Lack of routine with BF is stressing me out and thinking of changing to FF...opinions and experiences from both BF and FF Mum's please!

(45 Posts)
vicmom Tue 26-Mar-13 11:08:55

My DS is eight weeks old tomorrow and for around the last three weeks I have been battling with the possibility of switching to formula.

The problem is I feel so guilty because I can't even say I have had any physical problems with breastfeeding as in sore nipples, infections etc and DS has latched on well and continued to feed well since day one. The problems I am having are all emotional/psychological which makes me feel so selfish. I never even considered doing anything other than bf when I was pregnant as I felt it was the most natural thing to do in the World - even though I was open minded and knew this didn't mean it would be physically easy, I didn't consider the impact it would have on my life in other ways.

The main issue for me is the complete chaos and lack of routine that I am still in. DS has absolutely no routine, and is still feeding generally every 2 to 2.5 hours day and night, sometimes a little bit longer in the day if he falls asleep in the car or pram. But if he is awake it is two hours on the dot. DS is a big baby, he was 9lb 13oz born which is big for the size of me, and I just feel that because of this, he needs a lot of food which is why he is feeding so often maybe. I am completely exhausted, drained, and feeling suffocated.

DS is also a very needy, demanding baby. He WILL NOT sleep at all during the day unless we are in the car, where he'll sleep for hours, or his pram but not always even in his pram. Every day is just an endless routine of trying to get things done whilst trying to keep him from crying. I watch out for early tiredness cues and seem to be able to spot them quite effectively, but he just fights his sleep when I do try to put him down. Sometimes he will look like he's going to sleep but will just randomly wake up with a scream and we just end up with him crying hysterically and me half dressed, frustrated and upset, trying to get him back to sleep again, by which time he is due for another feed. I can't get to leave the house some days and there have been days where I admit we have both been hysterical.

He does have some kind of night time routine. Strangely, when I take him up to bed with me at 10pm, I feed him and put him in his basket and he goes straight to sleep usually with no trouble at all, waking at around 12.30, 03.00 and 05.30 for feeds - this is the only pattern I can see to his behaviour. He settles well after night time feeds, except he will not usually settle after his 5.30am feed unless I bring him in the bed to sleep on my chest (we will then sleep/stay in bed until whatever time I feel i can muster the energy to get up). Even his night time routine is stressing me out though because I have become aware that 'nursing to sleep' is not considered good, and I was keen to avoid co-sleeping because of the risk of SIDS and because it is considered to be better to encourage a baby to self soothe to sleep.

To add to the problem, he and was suffering from horrendous colic and would scream all day long. He has been on Colief for this for about three weeks now and it has worked miracles with regard to the colic, but is a bit of a faff because I am giving it to him religiously before every feed which means I am hand expressing some breast milk before each feed to mix with the colief and give to him in a syringe, which means I don't benefit from the convenience of bf because I am still up in the night sterilising etc. I also have to express milk to do this each time we go out which I find a big fumbly embarrassing faff when we are out and about!

I am just desperate for some routine in both of our lives. I feel it will help him if he has a routine consisting of naps etc in the day, and I feel I need it for my sanity because his neediness means that I need to be able to feel I can have a break away from him occasionally. I feel like i never ever get a break because I can't leave him for more than about an hour, meaning I can never do anything for myself. I want to be able to go to the gym a couple of times a week, to pop to the shops on my own, to get my hair done, but I can't and i feel trapped and anxious about this. I also have a couple of weddings and a hen do coming up which I was hoping to have a drink at, but this is looking unlikely, and as the hen do will mean a night away, I have had to pull out of going at all. We have been asked by friends on a couple of occasions to go out and it is my birthday next week when me and my OH were hoping to go for a nice meal and some drinks, but we can't because I can't leave DS and can't drink anyway. I feel so selfish for saying this but it is making me so miserable that I am chained to the house and missing out like this. My OH is incredibly supportive and does what he can to help, but he is still able to go in and out to work, and to football or anywhere else he wants when I can't get away. I think he is also becoming frustrated that we can't socialise together or with other people on the rare occasion that we want to.

I should add that I have tried to express but I can't settle him for long enough during the day to give me time to because he cries as soon as I start pumping. Because of the short time between feeds, by the time I have expressed, he is due another feed and there seems to be less for him. He also ALWAYS takes both breasts so there i can't do the whole feeding from one side, expressing from the other thing. when I do express after a feed, I am only ever able to express at most, 0.5 to 1 ounce between both breasts so have been unable to establish a freezer supply big enough to amount to anything worth having!

