A Conversation for Managing Common Breastfeeding Problems

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 1

kelli - ran 2 miles a day for 2012, aiming for the same for 2013

My son would feed all day and all night if I'd let him! I have to wait until his swallowing tails off ( he keeps sucking lightly) and disengage him myself.

Have heard this referred to as comfort sucking but I have yet to be told what to do about it!

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 2

Wand'rin star

Tickle Spud gently under the chin or under the arm. This should make him smile and thus disengage. Don't pull at all as it will make your breasts sore smiley - starsmiley - star

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 3

kelli - ran 2 miles a day for 2012, aiming for the same for 2013

Hi smiley - star
He's been doing it since before the smiling phase - insinuating a finger into the corner of his mouth is enough to break the suction.

Health visitors are no help whatsoever - they say 'Oh he is just comfort sucking' and that is it. Their suggestion for stopping him feeding all night (and screaming the place down if he doesn't get fed) is to attempt 'controlled crying' ie let him scream for five minutes, go in, pat and shush, leave and let hm scream again. It can take two weeks of 30 repetions of this per time to get them to settle themselves. Don't know about anyone else, but this sounds like child abuse to me...

I shouldn't post today, he was up every hour from midnight onwards and has been up (or sleeping in my arms) since 4.30. I'm too shattered to be coherent!

I'd be tempted to give him the occasional formula feed at night to give me a break - except it means getting up anyway and when we did give him some once he didn't sleep any longer than after a feed from me smiley - yawn

People keep suggeting it is a growth spurt, in which case he has been on one for 18 weeks...!

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 4

Wand'rin star

I agree completely about not leaving babies to cry. When they're that young they're not spoiled brats doing it for attention. Any mother who can let a baby cry for 20 mins doesn't belong to the same tribe I do.
My two were both born in Africa. They were both very big babies and therefore slept through from a couple of weeks (probably due to the crushed rusks in the nighttime feed)I stopped breast feeding much earlier because there just wasn't enough milk after very long labour had turned to a non-elective Caesar. Also, our parents were staying for the month after the first one was born and didn't come from a culture where you could breastfeed in public.
During the day the boys were carried on an African back most of the time. They never cried.
I feel so sorry that neither you nor Spud is having fun. Is it any good giving him a dummy or boiled water in a bottle? If he's "comfort feeding" he obviously needs to comfort suck. Have you tried a baby
sling or does it hurt you too much?
We also enjoyed a sort of yoga for mother and baby, and taking baths together - put a soft towel on the floor to put Spud on before you get out of the bath. Also used to gently massage baby oil into them - especially the tummy, but then we were blessed with better weather than you've been having in England this "summer" smiley - starsmiley - star

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 5

Leopardskinfynn... sexy mama

Hi Kelli
smiley - hug

I understand what you're going through, my munchkin was the same. It can be trying (to say the least) to have a baby attached to you all the time. smiley - erm
I had lot of comfort and help from the local La Leche League group - have you checked them out? There's a link from the main breastfeeding article.

One thing that the LLL leader talked to me about was the concept of 'comfort sucking', and that yes babies do suckle for comfort as they feel secure at their mother's breast... and that this is a phase, and it WILL pass.
I found that carrying the Munchkin in a cloth wrap/sling was the only way (other than the breast) to quiet her in the first few months, and would often be the only time she would sleep for more than 2 consecutive hours. I used the "Kari-me" wrap which I highly recommend - a bit of a steep learning curve in figuring out how to tie it, but well worth it and easy when you know how!

I've heard conflicting things about giving formula at night, and I personally don't think that it is good for babies. Breast is not just best, its normal. Saying that, everyone has to make their own choices based on their circumstances...

The reason that some babies sleep for longer after having formula is that it is more difficult for them to digest. Also, if you mix formula with breast, chances are that your own milk supply may dwindle.

Try to rest when the baby sleeps whenever you can. These first few months can be tough and feel like they will last forever, but they will pass.

smiley - hug

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 6

kelli - ran 2 miles a day for 2012, aiming for the same for 2013

I can't carry him in a sling, he's too heavy - nearly 18 lb already! After the section my back and stomach muscles are not strong enough to carry him for long.

And the thing with believing that it will get better - he is four months old, and definitely not improving. We did have one week where he only woke once during the night for a feed, but is was only one week, and already it seems like a distant memory. He is so hungry! And the advice nowadays is that they shouldn't be weaned until 6 months - it used to be 4 months but apparently studies have shown you reduce the rates of digestive problems if you put off weaning until their systems have matured a bit more.

He doesn't sleep enough in the daytime for me to get any rest - twenty minutes is the longest nap I've had out of him - and then he will only sleep if I'm holding him.

Because he feeds so much I never have a break in which to express any milk so that makes it impossible for me to get a break from him - if I could express a feed then maybe I could persuade my (reluctant, miserable, and not bonding with his son) husband to do at least one of the night feeds a week. I just don't produce enough milk despite making sure I eat good stuff and get plenty to drink. My supply is only just keeping up with his demand with nothing to spare, and by the evening the feeds are not big enough to fill him up for a good long sleep. I'd introduce a little bit of baby rice of an evening, except I don't want to make it up with formula and I can't get enough of my milk out.


Only another 18 years until he leaves home...

