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breastfeeding does it get easier?

(54 Posts)
Ladypug Wed 09-Dec-15 00:06:52

Starting to struggle with breastfeeding. I was managing it really well but now (5 weeks in) nipples are cracked and sore due to constant feeding (not latch, I had it checked). DD is now feeding every hour and has been for days. Health visitor says its a growth spurt but it's been going on for days on end. Basically I'm sleep deprived, sore boobs and constantly on call for feeding - I mean constantly, like hourly! I will continue and don't want to formula feed but when will it get easier? Will I ever get a nice chunk of sleep eg 5 hours in one go (that's the dream). Will she settle into a feeding routine? How long do people breastfeed for? I thought initially it was 6 months solely bf then 6 months of solids and bfeeding stopping at 12 months but today someone told me they bf until 3 years of age - is this right? Help!

CultureSucksDownWords Wed 09-Dec-15 00:18:44

It does get easier, soon, often people find from 6 weeks onwards it starts to settle down a bit. You will get a decent chunk of sleep at some point, but in the interim if you have a DP/DH make sure they are doing as much as they can to let you rest/sleep. So, e.g. taking the baby after a morning feed on the weekend and letting you go back to sleep until the next feed. Yes, your DD will (probably) settle into a feeding routine in between growth/development spurts. I breastfed till DS was about 16 months old, and would have continued till 2 years at least had he not self-weaned. Some people will feed till 3 yrs of age if they want to. At that age though, that's going to be one or two feeds a day or less. Once your child is well established onto solids the feeds will start to drop, and also your child will be fine if you miss a feed.

Are you using a cream like Lansinoh inbetween feeds? It can really help heal nipple cracks/soreness.

pookamoo Wed 09-Dec-15 00:26:35

HI OP

Congratulations on your baby! flowers

Yes, it does get easier. I promise.
Do you know if there is a local BF support group you can go to for some real life advice? There will be one nearby, I'm sure.

The other thing, re. the growth spurts, I found that the Wonderweeks App which shows when growth spurts typically occur, was brilliant.

Quodlibet Wed 09-Dec-15 00:27:12

Yes yes to Lanisoh. Also, have you tried expressing milk and having partner give it in a bottle? Will give your nipples - and you - a welcome break from Bf.

It does very much get easier but I very clearly remember how relentless it often felt in the early weeks. You're doing a brilliant job.

spillyobeans Wed 09-Dec-15 00:37:07

The first 6 weeks was a constant growth spurt for my ds now 6 months, he now only feeds about 5 times in 24 hours. Honestly it will get better! Things that helped me were:

-dealing with the growth spurt by accepting its going to be like this for a while, getting dh to watch ds for an hour or 39mins while i got a shower, got in comfy clothes, got a pitcher of water and made a huge plate of sandwhiches and got a comfy spot with loads of pillows ready for the onslaught of feeding. When i got really tired i used netflix on my phone to distract me or got dh to watch me as i fed so i could half sleep while i didit without squishing baby.

Also what helped with sore boobs: warm compress/shower/bath/sink and dip boobs in before a feed and cold compress after a feed, no bra in house and no top to air nipples out, lanolin, paracetemol and tbh just distraction. The best was a hot bath but lying on my front in bath.

Also find a position that is comfy. I had literally about 8 pillows surrounding me, and then when ds got bigger i lied on my side and fed him which was great.

It honestly gets easier, for me after 10 weeks it got better gradually, and now its a breeze, if however the odd fussy day

CarrieLouise25 Wed 09-Dec-15 00:39:43

Congratulations on your baby girl!

It does get easier, but those first few weeks can be really really hard. Cracked and sore nipples (which no one warns you about!) is not fun, but definitely getting some Lanisoh will do wonders.

The other thing no one really tells you about is how often the feeds can be, especially when cluster feeding. Baby is getting your milk production increased, and it's hard work. I remember my DD cluster feeding again at 3 months, and it was literally every hour! With my first DC I listened to everyone who said 'helpful' things like 'you can't be producing enough', 'baby isn't getting enough clearly' 'you need to think about formula, as your milk isn't doing it's job' etc etc. I was told by health visitors that feeds should be every 4 hours, not 1, but from experience, it really doesn't work that way with breastfeeding.