I feel that the answer to all of this is FF. BF is not generally the culture in the area of the country that I live in and amongst my friends. Some of my friends have begun BF before switching to FF for various reasons, but most people including my two sister in laws who have recently had babies too FF. So as much as I have support from people, noone is able to identify with me or offer solutions because they all seem to have routines which revolve around FF and which allow them the occasional time away from their baby to do things for themselves. Everyone I know who FF their babies feeds every four hours, after which the baby is satisfied enough to sleep for stretches of time during the day and night. The parents of these babies seem to have more sleep, and more of their own lives. I have tried talking numerous times to my HV and local BF support organisation, but all they ever say is that it will get easier and he will become more efficient, but I see no sign of this after eight weeks.

I adore my DS and want to spend the majority of my time caring for him, and I want him to have the absolute best, but I also need some time to have a break and feel like myself. This is the dilemma which is tearing me apart. I want to enjoy him to the maximum without this stress. I just can't imagine how I will make it to my target of six months.....any experiences from either BF of FF mum's would be much appreciated to help me make my decision. Thanks

Eskino Tue 26-Mar-13 11:19:25

It WILL get easier but its so hard to see when you're in the middle of it. I am BFing my 8wo now and only persevere because I've done it before and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Dd is feeding every 2 hours or more, even through the night so I empathise!

It sounds as if you are asking for permission to FF. You have it. Do what you can to get you through the day, be happy and enjoy your baby.

FlatsInDagenham Tue 26-Mar-13 11:40:39

What you describe sounds very normal for an 8 weeks old. If you can hang in there for another 4 weeks or so, most babies do settle into a more predictable routine and longer gaps between feeds at around 3 months.

I want to suggest mix feeding (using some formula occasionally just to give you a break) but fear I may be pounced on for it - there is a danger of nipple confusion, undermining your own supply etc. However, mix feeding did save my bf relationship with my eldest dd and I was able to stop using the formula at about 4 months once the bf problems I'd had were eliminated. But I did only use formula occasionally.

ipswichwitch Tue 26-Mar-13 11:41:58

you need to be kind to yourself - I let my housekeeping standards slide a bit (I am normally very clean and tidy) as I found it impossible to keep that standard of housework with a very demanding, v frequently feeding DS. I literally did the bare minimum, DH did a lot of the housework in the early days (and 8 weeks is still early days), and MIL was a big help too.

8 weeks is also early to get a baby to self soothe, although I did fall into a pattern of feeding to sleep, I can honestly say now that it hasn't harmed DS and at 17 months is a great sleeper (7.30-7.30 most days) and has been for a good while now. We did also co-sleep as I found the constant night waking at every 1.5-2 hours exhausting. If you do it safely it works wonders, as all I had to do was slide him over for a feed then slide him back when done. there's a lot of good advice on here about how to do it safely, and it was a real life saver for me even though I was dead against doing it at first.

By 3 months I was able to go out to my weekly physio sessions (1hr per session) and leave him with MIL without any problems. It does get easier as both you and your baby get into the swing of things. At the end of the day you need to do whatever is going to work best for you and your family, and whatever you decide to do I wish you all the best and enjoy that time with your LO - god knows they don't stay little for long!

Feeding pattern sounds just like my ds at eight weeks. Now at 17 weeks he still feeds 2-3 hourly in the day but only wakes once between 7 and 7 over night. He's done all this himself smile actually I think at eight weeks he was feeding hourly in the day. It really will get better and there's nothing to say ff will make any difference. You're obviously doing really well to still be bf smile

noblegiraffe Tue 26-Mar-13 11:50:51

There's nothing wrong with nursing to sleep! Or co-sleeping so long as you do it safely.
Formula might not solve your daytime sleep problems, or your baby's inability to be put down, if you want to get things done have you tried a sling? Some babies are simply very demanding however they are fed.
Do you want to continue bfing at all? If so, maybe mix feeding will help. If not, go for the formula.

Floweryhat Tue 26-Mar-13 11:55:24

It sounds really really normal, but very hard to cope with. That feeling of "when will I get control of my life back?" Is just SO SO hard. If you can keep going, it will get better. At 8-12 weeks they hardly do anything, but in a few weeks you'll have rolling over, more noises, giggles as well as smiles, and a distractible baby who won't focus on feeding. If you want to bf, then this is a short phase, albeit it feels like a lifetime at the time smile.

