Breastfeeding conundrums: Hello everyone, I'm writing... - NCT


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Breastfeeding conundrums

GeorgeBeeThomson profile image

Hello everyone, I'm writing this in secret because my wife isn't the best at asking for advice.

She gave birth 3 weeks ago to a beautiful baby girl but this past week breastfeeding has been an absolute nightmare for her with the baby refusing to settle at night and frustrating multiple attempts to breastfed with a session on each breast lasting only 5 minutes.

Now I know newborns can be erratic with tjeir feeding and sleeping times but my wife is the kind of person who breaks down crying when our Bichon dog barks for more than a minute so as you can imagine the stress is eating at her and that's not including the lack of sleep.

I've been looking at various books on breastfeeding in a hope to try and get some routine established. I am looking at Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford is it any good?

Apologies if my question is rather scatter brained but sleep deprivation is getting to me too. Is it true that it is better to empty a breast first before moving to the next?

12 Replies

Hi it’s been a while since I breastfed I only did it for 6 weeks but my baby used to feed ok but used to cry a lot at night tbh I think she was so hungry and unsettled I didn’t have anyone to advise me and I was so tired my mam said I should try formula I was staying at her house and she fed her through the night and she was great much better I switched to formula after that. Now tho I wish I’d tried doing both maybe a bottle at night to fill her better and so my husband could have helped and I could sleep. Also I didn’t used to wind her after bf as I didn’t know if you had to I kept asking but nobody could give me an answer.

I struggled at the three week mark, I mentioned it to my midwife who put me in contact with a breast feeding support group. One of the members visited me at home and spent a couple of hours supporting and offering advice. She then put me in touch with a weekly group I could visit. Without this support I could never have continued! My baby is now 10 weeks and breast feeding is no problem at all with my little one sleeping for a solid 6 hours a night! It honestly does get better :)

Newdad1 profile image
Newdad1 in reply to Chrissie81

Few things that are important to near in mind...

things don’t just get better in their own imo.

My son was breast fed until he was 8 weeks old. Would not feed for more than 5-10 mins max. My wife was both mentally and physically exhausted.

We saw our health visitor, Gp, feeding support team on a number of occasions and each time the advice was ‘it gets easier’.

Our baby was crying most of his walking hours and barely slept day or night. Tried every breast feeding position that was advised to us.

In the end, his weight dropped from 50th to 25th centipede in the space of 2 weeks.

The nurse who gave my son his 8 week vaccines suggested we consider giving formula. With reluctance and as a last resort we did. Best decision we made and only regret was not doing so sooner. He slept and fed better from his first bottle onwards and we finally had a ‘normal’ baby. Happy and content and we as parents got our sanity.

My advice would be, if you feel something is not correct, your most probably right to think that was and don’t stop until things get better.

Simple things should be checked for:

1. Ask specialist to check for tongue tie

2. Check for thrush on tongue/mouth

3. Consider formula

👆just my opinion from my experience with my 4 month old son.

Hope it helps.

Hi. Congratulations on your baby girl! I’m sure there’ll be people here with more knowledge than me on this but I think whatever the books say it’s very unlikely you’ll manage to get a 3 week old baby into a routine of feeding and sleeping.

It sounds like she might need some support with breastfeeding though. Is she still seeing the midwife? Either they or the health visitor should be able to help with this or signpost to a lactation consultant. If there is any reason the baby is struggling to feed, there may be advice they can give about latch/positioning etc or checking for tongue ties which could affect feeding if this hasn’t been done already? Is baby gaining weight ok? Tiny babies do have really tiny stomachs and need to feed often but 5 mins doesn’t sound long for a newborn. My baby definitely fed for much longer than this when he was little so worth checking whether with some support she could get baby to settle better on the breast.

My little boy suffered hugely from being over-tired (still does at 4 months) and used to cry all evening and struggle to settle, so although you won’t be able to establish a routine as such, do try and make sure she has regular naps as this might help her settle better at night.

