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

KatieMiddleton Tue 26-Mar-13 13:46:14

If you can't find a support group start one. I don't mean a massive, advertised thing but find a quiet cafe or a pub during the day and stick a note on your local page, on Netmums and contact your local NCT branch if you have one to see if they will promote it... and then just turn up for a coffee and a chat. Share experiences, sympathy, highs and lows. Let your health visitor know and ask her to promote it and tell her colleagues to promote it too.

Start after Easter because you'll find it takes a while to get going. Pick same time and place each week.

I did this. It's been a total lifesaver with dc2 and a bit rubbish no antenatal group for support.

PM me if you want to chat about doing this smile

iwillsleepagainsomeday Tue 26-Mar-13 14:18:05

The thing is... With a routine your are tied to the routine.

With dc3 (12w) I decidedto have no routine. He sleeps in my arms /sling/pram when on schoolrun during the day and in bed with me during the night. He feeds ebf and pretty much every time he is tired so he falls asleep. i can go to see friends whenever I want as I am not tied to bedtimes, routines or similar. We have had no crying at all and a very happy baby. I have playdates with the other two dc, have been on evenings out with an occasional glass of wine(at friends house or calm restaurant) and shopping centres.

From my experience with my other two dc, the rod for your own back thing is bollocks at this age. I will slowly start to implement 'own room, own cot, and a bedtime routine' from 6 months onwards and I am sure it will be easier then. Meanwhile I try to get as much rest and sleep as possible and keep in mind that in a couple of months time he will be off to start to explore the world.

ipswichwitch Tue 26-Mar-13 14:27:16

i have to say that i also felt much happier when i decided to throw routine out the window. And we did the same as iwillsleep - introducing bedtime routines from 6 months, own room, etc. If anything i find it all a bit more restrictive now as DS gets all hysterical and overtired if he goes to bed too late (you just can't win!)

lazzaroo Tue 26-Mar-13 14:36:12

Just wanted to say I sympathise & also struggle with the unpredictable nature or bf, nit knowing how much they take etc. I really want to mix feed but my DD will not take a bottle. Have been feeding for 13 weeks. Had she taken a bottle I may well have given up! My first was also a bottle refused so I ended up feeding her until she could drink from a cup during the day & I just fed morning and night. So don't count too much on ff solving everything....your DC may not go along with your plan! And if, like mine, he doesn't, you'll get by and there are bonuses.... No problems weaning, skip bottle entirely! And think of all the money you saved!

lazzaroo Tue 26-Mar-13 15:36:37

Also, I do try and follow a 1.5 hour rule. That's about her limit at the moment so after 1.5 hours awake, I try and settle her. She only naps for about 30mis so I repeat this a lot during the day! So she wakes, feeds, has little play, then sleeps etc etc. It can work really well, like today! We have bad days too where it all goes out the window but that'd probably happen if she was on formula too!

Maternityleaveisawesome Tue 26-Mar-13 16:04:30

I ebf and for the first 4 months it was constant feeding, then dd suddenly got more predictable. I still don't have a feeding schede at 6 months, as the times she feeds at night (2 to 3 times) are unpredictable, but each morning I roughly plan what times I will feed her (absolute max of 3 1/2 hourly) so I can do stuff with my day and also do a feed around 3.30, as I find this makes her hungry at 6.45 so she takes a good feed before bed at 7. This makes bedtime better.

I still feed to sleep or pram to nap in the day though.

Maternityleaveisawesome Tue 26-Mar-13 16:06:43

Should have finished with saying that even though that isn't a strict schedule, it does mean I can go out for a couple of hours and loosely knowing what will happen during the day keeps me sane.

Wishiwasanheiress Tue 26-Mar-13 16:10:13

He's normal! Count urself lucky. My first went 10mins at newborn stretching to 30mins at 8wks. I got to 2hrs at 12wks. I am thanking my stars that dd2 has done 2hrs min from day dot.

A 2hr gap is a routine too. Or can't u see that? What did u expect? Breakfast lunch and dinner?

tiktok Tue 26-Mar-13 16:25:51

vicmom - yes, your baby is normal, but your expectations are not smile smile

It sounds like you have been listening to some weird ideas. " I have become aware that 'nursing to sleep' is not considered good" - huh????? It's normal and desirable!

"I was keen to avoid co-sleeping because of the risk of SIDS" - huh? again. If you follow safe guidelines, there is no elevated risk of SIDS.

" and because it is considered to be better to encourage a baby to self soothe to sleep.".....by whom??? Who has this daft idea?

You clearly want to breastfeed, and you clearly (and understadably) want less pressure on yourself and less of the feeling of being overwhelmed. There are some great ideas already on this thread, and you could start by ditching the ideas that there is anything wrong, and that you should be following those 3 ker-razy ideas above...'cos ideas like that make it harder, not easier smile

vicmom Tue 26-Mar-13 17:30:45

Firstly, wishiwasanheiress, thanks for your input, but not really sure why you feel the need to take such a rude and patronising tone though. I clearly did not expect three meals a day, but in all honesty, I am a first time Mum and I didn't know what to expect which is why I have been looking for help and support. And if I'm completely honest, I didn't realise how quickly 2 hours went by until now!! The two hours between his feeds also also a loose generalisation, it can be more or less and is not at set times each day because of this, which is what I mean by routine. From what I have seen of formula feeding, it is a bit more predictable in terms of feeding times (based on my two sister in laws, and my partner also has an eight year old son who was ff and he remembers this to be the case). People who I know who FF do also not feed on demand which plays a part in it being more predictable. However after hearing from some Mums on here who FF, this is not always the case I have learned!