Are there any bf support groups near you? Could you phone one of the bf helplines just to talk it all through? Sometimes knowing you're not alone and it will get better is enough to get you throu the next day, and then the next, and then suddenly your baby is 6 months and it's time to start solids, they might crawl etc etc.

You are doing an amazing job!

KatieMiddleton Tue 26-Mar-13 11:58:57

Until they get to 12 weeks it is pretty relentless. I found it easier to get out and about because baby slept better and was generally happier out.

Also, you don't need to choose bf or ff. you can do both! It's called mixed feeding.

Have you tried contacting the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, NCT or La Leche League? That might help.

I would also say it's fine not to like bfing and choose not to do it but equally just seeing how the next feed goes helps. I mix fed dc1 and ebf dc2. I think it helps that i knew a bit more second time round and I have planned to do nothing other than feed this baby!

Good luck, get some support, get out and remember it gets better! smile

MajaBiene Tue 26-Mar-13 12:01:38

If you want a routine, can you not just start implementing one? It doesn't have to be reliant on feeding method. Start feeding every 2.5 hours, get him up at the same time every day, start putting him down for his first nap after about an hour of being awake etc.

Floweryhat Tue 26-Mar-13 12:03:41

Oh, and if you do decide to make a change, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Expressing over the course of several days little bits, stored up to make up a bottle so you can have a few hours away from baby pampering yourself, shopping, sleeping or watever you want might be an option? Some people consider a dummy (though there are dental/speech potential disadvantages). Some people introduce a one off bottle of formula to get a break, others introduce a regular one and mixed feed. All these things have pros and cons and may not make any difference to the particular issues for you and your baby. In a while you will be able to leave your baby with someone for an hour or two without them needing feeding, so if you can hang on you may be able to get a break whilst just breastfeeding. If you accept you might only get 45 mins, then you might even be able to get a short break now between feeds whilst someone else pushes baby in pram or drives car? Feed them and then go straight away when they're full. No time for getting changed and applying a full face first, but if you leave partner and baby in the leisure centre car park you might be able to go for a swim, for example. Sometimes you just have to be really creative.

The key, though, is what do YOU want to do?

Floweryhat Tue 26-Mar-13 12:07:00

This resource is amazing and you might find several articles on kellymom reassuring too.

Tbh, having ff and bf myself, I wouldn't say that my ff baby was any better in terms of sleep/routine. It would be a shame to swap to ff and find it made no real difference. One thing that occurred to me was whether you could give the Colief with some (ready made) formula milk rather than expressed milk. At least this would save some of the hassle and the expressing.

Sounds as though you're doing really well. The first few weeks can be so tough and you've had colic to deal with as well! I found it helpful when struggling with bf to just take it one day at time, not looking further ahead than the next day. Before I knew it the newborn was no longer so demanding and bf was no longer a struggle.

Good luck whatever you decide. X

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 26-Mar-13 12:13:38

Am BFing so I can't type much. You can have a drink.

Hang in there, you have done the hard part and things will get easier from now on.

Maternityleaveisawesome Tue 26-Mar-13 12:57:46

I ebf, but would have stopped on a flash if I felt it was too much, physically or emotionally. Don't feel guilty for wanting to ff, it you would find that easier, that is better for your baby.

The only caveat is that ff might not help a routine, many ff babies are bad sleepers too.

Good luck.

themammy73 Tue 26-Mar-13 13:00:16

I agree with the first 12 weeks being the hardest, not only in terms of feeding but just accommodating this very small person with their constant demands into your life and lack of time for yourself BUT it does pass and get easier. (the DHs do seem to have the easier time of it!). My DD is now 10 weeks old and I'm realising she seems to have naturally stretched out to 3 hourly feeds during the day and this only in the past week or so.

I have bf three of my children and ff my first DD. DD1 had bad wind and I would give a bottle every four hours as you say but could easily spend an hour giving her the bottle as I had to keep stopping and starting to wind her and keep her comfortable. Have you thought about using Infacol instead of Colief? I used Infacol with my DS (who was ebf) and it was a simple case of using the dropper to administer it and then offering the breast.

Other posters are right, feeding has to be absolutely the right thing for you whether that be bf, ff or mixture of both. Do not feel guilty. It will get easier very soon.

BigPigLittlePig Tue 26-Mar-13 13:05:44

OP I could have written that myself 8 weeks ago, literally down to the times of nocturnal wakings. I scared myself stupid that I was creating all manner of bad habits for my dd (now 17 weeks) - feeding to sleep, co-sleeping in the small hours, napping on me in the day. She was, and still is, ebf. Her nights did settle eventually until 4 month sleep regression but we'll ignore that, she only comes into our bed now from about 6.30, and has much more of a routine, which she has set herself. TOday is the first time she has napped in her cot, and not on me.

