Tips for struggling breast feeding mothers?

Stevie - posted on 09/14/2012 ( 27 moms have responded )

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I should preface this with the fact that I am the father, and my partner and I have an 11 day old son. We agreed from the outset that breast is best, and clearly for health reasons that's true, but my partner is now struggling with breast feeding. She can deal with the sore nipples etc, the thing that is making her so depressed is the lack of sleep.



Last night she didn't really get to sleep until 8am because he is constantly on her breast, which is when she turned around and said she wants to switch to formula. We both would prefer to continue nursing on her breast so I guess my question is are there any mums out there that can offer some advice/pearls of wisdom that my tired partner can use to make her life a little easier or encourage her to continue and persevere.



I would hate to switch to formula, for a plethora of reasons, but I need to consider my partners health as well as our babies.





Thanks in advance, Steve.

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Clare - posted on 09/15/2012

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Hi there,

Just me again. I highly recomend all new Mum's watch this video. It will help you determine what baby needs when they cry. It is honestly amazing. Please watch it as your life will be changed forever. It will cut out the guess work and you will be on your way to a happy baby and much more relaxed parents.

Best wishes.

Carissa - posted on 09/21/2012

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I have successfully nursed two kids. One til he weened himself at 15 months and my daughter til she was 2.5. The key to success is cosleeping. For those who are worried about it there are cosleepers you can buy. One is by dr sears. I am pregnant now and really think they are a good idea and am purchasing one myself. Seriously your wife will be able to feed the baby and sleep at the same time. She will even switch baby from side to side while in a sleep state. Some people freak out about this but it is really normal and healthy, mom is operating on instincts still and won't hurt baby. I dont know about the sore nipple thing, I never had that problem. Contact a postpartum doula or your local branch of le leche league.

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The first couple of weeks are really hard, and I think the baby is building up his supply, also baby's digest milk in a cople of hours and are then ready to feed again. It dose get tiring, but he will establish his milk supple soon! My son is 7 weeks and he has just been on another feeding frenzy the previous 2weeks to build his supple. My midwife described it as doing the "big shop" and stocking his cupboards up. Hope that helps

Kkrjrpleggett - posted on 09/15/2012

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She does not have to wait 6 weeks to express milk. I started expressing milk from day one! We were still in the hospital and I was pumping the second my son was done nursing. As long as he latches well and has taken to the breast readily, then after about 2-3 weeks you can introduce a bottle or two at night and he shouldn't have any nipple confusion. Breast milk can be frozen, which will really come in handy when she returns to work. My hubby and I switched off at night, taking turns. I would do the last feeding before bed, then when my son woke up it was daddy's turn. Then the second time was mine. That way we each were able to get a little sleep and it wasn't up to just one of us. Plus it was great bonding time for daddy and baby! Now, you said 11 days old, hate to tell you this, but your baby is right on time for his first growth spurt! That means eating a lot more for a few days. Cluster feedings can be common (hopefully not all at night) Where your baby will nurse several times over a short period of time, then go 2 hours or so, and do it all again. It does NOT last for long, a week or so at most. As for her pain, have her express just a little bit of milk by hand and rub it into her nipples. It can be a little sticky, but works Wonders on sore nipples. I NEVER used the creams and I never cracked or bled. There is Nothing better for sore nipples than mom's own breast milk. Try to encourage her to stick with it. Ir really does get easier! Once you are over this hump and it starts to get easier she will be so proud of herself for sticking with it! It is an amazing feeling to know that you (she) is able to provide all the best nutrition her baby needs. Good Luck!





