Breastfeeding advice badly needed!(38 Posts)
Just looking for some real-life advice and reassurance regarding BF please! Sorry in advance for the long post!
I have a beautiful 1 week old little girl, my first baby. Throughout the day she usually wakes to feed every 2-3 hours and feeds for about 10 minutes on one breast, then she sleeps really peacefully. I try to keep her awake and prompt her to take more, but she seems content and my breast feels softer. We have lots of wet and dirty nappies. On the next feed I switch to the other breast, unless the last feed was short (less than 10 minutes) and she wants to feed again within an hour- in which case I go back to the same breast. Does this sound alright? I have been advised to offer the other breast or do 10-15 mins on each side etc but she doesn’t seem to want or need to feed for this long during the day.
Secondly, when she latches on it hurts SO MUCH. I wait for her mouth to be as wide as possible and she’s getting plenty of areola but I still have about 30 seconds of extreme pain that tenses up my whole body. Then this goes away and it feels pretty comfortable for the remainder of the feed. Will this initial pain get better?
Thirdly: fussy nights/cluster feeding. Starting from between 8pm and 10pm at night she just doesn’t seem to settle, and this lasts until like 4-5am. She starts rooting etc and then loses patience really quickly, escalating to screaming before I can even get myself organised to feed (I am still working on finding comfortable positions for myself and need to stack pillows up etc). She gets really stressed and flails her arms about (whacking my sore nipples in the process) and we have a real problem getting her near the nipple or latched at all, never mind a good deep latch. When she does latch (ooouuuccchhh!!) she sucks for a few minutes but then falls asleep and stops, I try to wake her up and get her to carry on but she doesn’t want to know. So I put her down in her crib and then immediately the cycle starts again- fussing, rooting then screaming, stress getting her latched, then a couple of minutes sucking and she stops. I feel like people are just going to tell me this is normal and wait it out, but any advice would be massively appreciated. I’ve been in floods of tears a few times already and I don’t want my little girl to have negative associations with feeding.
Thanks in advance for any help!
I remember the tearful nights only too well! You’re doing great, I’m still feeding DS now at 14 months.
Yes the initial toe curling latch does go! Make sure you’re getting a really good latch. There’s loads of good YouTube videos.
I only fed from one side at a time and if the next time he wanted fed was roughly within an hour I used the same side.
I’m not sure about the evening, it’s probably normal but I don’t have experience of it.
Yes this all does sound normal and you're doing a great job! Could your partner take baby for a bit in the evening? He may be able to settle her more easily. I totally know what you mean by her working herself up so much that she can't latch - my 5mo was like that and I used to give him to DH who could calm him down easier as he wasn't desperately rooting on him! Cluster feeding is normal so obviously do feed on demand but I think sometimes they do get a bit overwrought! As for the night, I co-slept with both of mine; it works well for me and makes night feeds very easy. She's tiny still and will grow/change very quickly. You're doing fantastically well - remember to eat well, drink lots of fluids and get as much rest as you can. I breastfed my first for 18 months and my 5mo now - it's brilliant once you get through the first few weeks!
My first baby would only feed for 10 minutes on one side and was always fine. As long as shes content after, has wet nappies and grains weight its fine.
I found that the first 30 seconds of feeding really hurts but after that it shouldnt hurt. This didnt last forever, maybe for the first few weeks.
Unfortunately I don't have any advice for cluster feeding except not to worry that she will have negative associations - she is too young to form that sort of association at this stage.
I fed for the first few months like this, it was only as he started getting older (onto solids) that I used both my breasts in one session, and I guess I'd dropped a lot of feeds then too. You just have to make sure you recall which breast it was (it helped me to just remember where I was sitting but a friend transferred a hand band from wrist to wrist) otherwise you can get quite lopsided breasts. For what it's worth mine are tiny (A cups normally) so it wasn't the fact that I had large breasts which helped. As long as the nappies are fine and they're putting on weight then you're ok.
Mine never fell asleep on me or if he did it was only for a few seconds but God, the cluster feeding was the worst as by the time you'd done everything he wanted more food. As others have said can you give baby to your partner (you mention we) whilst you get yourself organised? With that side of things it will come and you'll soon find yourself doing it really discretely wherever you are so try not to panic at the moment.
We found that it helped to sleep in shifts. Is this something you can do? We could do this as we introduced a bottle for one feed a day from about one week so dad could also take part. This meant I could sleep from after feeding him at 8ish until around 11/midnight. We'd been told not to introduce a bottle too early but our experience was entirely positive - he literally will drink anything (breast, cow or formula) from anyone at any temp and he's the only baby we know who has been happy to do so. We happily breast fed until he was 10 months with absolutely zero issues and the only reason I stopped was because it was medically necessary for me.
Good luck... We found it got better around week 5/6 as you've got experience to guide you... Before then it's literally a stab in the dark, and Google. Although tbh parenting is like that generally!
