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how common is it to not be able to breastfeed

(52 Posts)
curlyclaz13 Tue 21-May-13 20:57:21

37 + 2 and starting to worry about nit being able to bf. I would be really quite upset if I couldn't as it is one of the very few things I am determined about. how often can people just not do it ?

Londonmrss Tue 21-May-13 21:05:44

There are several reasons people end up not breastfeeding. I don't think being physically unable is that common. That said, it isn't always as simple as you would think and often a difficult birth or just circumstances can mean you have a difficult start which is difficult to come back from.
I had a tough start- my baby just didn't latch. I still don't know why, she just refused. For 4 weeks, I exclusively fed her expressed milk until I was finally able to breastfeed her using nipple shields. Still going strong now and she's 7 months.

Essentially there isn't really any point worrying about it! There's no reason to think that you would be unable, so just assume everything will be fine. If it does turn out to be more difficult than you expect then make sure you get lots of support as you try to make it work.

The one thing I would say is do not under any circumstances allow the hospital to discharge you before breastfeeding is established. I was discharged after 8 hours. She hadn't latched and I pointed this out but was told not to worry and that she would probably do it in her own time. In hindsight, this was unacceptable and contributed to a very distressing few days and weeks as I tried to feed.

chocoluvva Tue 21-May-13 21:12:45

It's very rare. If you do have problems - which is quite likely - the mums who do voluntary work for La Leche League are available for phone consultations and/or home visiting to help you.

There might be a breastfeeding support group near you.

hufflebottom Tue 21-May-13 21:18:10

dd wouldnt breastfeed, she was tongue tied, one thing is don't worry there are lots of support groups, google or look at notice boards at your docs for posters.

But don't panic, the more you get stressed about it the more it won't happen, in the end i gave in and went for a bottle. wish i hadn't but dd was fine with a bottle.

ENSMUM Tue 21-May-13 21:20:20

You are more likely to be "unable" to bf if you believe it is likely you will be unable to.

Most problems can be overcome, although often need support from someone who knows what they are talking about.

Make sure you know when/where breastfeeding support sessions are on in your area.

HerrenaLovesStarTrek Tue 21-May-13 21:29:18

ENSUM there is a difference between having a realistic understanding of the many difficulties of BF and 'believing it is likely you will be unable to' BF.

Making yourself aware of all the stuff that could be problematic might actually help; so many women end up feeling like shit because midwives/HCPs/other mums have hidden the difficult stuff and just keep parroting 'it's so easy, it's so natural'. I felt 'well if it's so easy, I must be a really shit mother and crappy person because I am having so much trouble. What's wrong with me?'.

BF can be very very challenging op, but it can also so I hear be brilliant when it works.

I stick to the following mantra: breast is best, but formula is NOT poison.

Good luck smile

HerrenaLovesStarTrek Tue 21-May-13 21:32:46

And in terms of extra detail: my milk never really 'came in' with either of my kids (no swollen boobs like rocks or anything) and dried up extremely rapidly if I didn't put my DC on all the sodding time. At the 10-day check I was told to give DS2 formula because he'd lost so much weight.

I do have one friend who this has also happened to but she's the only one out of all my mum acquaintances, so I assume that it's relatively rare.

bringonyourwreckingball Tue 21-May-13 21:57:49

I think the main thing to bear in mind is that sometimes it can be very hard at the start. Dd1 wouldn't latch, we'd had a difficult delivery, I was exhausted, she was in pain from forceps, midwives were unsupportive, it didn't go well and we gave up. Dd2 latched from the start but for 6 weeks every feed was agony. I kept going because I didn't want to give up again and one day things just clicked. I fed for 14 months in the end. I think most people can bf but it is harder for some than others and sometimes no amount of professional help will fix it, it just takes time.

perplexedpirate Tue 21-May-13 22:03:47

I couldn't as I had had breast surgery. I had a 20% chance of being able to but unfortunately I was in the 80%. That was with a new operation technique as well so imagine those older than me would have even less chance.

AntoinetteCosway Tue 21-May-13 22:10:46

DD refused to even try to latch on. I was very upset at the time and spent a long time trying, expressing (which I also couldn't do) and beating myself up before eventually giving her a bottle-which she took happily. I've since had counselling about it (I was reeeeally upset!) and been told that it's likely it was due to her birth being very traumatic with a lot of complications and less than ideal aftercare. Apparently there's no reason to think I won't be able to BF future babies, so fingers crossed.