Hope that helps? Please encourage your wife to get some support as it’s so hard in those early days. It’s tough for you too if you can’t help with feeds but maybe just offering her a drink or snack or keeping her company during some of the night feeds might help, or helping to put baby back down to sleep after she’s been fed so the wife can get a bit more rest? x

Hi, she should definitely look for some suppport. In my area there is a breast feeding suppprt group who meet weekly with trained lactation consultants as well as peer suppprters. There is also the breastfeeding helpline that you can ring for support nationalbreastfeedinghelpli...

Health visitor or Midwife should also be able to support her. Or alternatively you can pay for a private lactation consultant to come and visit at home and check babies latch, help with different feeding positions.

I’m also pretty sure they have a crazy growth spurt around 3 weeks. Be reassured that it is incredibly rare that a women isn’t making enough milk causing a baby to be unsettled.

My little boy turned 11 months yesterday and we’re still feeding. It’s is the most lovely thing to be able to do. It’s also incredibly quick and convient and free! The first 6 weeks I’d say can definitely be hard work, but then they just get so good at it, it’s sooo much quicker than formula feeding.

You’re amazing for supporting her like this and definitely seek out some help in person. She’ll get this! Good luck.

Congratulations! It’s amazing she made 3 weeks breastfeeding, it gets much easier with practice (4 months and still going). Great idea you asking for advice, partners are very important for support. Please contact, there is on line/chat/ phone support and groups to attend. This week I’ve to one and they help with every concern. It’s useful when you meet people with the same problems, you feel much better. And the breastfeeding leaders have a lot of experience they can point you to a solution and help you through. Joining the local Facebook group can help also a lot. ‘Can I breastfeed in it?’ group it’s amazing for ideas about what to wear to breastfeed, it helps to wear comfortable and nice clothes. Please find help for her, it can make a huge difference to have support. I hope it helps. Xx

As everyone else has said try to find a breastfeeding support group.

It sounds like a similar situation that I had, my now 10 week old did something similar. At a day old she was diagnosed with a tongue tie. It makes feeding very hard for some babies, I'm not saying that it is the case with yours but it could be. Some are diagnosed really easily others not so. I know babies where the tie had been picked up at 4months.

Get the Midwife/health visitor/ Dr to take a good look at babys mouth.

My daughter feeds really well now, but it took her tie being cut at 9 days and a few weeks of preserverance to get to where we are now. It's only been in the last couple of weeks she's not had any difficulties at all. When we were really struggling I was expressing milk and feeding her with a nuk bottle. These bottles have a teat which allows babies to feed more easily, I was recommended to get them by the Midwife and they helped alot. As well as putting her to my breast so she didn't loose interest in it.

Please don't think I'm trying to diagnose your baby with a tie, it's just your post reminded me of our first few weeks. It felt like torture. Go get support and I would seriously suggest expressing and getting those bottles. They made a huge difference to us. And if it is a tie remember baby has to learn how to feed and it won't be perfect over night it will still take a bit of time.

The expressing will also help get the milk supply up and topping baby up with the expressed milk may help to settle your daughter as she just may not be getting enough direct from the breast.

Hope some of that helps. Remember, although I know it is hard to in the middle of the night, there are others experiencing the same or have been through it, seek support when it's needed. In this situation it is needed.

I found the Gina Ford book a load of rubbish. Save yourself the money. It might work for some, but there was no way my newborn was going to wait every 3 hours for another feed!

I had some trouble feeding at the start, because baby wouldn't latch properly and then would either be on the breast for ages or would just come off after a while. My baby was jaunduce and would get very tired feeding. As a result I started to express and top up the baby for some of the feeds. I found the milk came faster if I expressed while baby was on the other boob - a little tricky, but if you set your wife up a comfortable space, very doable. This also allowed my partner to give some feeds, and even visiting family, which they all enjoyed.

I know expressing milk is not for everyone, but it really helped my baby and I get into a routine. Breastfeeding was tiring for us both, and a lot of work for baby, so he enjoyed having a bottle that didn't require much work, with warm milk that came quickly, and he put on weight really well.

