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Breastfeeding failure.
Why can't I do this?


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#1 Feral Nelly

Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:53 AM

Bub is 8 weeks old and when weighed yesterday, she had gained 175 g in three weeks. THREE WEEKS!

Far out. What am I doing wrong?

Her latch seems good, she appears to be sucking and swallowing, she has plenty of wet nappies per day and she is usually a very content and settled baby (apart from a witching hour at about 4/5pm).

She has had a cold this week so I am hoping that now she is well again, she will start gaining weight.

I just feel like such a failure...

I had a difficult time with my first bub too. She came home with a NG tube and on formula. We managed to start breastfeeding but she was a very sleepy feeder and siding gain weight well so we comp feed till 6 months. We stopped breastfeeding at 6 months as feeding had become stressful and she would 'fight' and fuss at the boob. I had hoped that things would go more smoothly this time without the issue of low birth weight and a poor suck reflex. And things had seemed to be going so well until that weigh in yesterday.

Why can't I breastfeed properly? What is wrong with me?

Edited by Plappermaul, 03 April 2013 - 10:54 AM.


#2 Mille-Mille

Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:59 AM

I'm struggling with breastfeeding also, my baby is 9 weeks old.  So I have no advice, but i'm sure the boob guru's will be in shortly to help you out.

Hang in there, it's hard work for some (me included).



#3 ScarfaceClaw

Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:59 AM

Have you spent some time with an LC? Get them to watch a few feeds and help you out with suggestions.

My boy was NGT fed for the first 6 weeks too, and I had to express 3 hourly for a number of weeks, and it was hard work, so I feel your pain there, but we were able to transfer to the breast and have had a great relationship, after a lot of stress at the start.
I'd really advise chatting to an LC, either thru your local hospital, or MCHN should be able to help you access someone.

Good luck, I haven't forgotten all the second guessing and self doubt, and its awful x

#4 Excentrique Feral

Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:01 AM

You need to get her weighed on a good scale before and after a feed to see how much she is actually getting. A good lactation consultant should be able to do this for you. This might not be an issue with supply and you need to rule that out first.

If it is an issue with supply, google lactation cookies, they taste good and work well. Also increase your fluids and eat oatmeal and there are other supplements you can take which I can't currently think of.

You are doing well OP and you most definitely are not a failure. Many of us don't find breastfeeding easy.  original.gif

Edited by Excentrique, 03 April 2013 - 11:01 AM.


#5 Xander2

Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:02 AM

Doesn't sound like you're failing at all to me, I b/f both my bubs and they put weight on in spurts and other times not much at all.

I am by no means an expert, but if bub is content I would say she was getting enough food.  Maybe if it continues take her to your GP just for your own peace of mind? Where is she on the percentile for weight/height?

I think you're doing a great job  original.gif

#6 Llama in Pyjamas

Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:11 AM

I wouldn't say your failed. Weight gains should be the last thing to be looked at- breastfed babies often gain weight in spurts rather than following a set amount a week. Also that's over 50g a week. That's not too bad considering every other sign says you have plenty of milk.
It's actually pretty rare for lactation consultants to weigh before and after feeds now- new studies show it's not a great measure of how much milk.

Was the weighing done at the same time of the day, on the same set of scales that hadn't been calibrated or moved since your last visit, wearing the same clothes and after a big poo or wee consistently? These are all factors that can change weight results.

Finally, here is a link to run through a checklist https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/my-...ing-enough-milk



#7 mandala

Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:17 AM

I know how stressful it is. DS didn't gain any weight between 8 and 19 weeks. In our case, it turned out to be a supply issue, but there were questions about whether it could be a urinary tract infection. Sometimes the only symptom is lack of weight gain - he was otherwise pretty settled.

I think it's well worth looking for a lactation consultant, and also going to the GP just to check for any other issues that could be causing problems.

#8 Soontobegran

Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:25 AM

That is NOT a failure sad.gif
Your baby has gained weight, not maintained or lost and whilst it is on the lower end of average weight gain it is to be applauded.

Babies gain at different rates, if there are plenty of poops and pee then all is most probably ok.
Perhaps having a LC check the latch and suck might be a good idea but please be proud of yourself.