Reading another suggestion on here, not sure how you feel about pacifiers, my husband used his finger as a pacifier if all the baby wanted was to suck on something. Babies naturally suckle for comfort. Sometimes the baby will cry just for comfort and end up using the breast a pacifier. If you find that this is the problem, make yourself the pacifier instead of mom's breast. We would try nursing first just to make sure he wasn't hungry, then if he just fell asleep or didn't actually eat, but just suckled lightly, we would switch him to daddy's finger and he would go right to sleep. Again, Good Luck

Sarah - posted on 09/14/2012

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I SO know her pain!! My second child (first one I nursed) ate about EVERY HOUR AROUND THE CLOCK!!! I was SO tired and also had a toddler to try to keep up with. It got to a point to where I HATED feeding times sometimes because that was ALL I was doing. I have mixed feelings about that time. I was glad a stuck to it because around 3 months it did start to get better. She started to eat about every 3 hours and I felt like I could survive. But I hated feeling the way I did about feeding her at times. Feeding time should be a special time not a time you dread. I had decided with my third that if she was the same I would do a mix of breast and formula. This way I could still nurse her but also not feel like I resented feeding times. I was lucky my third went much better.....she wanted her sleep more then her food and would eat every 3 to 4 hours.



Biggest advise I can give you is keep supporting her. My husband would often times be the burper as it took my daughter a long time to burp sometimes. So I was able to go back to sleep after feeding and not have to spend an extra 1/2 hour trying to get a burp. DON'T suggest baby is hungry when baby cries......this one drove me nuts. One thing I did notice with my third that I wish I would have known with #2 is that sometimes she would cry a hungry cry, but really she was tired and trying to get herself to sleep. So a couple of things to help that....make sure baby is not just nursing to fall asleep....when they are very little it is common for them to fall asleep while nursing, but if they are falling asleep right away then they are most likely more tired then hungry. One thing that was a lifesaver for my kids was the pacifire....not sure how yo feel on this one. Sometimes babies want to suck, but are not hungry. This helped them to not use me a the pacifire.



Lastly....for her sanity if she does decide to do some formula it is not the end of the world. My first was a formula fed baby.....he is now 14 yrs old and a healthy, smart teenagager. All the benefits they say come with breastfeeding I think he still had with formula. He is primarily an A or B student, he rarely gets sick and often times gets sick less then my breastfed kids, we also have a good bond (I made feeding times special...so I think the bond is not in what is fed more in how the feeding is done). My second child I nursed for 6 months and then I was ready to be done....my goal was to nurse for 3 months. She was my eat every hour one. She did get formula a couple times during that 6 month time period. So doing a formula bottle every now and then is ok too. In saying that I do want to say that breastmilk is on a supply and demand system.....so the more baby eats the more she will make, so if you do a formula bottle you want to make sure to pump. Also pumping between feedings can help get your supply up....but I know how hard that can be when baby is eating so often. My third baby I nursed until she was 14 months old and she had no formula.

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User - posted on 10/18/2012

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Well I breastfed and I also had to suppliment with formula while breastfeeding through a syringe and tube (it was terrible for me anyway). It is VERY difficult at the very beginning for mothers to get any kind of sleep. After 2 1/2 mo I had to switch to formula because I wasnt producing enough breastmilk. But I think regardless if she is breastfeeding or formula feeding she is going to have to get up and feed the baby every 2-3 hrs or so. Switching over the formula is the last reason to ever stop breastfeeding. I know breastfeeding takes longer than a bottle, but its still the fact, I had to do both, and its still the routine of getting up ever few hrs an feeling like I didnt get any sleep. So really for the at least the first month she just isnt going to be having alot of sleep. Its the hardest month it really is. What she needs is sleep of course, but she need you to helps as much as you can with the baby even if that means at nihgt her breast feeding the baby and then you doing the diaper changes, it only takes a few minutes but really does help. Also on your days off, let her sleep in between feedings and if there is anyone around to help tell them to stay the day with your partner and let her sleep in between feedings as well. And make sure she can breastfeed as much as she can and as long as she can, its not very encouraging to know she isnt going to get alot of sleep regardless of what the baby drinks, but if she can get some additional help to take over while she naps, she will start feeling much much better! And things WILL get better I promise!