What I'm trying to say, is that it gets better, slowly but surely. As some have said, FF may not be the answer, but it will mean that others can share the burden so you can have a break - the lack of a break has been the hardest thing for me (dd won't take a bottle).

Perhaps mix feeding would offer you a better solution? Then you won't have the guilt of stopping bf, and can use others to help with ff.

BigPigLittlePig Tue 26-Mar-13 13:12:33

Have just had a flashback to dh suggesting I give a bottle of formula to dd, when I was in tears and tearing my hair out after 3 hours of cluster feeding. I do believe I was a bit abrupt bit his head off in my response. The hormones confused - they make everything murky.

Have some thanks and brew and biscuit to help you think over your options.

vicmom Tue 26-Mar-13 13:16:41

First of all thank you all so much for your replies and especially for being so non -judgemental and supportive - that alone is a massive help.

I will try to remember all of your questions as I go along so please bear with me!

I want to say first that I am enjoying the the physical feeding as in the closeness and the bond I have with my baby and I feel proud of myself that I have got him to this stage with my own body, especially given the rate he is putting on weight! It is just the restrictiveness and exhaustion (which sort of goes hand in hand) that I'm not loving. I suppose I feel that there is a separation between me and my partner because I can't join in with things, and also me and the rest of the World at the moment! In answer to what I want to do, I know it probably doesn't sound like it but I really really want to continue!

In terms of support groups, I have sought so much help from my local breastfeeding support organisation, speaking to them once or twice a week, I tried to find a LLL group in my area but there isn't one, and I dropped into a breastfeeding support group at my local Children's Centre but noone, not even the consultant turned up! Sorry to sound like I'm moaning or making excuses but before I came here I felt I was the only one having this experience of BF. All that I found with my HV and Local Support org so far was that they are great in supporting you technically, but it is their job to carry on encouraging you to BF so it terms of discussing the issues I've talked about on here, I wanted to hear from real Mum's who don't have any alterior motive.

It gives me a lot of encouragement to hear some of your experiences especially as I have already decided that I am definately aiming for at least three months which is when most of you say it starts to get easier, but am posting this question now as I want to make a well thought out decision over the next four weeks. I am also massively encouraged to hear that some of you are at a stage where you are able to leave your babies for long enough to do a few things for yourselves because this is what I was initially hoping would be possible. I suppose the reason I asked for opinions from FF and BF Mums was because I was wondering whether a lot of what I'm describing was just down to having a new baby/being a first time Mum rather than anything to do with the method of feeding.

In terms of whether I could impose a routine, I have found it difficult because after a day of trying to settle him, a night of interrupted sleep, and trying to settle him since 5.30, I am exhausted and can't face the thought of battling to settle him all day so I just end up doing whatever it takes to get through the day with minimum tears (plus it depends what activities I've decided to do that day) - I admit this is probably me being a bit lazy though. Do any other BF Mum's have any success stories of bringing in routine around unpredictable feedings? I think routine may be the key to me having a bit more freedom.

Thanks again x

roamingwest Tue 26-Mar-13 13:21:56

Are you me?!! I can relate to sooo much of what you're saying! My dd is 8 weeks and I'm struggling with all the issues you describe, also bf has been really difficult because of tongue tie (snipped yesterday) and she won't take a bottle from anyone but me! Have had to cancel 2 hair appointments in the last 2 weeks as mum and DH respectively chickened out of minding her ( and my roots have suddenly turned grey which makes this even worse!! )

Things that are keeping me going are going to a BF group (great for solidarity and realising that others go through the same difficulties) and a big glass of wine some nights - after feeding, I understand that if you're sober enough to drive you're ok to bf. Also bringing her out and about so I'm seeing friends etc but sounds like you're doing that. I'm sticking with bf but am v open to supplementing with formula if and when she can take a bottle as an also crap at expressing.