#9 Feral Nelly

Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:38 AM

Thanks for the kind words and suggestions. I will try and find a LC today and see them - it seems so simple but I didn't think of doing that!

I am eating oats and lactation cookies and drinking nursing tea which has fenugreek and blessed thistle in it. I just feel a bit lost.

I think part of why i feel such a failure is that I'm surrounded by super-lactators who can express 180mL in 5 mins and their bubs put on 300 g or more per week...

I will definitely organise a LC and try not to be so hard on myself. If we have to go down the comp feeding path, I know it isn't the end of the world, it just would've been nice to breastfeed exclusively with this baby.

Thanks again for the support.

Oh, and yes - same scales, same time of day (roughly) and all bare weight weighs.

Edited by Plappermaul, 03 April 2013 - 12:00 PM.


#10 Llama in Pyjamas

Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:47 AM

Expressing is a skill, not an indication of milk supply! I had a big fat baby but couldn't express more than about 20mls, yet he was fine.
What are you and your hubbies body shape like? If you are smaller and lithe, your babies genetics suggest they will be too!

Here is another link on baby weight gains worth reading. https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/co...by-weight-gains

#11 Feral Nelly

Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:08 AM

Thought I'd add an update - baby gained 85 g in 6 days. Better but stil not great. She has slid from the 50th to the 10th percentile sad.gif

The MACH nurse played the 'if they don't gain at least 20 g/day, we worry about their brain development' card.

After much guilt and some tears, I bought a tin of formula last night. I plan to continue breastfeeding but will offer a topup of formula or EBM (when I am able to express) after her day feeds.

I'm also going to see a LC later this week.

Thanks again for your support.

#12 Nofliesonme

Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:31 AM

OP that is not failing, that is fantastic!!!!!
She has gained, although it may be a small gain, it's a gain. You are doing amazingly. Is your supply enough? Maybe you need to sit down with a LC and work on it for a bit to see what the issue might be. original.gif

Please don't be hard on yourself, there are so many other people waiting to criticise you and make you feel like crap as a mother that you don't need to do it to yourself. I felt exactly the same. My first DD I BF until 8 weeks and changed to formula ( because I was young, nieve and listened to stupid people), my 2nd was prem and in ICU for weeks and expressing and feeding was too much. My 3rd I didn't try for more than a week. And I felt all sorts I guilt and failure . But I realise now I am not.
My 4 th bub is 4.5mnths old and is fully BF original.gif so I can do it. Why it didnt work before properly I don't know but I guess what I'm saying is, it doesn't work for every baby and that does not mean you are a failure. It might be that you can't fully bf this bub but that doesn't mean it won't work next time and do what's best for you and bub no matter what original.gif look at the positives not negatives ) Good luck.

Edited by thunda, 09 April 2013 - 07:33 AM.


#13 TinFeralCat

Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:42 AM

You know there are good and bad Maternal nurses as well.

If you don't want to start the formula, get a second opinion. Either way  it could help settle your doubts.

Try and remember, any amount of breast milk is wonderful - you are doing a good job original.gif

#14 Libertine

Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:42 AM

You are not failing! And agree with a pp that expressing in no indication of supply. I've always had lots of milk but can't express for the life of me.

One other thing to bear in mind is that bf baby weight gain is rarely linear. Both my girls have seemed to have grown chubby, then gone through a phase of seeming long and skinny before they go chubby again iykwim lol. I've also found that sometimes you can have little weight gain over a couple of weeks then it catches up n the two weeks afterwards.

If your baby is content then I wouldn't be rushing to start formula if it were me. See the LC first.



#15 kay11

Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:30 AM

I went through this and felt horrible at the time.  I found a lot of support on the Fearless Formula Feeder blog. There seems to be so little information around the mechanics of what causes breastfeeding to fail and mums are so quick to blame themselves. Please be kind to yourself.

#16 axiomae

Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:44 AM

I understand - it's a horrible thing, I went through this with DD. Everyone can say that you're not a failure (and you aren't!) but it still feels that way. I felt so much guilt and went through so much pain about not being able to exclusively BF and it was awful. Big hugs!

