Struggling Breastfeeding at 24 weeks, please help

Rachael - posted on 11/13/2014 ( 1 mom has responded )




I have EBF my son from birth and I absolutely love it and the bond it has created between us. I co-I sleep at night and have no probs there. He naps 3-4 times in day, it has been very difficult putting him down to sleep at times, I don't force him in crib, sometimes he wants to sleep on the breast.

I have been getting extremely drained lately though with blistered/cracked nipples after night time cluster feeds although I have soldiered on and pumped when he napped in day. I haven't had a single day or night off since the birth and it has been tremendously hard at times. I don't really have any friends and I don't see family. My partner is great, works all day, and puts baby to bed at night so I guess I have 7pm-9pm to myself each day, more or less, if I'm lucky. We have started BLW last week.

I have been considering giving formula to take the load off me, perhaps in the evening at 9pm feed so I can have more of a break and maybe even leave the house. I have been feeling like a prisoner in here. I could express (I have electric pump) to build my reserves up with that time. I have pumped and fed baby at same time but it hammers my nipples and it is alot of work on my own for very little time off in return. I don't seem to have enough milk to satisfy baby if I pump between feeds.

I don't really want to give formula before 26 weeks, I'd feel like I'm giving up on a marathon early after so much work and iron determination that EBF has taken of me at at times. If I had more people coming to see us, it maybe wouldn't be so bad. I have honestly been on my knees I've felt so drained and exhausted and isolated but I can't make a decision to stop BF, it's heart wrenching, I don't really want to, but can't carry on like this either, I don't have anyone to talk to.

Does anyone have similar story? I may combi-feed after 26 weeks, I don't know what to do, I don't know if I will last that long EBF, I'm so tired. I'd love to hear any support/advice/stories, I'd warmly appreciate it. Should I wait til 26 weeks to drop a feed with formula, will it un-do BF goodness? I don't want to drop feeds and regret it, please help.......


Chet - posted on 11/13/2014




A few ideas and tips (not sure what you've tried already) :

Put Lansinoh on your nipples, and give them as much air as possible. If you can sleep topless, or wear loose shirts without a bra for part of the day that should help.

Allowing your baby to sleep at the breast probably isn't helping your nipples. Most babies won't maintain a good latch while sleeping, and your baby's damp, moist mouth is going to make the chapping worse. If I was going to try easing your baby out of one habit this would be the one. Will your baby suck your finger or take a soother?

I'm honestly surprised that you're having trouble with blisters and soreness close to six months in. If you haven't seen a lactation consultant I would consider meeting with one, or getting in touch with your local LLL to have your latch checked.

LLL meetings are also a great way to get out of the house, have an outing in a baby friendly environment and meet other nursing moms. If you live in an area with multiple groups, and don't seem to click with the leader or any of the moms at one group, don't be afraid to try another. We once lived in a small city that had three groups - two were small and fairly intimate, one was large, extremely active and met at a community centre and tended to attract the more left wing moms.

If you're looking to stock pile milk the best time to pump is early in the morning. An hour or two before your baby's first nursing session of the day is the best time. Also, it takes time to increase your supply to include regular pumping. When I was pumping I eventually worked up to pumping 10oz or 12oz every day (over three pumping sessions), but it took awhile to build up to that.

Also, make sure that you're using a good pump. In general Ameda, Medela, and Avent pumps or good. I'm not as familiar with Lansinoh / Bailey pumps, but they should be good too. Most other pumps (Gerber, First Years, Evenflo) are generally not good.

If you're pumping to build a stash taking fenugeek and blessed thistle together can help. Depending on where you live you may be able to get a prescription for domperidone from your doctor to increase your supply for pumping.

When your baby is napping take time for yourself. Nap if you want to nap. Shower if you want to shower. Do nothing if you want to do nothing!

I would also get your iron tested. It's very common to have low iron after pregnancy, and that may be contributing to you feeling so drained.

You said that you were starting baby lead weaning. If you've already given anything other than breast milk your baby no longer has a virgin gut, so giving formula is less of an issue. The idea is to nurse exclusively until baby's gut seals fully - which happens sometime between four and six months. In all likelihood, your baby's gut has sealed by now, the idea is that if you wait until 6 months you can be completely certain.

I didn't enjoy nursing when I first started. With our first I could handle any single nursing session, but hated the thought of having to do it again later. I was fortunate that I had a very heavy let down and a baby that could keep up, so nursing sessions were short. I've often thought that I would have given up if I'd had a lot of trouble in those first few months because I not sure that I would have had the strength to push through long and difficult nursing sessions.

We have four kids, and they're older now (youngest is five) and I am glad that I got through it. With BLW three of our four kids started solids late (8 to 10 months). They had no interest in feeding themselves before that. I also found breastfeeding to be a huge help in comforting older babies and helping to get through a lot of the humps and bumps in the road that are common with older babies and young toddlers.

I think that right now the most important thing is for you to see your doctor and make sure that there is nothing medical contributing to your tiredness, and to connect with some other moms in your area. If not through the LLL, maybe with a play group, library time, mom and baby yogo class, stroller size group, etc.

Breastfeeding aside it was hard to be alone with babies and little kids all day, and the days that went the fastest and the smoothest for me were always the days when we got together with another mom and her little ones. I would always wonder if it was worth the hassle of getting organized and out of the house, but it was!

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