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Help - constant feeding

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#1 Kristen1981

Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:41 AM

This might be a bit of a long post, but I'm near the end of my rope! I'm after any tips, hints, tricks, advice or just kind words of support I can get right now.
I'm a first time mum and my beautiful daughter is 3.5 weeks old. From the time she was born she has been a constant feeder. I am exclusively breastfeeding and in hospital the midwives said that she was just suckling to bring my milk in, which at the time made perfect sense to me. Unfortunately this hasn't stopped.
To explain constant feeding, what I mean is virtually not stopping for hours and hours, often up to 6-8 hours with a maximum of perhaps one 20 minute break in there somewhere, just enough time for me to have a bathroom break and some food, before we start again. At times she feeds well, I can hear her swallowing and she sucks properly. More often than not however, there are minimal swallowing sounds and she falls asleep on my breast within 5-10 minutes. If I move her, adjust my position, put her down etc, she is awake again and is almost immediately screaming to be fed. This happens even if she has been feeding for the past several hours. The only way I can put her to sleep is to feed lying down, and when she falls asleep leave her on my bed until she is in a deep sleep before moving her to her own.
Yes, I feel that she is using me like a sunny. She won't take a dummy either, though I feel she might be a bit young for one.
We have been to a chiropractor/doctor 4 times to see if there is anything wrong with her, but it appears she is in perfect health and not comfort feeding for any pain issues etc. The 4 midwives/maternal health and Childcare nurses we have seen agree. We have also been to the lactation consultant twice, who believes we have a good latch and we have good technique. She has put on plenty of weight, more than required, and her nappies and always full and as they should be. No one seems to be able to help us.
I have had some people suggest expressing so that someone else can feed her. Firstly, it's virtually impossible to do with a baby attached to me constantly, secondly, I have attempted in the one nap she has per day (if I'm lucky!) and the most I can express at any one time is about 10ml from both breasts combined. I am reluctant to give her formula as nutritionally she is obviously doing well, and if she wants to continue to suck anyway, I don't really see the point.
As I mentioned, she's also not really sleeping. Apart from the quick snatches of sleep she gets while she is on the breast, she has a maximum of one proper nap per day for about 2 hours. At night I usually get her down by about 11pm, she's up again around 2am for 1-2 hours, then again at about 5am. The poor thing must be absolutely exhausted.
That's pretty much my story. Writing this while feeding her, which I have been doing since just before 6am... going on nearly 7 hours now.
Any comments would be nice!

#2 BubbleBird

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:00 PM

Oh my gosh I really feel for you. I know new babies are supposed to be hard work but as far as I'm concerned this is beyond average.

I'm no expert but I think it sounds like she has just gotten used to using you for constant comfort.

I'm all for lots of cuddles and feeding on demand but for your own sake I would try to limit the time she is feeding.

Here are a few tips I can think of:

- carry her in a sling / carrier
- go for a walk with the pram
- express and get someone else to bottle feed (I know you said that this is hard because she is constantly feeding, maybe get someone to take her in the pram for a walk / put her in a sling)
- all my breastfeeding help has always said that you shouldn't feed for more than 30 mins each side per feed. Any more than this leaves you and baby exhausted. If you limit her feed time you will find that she feeds better at the next feed

Do you think it could be possible that she has reflux / silent reflux? I don't really think that anything in your post sounds like that could be the case, though I know my baby with silent reflux had times of wanting to feed constantly. It is my understanding that babies with reflux find that feeding help ease their pain. Maybe something to keep in the back of your mind.

Good luck, I know it must be really hard for you. Please know that all this will be over in a few short weeks and you will move on to the next difficult / wonderful / cute / stage.

#3 FeRaL n ScReWeD

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:11 PM

My dd was the same, not sure if it was her reflux or the fact she has an allergy to cows milk and soy.
Dd would projectile vomit so that wouldn't have helped either.
I'm lucky that a dummy helpt but it wasn't until she went on to neocate that it all setteled.
I know how exhausting it is to constantly feed, in the end I just fell asleep with her on the boob as I couldn't stay awake!
Ahh the added bonus of a E cup! original.gif
I hope it all settles soon for you.

