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Thread: Unsupportive husband

  1. #1

    Default Unsupportive husband

    First time mom here. Our son is 3.5 weeks old. At our first doc apt we had to start supplementing because baby lost 10% of birth weight. Since then I have been mostly pumping because it's easier to make sure I'll have something to give baby when he's hungry and because I'm able to tell exactly how much he's eaten. Since Friday I've been trying to nurse exclusively and it's going terrible. Baby latches on but falls asleep after 10 mins. I burp him, change a diaper, and switch breast and try again, 10 mins later he's asleep again and I do it all over again. I go through this process for about an hour and then put him down and pump for 15-20 mins. When he wakes up fussy/hungry 15 mins later I give him the little I pumped and then formula until he is satisfied. Sometimes however, he gets extremely fussy while I'm trying to nurse him. With my breast in his mouth he is crying bloody murder. I don't understand, my breast is there, I see milk, I switch him sides, and still he is crying his lungs out. At this point my husband says that he is going to make him a bottle. That he is crying because he is hungry and I'm being selfish by starving him just because I want to breastfeed him. He says all that matters is that the baby is fed. It breaks my heart/pisses me off how unsupportive he is. One I have no idea why baby gets like that and two I don't know what to do with my unsupportive husband. I have a fourth apt with the lactation consultant in a week. Any advice is much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Unsupportive husband

    Welcome to the forum!

    I am so sorry that you are facing 2 difficult issues at the same time: a baby who is a fussy nurser and a husband who is letting you down. You deserve a big hug for dealing with both!

    Does the baby's fussiness at the breast strike or worsen at any particular time of day? Is it worse with any particular position? Or is it fairly constant no matter what time it is or what position you use? If it's fairly constant- baby is fussy no matter when it is or what position you are using- then what you're seeing is probably a consequence of bottle use. Don't beat yourself up for using a bottle- when you are facing a 10% weight loss you're almost inevitably going to be asked to supplement. But when babies get a lot of bottles early on, they often start to act fussy at the breast or even reject it outright. It takes more skill to get milk from the breast than the bottle, and most babies like an easy meal. Here are some things you can do about this issue (a.k.a. nipple confusion, bottle preference):
    1. Keep offering to nurse, even if the baby is fussy. Fussiness is very frustrating for moms (and dads!) and can definitely lead to escalating bottle use just because parents are getting tired out and anxious.
    2. If you continue to use bottles, keep them small, maybe 1-2 oz. A big problem with bottles is that parents aren't told how much to put in them. (Myself included; I once fed my newborn a 7 oz bottle, which she immediately upchucked.) Big bottles = very full tummies = lower incentive to nurse. a normal nursing frequency for a 3 week old baby is 8-12 (or more) times per day. If you find that baby is asking to eat less often than that, it may be that he's getting a little too satisfied with his bottles, and it's a good cue to reduce their size.
    3. If you continue to use bottles, try to use them in a flexible way. Try offering a small bottle supplement when baby is fussy, and then putting him back on the breast. So you might supplement with a 1 oz bottle before he begins to nurse, or give him 1 oz when he suddenly becomes too fussy to nurse. Once his fussiness is defused with the bottle, he may have more patience for the breast.
    4. OFfer the breast at the conclusion of every bottle, and allow baby to do unlimited "comfort nursing" at the conclusion of feedings and in between feedings. You want him to associate the breast with feelings of fullness, relaxation, cuddling. You don't want him to think that every feeding concludes with the bottle; that usually leads to baby making less effort at the breast and fussing for the bottle at earlier and earlier times.
    5. If you are using a pacifier, put it on the shelf. You want the baby to do all his sucking at the breast.
    6. Google "paced feeding" and check out the YouTube videos you find. Make sure your husband watches these videos if he is giving the baby bottles. Paced feeding is a method of giving bottles that makes them flow a bit more like the breast and can reduced overfeeding.
    7. Experiment with different feeding positions. Side-lying and reclined positions work for a lot of moms, and I especially suggest trying the reclined position because it enlists gravity to keep the baby on the breast- it pulls the baby's heavy head onto the breast instead of allowing it to slip off.
    8. Keep going to see the LC, even if it's expensive. Whatever you spend now is cheaper than a year's worth of formula!