Hope - posted on 10/08/2012

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My best advice to you is to take turns in the middle of the night. Breastfeeding is going to be a challenge because yes, mom gets hardly any sleep. When I was breastfeeding I had my baby sleep next to me for the first couple of months so I could just pop up, grab him and let him side-nurse in the bed, that way I could just sleep while he nurses, and he'd fall asleep after feeding. The taking turns part comes in for diaper changes...if you want to help out the best you can do is change diapers in the middle of the night, or maybe go get baby when it's time for feeding so mommy can sleep. I know how she feels, it's the way it is for all breastfeeding moms. Maybe she can pump a bottle or two for night feedings? Or take a nap during the day time to make up for lost sleep? That's what I did, I would literally fall asleep sitting up in the rocker while feeding my son LOL. Tell her to stick with it, it's worth it in the long run and it only gets easier as she adjusts. She doesn't need to be awake the entire feeding! that's the important thing to make her acknowledge! The first two weeks or so should be the only time she experiences sore nipples, if it's past that point, I would have her see a lactation specialist because baby is probably not latching properly....which means sore nipples all the time. Also try lanolin...that helped me tremendously. Tell mom good luck and to stick with it! She'll be so proud of herself in the end I promise!! (my son is two now and I couldn't be more pleased with the fact that I stuck with it, he only breastfed for the first 8 months, after that I couldn't keep up production because he ate so much!- he was a big baby)

User - posted on 10/01/2012

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she is just in the worst part of it. give it a few more weeks. it gets better. Mine was always on the nipple. ALWAYS. But I learned to lay on the couch while feeding him and we both would fall asleep. Now he is almost 7 months and well there is no pain, no constant feeding. I find myself making him eat because I am engorged. Just hang in there!

Tine - posted on 09/26/2012

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Both my babies have been frequent feeders, which is excellent for the milk supply but demanding on sleep. I simply co-sleep with them. It is safe, and common, and protective against SIDS to boot! ( http://nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/ ).



I just get my sleep in between feeds by lying with bub curled in to my tummy and feeding lying down the baby gets the lowest boob lol! Nature has designed us for this by filling breastmilk with sleep hormones for bub and for mum simultaneously. I suspect your baby is awake for comfort more than for feeding, and there is nothing to say that formula will result in more sleep.



Babies feed frequently at night because the hormones that stimulate milk production are at their most sensitive then, so it ensures good supply. They also have a strong biological imperative to be next to their mother, as her physiology helps them regulate breathing, heart rate and temperature. The Australian Breastfeeding Association also has info on breastfeeding and cosleeping here;

https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/breastfeeding-co-sleeping-and-sudden-unexpected-deaths-infancy

The article would be a good one for your partner to read, it is helpful, well researched and esay to read.

Jenn - posted on 09/25/2012

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Wow some wonderful responses here Can i add (A) parenthood & feeding both get easier (B) stress is awful and makes things so much harder. If you can access it there is a wonderful ebook on www.pinkymckay.com.au called breastfeeding simply I loved that it is a recording as well as written -so much easier to feed and listen than flick pages.

With my first baby i got in her way alot & weight loss efforts made it so much worse. Breast milk actually needs saturated fat so every snack or cup tea & a buiscut you can offer is a huge help.

Baby number 2 is a much better feeder & sleeper

Kristi - posted on 09/24/2012

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Everybody has their own thoughts on this but I did cosleeping with both my children as long as they nursed. I put an absorbent pad underneath us (in between the mattress and bottom sheet) to catch all the leakage but when the baby would wake up for the first two months I could just wake enough to sit up and nurse then burp and go back to sleep. When they got a bit older I would just turn over and they would latch on while I still lightly slept. Nursing is just very exhausting and it takes a lot out of the mother but you have to stay strong and take naps during the day. She could pump to help increase her milk supply and save that milk so you could feed him once during the night but I would just tell her to stick with it and drink lots of water. I hope you both are successful in nursing and supporting her in nursing. I nursed my first child for 13 months and my second for 12 months. It gets better after the first 3 months. Good luck.