I've no practical tips there are mums far more expert than me on this thread but you're not alone going through all this smile

lightfairy Tue 26-Mar-13 13:24:39

You are doing really well. Well done for getting to 8 weeks.
I used to express a bit of the easy milk to build up a store and my son would take the hard to get stuff - which he was much better at getting. He still gained weight and looked happy afterwards.
My boy was also a big boy (although not a big as yours at birth) and loads of people were talking about me giving him food early or formula feeding to help him to sleep. When i did move hime to ff at 7 months. it didn't help him sleep and also made him more snotty and congested.
My DH used to give my DS a bottle of EBM at 10 so i would sleep from 8 until 1.30ish.
Find out where the local breast feeding groups are and go and get some support.
Also I gave my DS a dummy. I hated it but i needed peace from the crying. I gave it only when he was supposed to be going to sleep and not supposed to be talking in the hope it wouldn't affect his speech (it hasn't).
My DS only got good at sleeping when he was at nursery and a good solid the same all the time routine/ritual was introduced. He knew what to expect and complied and thrived.
As someone else has said. Take it day by day. Even if you're FF you may not feel awake enough to go out for a night out. Consider leaving your baby for a bit with a relative or friend during the day.I found my DS was fine left with someone who didn't smell milky.
Good Luck. Follow your heart. Chances are he'll turn out fine because you clearly love him and your DH is a supportive man.

A little secret here. My DS used to cluster feed in the afternoon. I used to nest and watch TV. I used to watch deadly 60 and pointless. I now have a special spot in my heart for Steve Backshall and Alexander Armstrong as a result. All that oxytocin and warm fuzzy feeding feelings bringing them into the fold!! blush

roamingwest Tue 26-Mar-13 13:25:24

Sorry x posted. I too am hanging in there til the magic 12 week mark when either things will improve or I will feel that I have given dd 90
% of the benefits of ebf and will feel better about moving to mixed / ff.

We are doing really well!! smile

GirlOutNumbered Tue 26-Mar-13 13:28:44

I have two sons, both EBF. dS2 is now 6.5 months. He was just like yours about that age. I started getting him up at 7'and putting him to bed at 7. Then I started putting him down to nap after about an hour. Little babies really can't stay awake as long as you think. Even now he goes down after 1.5 hours.

Anyway, he really took to the routine and then his feeding started to fall into place, although I do still feed about very 3 hours in the day time, he sleeps though the night.

Babies are hard regardless if FF or BF, you will find that there is loads of things you can not do for a bit. BUT, this will pass so quickly and soon your lovely innocent newborn will be tearing around and giving you a whole new set of problems.

MajaBiene Tue 26-Mar-13 13:30:36

You'd have the same "imposing a routine" issue with formula too - it doesn't necessarily just happen because of the milk they drink.

I didn't try a routine so early, but I think you need to give yourself a week where you don't do anything but routine. Start first thing in the morning by getting up at 7am and making sure he has a really good feed, at least both sides. Then get him down for his first nap at 8.30am - feed, dummy, swaddle, rock, pram, drive - whatever it takes.

I would aim for a feed and a nap every couple of hours and keep him awake for a couple of hours before bath and bed time (make the last nap before bedtime a short one).

KatieMiddleton Tue 26-Mar-13 13:35:57

Sometimes making a decision that you will not do a routine is helpful. I say this as a massive control freak! Accepting I cannot control X so I won't bother trying is so much less stressful.

Oh, and what you are describing is totally normal. Now I have had dc2 I can see that sometimes with dc1 I was making things harder for myself and I was very resentful at having lost the life I had before. I have found making a conscious mental adjustment, putting baby in a sling or wrap or on a mat on the floor so i can do things helps. When I have a wee or a shower the baby is there on her mat. I accept she's always going to be there, always going to be on me. I am also co-sleeping by choice this time. It all helps, as does knowing there's probably no point trying to do a routine pre 12 weeks.

You are doing brilliantly!!!

vicmom Tue 26-Mar-13 13:40:53

Thank you all again and thanks for all your suggestions and general encouragement, I think that is what I need!

themammy73, we used infacol for a while but it didn't work for him unfortunately, although I might try what someone mentioned about putting the colief in a little formula as it is such a tiny amount, although I'm not sure this would work because I thought it needed to go in the foremilk for the enzymes to work? (might've made that up).

BigPigLittlePig, lightfairy and roamingwest, thank you, you made me laugh and gave some much needed support! My OH is definately very supportive but I had to laugh what you said about people telling you to top up and give formula, my OH has done this a lot lately but I don't blame him because he has had my random crying to contend with and probably just wants me to make a decision! Roamingwest you have got me wondering if we might actually be the same person with your comment about the glass of wine (which I also have right after a feed and with some food!) and need to hear that other people are going through the same thing, that's why I was looking for a support group in my area because I think that'd keep me going until it gets easier!

BigPigLittlePig, you hit the nail on the head really, the big thing for me really is even in ff doesn't help him settle into a routine, it would equal the load a bit between me and my OH and make it feel a bit more like we were in it together.

x

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