#4 ms flib

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:14 PM

I'm also very pro demand feeding but it's not good for either of you to be feeding continuously.

I actually looked at one of those dreadful super strict baby routines to get a guide, that I could adapt, of how much feeding/sleeping/awake time baby should have. I also followed the feed/play/sleep idea and used the pram or sling to help with the sleeping.

Also your baby will probably be more satisfied if your milk is allowed to build up in between feeds. It will be richer and she should be able to fill up without continuous feeding.

Congratulations on such successful breast feeding and actually your night times sound OK. Maybe they'll get better too.

And, as a mother, you have to nuture yourself too and rest and eat well and drink plenty of fluids. Your baby may protest at first but with some gentle changes, you'll both be happier.

All the very best!

#5 Copper and May

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:17 PM

I would try carrying her around in a sling and the fact that she is skin to skin with you and can listen to your heartbeat, should put her to sleep until the next feed. Babies of this age need to feed constantly as their tummies are so small. She will get better as she grows and is able to take more milk at feeds. I certainly wouldn't be giving her a bottle (even if it is expressed milk) because bottles are a different way of sucking to the breast and babies get to like bottles, because it is easier to get, whereas the breast has to be worked at.

#6 Betty_D

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:30 PM

You poor thing - you must be exhausted.

Whilst not for everyone, we found the dummy a real lifesaver to help extend feeds to every few hours. It may be that she simply needs the sucking reflex to go to sleep, especially since other medical reasons have been ruled out.

I know you mentioned your bub didn't take to it, but it may be worth trying a few different types. The happy baby, cherry-style dummies were the ones that my bub liked after trying a few different brands.

#7 whale-woman

Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:42 PM

DD1 was a bit like this. She was only happy on the boob. It is very hard. Reassure yourself that she's getting enough as the weight gain is good. I'd be going the dummy as she obviously needs something to suck. (this never fooled my Dd who just spat them out). Is their someone else you can hand her to so you can get a break? If she cries so be it, you need to look after yourself to look after bub. You might be surprised and she'll settle if held by someone who is not her human dummy/meal dispenser.

Good luck with it. It will get better.
I also see no issue with trying an occasional bottle (not because she's needing extra, but to let you get some time away.). She's almost a month old and you'd probably feel a new woman if you could get an hour out away from bub.  I was actually advised by my ob to give an occasional bottle so bub would accept them (rather than becoming a bottle refuser when older and thus issues with getting fed at Cc etc.) We at least, never had any issues with bottle vs breast.

I agree with the sling idea. DD lived in one till my back gave out, but it saved my sanity.

Edited by whale-woman, 15 February 2013 - 12:46 PM.

#8 Lalalacey

Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:03 PM

I know exactly how you feel my now 8 week old DD was exactly like this, and first of all let me say you are doing an amazing job! Secondly it will get better my DD now only feeds every 3 hours!

During the first 4 weeks there were many days I felt as if I didn't put her down, a few things that helped me were to make sure I wasn't misreading hers cues sometimes I would be feeding her when really she was tired, I eventually would feed for an hour then make her wait one hour which seemed like it would be impossible but we got there... even if it meant I spent that whole time trying to rock her to sleep once it had been an hour if she wasn't asleep I would feed her again

My DD also didn't like a dummy we tried 6 different types and kept trying she eventually took a cherry happy baby one I rub her cheek and she will suck it now she cries when it falls out if she isn't deeply sleeping yet.

On the really bad days we would co-sleep she would feed fall asleep and un latch if I woke and this had happened I would put her in her own bed so I would get time without her!

Also make sure you burp her this crying could be wind... infants friend was my friend.
If you can Google 4th trimester it will give you a bit of an idea..

Stick at it, it will get easier I felt like giving up many times and giving formula but each week it got better and I felt proud of myself for trusting my instincts.

