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Thread: Don't want to give up...

  1. #1

    Default Don't want to give up...

    Hi all,

    I'm hoping you will be able to give me some reassurance and encouragement to carry on after a tough week.

    DD was 9 weeks old yesterday. For a very long time now, she has been feeding very, very frequently. I've been told countless times that "it gets easier", but does it, truly? I thought that by now, she'd be spacing feeds more during the day, i.e. around every 2-2.5 hours, perhaps. This, aside from cluster feeding in the evenings, which I can cope with as it means she goes for a long stretch at night.

    I must say, when DD was first born, she was feeding every 3-4 hours. Since about 5 weeks, she has been feeding, I would say, around 14-16 times a day, sometimes more. She's just always hungry. It seems to be getting harder, not easier!! I'll hold my hands up and say that a couple of days ago, as a result of sheer exhaustion and frustration, I let my DH give her 2 x bottles of formula. I've nothing against formula, I just want to make breastfeeding work!

    Her latch is fine and she is piling on weight (2lbs a month!), but the constant feeding is, I fear, beginning to affect my mental health. I've been housebound for the past week, literally haven't got a thing done, stuck in a constant cycle of feed-nappy change-try and get to sleep (whilst fighting it). I keep telling myself that I shouldn't feel like I'm stuck in. I'm gaining confidence in breastfeeding in public and have tried to go out, but she just seems to scream almost constantly with hunger and/or tiredness.

    I guess what I'm asking is, when will she feed less frequently? Do all babies space out feeds, or is it true that some babies are just frequent feeders and I could be in this for the long run? I so, so want to carry on breastfeeding and I'm so proud of how far I've come, but I simply cannot sustain the constant feeding til she is 6 months. Please help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby and on making it through the first 9 weeks of nursing and mothering!

    It all gets easier, I promise.

    I think it's important to realize what "getting easier" is really like. It doesn't necessarily mean that the baby will nurse less often- some babies start spacing their feeds out to regular intervals, but many continue to feed very frequently and few of them are ever clockwork-predictable. But it does mean that nursing itself will get easier and more fun. New babies are really hard to nurse. They don't have much strength or physical control, so latching them on is hard, you have to support them throughout the feed, and they take forever to nurse! But older babies are stronger and more adept. They latch themselves on, they don't need much help with positioning, and they tend to nurse quickly so that they can get back to more interesting activities, like trying to get their own toes into their mouths. Also, new babies aren't very giving, in terms of social interaction. They don't smile at you very much, and the only way they know how to communicate is by crying or fussing. Older babies smile, giggle, coo, reach up to give you a gentle touch, play peekaboo with you... It makes nursing so much more interactive and fun.

    I totally understand the frustration of this constant demand phase. But (you knew there was a "but" coming, right?) if you want breastfeeding to work, you have to invest the time and MAKE it work. Here are some things that can help:
    - Get a sling or baby carrier. Babies have an extremely high need for physical touch and closeness, so some babies nurse constantly because that's the best way to get mom to hold them. If you meet the baby's touch/closeness needs by carrying him in a sling, he may ask to nurse a little less often and you'll be able to move around. If you get really adept, you may be able to nurse the baby in the sling, on the go!
    - Get a swing. Some babies sleep best when they are in motion.
    - Enlist your helpers to give you a break. It can be really tough to never get personal space, so if dad can do something like take baby for a walk while you get a shower or 20 minutes alone, your mental health will benefit.
    - Sleep when the baby sleeps. Even if i's just 10 minutes of closing your eyes, it will be better than nothing.
    - Sleep in close proximity to your baby. A lot of moms have baby in a crib in her own room, which makes night-waking so much more disruptive, because you have to get up and walk to the baby, and then walk back to your bed. It's a lot easier to sleep when baby is right near you and you can just st roll over and latch her on without fully waking up.
    - Turn your bedroom clock to the wall. Night-waking is a lot worse when you can see how short your sleep intervals are.
    - Let the house go to h*ll. No-one ever died from eating too much carry-out food or standing on a crumby floor.

    What do you think?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...

    Good morning! I would say I have good news and bad news-on some level. The bad news is, you are in one of the hardest stretches, or at least around 6-10 weeks was also my hardest stretch. My baby did something similar. She fed less in the beginning, then fed more later. I thought I was doing something wrong, but no. It's normal. Exhausting, frustrating, and totally difficult, but normal.

    Good news is: it gets better. Seriously, it does. Mom gets better at bf, baby gets better at bf. Baby WILL space out feeds at some point. I don't know when that will happen for you, as every bf pair is different, but it will happen. My daughter took a little longer than others, but weight gain was always a concern for her, so that's probably not surprising. By 4-5 months we developed a pattern that was relatively sustainable. It does still change. Baby might get too distracted, start teething, get sick, so patterns change, but I haven't experienced anything like the number of feedings we had in that 6-10 week range again.