Stevie - posted on 09/20/2012

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So many great pieces of advice, thank you all so much :) Now, 1 week on and it's getting far more manageable. I'm not going to lie, it hasn't been easy for her, but we're getting there. We purchased an electric pump 2 days ago so we can try and stock pile a few feeds and free her up to catch some decent sleep. So far from little test feeds he appears to be happy taking it from the bottle or the boob so that's good, fingers crossed her milk production will stay up enough for her over the weekend to get this stock pile going. Last night was another bad night for her (she hasnt had the chance to express more than a feeds worth yet) but she seems so determined to carry on with it, so very proud of her (even when she's biting my head off!!). I don't wish to tempt fate but it looks like the pump might be our saviour!

Anna - posted on 09/20/2012

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I know exactly what you mean about hating how you feel when you breastfed because it was just so dang hard!! I decided this time around to pump only because the stress of trying to get her to latch on properly and "do her thing" was exhausting and stressful and ultimately frustrating. Supposedly some moms get this great connection out of the whole thing, but instead I began to feel resentful over it. Once I started pumping and getting some sleep, I felt much better and began to really feel much better toward my new baby.

Anna - posted on 09/20/2012

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Try taking Fenugreek for additional milk production and also pump, pump, pump! Pumping is much faster and will buy her some time to sleep. :-)

Julie - posted on 09/18/2012

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Another thing you can try is a nipple shield. My baby wasn't able to latch on till he was almost a month old, but could with the shield. But definitly see a lactation consultant. They will make sure baby is latching properly, show your wife different ways to hold the baby to make it easier for him to latch, etc. And it does get better.

Alice - posted on 09/18/2012

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Yes yes yes - buy an arm's reach co-sleeper. I didn't have one with my first child, and the difference it made for me with my second was AMAZING. It goes on the mom's side of the bed so she can nurse the baby wihout getting up and then just set him back in it. We found one on Craig's list, and passed it along to friends after we were done. Try it! It's so worth it! As soon as th ebaby is old enough to sleep through the night without physiologically needing nutrition, switch to ofering him only a bottle of water in the night, which you can just have ready in the co-sleeper. That will be a hard 3-5 nights again, but once you nail it, it's done. Best to y'all - she can totally do this, and kudos to you for wanting to support her through it.

Mel - posted on 09/17/2012

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Not introducing a bottle for the first 6 weeks is ridiculous. My first daughter would not latch on until she was 5 weeks old and the only way to feed her was express and bottle feed (i HATE formula, not cos its formula just cos it stinks. Plus i had about enough breast milk to feed my entire suburb) once she had grown enough for her months to be big enough to latch on she did and we never looked back. Please tell your wife it gets better and to hang in there. The first 4 to 6 weeks are the worst. Also pacis are a life saver when it comes to breast fed bubs that like to suck.



Best of luck and good on you for being such a supportive husband and wanting the best for them both. Xo

Erin - posted on 09/15/2012

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they say not to express milk early on because you have to teach the baby to Latch properly, the baby (in theory) will learn to nurse efficiently BEFORE having a bottle or pacifier. The baby if they have a bottle will realize it's easier to take a bottle and then not want to even try to latch...I had this problem with my first baby, it was very difficult to overcome this obstacle.

We co-slept with all 3 babies. As soon as i realized how much more sleep i was getting there was no going back. :-)

Clare - posted on 09/15/2012

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It sounds to me like he isn't latching properly. If this is the case he will not be getting enough milk fast enough. This will result in your wife having very sore nipples and the baby feeding for extremely long periods of time. I recommend her seeing a lactation consultant to get the technique sorted out. He probably feeds better when you give him expressed milk because he can drink plenty in a much smaller time frame giving him plenty of time to spend sleeping while his tummy is still full.

