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Is it worth trying to bf at all if I intend to ff from a few weeks old?

(30 Posts)

Pg with my 3rd dc,very pro bf. I desperately tried to bf with both my dc but it didn't work out both times. I'm usually quite anemic, I don't know if this had any bearing on it. With my first, he was jaundiced and had to go under the hot lights, he got really dehydrated and hungry so we had to start supplementing with ff (he genuinely wasn't getting enough from me, you could see his fontanelle pulsing, I tried and tried) and carried on feeding both ways for a good few weeks til it made no sense for me to be so sore, and him so hungry and cross when I could just feed him a bottle. He was much happier when we did ff full time, bless him.

My second, I tried again, determined to make it work as she wasn't jaundiced. I read loads, I let her just feed and feed, she cluster fed for hours every evening. The weight fell off her, she went from 7lb to 6lb in just over a week, the hospital were worried. I started supplementing with a hospital grade electric breastpump and the medela supplemental nursing system which was a great concept but a lot of faff, and I just wasn't producing much. It got to the point where it was obvious it wasn't going to work and I just needed her fed.

This time round, I know I will ff, I know that for whatever reason, supply, maternal health, whatever, I can't bf successfully. So is there any point in trying to establish bf for the first few weeks just to pass on the antibodies (bearing in mind I'll have two other dc to see to, and will also have to supplement) or should I just sod it all and start with bottles immediately? Is it worth it?

LadyWidmerpool Tue 08-Jan-13 22:37:21

Colostrum is so so so good for a baby, even one feed would be beneficial. Maybe take it one at a time and see how you get on?

Sorry to hear about the previous difficulties. Did you feel you got good support from the HCPs?

Perhaps not much support the first time round but with my second dc they did try, with the loan of the breast pump etc. I went to bf clinics, bf cafes, had latch checked a good few times, I think I'm just not destined to bf, there just wasn't much milk. I have pernicious anemia, and regular anemia, and I'm generally a bit of a pale, run down person. I don't think it helps.

I'm happy to give the colostrum, I do love bf, I just don't think I can do all that trying again for weeks to no avail, not with other kids to sort out, and knowing it won't work. How long would you do it for to give the benefit of the antibodies? a week? a month?

LadyWidmerpool Tue 08-Jan-13 23:04:14

I'm think I've read that antibodies are passed on right away. I think NCT do a factsheet listing the benefits at different stages but I decluttered it! I'm sure a week would be beneficial. Have you mentioned it to your midwife?

It sounds like you gave it a really good go in difficult circumstances and I take my hat off to you.

Thanks. I just found the nct thing you mentioned, may as well post it here, it may be useful for someone else in the same situation:

First Feed: For baby - helps to stabilise baby's blood sugars and protect baby's gut. For mother - a great opportunity for the first skin to skin cuddle

1 Day: For baby - the antibodies in mother's colostrum provide natural immunity from infection. For mother - helps womb to contract to normal size

2-3 Days: For baby - sticky black meconium is cleared more readily from baby's bowel. For mother - instant relief for hot, swollen breasts when milk comes in

1 Week: For baby - Transition to world outside womb is eased. For mother - Frequent feeds mean time to sit or lie down and for you to get to know each other.

2 weeks: For baby - Food & drink always ready at the right temperature, adapting to the baby's needs. For mother - Hormones help you to get back to sleep after night feeds

4 weeks: For premature babies lower risk factors for heart disease in later life. For mother - saves time sterilising and making up bottles.

6 weeks: For baby - half the risk of chest infections now and up to 7 years old. For mother: Breastfeeding likely to be easier and you can go out and about without bottle feeding equipment.

2 months: For baby - lower risk of food allergy at 3 years old if breastfed only. For mother - reduced risk of ovarian cancer in later life

3 months: for baby- five times less likely to get diarrhoea now and a reduced risk for the whole year. For mother - fewer visits to gp as baby is less often ill

4 months: for baby - Half the risk of ear infections. Less risk of asthma now & protection continues for up to 6 years. For mother - feeling of empowerment at having been solely responsible for growing your baby for 4 months.

5 months: for baby - five times lower risk of urinary tract infections. For mother - A lovely way to reconnect with the baby if you go too work.

6 months: for baby - lower risk of eczema now and up to three years old. for mother - less risk of osteoporosis in the long term.

1 year: for baby - three times less risk of becoming obese by age six and a lower risk of heart disease as an adult. For mother - no need to by formula milk at all saving at least £450 this year.

2 years: for baby - likely to have higher average scores in intelligence tests. For mother - expect fewer visits to orthodontist when baby is a teenager. Risk of breast cancer reduced by 8%.

ScrambledSmegs Tue 08-Jan-13 23:25:53

I think, purely from a bonding point of view, you may want to try breastfeeding for as long as you feel you want to/can. But honestly, don't put yourself under pressure to do so, do whatever feels best for you and your family.