The initial latch pain does go and it gets easier to get them to them to latch as their mouth gets bigger.
I would suggest you look into safe cosleeping. It does get easier. Take advantage of the lockdown to sleep as much as you can during the day.
That initial pain should go completely within the next week or two (although I appreciate that probably sounds like a very long time right now!). What you're doing with regard to which side you're feeding from sounds fine.
The nights also sound fairly normal I'm sorry to say. What are you doing to wake her? I always found a nappy change most effective. Stroking her cheek might encourage her to suck a bit more even as she's drifting off, and breast compressions might help get a bit more milk into her as well.
Yes, for me the initial latch was always very painful for the first few weeks. This pain will stop after a while. I swapped around for feeds as you're doing, unless they hadn't taken much for the last feed as you say. Occasionally couldn't remember which was which, but we got on ok. As long as nappies are wet/dirty you're doing fine. I co-slept with a co-sleeping cot and often fed lying down at night. And yes, they can be restless I'm afraid. It seems to go in phases. Congratulations and best wishes.
Hi. As others have said all v normal. Bf specialists say get them to feed from both breasts but my little girl also same only wanted one at a time.
Can you feed side lying at night? Then you just roll her to your breast rather than having to get organised with pillows, you can just pull her to you and the only time taker is her latching.
The pain is toe curling for sure, thou I highly rate nipple shields (medela are best in my op). In fact my little girl couldn't latch without them so for first 5 months every single feed was with shields (nighttime was extra fun having to attach it before she fed ergo all the side lying to feed). Then one wonderful day she latched without the shield (I tried sheildless every week or so cos they were such a bane (tho also a godsend) and I think her mouth just changed cos she suddenly could latch. Reason I'm telling you this is there is lots of misinfo out there, like they get used to something and never change, but actually shit changes all the time. And they are V adaptable clever little sausages.
You are doing great. How is it all going today/last night? Update us with how it's all going.
if you want any really wonderful advice go here thebreastfeedingcompanion.com/ this is my local bf lactation consultant Jackie Hall and team. I will ask her if she knows of any online bf support groups, as these kept me going in those early days. She was like my idol. Such a shame due to covid you cant go to any, tho that wont stop you i'm sure, you sound really competent and you have def got it, just hang in there.
(My DD will be 18 months on sat and still breastfeeding, it was so hard won for us but its the most wonderful parenting tool, its more than worth the early days effort)
Yes as PPs have said you are doing very well with your baby girl. She sounds like a very efficient nurser. I had one baby like that who would empty a breast in ten minutes. (Another baby took her sweet time and would nurse for over an hour. So keep in mind if you have more babies, they can be different)
If the initial pain is in the nipple try different ways of holding her. If it is generally the whole breast that is your let down reflex and you can reduce that by putting a heat pad or warm wash cloth on your chest when you know a feed is due soon. It does go away after the first few weeks and breastfeeding becomes pain free.
The night time waking/cluster feeds are also normal for a newborn. They are sort of jet lagged if you will because they will have had their own wake and sleep cycle in the womb that doesn’t match with the day/night schedule. Over the next few weeks, she will adjust to a day/night cycle.
Also, babies will suckle for comfort when they are sleepy. You don’t have to take them off the breast and put them down as soon as they stop eating. I used to burp them, then put them back on the breast and wait until they literally fell off the breast deeply asleep before gently putting them down to sleep. The idea is to shift them from your breast to the cot without them stirring. The suckling also is how your supply increases, it has the dual purpose of comfort for the baby and also signalling your breasts to make more milk for the next day.
Please don’t stress. She won’t have any negative memories. All she knows now is that she cries and then you are there for her. That is the most important thing for a baby. To be held close to their mum or dad.
Currently feeding DD3, I agree with everything that has been said. I have a good supply so feed from one side a time unless baby very hungry or I need to release pressure from the other side then I'll do both sides. Feeding lying down at bedtime was the best thing we started doing. I know the feeding seems relentless right now but it does get so much easier and it is worth it.
Has baby been checked for tongue tie OP? I had horrendous pain with bf until we realised he was quite badly tongue tied. Once this was fixed the pain stop almost instantly.
Nipple cream BEFORE and after every feed. Every. Have tube up and downstairs (Lansinoh). Slap it on liberally, it’s fine for baby.
The pain does go, it took about 3 weeks for me. Now months on it’s genuinely painless.
Teust your instincts- there’s no right or wrong way to feed. Wet and dirty nappies and weight gain is all that matters. How long, which side etc doesn’t matter.
Night time cluster feeding is a bitch. It’s not forever. It will improve then happen again with growth spurts.
You are doing great. First 3 weeks is hard, next 3 weeks a bit easier. None of the hard bits last forever.