    I still don't get a lot done in any given time-frame (I've had to get used to a task taking several small steps as opposed to it getting all done at once), but I can do a bit more now that my daughter is 9 months. My question to you is: what can you let slide? Can your partner, friend, whoever, help you with housework, cooking, etc.? If you have trouble getting out, can people come visit? Can you go outside for a walk with or without baby? Even a 10 minute walk when I'm frustrated has kept me sane. She and i both love our baby carrier. She loves to look around outside, I need the break and exercise, and I can walk the dog. It's one of the best things for all of us that I can do. I also read. A lot. And i read even more during thetime period you and baby are in. If you don't like to read, what about watching tv, movies, doing crosswords? . . . Whatever. Have some snacks, water, your phone, computer, and snuggle in with baby. Get others to cater to you right now, because you are doing everything for baby.

    Hang in there. You really are doing great.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...

    but the constant feeding is, I fear, beginning to affect my mental health.
    I think every mom has days/hours she thinks "well this.. (whatever the behavior is) is driving me bonkers." And I do mean every mom, including moms who do not nurse their babies and moms of much older kids who have weaned. But this feeling of exasperation is different than literally thinking something is so off or wrong that she is really going to have a mental breakdown. So my first question is, how severe is this feeling to you?

    As far as feeding behavior, there actually are ways to try to safely lessen nursing frequency if you want. But my first suggestion is to think about specifically what it is about the frequency that is bothering you. Is it fear that this is not normal or not healthy for your baby? Feeling stuck in the house or stuck "on the couch?" Not enough sleep? Is nursing uncomfortable? Because each of these concerns (and others) probably have specific solutions or at least things that lessen the issue that you can try. When you say you cannot get anything done, A feeling I think we can all relate to, do you mean there important, unavoidable responsibilities that only you can meet that are not being taken care of, or are you putting pressure on yourself to clean and cook or whatever, beyond what is absolutely necessary? Etc. One thing that new moms grapple with is letting go of expectations (perpetuated by media etc.) of what new motherhood would be like and embracing the reality of what it actually is like.

    Here are some ideas you can try to for frequent feeds: Switching sides once or more each session and/or breast compressions while nursing. These increase the amount of milk baby gets at an individual nursing session. When not nursing, hold baby in a more or less upright position snuggled against you, in a wrap or a sling if you can. Since your baby is gaining fine, some of the nursing may be for comfort. This is fine and normal, but if you are already comforting baby in the way baby is being held, then maybe she will seek the breast less. Since baby is gaining fine, you can also try judicial (careful and thoughtful) pacifier use.

    If you are going to supplement, be aware this will eventually negatively impact your milk production. You can offset that risk somewhat by pumping or hand expressing whenever baby gets a supplement, and being careful about how any supplemental bottles are given. Paced bottle feeding is the recommended technique if a breastfed baby is getting any bottles.

    When my oldest was this age, I distinctly remember spending every afternoon sitting in front of the TV watching a three hour block of tv drama repeats waiting for my husband to get home from work so he could take the baby so I could make dinner- or so HE could make dinner. I could not put my guy down to cook dinner or anything else. I had to carry him into the bathroom so I could pee! At first I hated myself and thought what a lazy, awful wife and mother I was being. Finally I realized I was doing everything my baby needed and that was what mattered. Later when I had more kids, I no longer had that kind of "time luxury" (and I missed it!) but by then I had had so much practice I figured out how to meet baby's needs while taking care of olders. The early months are always hard, but the more one can roll with it the less hard they will feel.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; October 17th, 2015 at 11:12 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...

    Thanks a lot for the replies.

    I'm pretty house-proud and like to get things done, but I've come to expect that these things won't always get done right away. I can deal with this, I guess what I just find hardest is the fact that I feel like I can't really go out and enjoy doing anything with my baby. Currently, I'm not going out to spend a nice time together or with others, rather I'm going out just to try and 'get out of the house' and it's never long before she starts crying and I just feel embarrased. I feel like it's just my baby that's unhappy and I feel like it's because my breastmilk isn't satisfying her enough. I know breasfed babies feed more regularly than bottle fed babies, but I really do see why women feel they cant sustain breastfeeding for long. I have tried a sling, but she screams in that too .

    I knew that having a baby would mean giving up an awful lot. I know that she is my priority and I must meet her needs as best as I can. I guess I just didn't realise I'd be signing over my entire life, so much so that it's starting to affect my health, my relationships, everything. I guess what I'm thinking is that breast is best, of course, but at what cost is it best?

    Thanks again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...