It will calm down eventually, and then you'll get another cluster feed again, just rest plenty, cream for soreness, lots of water to drink, and lots of support from those around you. Soon everything will be so easy.

I BF both DC's until 1 year, and moved them straight on to cow's milk. They both naturally did this; but it's up to you and your baby when you stop.

Good luck x

spillyobeans Wed 09-Dec-15 00:40:12

Also i used an app called 'feed baby' which was great for tracking which boob and how long. Plus puts it into perspective - i was averaging out at about 8-10 hours a day solid feeding ! Its like a full time job!

TesticleOfObjectivity Wed 09-Dec-15 00:44:54

Yes it does get much easier and should do for you very soon. I remember the cracked nipples and cluster feeds and all that but it soon calms down.

How long you breastfeed is up to you. You can leave it up to your baby, who may self wean at some point, or you can stop when you are ready to. l am breastfeeding my 16 month old, mainly just before she goes to sleep at night but sometimes more so, when she is teething or unwell for example. It's a comforting thing for her.

pickledparsnip Wed 09-Dec-15 00:55:08

It does get easier, it really does. Had lots of problems with feeding my son in the beginning, ended up feeding him for 3.3 years. Keep at it. You can do it!

Ughnotagain Wed 09-Dec-15 00:59:03

You can bf as long as you want to. If you don't want to bf past a year, for example, then it's completely up to you!

And yes, it does get easier. The first time DD slept a 6 hour stretch (at about 10 weeks I think) I thought I'd broken her somehow blush every baby is different but most nights now (at 6mo) she'll only wake twice.

Congratulations on your baby flowers

pickledparsnip Wed 09-Dec-15 00:59:03

Feed for as long as you think is right/feel comfortable with. I had always planned on a year, but we just kept on going.

It is truly exhausting in the early days, nothing can prepare you for that, but it does get better. I spent so long in bed/on the sofa feeding, I thought it would never end. Lots of support here. Any good breastfeeding groups near you?

RubberDicky Wed 09-Dec-15 00:59:10

You're doing fantastically, it does get easier I promise! I was so distraught during the first few weeks and dreaded every feed. It was awful.

Now I actually enjoy the feeling of my hungry baby draining a full breast and I look forward to feeds.

You're almost there, hang on in there!

Ladypug Wed 09-Dec-15 06:16:03

Wow what magnificent support! Thank you everyone and some great comments. I've been showering as the warm water helps and also using lanisoh and cold cabbage leaves which feel amazing. I'm not expressing as midwife said wait till after 6 weeks so body is not confused and making more milk than required so hopefully that will help in a week or so. So good to hear everyone has been where I am and it gets easier, it feels relentless! I have been attending local bfeeding group so will continue to go. Thanks so much everyone and fingers crossed it gets easier soon, so many of you have said it will that I have hope!!! smile

southlondonbaby Wed 09-Dec-15 14:42:11

Hello again ladypug! Yes it gets easier (most times, I think!) and the feeding will hopefully balance. If money is an issue then you can get generic lanolin on a site like ebay as lanisoh is pricey. Exactly the same, it's just the brand you pay for.

Sleep. Errr, let me know if you crack it! Sure people have great advice. I don't know your situation but getting support from someone just to help cool or tidy etc in the day is amazing and means you're less knackered. And if you have a partner, get them to help at night! Bottle or do the change or soothe, whatever!

southlondonbaby Wed 09-Dec-15 14:43:14

That would be cook, not cool!

toffeeboffin Wed 09-Dec-15 14:47:26

For me, it didn't get easier.

I ended up with thrush in the breast and mastitis. DS just wasn't full off breast milk, gave him a bottle of formula and he necked it.

For me I only continued for 6 weeks because of the guilt. The pain when he latched on was honestly worse than labor contractions.

gamingmum Wed 09-Dec-15 17:02:26

Yes it can get easier but everyone is different so if you still can't stand the pain then there really is nothing wrong stopping. You do what's best for you and baby and if you are in so much pain you dread feeding that's not a nice place to be in. Breastfeeding is hard work!

