he get there? and if i pinch, a tiny miniscule amt might come out of one duct/hole.they use to feel full until quite recently, even though their actual size has reduced, but now i never get that sensation
of a good milk supply gushing out.
he's not supplemented at all, never took to it . only water and even that is a very sml amt.

i am going to reread the print outs later on after they go to bed to refresh.

i might also stay clear of techn questions in future, just ask them

tiktok Tue 21-Jun-05 18:30:37

Sorry, hermykne, I am not very clear about what you're asking.

When a baby is fully breastfed round the clock and it is going well, then the breasts do not empty. However, if feeds start to be dropped, or shortened, or spaced out, production slows down.

If this happens (mother dropping/shortening feeds/spacing them out) in the early weeks, production will (probably) cease, dwindling to nothing. I wish I had a pound for every time I have seen this happen

This is not quite the case with older babies feeding much less often with an established and very robust milk supply (like yours)...milk production certainly slows but it doesn't disappear. The established, robust, milk supply is also very responsive. The baby/toddler feeding twice or thrice a day gets a cold/fever and doesn;t want to eat any solids - and is on and off the breast a lot. Whoosh! Milk production soars! The mum feels she has a lot more milk, and indeed she has.

It is also responsive the other way, too - not making much more than the baby asks for, so if you try expressing, you won't get much, unless you start feeding more often/expressing more often.

The situation is complicated by the way mothers tend to judge their milk supplies by what they can express : (

An expert baby can often get more out than a pump. So you may say 'I get nothing when I express' but the baby can manage to get something!

At your stage, your breasts will feel 'empty' not because there is no milk (though there probably isn't a massive amount, but that doesn't matter, because your baby doesn't need a massive amount) but because established, robust milk supplies go with breasts that have very little fat in them. See other thread for more on this

berolina Tue 21-Jun-05 21:51:43

Thanks tiktok. have to come back with another concern though! Since late afternoon he has been feeding every hour for 10-15 mins mostly - as I said, he'll feed, drop off and then wake up again and want more. Not a problem (though I wouldn't mind being able to sleep for a couple of hours at a stretch tonight ) but I have noticed I've hardly been leaking/dripping today - the milk isn't disappearing, is it? Not quite sure how that would have happened as of course, over the past few days I've been feeding more frequently! Also, for these short feeds I've been giving one breast only and sometimes going back onto the sae one at the next feed, but for the longer ones I tend to offer both - are there any issues with foremilk/hindmilk I need to watch out for? Thank you again

tiktok Wed 22-Jun-05 00:01:02

No, the milk isn't disappearing, berolina. Stopping leaking is normal - the timing of it varies, but most women find it stops after the first weeks (and some never leak anyway).

No issues with foremilk/hindmilk - this sorts itself out by itself in the vast majority of cases.

I s'pose it's no good asking you to stop worrying, is it?

berolina Wed 22-Jun-05 00:17:31

Stop worrying? Is that possible? What does 'stop' mean?
I'll work on it! hanks.

berolina Wed 22-Jun-05 00:17:46

aaarrggghh - thanks!

throckenholt Wed 22-Jun-05 09:02:27

berolina -
the fore milk is the watery thirst quenching stuff, the hind milk is the rich "food". It may be that your baby is like many people in hot weather - not particularly hungry but quite thirsty - ha maybe just wants to the thirst quenching stuff.

And maybe he doesn't like too much skin to skin when it is so hot - so once he is no longer thirsty he wants to be away from close contact for a while.

You have pretty much got breast feeding established now (congratulations ) - now you have to trust your body and your baby to manage it between them - switch your worrying conscious brain off - it is really the inexperienced one here !

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