Everyone, I am so grateful for all of your inputs and taking the time to reply, you have given me some fantastic ideas and support! Katemiddleton, that is such a brilliant idea about starting my own support group, I didn't even think of it. I totally understand all of the ideas about throwing routine out the window and it seems like it can work really well - but I am just control freak I suppose and love having routine in my own life that I don't know if I could carry on in this way for much longer! I also see routine as a way that I can predict when I might make it to that gym session or hair appointment I wanted to make! I will definately take the ideas behind it on board though and won't try to set too much of a rigid routine, especially as I like to get out and about a lot with him every day. I am just really pleased to hear that you can have some sort of routine with a bf baby as I honestly didn't think it was possible! I am going to try some of the ideas of those posters who've suggested routines, and really like the 1.5 hour rule so will give this a go.

Tiktok, I don't know to be honest, i have been reading quite a few forums and have seen these sorts of things pop up, and with the cosleeping, my hv and midwives etc in the hospital kept drilling home about the risks of SIDS and the need to put the baby down in his own cot. My HV also discouraged me from using sleep aids saying he could become dependent. I am just new to all of this and trying to make sense of all of the masses of information I have been given and which I have found. The input of Mums on here has been invaluable though, so thank you.

Thanks again everyone x

Floweryhat Tue 26-Mar-13 19:12:00

You're doing well and you'll get there smile. First time parenthood is an almighty shock! Babies are so dependent and most of us have never been anywhere close to so much at someone else's beck and call and every whim. It honestly doesn't last forever though.

Could you look for a local mobile hairdresser? Or take baby and another person with you to a hairdresser's appointment? You can breastfeed while having a haircut, and if they get fractious then other person can take them for a short walk or change nappy etc smile. Yes, it's not the same as being 'free', but in a few short months you won't need these compromises any more. If your whole life were a piece of string and your baby's first 6 months or so were coloured red on it, it would be a tiny proportion. As I said, it feels like your old life has gone completely and nothing will ever be normal again, but in time it does get easier. If you can chuck out all 'rules', baby books and your own standards/expectations until around July/aug then it'll probably be much easier than fighting the flow and wondering where you're going 'wrong' (cos you're not. Baby is in charge, and all else comes second).

Good luck smile

JollyYellowGiant Tue 26-Mar-13 19:18:23

I BF DS on a schedule from 12 weeks. We were still bf at 20months, so it didn't affect my supply. I used Baby Whisperer schedules because I also needed some kind of predictability and routine. The baby whisperer forum has loads of advice if you decide to go down that route. But it may not be right for you and your baby - i am not saying it works for everyone.

Sounds like you are doing a great job. An 8week old baby is still very little and is still adjusting to not being inside you. It's a big shock for them to get over!

midori1999 Tue 26-Mar-13 19:57:28

Having your first baby is hard, however you feed them. Everyone tells you how hard it will be, what it will be like, but you never really know until you've given birth and suddenly you're entirely responsible for another tiny human being, one who means more to you than you ever thought possible too. However you feed your baby, your life won't ever be the same again. smile

I FF my first 3 DC as I didn't manage to BF. I still fed on demand though, which is what's recommended and my first two fed hourly. They had also breastfed very often before I stopped, so I think they were just guzzlers! DD, on the other hand was EBF and although I'd prepared myself for feeding every five minutes, she was more a 2-3 hour girl and sometimes 6 hours at night. However, she would not be put down at all for naps or sleeps and she wouldn't go in her pram at all for months either, so I held her for every single nap and got a carrier for walks and so I could get housework done and look after my existing DC. She was 7 months old the first time she napped in her cot.

I do agree with Tiktok. As a society we have unrealistic expectations of how babies should behave and that can make things more difficult for new Mums, or any Mum, in fact! I found what was easiest for me was doing what was easiest at that time and that included using a sling and learning to BF in it, feeding to sleep and bed sharing.

Feeding to sleep is nothing less than a miracle, it's an amazing parenting tool and I babies do naturally grow out of it, so don't worry about all that 'rod for your own back' nonsense. I still feed DD to sleep at bedtime now at 21 months, but that is because it is easy and I choose to, she can get to sleep without being fed, feeding is just the quickest way. Sadly, she will no longer feed to sleep in the day, I was gutted when it stopped working! grin

Bed sharing is very safe when done properly and it is actually estimated that bed sharing and breastfeeding actually reduce the risk of SIDS by up to five times. Sadly, studies that exist so far don't seperate safe practices from unsafe practices and are otherwise flawed. You can get good information by looking at the Isis Online website, or looking at the Helen Ball web chat here on mumsnet (google will find it) or by googling for James McKenna and cosleeping. Even FSIDS have recently relaxed their policies on bed sharing.