#9 j+s

Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:22 PM

Hi Kristen, you poor thing! You really are doing a fantastic job, but I too know how hard it is!
My little darling (now 8wks) was doing marathon feeding sessions & I thought I was doing the right thing by constantly having her on the breast. My DH would sometimes wake in the morning to find me crying with exhaustion from feeding all night. Not great for anyone!
Our LC was brilliant. She suggested the dummy (as others have said, keep trying with this, it really turned things around for us).She also said to feed 15mins (approx) on one side. Have a little break then offer the same side. A little break then the other side. This worked for us, hopefully you find a way that works for you!

Good luck

#10 lucky 2

Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:28 PM

Hi there, I'd try and do something other than feed if baby is doing well, ie get some help in, someone else to give her a cuddle back to sleep, use a sling, go for a walk/pram etc but it is pretty common for 3 week olds to have a cot allergy, this sort of behaviour can peak at 6-8 weeks.
If baby is feeding well, ie your have healthy nipples, you've seen a LC and baby is feeding well then this is not a feeding problem, it is a soothng issue, it is the "4th trimester" issue, it is newborn unsettled behaviour which they do so well.
So I'd not try to fiddle with the breast feeding itself, ie limit feeds or give alternative suck feeds but ensure a good latch at each feed and then see how you go with alternative methods of soothing just to stretch it out a little if you need to, ie not bfing every 30mins.
Of course there is no law against what she is doing, she is grazing, she's in a fantastic paddock, she is healthy and loved. This is how babies are cared for in some cultures.
But you can tweak it a bit as needed.
all my breastfeeding help has always said that you shouldn't feed for more than 30 mins each side per feed. Any more than this leaves you and baby exhausted. If you limit her feed time you will find that she feeds better at the next feed

I hope a LC didn't give your that information, newborns take up to an hour to feed, this is normal and some babies only want one breast or 2 or more, so that one size fits all approach doesn't play out well in real life.
But I agree with the concept of a good feed fills the tank for longer and will maximise the distance btn feeds, but this is a general concept.
Get baby feeding well and you don't have to control them (aka limit the feeds).
During the unsettled periods babies cluster feed and this is normal but I think what the OP is describing is for more hours of the day than usual cluster feeding.
The links below are all about crying babies and are research based, I hope they help.
Try not to medicalise the behaviour or turn it into a breast feeding problem if you don't have any evidence to do so, ie if you are seeing health professionals, baby is thriving, not miserable around the clock and if you don't have damaged nipples.
All the best.

#11 Copper and May

Posted 15 February 2013 - 03:05 PM

Dietitians tell us that that the healthiest eating plan is small meals over the course of the day. Breastfeeding teaches this healthy habit from birth. Bottlefeeding (whether it be formula or breastmilk) teaches the baby to overfeed, (Kramer et al. 2004).
Babies who are fed with a bottle tend to feed to the pattern of formula fed babies with bottles. They take more per feed and feed fewer times per day. Breastfed babies tend to average 8 to 12 feeds per day. It is the mechanism of the feeding. Bottles tend to flow and the baby just drinks it, but breastfed babies are able to regulate the flow of the milk and take what they need at each feed, which at around this age is no more than 25 - 35 ounces per day, or around 750ml - 1,050mls per day. So that is why when mothers give their babies top-ups and the baby drinks it, they immediately think that they do not have enough milk to satisfy their babies - which is not the fact.
Whether a baby wants to breastfeed for thirst, taking only the thin watery foremilk, hunger, taking the breast for much longer and getting to the fattier milk, comfort - to ease feelings of loneliness, or comfort, because she loves you is immaterial. Any and all of these needs are legitimately met at the breast and have been for as long as humans have breastfed.

#12 BubbleBird

Posted 15 February 2013 - 03:06 PM

QUOTE (lucky 2 @ 15/02/2013, 02:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I hope a LC didn't give your that information, newborns take up to an hour to feed, this is normal and some babies only want one breast or 2 or more, so that one size fits all approach doesn't play out well in real life.

Yep, information given to me from a LC. Though as I said in my post, "no more than 30 mins each side", so that does equal an hour of feeding. Obviously not every mum and baby are the same but that was advice that was given to me which suited my set of circumstances and worked well for me.