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 7

Wand'rin star

Takes a deep breath - split the difference between 4 and 6 months and give it up. Try the La leche people recommended above and if they're no more supportive than your health visitor, start weaning (at least on to fake milk)now.
The reason for this unPC advice is your unhappy husband. It's reasonable to be totally wrapped up in a newborn but an eighteen pounder could be fed, cuddled and played with by his daddy.
Your on-line comments on your husband were brimming with love and confidence up to Spud's birth. Your description of your wedding day was one of the most moving I've ever read. Don't let go of that in the stress and strain. With love smiley - starsmiley - star

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 8

Leopardskinfynn... sexy mama

smiley - hug

I hear you Kelli, I really do. You sound like you're really going through it at the moment and are at your wits' end. I wish that I could come over and make you smiley - tea and take the baby for a while to let you get some rest.

It all sounds so similar to my munchkin!
The only time she would sleep in the first few months is when I held her or when her dad would walk endlessy around the front room at 3am when I couldn't face another feed.

I used to get hardly anything if I expressed and thought that I must have no milk, but some women's milk letdown just doesn't kick in without the baby at the breast. Try not to worry that you don't have enough milk - it's a very rare situation that the mother doesn't make enough milk if she's well nourished and feeds on demand.

My daughter fed almost constantly it seemed and on the rare occasion when she was asleep I was being advised to express to get my milk supply up - I just felt like a cow! And how depressing when I could hardly get anything out. Those were dark days for me and I felt better when I decided to stop getting stressed about expressing.

What's SO important to remember, is that you're doing *really well*! smiley - cuddle
Making milk takes a lot of energy, and it doesn't sound like you're getting enough support and rest to help your body make more. Could your husband/mum/friend take your son out in the buggy to let you get some rest, or at least a long bath and some precious alone time?
Fennel tea is also excellent for increasing milk supply.

A really good sling will help distribute the weight across your body. My partner and I carried the Munchkin in our wrap until only a few months ago, and she's nearly 2.

As you've had a C section, its even more important that you get a few minutes to yourself to do some gentle strengthening work to your core muscles (Pilates is ideal).

Do you and your son co-sleep? If I'd had to get out of bed to feed my daughter every time she cried, I would have been even more of a nervous wreck! smiley - weird
I sleep on a futon mattress on the floor, and she sleeps on her own mattress right next to my partner and I. In fact, when I'd decided I'd had enough of constant night feeding (around 8 or 9 months), my partner then swapped placed and slept next to her so that she wouldn't smell the milk. After a week of being comforted back to sleep by her dad, she decided to mostly sleep through. Before that age though, its unusual for a baby to sleep through, and its important to realise that other people's definitions of "sleeping through" will be different to yours! I think that babies are "officially" considered to be sleeping through when they can go about 5 hours.

It IS hard on your relationship, and it takes time and a lot of adjustment for everyone to figure out their new roles and how to fit this new little person into their lives. For me it feels that my little tribe has just settled down into a comfort zone and I am starting to feel like myself again. Its such a huge adjustment to go from being lovers to parents! Be gentle with each other, talk lots, cuddle loads and give it time.

It might be that when your son cries, he's not always hungry. As a first time mum it can be really difficult to tell the difference between hungry cries, and those of boredom, loneliness or dirty nappy.

One thing that occurred to me is that could be of use is to get your son checked over by a cranial osteopath, one that specialise in babies. Babies skull bones are very malleable to allow them to be born, and sometimes something happens during delivery (or indeed in pregnancy if their position wasn't great) that means that those bones can pinch the nerves underneath and make them very uncomfortable - and the only thing they can do is cry, and suckling makes them feel better as it releases endorphins.

I'd recommend reading "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley (who wrote the above article)

You're doing a great job, the best job - and the hardest - job in the world. Feel good about yourself and the nourishment that you've given and are still giving your son, and try to take some time out for yourself.

smiley - cuddle

Maybe our problem isn't that common...

Post 9

Sho - employed again!

sorry to hear you're having such a hard time with the breastfeeding as well as everything else that is going on, Kelli.

I'm not sure if it helped her,but I sent some fab German "tea" (herbal tea) which is supposed to help boost milk production and to improve the quality. It's not considered "quack" medicine over here in the way my British family commented when they heard about it - if you want to try some it is absolutely no problem to bung it in the post (it is organic and made by a very reputable company)

(it's not the best flavour I've ever had - but compared to the rasperry leaf tea I had before the birth it's much better)

they also give (from newborn in hospital) babies Fennel tea here (in the same way that WS described the boiled water). It gives the babies something to suck on but in no way stops them being hungry for milk. Howeever, if you think that some of your feeds are for comfort sucking it might give you the chance to miss a feed and catch up on milk production.

Expressing is a double edged sword, I found. Yes, smiley - chef got to take part in feeding with #2 as he didn't with #1 but it didn't make any difference to the way he has bonded with them. It did give me me-time though (to teach English as it happened) and was a big help that way. And, perversely as it seemed, the more I produced due to expressing (during the first week, after that it settled down) the more I had available. I expressed after a nice relaxing, warm bath and used it as an opportunity to give myself a boob-massage (became necessary because I had so much milk there was a danger of it building up and getting blockages)

Sleeping through - there is good and bad news. 5 hours is considered a full night for a baby... #2 has finally (about a year ago) managed to sleep consistently through the night (at least, if she wakes now she reads rather than burst in on us). Unfortunately you'll have to deal with the sleep after the feeding, I think, but the two could be connected.

For weaning you'll have to make your own decisions. Although current advice is 6 months - look around at you and see how many people of your (or my) age are in dire straits because they were weaned at 4 months? If you decide to get into that, don't let anyone bully you that it is a bad thing - as I saw in an ep of House MD "you're the doctor, I'm the mother. That trumps everything"

smiley - hug
sorry, I really don't know how to help.

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