Sounds like you are doing so well. Breastfeeding can be so hard at the beginning but it is so worth it when it's established. I see loads of people have given really good advice already so I won't repeat but one thing you said which I'm not sure anyone has replied about yet was you said baby flails her arms about and whacks your sore nipples (mine did that too, she's 8 weeks now. BFing got easy 2 weeks ago) I swaddled her up using a big muslin, keeps those pesky arms away from sore nips and also out of their mouths!
Well done and congratulations on your new baby
Breastfeeding can be intense but never painful. If it’s hurting you should check her out for tongue tie first and if clear try different latch positions. My DS had a tongue tie and couldn’t open his mouth wide so I had to feed him by breast like a sandwich (Kelly Moms, La Lech League are good). You could also try baby massage - massaging her ears gently for example might encourage her to open her mouth wider provided she doesn’t have other problems.
@GrumpyHoonMain it was painful for me! Latch was perfect, no tongue tie or lip tie. I just had excruciating let down to start with and my nipples were very sensitive due to being wet so often. They adjusted by week 3.
What is intense for one person can be pain for another.
Oh and I also get similar let down pain now when on my period and breastfeeding- its hormonal. It doesn’t bother me now but so many women are put off by being told if it hurts there is something wrong. Fortunately my local BF peer support group are honest with people.
The initial let-down was very painful for me too for the first few weeks only. I would definitely describe it as pain. Same for each of my children. No problems with latch, tongue tie here either. I too think it's very normal in the early stages and doesn't mean there's a problem. Notably, as the OP describes, it was only the first half minute or so of feeding that was very painful, and after that it was comfortable. I didn't know to expect it for my first child, but I did for my other two.
Yes to lansinoh and checking for tongue tie. Sounds like you’re doing great. To help with pain in the short term you could try nipple shields. Also if you think she is only sucking for comfort not really hungry could try a dummy to comfort her (MAM size 0-2 months one is good for newborns). Could also try giving one bottle of ready made formula in the evening to give you a rest from the feeding.
All sounds very normal to me.
If she is weeing and pooing regularly then she's ok.
All totally normal! The pain for me was at its peak at about 1-2 weeks and then settled down. It’s still makes me grit my teeth initially but it’s more sensation rather than pain and not as bad or as long as it will be currently for you
Sounds like you’re doing brilliantly and yes it all sounds really normal. The pain will pass and as long as your regularly switching breast I wouldn’t panic too much over timings. As pp said just keep track of which breast you fed with especially in the night.
Cluster feeding and getting over worked up is very normal and my second was the same. One thing I found that helped when he got too worked up to feed was to strip him down to his nappy and then go topless myself and lie him on top of me and do some skin to skin and then encourage him to feed like that (lie a blanket over the top of us to keep him warm) although the only tricky bit was to get him dressed again if he fell asleep (trying to remember what I did - maybe just tried to dress him once he calmed down) anyway it really helped
“Breastfeeding can be intense but never painful.”
Not true for everyone. For me the let down was very painful but that’s is also perfectly normal. It felt like being stung by bees all over my chest for the first few minutes of breastfeeding. Warm compresses before feeding really helped. It took weeks before the let down stopped being this awful pain and feeling like a tingly rush.
I agree, pain is subjective and to say it should never be painful is misleading. My initial letdown felt like electric shocks and was really uncomfortable and painful. Thankfully it settled down quite quickly.
Thank you so much everyone for your reassurance, I feel so much better now! Last night wasn’t as bad with the cluster feeding, I felt like she actually got a decent feed each time she went on and there were longer gaps in between. I think the latch pain is possibly not lasting as long now and I am also crying a lot less! Haha.. still early days and I am sure there are more challenges in store, but I feel so much more positive now
I hadn’t realised that some of the pain might be the let down reflex, will bear those tips in mind! I’m already using Lansinoh cream and it does seem to really make a difference, soooo glad I found out about this stuff! One of the student midwives at the hospital had a quick look and said she doesn’t think baby has tongue tie, but maybe if the pain persists I’ll get it properly checked out.
I’ve been really reluctant to try lying down to feed because I’m scared I’ll fall asleep, but since you’re all so positive about it I might try it! Perhaps initially during the day when I’m less tired. I am not very adventurous with the positions I use as I still find it hard to get the baby into different poses without worrying she’s getting squashed or doesn’t have her head properly supported or something. I also have small breasts as a PP mentioned, an A cup usually, and I feel like this restricts where I can actually place baby so she can access my nipples. It’s another thing I need to just persevere with I think!
What are your opinions on expressing milk into a bottle for my partner to have a feed? As in when would it be ok to do this to avoid causing problems with my breastfeeding? I think one PP said it worked well for them, has anyone else had the same success? The midwives always seem dead against using bottles at all ever, but my partner is desperately keen to help and it does seem like a sensible way to relieve pressure on me when it’s getting too much.
Don’t express this early on, wait until at least 6 weeks and feeding is established.
Definitely get a proper check done for tongue tie when you are able.
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