However, as far as I understand it's pretty rare to not be able to at all.

Xmasbaby11 Tue 21-May-13 23:23:40

It's very common to have major problems. Out of my friends, I'd say half of them tried and eventually gave up. And these are women who were desperate to do it and had lots of support.

The main thing is to stay rational. Your baby will be perfectly healthy on formula if that's the better option.

recall Tue 21-May-13 23:27:33

If you do happen to have problems, I agree with choccoluvva, LaLeche League are brilliant, and will speak to you instantly to talk you through in great detail. link

MamaMahmoud Tue 21-May-13 23:31:03

i am having baby number 4 and my oldest two children nursed but my third baby wasnt able to latch properly so he wasnt getting enough. i have friends who werent able to nurse their babies because their milk just never came in properly and others who struggles with milk not coming in but were able to over come it so... all you can do is try

MarianaTrench Wed 22-May-13 02:38:05

Nobody ever tells you that breastfeeding is really quite painfully at first. In fact I'm still wincing 5 weeks on but I know from prior experience things will improve when my DD is a bit bigger and can latch on more effectively. I've not known anyone who has been physically unable to do it but plenty who found it too painful.

Mutley77 Wed 22-May-13 07:28:40

I would have a realistic expectation if I were you. I was totally determined and always heard about people not "being able to bf" and thought - that's boll**s, if you try hard enough you must be able to. I love the people who can bf and still hold that belief - lucky them, it would probably be me if I had been successful ;)

8 weeks in with my DC1, having been to the specialist bf clinic nearly every day (sometimes on public transport having had a C/S), I admitted defeat. She wouldn't latch on properly and couldn't get enough milk. I was on the verge of PND as I felt like such a failure (had never even considered ff, bought no bottles/steriliser/formula) and couldn't cope - I was up all hours trying to latch her on and when that failed I would be feeding her expressed milk from a bottle - then staying up for another 20 mins to express. Repeat ad infinitum. I finally accepted that I wouldn't enjoy my baby if I didn't "give up" - not that I reallly had an alternative as she couldn't get enough milk from a feed due to such a poor latch that with all the support in the world just wasn't fixable. She also had a tongue tie snipped, which I am not sure whether was ever an issue, snipping it certainly didn't solve the problem!

I gave up earlier with DC2 as just accepted that it doesn't necessarily work - possibly my boobs are too difficult to latch to.

With DC3 I will try again - I desperately hope it will work but I accept that it is not guaranteed.

Good luck anyway, many people do bf without a hitch - or can do it with perseverance.

Smudging Wed 22-May-13 07:40:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

batteryhen Wed 22-May-13 07:44:49

I couldn't BF. I had breast surgery when I was younger which shouldn't have affected my ability but I never felt like my milk came in. DS wouldn't/ couldn't latch on. I had him checked for TT but he was ok. He does have a really high pallet and with my flat nips , it just wasn't going to work. I tried to express, but only ever got about 1oz over half an hour. I tried to BF for about 3 weeks, if I wasn't trying to feed I was expressing. It left me no time to really enjoy and cuddle my baby so in the end I admitted defeat. My HV told me I should be expressing 10-12 times a day!! There was no way I could do this as I was expressing for half an hour at a time.
If I had another child I would try again as it still affects me now that I didn't manage it. The MW in the hospital said she hadn't seen such a clueless baby as DS when it came to latching on sad

Limelight Wed 22-May-13 08:03:59

I think we've inherited a sense of BFing being a black and white thing. Either you're the human equivalent to a dairy cow with nipples of steel, or you can't do it because you don't 'have enough milk' which is why the baby cries. You still get a bit of this from HVs angry.

In reality it's a complex picture and I absolutely agree with others who've said that you should have a realistic attitude.

It's hard to begin with for a lot of women (I'd go as far as saying for most women). But this is for a variety of reasons - tongue tie, colick, reflux, baby struggling to latch, you struggling to teach your baby to latch, getting your head round the relentlessness of it in the early days. Mostly though issues are solvable.

Most people will have an issue with something and really it's a case of keeping going, getting help, and knowing that it will in all likelihood get better as the baby gets older. Once you get through the early days it's generally dead easy, and really convenient.