Can you manage to express at the same time each day of your DH holds the baby? That will be the best way to get more milk by expressing, as if you do it at the same time it's easier for your body to produce more milk for it. Also, you can have a drink or two and still breastfeed (look on the Breastfeeding Network site for info) and you can go out to appointments, the gym etc and leave the baby with your husband even if there's not much milk at home. 2oz should be plenty for an hour or two to go to Yoga.

After 3 months colic usually improves, so not too much longer to faff with the Colief either.

You're doing great, by the way! smile

BigPigLittlePig Tue 26-Mar-13 19:59:23

vicmom I also found things got easier when I stopped fretting about routine. Pre-baby, control freak. Now, not so much. And I could enjoy her more. It is all a bit of a shock though, I had no idea quite how hard work it would be. I naively thought that babies would just sleep in their moses baskets for naps, and feed every few hours etc etc. At no point did someone say, "you will watch 8 series of Greys anatomy in 3 months because you will spend hours days on the sofa in cluster feeding hell".

With regards the deluge of info/advice you get from people, remember that it is just advice, so you can ignore it. My hv said to me "of course you don't sleep on the sofa with her, do you?" (had just woken up from lovely sofa nap) and "co-sleeping is a bit dangerous" - if she wants to come and help out at night, great. If not, I'll stick with what gets me through thanks very much!

Sorry for rambling, hope some of it helps. Glad I managed to raise a smile anyway!

girliefriend Tue 26-Mar-13 20:14:21

hello I could have written your post when my dd was 8 weeks! I was very close to giving up the bfing but being quite stubborn I was determined that I would find a way of making it work.

At 8 weeks I started putting in place a fairly structured routine <whispers loosely based around Gina Fords Contented baby book...>

It took a week or so but definately saved my sanity, getting dd to sleep in the day became a priority and I found things like ensuring the room was really dark and having a mini nap routine ie a feed, nappy change, strip off legs and put into her baby sleeping bag helped.

You can definately have a routine and bf as long as you are willing to be flexible at times esp if they are having a growth spurt or poorly.

katiecubs Tue 26-Mar-13 20:26:12

This is SO normal and IMO nothing to do with feeding method at all.

DS1 was FF and almost exactly as you described - took small frequent feeds every couple of hours (despite my best efforts to try and extend the gaps) and never stuck to a routine or napped well in the day.

DS2 - currently 6 weeks EBF again ditto!!

Sorry but I think it's the baby not the milk, I was really hoping for a more chilled out one this time who fed/slept to schedule but I guess I just don't grow them like that ;)

kalidasa Tue 26-Mar-13 20:35:24

I felt much the same and found a bit of mixed feeding was a sanity saver, and also helped DH feel more involved. We had to to start with because I went into hospital unexpectedly at 6 weeks, but afterwards found that just one formula feed every couple of days made a huge difference to how I felt. A dummy was also a big help for our similar sounding baby.

It's also true that you are close to the point when things change naturally, the feeds lengthen out a but and the baby gets more interesting and interested. If you want to continue to bf but feel desperate I'd buy a couple of those ready made formula bottles and try going out for a coffee while your husband gives one.

katiecubs Tue 26-Mar-13 20:44:19

P.s just to say I bought all the books first time round (gina, baby whisperer etc) and made myself quite ill trying and failing to follow them. I developed really bad anxiety and insomnia over analysing everything and questioning what I was doing wrong. As most people have said for 'most babies' these expectations are unrealistic.

This time round I have binned the books and am just trying to enjoy DS2 for the lovely little thing he is. It goes way too quickly to waste time worrying smile x

KatieMiddleton Tue 26-Mar-13 21:09:23

I've been thinking about this and the thing that makes the difference this time besides knowing what to expect and not trying to fix the unfixable, is that I don't time anything. I have only the toughest idea how long or how often dd sleeps or feeds. I just don't think about it. My measure is this: 1. Is she well? 2. Are we coping? That's it.

I also don't stress about a few duvet days wink

dietcokeandwine Tue 26-Mar-13 21:16:11

I would agree with everyone suggesting mix feeding to give you a bit of a break/sanity etc. I have an 8 week old DS too, and what you are describing is, as everyone has said, completely normal and typical - but it is, as you say, utterly relentless. And as a first timer it's hard. My 8 week old is my third, so I'm pretty pragmatic this time round, but first babies are a steep learning curve.

What I do is EBF through the day and overnight, but give (or get DH to give) one bottle of formula at around 7/7:30pm. Mix feeding is not for everyone, but I find this one FF a day a lifesaver because it

(a) gives me a chance to read stories to and spend a bit of baby-free time with my older two DC
(b) gives me a break from the evening cluster feed scenario which I find so draining (DS generally sleeps till at least midnight after the evening bottle) and
(c) means I can go out, if I want, and know that DS will take a bottle and I don't have to bother with the faff of expressing (which I don't have time for anyway!)

As I say, it's not for everyone, but it works for us, and hasn't affected breastmilk supply for any other feeds either, and it might be worth you trying it if the whole EBF scenario is stressing you out so much.

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