    Your husband sounds like a concerned dad who doesn't know how to help. I think the best way to approach him may be this:
    1. Find a calm time of day when neither of you are too tired, and have your talk then. A discussion about breastfeeding is unlikely to be productive when the baby is screaming and you're both stressed.
    2. Take an "iron fist in a velvet glove" approach, starting with the velvet glove. Tell your husband that he's a wonderful dad and partner, acknowledge that the last few weeks have been stressful and transformative for both of you, and tell him how much you appreciate his desire to help you and to do right by your child.
    3. Once you have given him some love, bring out the iron fist. Tell him that making breastfeeding happen is very important to you, and for the long-term health of your relationship, you need his support. Support means not running to make a bottle when the baby is screaming and you are both stressed. It means picking up the slack around the house and not getting frustrated if you thought that a stay-at-home mom would also be a stay-at-home cleaning lady, chef, dog-walker, whatever. It means doing some self-education about breastfeeding, especially if he doesn't have any understanding of why breastfeeding is about more than just food. (We can recommend some resources if you need them.) If he's the type of guy who takes advice about baby care from his his mom or grandma or friend from work, ask him to stop doing that- it's a great way to simultaneously get bad advice and undermine a relationship. He should stick with advice from the professionals- the pediatrician, the LC.

    Hang in there, mama!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Unsupportive husband

    So it sounds like either 1) having trouble extracting milk 2) Has already become habituated to bottles or 3) fussing because babies fuss. Or, all three to some extent. Your LC should be able to help you with understanding what is most likely going on with your baby.

    If your baby is capable of extracting milk from the breast, which is most likely, then baby is not going to go hungry as you attempt to train baby away from bottles and back to the breast. They may get fussy and frustrated, but not starving.

    So first, do you feel confident in you LC? Unfortunately not all LCs have the same experience and training. So, if you are feeling frustrated with your baby's progress, one place to look is whether you have the right helper. Most likely you do, but, you want to be sure.

    Does your husband come to the meetings with the LC? Would you feel comfortable with that? As long as he is able to come with an open mind, she should be able to reassure him about your plan for getting baby back to the breast. If you would prefer he not attend the entire session, maybe the LC can set aside some time at the end for him, or talk to him on the phone.

    Is there local LLL meetings near you? A local LLL Leader you could call? The issues you are experiencing are not unusual. Any LLL Leader should be able to discuss the concerns in this situation with both you and your husband. At LLL meetings you both may meet other parents who have faced such issues. Before going to a meeting, check on the policy of dads at meetings. Usually, dads are allowed at meetings but sometimes since new moms are dealing with nursing issues that require some breast exposure, they are asked to attend only part of the meeting etc. Just check.

    Alternatively, talk to an LLL Leader on the phone. She should be able to speak directly to your husband about his concerns. If any of your local LLL do home visits, all the better, but this is not a requirement of a Leader. Any contact with a LLL Leader and meetings is 100% free.

    Your husband is, after all, partly correct. The most important thing is that baby gets enough to eat. But that is most certainly not the ONLY thing that is important! Luckily it is entirely possible to address breastfeeding issues like this without running for a bottle at every turn.

    Another idea would be to stop ALL bottles and go to open cup feeding instead when baby will not nurse. Bottles in the early weeks undermine breastfeeding 2 main ways. With bottles, unless steps are taken to prevent this, baby is fed too fast, and baby is fed too much. Both undermine breastfeeding by habituating baby to an artificial feeding reality. If baby has become habituated to the way the milk from bottles flow into his mouth with no effort, and the extreme fullness that results, he needs to learn that eating takes some effort and meals are naturally small and frequent. Cup feeding allows baby to be fed much more slowly and with a little more effort than bottles - in other words, more like milk comes at the breast. Alternatively, you could be doing paced bottle feeding technique. Your LC should be able to teach you these feeding methods and I will include info below.

    To go along with mommal's excellent suggestions, I suggest, enlist husband to comfort baby while you take care of feeding baby as much as possible. You carried your baby for 9 months and nourished this baby with your body all that time. You gave birth to your baby. The next step in this natural biological process is that you feed baby. There is no way you are going to let your baby go hungry. It is vital that your husband trust you on this.

    More info:

    Cup feeding video: (Mom has some breast exposure as this video was part of a lactation consult: http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/conte...me=vid-cupfeed
    Paced bottle feeding info and video with a very young baby who is really crying. Crying is not abnormal nor does it mean a baby is not getting fed. Ignore ignorant comments, just read the results as posted at top by the family of this baby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykdFuEOIdeE info: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf
    How dad's can help without feeding baby: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...t_partners.pdf
    More comforting ideas: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...ybabyideas.pdf
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; July 4th, 2016 at 09:27 AM.

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