#13 Copper and May

Posted 15 February 2013 - 03:17 PM

QUOTE (ms flib @ 15/02/2013, 01:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Also your baby will probably be more satisfied if your milk is allowed to build up in between feeds. It will be richer and she should be able to fill up without continuous feeding.

Not correct, I am afraid. The breastmilk is the same in texture at every feed - the thirst quencher, the hindmilk which helps babies to put on weight is in every breast at every feed. You would probably have more milk, if you hadn't fed for a few hours, but the texture is the same. Big full breasts make milk more slowly and small breasts fill up much quicker. It is all to do with the milk-making tissue in the breasts, not the size of the breasts.

#14 treefalls

Posted 15 February 2013 - 03:30 PM

Has she been checked for tongue tie?

This happened to me for the first 3 weeks with my son, he fed around the clock and seemed to be attached and 'feeding' but not well enough to stimulate a big let down and get anything more than the fore milk. I'm not sure if this is anything like what you're going through, but I wanted to mention it because it's so important to rule it out as a factor.

#15 lucky 2

Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:46 PM

QUOTE (BubbleBird @ 15/02/2013, 04:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yep, information given to me from a LC. Though as I said in my post, "no more than 30 mins each side", so that does equal an hour of feeding. Obviously not every mum and baby are the same but that was advice that was given to me which suited my set of circumstances and worked well for me.

That makes sense and yes it would have been advice to suit you and your baby.
The bottom line will always be how baby is feeding and if baby is thriving rather than what a clock says original.gif .

#16 Kristen1981

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:57 AM

Thanks for all your responses. Much of the above we have tried, but kind words are definitely helpful. We have been having a better day here and there, so I have my fingers crossed that they become more often than not.

#17 DragonsGrace

Posted 18 February 2013 - 03:02 PM

Haven't read other posts so sorry if repeating.
No advice re the baby side of it but I too have a comfort/constant sucker and I have found a solution to my tiredness. When I feed dd in bed I lie down and sleep, she sits up and feeds from the top boob though as she has silent reflux and when she's done she rolls back onto my tummy and sleeps. Also no hassle to pop her back on when she wakes. When I feed her on the sofa I lean to one side and pop the opposite leg up behind my arm. She feeds/sleeps and I can nap too. She is 10 weeks and I would have gone crazy from lack of sleep if I didn't do this

#18 MaeGlyn

Posted 18 February 2013 - 03:19 PM

I know a lot about this OP, so I might be helpful.

I fully breastfed my son for his first 4 months.

At the start my son fed longer than what you mentioned, sometimes 12 hours on demand total a day. H gained weight though on his weight ratio chart to average his age while I fed that long for 7 weeks. Then when I was told by my mother in law who never breastfed, he was feeding too much, I tried to do the 30 minutes per side timing method. He lost weight that week.

The midwife told me to feed him like I was feeding before and do a lot of skin to skin to regain my milk supply. So I did. And my milk supply returned and he became average again for the next 2 months. I stopped feeding due to a kidney infection.

Please don't listen to those who say limit the time. It doesn't work for everyone. In the first few months, your son will need to establish your milk supply and it is quite normal to feed this much for some women. Your baby has the stomach the size of a marble at this age, which is why he needs to feed so much.

At the 2nd month I did see a lactation consultant at my medical centre and she showed me the difference between comfort feeding and productive feeding. The difference is that comfort feeding is like picture this, the baby on the simpsons sucking her dummy. It is fast and she doesn't take in any milk. Productive feeding is slower. When I learned this, at 3 months, my son's feeding dropped in half, but his weight stayed average on the graph.

If I were you, see a lactation consultant and enjoy a good book in the rocking chair while you establish your milk supply. I know ohmy.gif It is a long time during the day. But it is only a few months, and then you can try to tell the difference between the two types of feeding. I suspect comfort feeding is important in the early months for establishing supply.

Edited by MaeGlyn, 18 February 2013 - 03:22 PM.

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