Mrscog Wed 09-Dec-15 20:56:49

I'd just reiterate what everyone else has already said - it does get better (for most people).

Also, I know it's hard but try and enjoy it, mine is 7 months now and I'd kill for an hour sat on the sofa watching a boxset while snacking instead of chasing round after him (he is cruising already) or cleaning up after another messy solids session!

LucyMouse Wed 09-Dec-15 21:04:50

I remember writing an almost identical post to yours when my DS was 5 weeks old. Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. You are doing so well and you have given your baby a great start.
If you are thinking of stopping or you want to get an idea of what bottle feeding is like, I would look in to mix feeding (using some formula) or maybe once you are expressing have your partner do the late-evening feed so that you can increase the length of time you are sleeping.
I stopped BFing at 5 months because I was hoping for more sleep, and to spend less time just stuck feeding. The reality (for me) was that bottle feeding wasn't easier, it was just different. It did however mean that my mam could take DS overnight occasionally which was amazing.

bumpertobumper Wed 09-Dec-15 21:18:53

On the cracked nipples, I finally figured the best way to reduce the pain third time around.-do not let them dry, or form scabs. This is what the lasinoh is for. Get nipple Shields to wear while not feeding to keep them moist and the milk that leaks of its cleansing and healing too.
This may be obvious to some, but no one told me this, and I asked lots of people, mw, hv etc. With dc 1 and 2 I was always 'airing' my nipples trying to get the cuts to heal as that is what one does with normal cuts, but on the nipples scabs are the enemy, don't let them form. They will still heal and it is much less painful.
I told myself that it is like getting through the blister stage of new shoes, afterwards they are comfy.
It does get easier.
You can feed for as long as you want.

minipie Wed 09-Dec-15 22:22:19

Who checked the latch and did they check baby's mouth for tongue tie?

For me, cracked nipples and very frequent feeds were due to a posterior tongue tie. It takes a good lactation consultant/BF expert to spot one though (often HVs and midwives will say there is no tie when there actually is....)

If there is no underlying issue then BF will get easier very soon. If there is an issue (like tongue tie) then it may not, until the tie is cut.

And yes, you can BF for as long or as little as you like!

Joskar Wed 09-Dec-15 22:34:30

Stop when you want to stop, op. Your body, your rules. Three days, three weeks, three months, three years. It's totally up to you.

Whoever told you the latch was good was wrong. Sore nipples mean summat is up. Try changing positions. Biological nurturing really sorted it for me.

Sleep is another issue entirely. Some babies sleep beautifully from the word go and some don't. Cosleeping saved my sanity but it's not for everyone.

Congratulations on your baby!

AntiHop Thu 10-Dec-15 00:32:23

Vaseline is just as good as lansinoh for cracked nipples and it's much cheaper. Have to tried feeding whilst lying down yet? It makes it less exhausting.

pterobore Thu 10-Dec-15 00:41:34

Just wanted to add if you're still sore it night be worth getting a second opinion on a tongue tie. My daughter's wasn't noticed until she was around six weeks old and I'd seen fully trained lactation consultants and a tongue tie specialist before it was noticed!
It really does get easier, you are doing fantastically well and I can remember so well how hard it is to feed in pain. Getting through each feed felt like agony! But now completely pain free and 16 months in.

Ladypug Thu 10-Dec-15 03:26:10

Thanks everyone, latch checked by breastfeeding expert well known in our neck of the woods. It's the frequency of feeds really, nipples aren't having time to recover due to constant use. Can't feed lying down so easily as got hyperlactation so need to feed at an angle to stop her being 'drowned' and then wind (upright) 2-3 times per feed. The lack of sleep is generally as she wants feeding so often - I'm like a zombie! Thank you for all the comments, I shall hang on in there but any further advice on pain relief would be great. The lanisoh is great but doesn't really ease the pain - hot showers and cabbage leaves are my saviour currently!

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