On the anaemia front, have you tried Floradix? I realise that won't 'cure' pernicious anaemia, but I'm normally borderline anaemic, with first birth I lost a lot of blood, became very anaemic and had a real struggle breastfeeding DD1 properly due to low supply. With DD2 I took Floradix for a while after giving birth, and it really made me feel a lot better and more alert, to the extent that this time round I seem to have oversupply. It may of course be a coincidence, feel free to be a bit hmm !

concessionsavailable Tue 08-Jan-13 23:29:48

My personal experience is of completely different bf experiences with different babies. For DD1, it was a nightmare. For DD2, far easier. I would just start off bf and see what kind of baby you have and how it goes, especially I hear you on the juggling with two other kids thing. You may have a baby who is not jaundiced and who is very efficient at getting your milk out, and you might want to consider a nursing herbal tea or something to get your supply up, as well as all those cluster feeds. Basically, what I'm trying to say is don't give up before you've even started, but don't drive yourself totally nuts trying either.

I don't think I tried floradix, with the last baby they said I was very anaemic and gave me a load of ferrous sulphate tablets to get it up but they made me terribly constipated and as I had a tear I didn't really take them. I'll definitely try floradix then, before the birth, who knows, it might help.

concessions, I'll give it a go. My first two weren't bad feeders really, they both seemed to have a painfully strong latch, there just wasn't much coming out. I think I'll give it two weeks, to give them the benefit. If by then it seems more successful than with the other two then I'll carry on.

midori1999 Tue 08-Jan-13 23:57:57

Yes, it's worth it. Any breast feeding at all is beneficial and you never know, maybe it will just work out this time and be easy? Plus, you often produce more milk the more pregnancies you have too.

I 'couldn't breast feed my first three DC, or at least that is what I thought at the time. However, I have now been BF DD for 18 months, she's never had a drop of formula.

Did anyone consider tongue tie with your other children? This very often goes undiagnosed, even when several health professionals have had a look, especially if its a posterior tie. There is a thread somewhere in the BF section where many babies haven't been diagnosed until some real insistance or Parents going private. Mawbroon is one of them and IIRC, her son was 6 before his TT was diagnosed.

midori1999 Tue 08-Jan-13 23:58:40

Sorry, we are in the BF section... blush hopefully Mawbroon will see this.

mrscog Tue 08-Jan-13 23:59:19

Every feed counts so i'd just feed them as often as you want but maybe supplement with formula from whenever you get fed up smile

ScrambledSmegs Wed 09-Jan-13 10:19:56

Floradix is good as it doesn't make you constipated and is more easily absorbed than tablets. Hope it helps you.

thehumanegg Wed 09-Jan-13 10:54:40

I'm in the same position in that I can't produce much milk (due to breast reduction) and I'd like to think it's worth a go with future pregnancies incase you produce more - IIRC one bit of research stated an average 30% increase with each pregnancy. With the next one I'm just going to be very watchful of wet nappies and merconium to make sure it's turning to normal poo in a normal amount of time, and start with formula as soon as this doesn't seem to be the case as like you I just want to get them fed and well primarily even if I would desperately like to bf. Also I don't know whether domperidone was something you looked st last time (using Dr Jack Newman's protocol it really helped me anyway, to the point of leaking boobs - though still supplementing heavily.


Spiritedwolf Wed 09-Jan-13 18:41:18

It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can start with ebf for the initial immunological benefits and to see if things are better than with your older DC. If you and your HCP feel that the baby isn't getting enough food then you can top up with formula to help with weight gain as you have said. But that doesn't need to be the end of breastfeeding.

You can mixfeed for as long as it suits your family. Even if you end up mainly bottlefeeding for baby's nutritional needs, you can still keep a couple of nursing sessions in your day for comfort and immunological benefits if you and baby enjoy them. It might not last forever if your supply isn't good, but there are benefits to you both for as long as you are able to, and if the alternative was stopping cold turkey then you haven't lost anything by trying.

Just take it one feed at a time and remember that if there is some physiological reason why breastmilk doesn't make up the majority of baby's diet, there is no rule that says you can't continue to nurse alongside bottles if you want to.

Congrats on your pregnancy, try not to worry about the feeding. smile

I really don't want to start faffing with expressing tbh, I never managed to get more than an ounce or so out of my right boob, even less with the left, and that was with a heavy duty hospital pump. I will take it one feed at a time and do it for a week or two to let them get the benefit, after that but I'll definitely be ff so I don't want to expend as much energy as before on this as it just never works and I'll be so busy.

Thanks everyone for your responses smile

AngelDog Thu 10-Jan-13 23:29:34

I would definitely try to get the baby assessed for tongue tie by someone who knows what they're looking for (many HCPs don't know, unfortunately) as your first two DC's issues would definitely fit tongue tie, and it runs in families.

As well as bf problems, tongue tie can also cause issues with bottle feeding, eating , solids, speech development, dental issues and a whole host of other health problems so it's worth checking even if you plan to entirely FF. Neither of my DS's would have been diagnosed with it if I'd not read about it here (DS2 diagnosed at 4 weeks, DS1 at 2.10 years old). Getting it sorted has made all the difference to feeding for both, even though neither of them had any dreadful problems.