Both of my DC were fed until they were about 14 months. In the case of DS, he struggled to latch on, I had mastitis, very sore nipples, and despite feeding for a long time was a slow gainer. He was also colicky. I think probably he had a tongue-tie but I got very little support and just ploughed on ignoring the 'you need to top up with formula' brigade, because I was convinced I just needed to get used to it. To be fair I did, and it ended up being a very rewarding experience, but bloody hell I wish I'd had help!

With DD I was very confident, sure I'd be able to feed her, almost a bit complacent. That meant that I was a bit relaxed about the whole thing to begin with and ended up with very sore nipples for a while. Absolutely my own fault for forgetting that newborns have small mouths and you need to learn together how to do it. It got better of course quite quickly but it just goes to show, it's absolutely not like learning to ride a bike.

Anyway, good luck whatever you do.

chocoluvva Wed 22-May-13 08:06:01

Is there something in particular about BF that's worrying you curlyclaz?

(Apart from all the horror stories on this thread? angry )

Limelight Wed 22-May-13 08:07:30

I should add that I'm absolutely of the opinion that food is food however. If it's not working, where it's really not a great experience for you etc then life is absolutely too short. Being with and enjoying your baby is so much more important.

noblegiraffe Wed 22-May-13 08:17:13

In contrast to these stories, I bfed my first for 17 months, am currently ebfing a 4 month old, my sister successfully bfed, as did my SIL, my NCT group and my 3 female colleagues at work who have children.

That doesn't mean that there weren't problems, I had problems with my two latching on and had to express into a syringe for a few feeds, my DD was sleepy and lost weight and needed waking up for feeds and it was a struggle for the first couple of weeks.

But we were able to bfeed.

Splatt34 Wed 22-May-13 08:37:29

DD1 latched immediately after birth, just like on the perfect you tube videos. I never had pain, got the swollen boobs on day 3, feed on demand (which was alot!!). All apparently per the book.

But she just wouldn't gain weight. At 4 weeks I was taking domperidone,had hired hospital grade expressing machine & couldn't really leave the house for constant rounds of feeding (took at least an hour) expressing and topping up. At 6 weeks she weighed 8lb (7 11 born) and we gave in to formula top ups. 6 days later she weighed 9 lb 7!!!!! I combo feed til 13 weeks as it took me that long to get over not bbeing able to ebf. All my friends had seemingly found it do easy.

I look at photos of her at 6 weeks and she looks awful, poorly, though of course i couldn't see it at the time. This time i am determined to try again, and am going to give myself more time for skin to skin etc but I will also not get so distressed if I need to combo feed. This worked so well last time I think it's a real shame it's not talked about more. People seem to think it's black & white ebf or formula, but you can mix.

Cravingdairy Wed 22-May-13 08:52:42

If you have a partner do make sure they are aware it could be difficult. My wonderful BIL told us about his wife having problems and he basically said I think you should stop. For all the right reasons but neither of them were really aware how common those problems were or that they could seek specialist support. When I was expecting I had a good chat my husband and said it might hurt, it might be difficult but please let's stick with it as long as we can. Lo and behold we had a terrible time but he never suggested stopping and he was a huge factor in being able to establish BF.

meglet Wed 22-May-13 08:53:31

DS refused to latch on for 3 shitty weeks. The bf counsellors could help either, their idea of snuggling up with him didn't work as when he woke up he saw my nipple and screamed the house down. In hindsight I should have given formula after the first few days and not made us so miserable. We made it to 3 months with some bf, lots of expressing and some formula but it was more hassle than it was worth.

DD bf like a dream. Totally different experience.

Both times I did have more than enough milk though, I had to pump from day 2 with DS and and was able to pump from day 4 with DD.

Eskino Wed 22-May-13 09:04:06

I think a lot of it is about being confident in your body's ability to produce enough milk for your baby.

A lot of it is being totally prepared for the absolute grind and surrender to your baby feeding constantly in the first few weeks.

A lot of it is keeping calm and carrying on (an overused phrase if ever there was one!) in the face of "concerned" HCP's and family and friends who will not want to see you wincing in pain with sore nipples or your baby fussing at your breast when any one of them are obviously thinking they could put a bottle teat in his mouth and do it better themselves!

The benefits of breastfeeding are definitely there, If you can keep it in mind that its worth it in the long run, then you'll win.

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