Eventually we got a good routine going and he no longer required top up feeds. So I'd freeze it for babysitting or dad to give. I'd give him 4oz of expressed milk before bed , which gave us all a solid 4 hrs of sleep. We had success with tommee tippee bottles, but I've also heard MAM bottles are good as these are both similar to the shape and feel of a real nipple.

If your child has trouble latching (you didn't say but just wondering as this can cause them to be difficult at feeding) you could get her checked out for tongue tie. I found my little one just needed a bit of help. My midwife suggested I sort of scoop the breast from the outer side and give baby a full mouthful. He now has a good latch and it doesn't cause any discomfort.

My baby suddenly stopped taking the bottle after several months, think he just preferred the boob, but I managed to exclusively breastfeed until we introduced solids.

Good luck. Wishing you the best withyour little bundle.

Congrats on the birth of your little baby girl!

You may have stumbled on this page already: but it might help whittle down what it might be? Is baby gaining weight and producing enough wet and dirty nappies? And content when away from the boob? This seems to be the main indicator that baby is getting all they need.

I’m not an expert but I’m a mum with a 4 month old boy. I found the first 6-8 weeks of breastfeeding really REALLY tough - the sleep deprivation with night feeds, he wasn’t latching ok properly so I was in pain etc etc. then somehow it started to get easier (I think it that their mouth gets bigger to latch on properly). These were the things I tried:

Midwife/Health visitor

Local breastfeeding drop-in support groups (every week for 4 weeks!)

La Leche League phone call (and their website)

Kelly mom website:

Paid for private IBCLC qualified lactation consultant (cost around £60 but she was the one that told me I was 90% of the way there with regards to my technique and the pain going away).

Well done on being such great support for your partner - my husband was the same and it made a huge difference! We also slept in different rooms during this period which helped with sleep (couldn’t get quality sleep with baby in the room so did shift work look after baby in baby’s room). Would this be an option for you guys?

I would get a Friday night treat where my husband would stay with baby the whole night and just bring him up to me when he needed a feed. He would then catch up with sleep over the course of the weekend but I would get at least one night a week with relatively normal sleep.

Finally do not stress about routines - it’s too hard early on, and babies aren’t always developmentally ready for it. Each bit of a routine will start emerge on its own. The easiest thing to start with though would be a bedtime routine, keep it simple, things will start to fall in place around that.

Things will get easier but those first few weeks are brutal!!!! Be kind to yourselves, sounds like your doing a wonderful job :o)

Wuggether profile image
Wuggether in reply to Wuggether

One thing to add, is that I stressed so much about feeding I never thought about baby sleep. I found this website quite helpful on age appropriate sleep expectations:

When you start thinking about giving baby enough sleep, you then naturally start putting feeds into place round that, and then slowly a routine emerges.

The Gina Ford and Tracey Hogg books and the like can be helpful, so take what work for you (we found shush patting our baby to sleep worked well). But they sometimes they say thing like “and put baby down for their nap” but they never tell you what to do when you baby is fighting sleep and doesn’t want to nap - the books assume everything will go swimmingly and rarely give you tips/trouble shooting when it’s not working out.

There are several breastfeeding groups out there ... if you happen to live close to Cheadle (near manchester) I happened to stubble on one Tuesday morning held at john Lewis. But there are loads and health visitor can tell you.

5 mins is nowhere close enough for a 3 week to feed enough. They are fairly slow to.start off. I would wait for baby to come off naturally... with my first shed take 45 mins easily my second 20mins. I would empty one breast first as that means baby gets the thinner milk first followed by the thicker stuff that fills baby. Also if you empty the breast it's a signal for the body to produce more.

I must say breast feeding does require patience in the early days, but gets easier. Maybe suggest she sits and watches some TV series whilst feeding baby so theres no rush... I know I saw loads of the good wive with my first!

Congrats on your baby and for being a supportive husband!

Thanks everyone for the replies! I wish I could be helping her more but a month before the birth I had a bad leg break so I can't get up and about much with helping her.

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