On your original question, yes, 'every bf counts' is the slogan, so anything you can give baby is all good. Congratulations on the pg and I hope things are less stressful for you this time. smile

Thanks, I'll definitely get them to check that then! You know, this sounds daft but I've often wondered if I have a tongue tie as I can only stick my tongue out 1cm over my bottom teeth. If its genetic who knows, maybe my two dc did have it!

sipper Thu 10-Jan-13 23:52:40

Tongue tie also sometimes confused with jaw position so good to get a cranial chiropractor to check too as they might be able to give some very gentle adjustments and nothing needs cutting smile.

The adjustments can also help latch and suckle. Cranial chiropractor who uses a technique called SOT would be v good for this sort of thing. My DD3 was treated when one day old - she wasn't latching on. A very gentle tweak later and she was feeding like nobody's business. Worth it!

Best wishes and I hope all goes really well for you and your baby.

Aspiemum2 Fri 11-Jan-13 00:00:23

I wouldn't rule out expressing altogether. I had to express for dtd as she had feeding problems relating to a breathing issue. It took me about a week of faffing about to suss that I was never going to get large amounts so I settled for 3oz every few hours and topped up with formula.

I did put them both onto formula in the end as, like you, I have 2 older dc so bf one and expressing for the other was just too much.

They are 8 months now and I still miss it sad

Weissdorn Fri 11-Jan-13 07:00:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dizzy77 Fri 11-Jan-13 07:25:06

Hi James wanted to check in as I'm 19wks w DC2 and had a very similar experience to you with DS. I also have the rational, "give it a try, see how it goes, one feed at a time, in the grand scheme of parenting this isnt the very most important thing" mindset now but when this one's a few days/weeks old, I'm sleep deprived and hormonal, it might not be so simple, so I'm just wondering whether I should cut my losses and ff from the off. I'm actually vacillating from seeking all the peer support, LC input pre-birth, as I'm a people pleaser and feel ill just let people myself down if i do all that and still ff early on.

I got a fair bit of support first time but DS was born in peak bank holiday season which delayed my access to a lot of drop-in, clinics etc) and the MWs and HCPs after dehydrated DS's admission to NICU whilst lovely, ALL gave conflicting advice. Expressing took hours to get drops and I just can't see myself doing all that work whilst caring for a toddler too. I'm impressed you DID go to such lengths with your second and want to send love and support for whatever you decide this time.

thompson369 Fri 11-Jan-13 07:54:02

This sounds similar in some ways to my experiences, with both DDs 1 and 2 I did want to breast feed and lasted a week or so with both. I don't think I had supply problems, more depression/anxiety and just had enough of the cluster feeding. So with dd3 who was born nearly two weeks ago I took the view that I would start off bf and see how it went but wouldn't get stressed to high heavens about it.
Two weeks in and I feel this time it's working out better, I am now with a different partner who is vastly more supportive and helpful than my ex which helps, also I had to have a section do was forced to stay in hospital for a few days whereas with the other two I was home within a few hours of delivering and was doing washing etc! So these differences I think have helped - plus of course each baby is unique too as others have said.
At present DH gives baby a formula bottle last thing at night and settles her to sleep, I get off to bed. I know this is against advice but it seems to be working for us so far so I'm sticking with it!
Just do what feels right to you, there is so much conflicting advice about that ultimately you need to rely on your instincts and do what is best for you, baby AND the rest of your family x

EMS23 Fri 11-Jan-13 07:59:42

James and Dizzy - I had a similar debate with myself when pregnant with DD2. For various reasons I had completely failed to bf DD1 and ended up with PND, overwhelming guilt etc..
I promised myself that with DD2 I'd give it a try but stop if it all got too much and I had too many problems. In the end I successfully bf DD2 for 1 week and then stopped for various reasons.
I am so so proud of that one week of bf we achieved. It sounds like nothing to most people, probably would be a failure for some but I didn't think I'd manage one feed so one week was amazing.


In the moment, at the time, with all the post birth exhaustion, hormones etc I hated myself again. I felt like a failure and I fought the same battle with myself as I did with DD1.

Write down your promises to yourself now. Write down your promise to try your best but stop when it gets too much and the problems get too big for you. Then you can refer to it if it does start to get difficult and you can remind yourself what your non hormonal, rational self promised to do.

Best of luck.

toddlerama Fri 11-Jan-13 08:31:26

I didn't manage with my first 2 despite being desperate to. Similar stories to yours really, but my 3rd I have. He's never had formula and he's 9 months now.

The things that made the difference were:
-Going home sooner
-Kicking DH out if the bed for a couple of weeks and not caring about baby sleeping day or night
-treated boob thrush with an oral capsule. A gp won't prescribe to a bf mother. I went in WHO website and realise that the rest if the world will, just not uk. I bought it over the counter.
-let nipples dry out. No Lansinoh or other creams
-eat whole oats and raw dairy. This had an effect within hours. I filled up visibly! Had to find a local dairy which sold unpasteurised milk but was so worth it and a lot cheaper than formula (55p per pint). Raw milk is amazing. My whole family are now on it.

I don't know which thing I did differently really made the difference, but something changed. Little monkey won't take a bottle though so expressing was a farce.

thompson369 Fri 11-Jan-13 08:47:53

EMS23 - I think that's really good advice about writing down promises to yourself and then following them.

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