That said, however, we realised I had supply issues at 12 weeks. Bubs was super unsettled and screaming on the boob. I thought at first it might be reflux but her weight gain was much slower, she was on the 5th percentile and dropped to the 3rd.

What helped me to continue to breastfeed was to increase my supply the old fashioned way - more feeding, expressing between feeds (although I never got much) and taking Motilium. Go to your GP and get a prescription. It made the biggest difference to my supply (teas and cookies did nothing) and helped me continue my BF journey with my DD. We comp fed with formula topups twice a day but were able to drop those when solids were established.

DD has just weaned at 9 months. At 3 months I wasn't sure we'd be able to continue at all, so to make it this far was amazing. She didn't exactly self-wean, but got a throat infection and wouldn't feed for 5 days. My supply didn't cope, even with expressing, so I took it as a good opportunity to wean her considering she will be going to daycare in 2 months anyway.

Good luck, but try the Motilium - was a lifesaver for us original.gif



#17 CharliMarley

Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:56 AM

Good advice from everyone. Remember though about genetics and your baby could be following in her ancestors footsteps and is going to be a small, petite, little girl. She is putting on weight, albeit slowly, but she is not losing weight - that is a bit thing. Is she feeding every 2-3 hours in a 24 hour period? This is a good routine to have as letting them go longer and not waking at night can deplete your supply. A baby will always get more out than a pump can, so don't worry too much about what you can express. Could you try switch-feeding, which is going from one side to the other in the one feed and some babies will do that several times and this is a great way to increase your milk supply. Try and ditch the formula top-ups, as they are upsetting the lovely gut flora that breastmilk provides and the bottle feeding is much different to breastfeeding and some babies get nipple confusion.

As one of the pp's said - don't take the MCHN's advice over a LC's advice, as lactation consultants know much more about breastfeeding and they train for several years to learn their skills. Let us know how you get on and I hope you have a happy breastfeeding journey.  bbighug.gif

#18 **Xena**

Posted 09 April 2013 - 10:00 AM

Gaining is good! At 6 weeks my baby weighed less than at birth- talk about feeling like a failure. The saddest part was that for the first time I actually was enjoying BFing and thought I had it sad.gif

#19 Futureself

Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:27 PM

You are not failing. AS someone who was exactly where you are a few short months ago I know that's not going to help ease your feelings but it's true. See the slightly hysterical post from me in November about a  MCHN accusing me of starving DS and telling me I had two weeks to make him fatter otherwise I HAD to stop BFeeding and put him on formula  huh.gif

So firstly, do not discount how happy, settled and active your baby is. These are really important indicators of thriving, ones which my MCHN dismissed but the GP and Paediatrician did not. Also, how long is your baby? DS was only gaining, on average, 50 g a week from 5-9 weeks but was off the charts for length, he just kept getting longer and longer. Again, the MCHN would not even note the changes in length at 0, 4, 6 and 8 weeks when evaluating how 'starving' he was but my GP and the Paed certainly did think it was noteworthy! He was growing rapidly, but only in one direction  biggrin.gif

My GP is awesome so I saw her first. She referred me to a Paed to rule out anything sinister but also suggested boosting my supply with Motilium. I ended up taking that for 8 weeks and really, really recommend it.

I then saw the Paed within a week and he ruled out physical problems with DS and put us on a regime of 'top-up' feeds after every feed. EBM or formula, he didn't care it just had to be a 'half feed' of 40 ml every time and then adjusting it as DS got older and feeds increased. I wanted to do only EBM top-ups but like you are finding, expressing large amounts whilst Bfeeding fulltime is hard - naturally, as the baby is feeding well from the breast so is draining it! I spoke to my LC as well as on here about boosting my supply through breast compressions, switch feeding, expressing after every feed but waiting 20 minutes. I won't lie, the next month or so was very, very hard work. We went weekly to my GP to weigh DS on the same set of scales and check-in with her about how we were going. She was fabulous and really kept my spirits up with her support and common sense. DS started gaining weight rapidly with the top-ups - 180g the first week, 160g the second. He was being overfed though, sometimes he'd outright refuse the top-up as he was full or he'd take it and then vomit it back up - he never vomits so it was an obvious sign of his feeding capacity!

