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Breastfeeding - when should I give up trying?

Sorry if this is in the wrong place!

My baby is 3 weeks old tomorrow and still hasn’t been able to latch so she’s formula fed. I keep trying but she’s only managed to latch successfully twice and I’ve not been able to get her to do it since.

I’ve been to a local breastfeeding group and my health visitor came over earlier but she couldn’t help today as baby was asleep.

I’m trying to express to at least get some milk in her but I’m feeling really down about it...

10 Replies
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Hi there 👋🏻 Congratulations on your new baby! Do you know if there is a La Leche League group near you? You can search on their website to find out where the nearest group is. Also it would be worth phoning the hospital you delivered your baby at to ask if they have an Infant Feeding Team and ask if someone can come and visit you. My now 8.5 month old daughter had a severe tongue tie and couldn’t latch on without it being unbearably painful and I was really struggling to get breastfeeding established. Having a breastfeeding support worker come out and spend time with us while I fed really helped and they recommended I use nipple shields which helped my daughter latch until her tongue tie was resolved. Has your baby been checked for tongue tie? Not sure if you are on Instagram or not but there is an amazing woman called Maria who runs an account called Little Peach London and she provides free breastfeeding advice. Really hope you get the support you need. X

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Like you I’d gone to a breastfeeding support group and talked to my midwife etc. I found my daughter latched better with a nipple shield at 2 weeks (found this out myself not from any help). I’d like to say we were successful but trying to get her to latch, top up with formula as I didn’t have enough supply because of how long it had been to get established and then trying to pump frequently and sleep after my husband went back to work broke me at 3 weeks and 1 day. She was also a really unsettled newborn which we now know was down to a cows milk protein intolerance. I felt l’d given it a good go at 3 weeks that I just wasn’t ready to give up on any earlier, I continued to pump until my supply reduced to stop any mastitis/blocked ducts etc. I think you need to decide what feels right for you, do you want to persevere (in which case the suggestions of La Leche etc from the previous poster sound good) or do you feel like you’ve given it a good enough go to not feel quilty if you stop? I don’t regret it now, it was what was right for us and my HV was great about it (no guilt trip etc and was supportive of formula but did say if I told anyone she’d likely get shot 😂)

I think nower days no matter what you do there will always be someone who disagrees, breast vs formula, baby led weaning vs purées, stay at home mum vs work mum, the list continues. I keep telling myself it’s whatever works for us x

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Congratulations! Keep trying for as long as you feel you can. But expressing milk is definitely a good way to go if baby cannot latch. As little as 2 months of breast milk, even when supplemented with formula, is enough for baby to have very significant health benefits. So I would try and see it through for that first 2 months, then at least you can be confident you've given baby a good start. Good Luck!

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It's totally up to you when you're ready, but I'd say if you can, try and persist. My baby was also so difficult to feed at the start so I'd express a lot. Eventually he got the hang of it and now he's 13 months old and we're still happily on our breastfeeding journey and I'm only considering stopping because I'm pregnant and my milk is drying up (pregnancy hormones can do that).

Definitely continue to express and also feed from the breast if you can. As your baby gets older and stronger, she may get the hang of it. Have you checked for tongue tie?

Hope you can work out what's best for you.

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I would recommend going to see a (private if no free ones near you) IBCLC, some will come to your home. They are the most experienced people in bf.

lcgb.org

You could also try a le Leche group, or finding an nct bf counsellor. It could something that can be sorted like a tongue tie. Or seeing a cranial oestoepath if your baby had a tight jaw.

You can protect your supply by pumping in the mean time and feeding her that milk.

you could also try a shield as suggested above x

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It looks like you have some great support networks and people who can help and advise around you. All I can say is persevere, all 3 of my babies took a while for both me and them to get it right each time for many weeks and I felt I was the experienced one! The pain was considerable each time, until I got used to it again. One took me 2 weeks of staying up with her night and day until we got the hang of it, another one it was like putting my nipple in an electric blender voluntarily. It's different for everyone and each child, working together you'll solve it. Don't feel defeated, keep working at it together. Good Luck!

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Congratulations on your new baby! Some of the suggestions the other posters have made are fab. I have used breastfeeding peer supporters myself and always found them to be really helpful. If you feel you can continue trying then do. I combination feed as I don’t produce enough breastmilk alone for my bubba. I also fed her with nipple shields as she cut my nipples due to bad latch at birth. Do what feels best for you & your baby. Your sanity matters as well.

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Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl, these may help:

- Local family centres may have weekly drop-in breastfeeding support

- Weigh in clinics, where you could ask your health visitor for more support

- Your hospital may have a feeding team you could book with

- IBCLC private consultation (costs around £60) they will check for tongue tie too

- Speak to friends and family for moral support and who may have gone through the same thing (I found this helpful for moral support, but obviously hated anyone whose baby just took to it lol)

- Keep doing loads of skin on skin as this can help keep up supply

- Practice, practice, practice - offer the breast before a formula feed so you a baby can practice breastfeeding

- Do not YouTube videos, my boy never breastfed in the way these videos said he should with ‘fishlips’ etc.

Breastfeeding is hard! And chaotic. You don’t know if they’re getting what they need, you’re the only one that can feed them day and night, it’s on demand not at a set time,and if it hurts it’s really hard to persevere with when you’re in pain. Nobody told it would be painful and knackering in the early days after having a baby. This made it all the harder after my baby and he couldn’t latch on properly - my expectations vs reality did not match up and made it hard psychologically as well as physically as I had just imagined I’d pop him on and all would be good. It’s was about 8 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding before the pain significantly reduced, and suddenly it became really easy. I think it’s because he had grown, his mouth had got bigger and he could just latch on better. We’re now 10 months in and still going, so I would persevere if you can. If you make the decision not to go ahead that’s fine too, but make sure you’re at peace with whatever you do. Too many mums have guilt and regret about this. Milk feeding however you do it is so short lived, by the time your baby is 6 months they will need food because milk alone is not enough, and by the time they are 10 months they will get most of their nutrients from food. Do no beat yourself up whatever you do and enjoy being a mum to your daughter! X

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Congratulations on your baby. Lots of good suggestions.. (Hope it's not too much now lol) As someone said sometimes it takes time maybe cos they're small. It did with my two. Supplemented with formula for number 1 and pumping for LO 2 until we eventually got the hang of it/they got old enough I guess.

Pumping is good cos it means baby is getting breast Milk....either from a bottle or direct the benefits are there.

With pumping I'd say make sure you do it regularly to keep up with flow.

Whatever you decide, you tried to do your best for baby and that's what counts.

Good luck with everything

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One of my friends had this problem and kept on trying and three months on her baby is now exclusively and confidently breastfed! It was at least six weeks of trying and feeling like failing though. Contact your local la Leche league for support. If you can afford it, a session with an independent lactation consultant makes a huge difference. Make sure baby has been well checked for tongue tie. And well done mama for the hard work those first three weeks have been xx

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