Please, please, please have her see a lactation consultant. Breast feeding doesn't come naturally to everyone. I struggled at first as well but once I had the technique down properly I was able to heal and get on with feeding my daughter effectively and efficiently.

Good luck and best wishes.

Stevie - posted on 09/14/2012

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Thank you so much for your responses everyone, but I must say in particular Sarah. To answer your question, I WAS against a pacifier, but having done some research I am far less concerned about the detrimental side effects of using a pacifier, we will just try to be resolute in weening baby from it once teeth are coming through, no matter how much he cries!!



He is definitely comfort nursing, she expressed 6 ounces tonight, 4 of which I fed baby immediately, but still wouldn't sleep until he'd nursed on mummy for all of 5 seconds then was fast asleep...so we came to the decision to try the pacifier route.



It's clear from all the forum digging I've been doing for the past 9 months and 11 days that there is no right or wrong answer to a lot of questions, only what is right and wrong for baby and parents, and you're all so willing to share your help, wisdom and experience, all of which helps first time parents like ourselves construct informed decisions, so many thanks from two potentially less tired parents! :)

Kim - posted on 09/14/2012

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He is probably going thru a growth spurt and trying to increase her milk supply. Its been a long time but I think they have growth spurts around 1 wk, 2 wks, 1 month, 6 wks, 2 months, then monthly. My husband used to hang out with the baby after the 8pm feeding and let me get some sleep, then wake me when they were hungry. She should also try to feed him more during the day, waking him if she needs to, then hopefully he will sleep more at night and at least give her a 3-4 hr stretch of straight sleep. I'd see if there is a Le Leche League or another breast feeding group nearby that can maybe give her some suggestions, and info.

Sally - posted on 09/14/2012

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Are you willing to sleep with the baby? The modern western bed can be a falling and smothering hazard, but those are easy to fix. With a little practice you don't have to wake up to nurse.

Good luck

Jocelyn - posted on 09/14/2012

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I breastfed my son for the first year. I fed him on demand that entire time (I am against feeding schedules for infants, so my pacifier suggestion below is new for me), and he ate every two hours on the dot since birth until four months until he went on his first trip which was a four hour drive and only wanted to eat once. After that he ate every three hours. Usually babies can eat every three hours by two or three months so mine was a frequent eater. Yours is still very young, but have you considered a pacifier? The increased frequency makes me wonder if he is fussing for food or comfort. You could use a pacifier between feedings and feed him every two hours instead of each hour; he should still get the nourishment he needs without using mommy as a pacifier. Also, trying the bottle might help since it's easier he might eat more per feeding and last longer between feedings. The baby will survive and thrive on breastmilk or formula. Whatever happens, take care of that momma.

Stevie - posted on 09/14/2012

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Thank you Amy, I think we are going to try expressing a bottle per night (as you suggested). We keep getting told you shouldn't express until 6 weeks but I've tried our baby boy on one bottle and he loved it, so I'm not so concerned about waiting anymore, as the main concern seemed to be about confusing him, but he's clearly a hungry and unfussy baby like his daddy!



Everyone says the pattern will come in time, so I just need to support and encourage her to continue and persevere as much as she can.

Amy - posted on 09/14/2012

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My husbands job in the middle of the night was to keep my daughter up long enough so I could feed her. He had to rub her feet, undress her, changer her diaper. Once my daughter hit a month old he fed her one bottle of expressed milk in the middle of the night because I knew I was returning back to work and she needed to take a bottle. That allowed me to get a solid chunk of sleep long enough for me to keep from feeling like I was going to snap. I always went to bed when the baby did and the first wake up he would get up and feed.



Try to encourage her to give it at least 6-8 weeks before she gives up. It really does get easier, the sore breasts stop being sore, you little one will start developing patterns, and she won't seem so fried. In the mean time when you get home take the baby and tell her to go lay down for a bit, giver her an hour or two on the weekends when she can lay down.

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