After a few weeks under the guidance of my GP we started dropping top-ups gradually to see how he'd go whilst still switch feeding, doing breast compressions and expressing small amounts often as well as taking the Motilium to boost supply. He was still gaining weight (between 120g-150g a week) so we dropped more top-ups and only started weighing in fortnightly. After 2 months, I stopped the Motilium and DS was declared fit, healthy and positively thriving at his 4 month check-up. However to this day, he is 90th percentile for length and only 15th for weight. That never changed no matter how much food we were shoving in him, his height and weight never 'matched' and I'm sure some MCHNs would still panic at that. DH and I are both taller than average, I used to be very slender too so it is just his build.

The only top-up he has now is one before bed and I express twice a day to get the amount needed. That's habit more than anything and he and DH like it as it's their time and part of the bedtime ritual.

Sorry for the essay but I hope it helps to hear that others have been there and things that worked for us you may try.

You're doing brilliantly.



#20 PurpleNess

Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:33 PM

Oh no that is certainly NOT failing!! I think you're doing brilliantly & so is your bub, everyone is different and there isn't a blanket rule for all babies. As PP's have said gains are gains!

Call the ABA & go see a LC ASAP, they are brilliant & will be able to tell you how much milk she's actually getting, different holds to try etc

Stay positive - this mummy business is so hard as you know but from my experience ( which was a LOT worse than yours) I'd say your are doing a super job - trust your instincts - you say she is wetting nappies, happy etc...sounds good to me.

Edited by PurpleNess, 09 April 2013 - 12:33 PM.


#21 PurpleNess

Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:33 PM

Oh no that is certainly failing!! I think you're doing brilliantly & so is your bub, everyone is different and there isn't a blanket rule for all babies. As PP's have said gains are gains!

Call the ABA & go see a LC ASAP, they are brilliant & will be able to tell you how much milk she's actually getting, different holds to try etc

Stay positive - this mummy business is so hard as you know but from my experience ( which was a LOT worse than yours) I'd say your are doing a super job - trust your instincts - you say she is wetting nappies, happy etc...sounds good to me.

#22 CupcakeMumma

Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:14 PM

Op you are not failing, bf babies all grow at different rates with my ds he put on stacks and stacks, always took both sides, was a greedy guts.  With my dd, she would only ever take one side, she was sleeping in long stretches, lots of wet nappies, settled and content, she would only put on small increases in a week,  mchn would tell me off and I'd say she's feeding well, sleeping well, just cause she was a massive baby born didn't mean she was going to stay that way.  And I second the expressing is not an indication of supply, not everyone expressing well.  My eldest dd was teeny even on formula, my gp at the time after the hundredth time someone asked me if she was prem, and I went to have her checked said so long as they maintain their percentile as they grown, it doesn't matter.  My last dd was 9lb 6oz and 55cm long born, but gradually has shrunk in her percentile, but still happy and healthy and growing well at 6.  My eldest started in the 50th percentile and gradually shifts down and down until she followed the 3rd percentile.  Bubs are all different.

I do recommend finding a good lactation consultant that tu are happy and can converse with.

#23 Mose

Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:17 PM

Oh this is not failing!  this is doing an awesome job in the face of overwhelming odds!

I also had supply problems, and am allergic to motilium.  DS was EBF from about 3 weeks old until around 4 months.  After that his weight gain or lack thereof was getting a bit concerning, and we mix fed from there to just before 12 months when he refused me repeatedly, and I wasn't going to fight with an 11.5 month old about staying on the breast!

Anyway, my tips
1) Get a second opinion.  As PPs have said, some MCHNs are great, others not so much.  Surround yourself with pro-BF professionals for your advice.  In my case, I had a MCHN, GP, Paed, and LC all telling me I just wasn't producing the milk.  At that point I felt ready to accept it - prior to that with only MCHN and GP I was concerned that their advice wasn't necessarily right.