    Ok if your primary concern right now is not being able to get out and about, here are some suggestions that I hope may help.
    First, I have found it a "truism" that mothers are much more bothered by/aware of their own child's cry than anyone else is. They sound louder and more unhappy to us, and we can feel embarrassed. But seldom does anyone else think a thing of it. Babies cry.
    If you are finding it stressful to be around old friends, practice first with new acquaintances- other moms who are dealing with the same issues you are. Many hospitals or communities have mommy and me groups where you can be around other moms of similar age babies. At a La Leche League or other breastfeeding support meeting, you will see babies at many ages and stages. It can be very reassuring to be around lots of other moms and babies and see how they really behave. These are also great places to "practice" NIP.

    Getting comfortable nursing in public takes practice, but it is a skill moms really need to develop to avoid isolation. The more you do it, the better it will feel.

    No baby in the world ever cried more or were more unhappy or needy only because they were breastfed rather than formula fed. Human milk, delivered at the breast, is the biologically normal way for an infant to feed. Nature simply does not mess up so badly as to make that a more unhappy experience than being fed formula with a bottle. It simply does not make sense from a biological standpoint. All mammals are fed with their mothers milk. All mammals including humans have been remarkable success stories as species- especially humans, for hundreds of thousands of years- and that entire time, this was while breastfeeding was the only viable option for infant feeding.
    What of course can happen is there is some breastfeeding issue that is causing a problem. Although it is rare, some moms really do not make enough milk. Some babies have a hard time extracting milk properly. Also rarely, babies may have an allergic/sensitivity reaction to something mother eats. Of course, those babies are typically going to be allergic to what formula is made out of as well. Sometimes there is something else, but in comparison to the above, much more minor going on- fast letdown might cause baby to get overtly fussy, especially when nursing, as an example. If you suspect a breastfeeding issue, what would that be?

    Yes we do sign over our entire life when we become parents. Or at least that is one way to look at it. Certainly our lives are irrevocably changed. Newborns in particular require constant care. But if this is feeling overwhelmingly negative to you, you might want to talk to a trusted friend or doctor. Post partum mood issues can be very insidious, in the rush and bustle and tiredness of new motherhood, sometimes we do not realize we are suffering from something more than just mommy blues until later.

    This is a list moms made up at a LLL meeting when asked to give tips to other new moms: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...needtoknow.pdf

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...


    The newborn period is one of the most difficult experience I've even been through. Especially in our society the demands of a young baby is simply overwhelming. With my two boys nine weeks was the peak of hell. I discovered the concept of wonder weeks in between kids, which details when all babies go through certain milestones. My husband considered it BS but as each predicted fussy period cane and went, he soon changed his tune. It didn't per se make the baby's behavior any less challenging but knowing why he was so clingy was mentally helpful. I always knew this too shall pass.

    What do you envision changing if you switched to formula? If you're comfortable with DH giving bottles of either pumped milk or formula, what can you do for you now? Do you have a pump or do you know about hand expression?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...


    Ok this article may be a little off topic but maybe you'd feel better hearing it's ok to find a different balance for your family. It doesn't need to be all or nothing with breastfeeding. If this has been a hard week, take time just for you. A few hours away here and there is not going to kill your supply. Personally just hand expressing an ounce or two so I could run by myself to the farmer's market for an hour every so often was refreshing enough to maintain sanity.
    Last edited by @llli*zaynethepain; October 18th, 2015 at 03:48 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Don't want to give up...

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mrsb26 View Post
    I knew that having a baby would mean giving up an awful lot. I know that she is my priority and I must meet her needs as best as I can. I guess I just didn't realise I'd be signing over my entire life, so much so that it's starting to affect my health, my relationships, everything.
    It definitely does take over your entire life for the first three months or so. It's basically impossible to do anything but nurse, change diapers, and maybe wash the poop and spit-up out of everybody's clothes if you get a chance.

    And while it probably sounds like forever right now, the newborn haze really only lasts about three months. If you can get through three months, breastfeeding will actually become something that makes your life easier.

    That said, nursing 14-16 times a day does seem like a lot. Does she have a long stretch of sleep at night, or is she nursing every hour and a half around the clock? How long are her nursing sessions?

    Since she's gaining weight so well, I'm wondering if she might just have a really strong need to suck, rather than actually being really hungry. This might be a situation where a pacifier could be helpful. Is that something you'd consider trying?

    I guess what I'm thinking is that breast is best, of course, but at what cost is it best?
    There's a lot more to mothering than breastfeeding! It is important to consider your own needs as well as your baby's—you have to take care of yourself and your own well-being so you can be the mom that she needs. You're the only one who can decide what's right for your family, though it might take some time and experimenting to figure out what works for you. Hang in there!
    Last edited by @llli*lllkaren; October 22nd, 2015 at 04:30 PM.

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