2) Take motilium if you can.  If it gives you problems, and you can bear the thought, try taking it at a lower dosage than recommended.  It will still have some effect, and you can carry on like that.  At the recommended 6 tablets a day I got a rash around my mouth which is bad and the GP wouldn't let me go on like that, but at one a day I only had slight eczema on my hands, and it still made a difference to my supply!

3) If need be, accept that irrevocable supply issues can and do exist.  You read the Breastfeeding forum here, and the most vocal of posters can make you feel like you're just not trying hard enough, and that BF is always this "perfect" supply and demand system.  There's a good reason for that - a huge % of women CAN produce the milk they need to, but don't feel confident about this.  That still leaves a good sized % who don't.  If from following step 1 above you have reason to genuinely believe you have a supply issue, what I found really helpful was to come back to the Board and ask people to take as an accepted fact that I couldn't produce the necessary milk, and then ask for advice on the best way to achieve the highest proportion of breast milk to formula in a mix feeding relationship.  The same posters who were pretty vocal about being able to "fix" the supply issue were actually really helpful when asked to provide support for that circumstance.

Good luck with it all.  Remember, all breast milk you can provide is fantastic!

#24 TwiceThe Woman

Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:24 PM

LC of 25 years chiming in here,,,,,,,

You need an LC ASAP to assess, follow through and ressure you.  Contact one who live in your area today. (Please do not PM me - I'm on this forum just to share..)
This does NOT sound like failure to me.  Many, many, babies start way high on the charts and fall while still remaining well, bright and happy.
IMO - babies are finding their "equilibrium" in terms of metabolism and fat deposits.
Rule #1 Look at the baby before any chart.
- does the baby have bright eyes appear happy?
- does the baby appear structurally healthy with muscle and fat deposits?
- does the baby have good muscle tone?
- is the baby weeing 6x a day and pooing daily?
- is the baby sleeping / waking ok?
- is the baby alert when awake?

Illness will generally affect a baby's weight gain.
Being too cold will affect the baby's weight gain - warm clothing when out in cold weather & beanies make a significant difference, otherwise the calories go towards keeping body temperature up.
(thus...poeple who live in the cold, need more calories)

Please do not get weights to weigh baby before and after feeds - this went out 30+ years ago and was proven to be create even more stress for "helping" mother's feed. *shudder* - that advice gives me nightmares.

Rest assured many babies slide down the charts  (all four of mine did) and many others will continue to do so and be perfectly fine.  In fairness to the M&CHN, she may just be doing her job to err on the cautious side (these people have an onerous workload with time constraints and no brownie points are issued for missing anything IYKWIM..) and to be honest, some also just do not have the skills, experience or confidence with breastfeeding, so an LC is the way to go.

Meanwhile, take some time out just for you and your baby.  Snuffly colds can set them back for a bit, so patience is the key. Maybe take the phone off the hook every afternoon for a nap.  Decline some luncheon appointments if others have demands on you. Offer feeds at least every 4 hours during 6am to 10pm and ensure that if your in cooler clime's, to have the baby well rugged up with beanie and warm foot covering when out - especially if the wind is cool.
(The usual disclaimer here - be sensible not to overheat....)
Feeding while watching funny & upbeat movies is better for let-down as well, so you may want to hire some favourites for a while.
Some may malign the ABA but I believe that their mother-to-mother care is very helpful.  To steep yourself around other successful feeders gives you a buoyancy for your BF confidence.  Try your local group and share what's going on for you.  Always good to have others around who understand what you're going through.

All the best OP.  Such great supportive PP's here.  Do remember there is a whole lot more to a baby's wellness than weight gain.
Your baby has been gaining and that is fantastic!  Good on you - keep up the good work I say -  and hope your LC is on her way to check things out for you original.gif

#25 ausmumof2

Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:26 PM

Haven't read all the replies, just wanted to say I had a similar thing with bub no 3 at around that age straight after a cold.  They can't feed as well with a blocked nose I think.  He started putting on weight again after getting better.  I wouldn't worry too much, just go back for another checkup in a couple of weeks to make sure things are picking up.




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Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.