Breastfeeding woes

I’m less than a day away from calling it on the whole breastfeeding thing, honestly unable to recall why it mattered so much for my son, though I can come up with plenty of reasons I want to continue for myself. This post is a plea for help, perspective, commiseration and advice.

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A quick history:

By day three, the kid and I had a pretty good rhythm going. I went so far as to brag about how quickly we could latch given the challenges that come with flat n*pples (dumb, tempting fate like that, I know). It wasn’t fun but it was rewarding in an “only the mama can” kind of way.

Then things started to go downhill on day three, right on schedule: my milk hadn’t come in and dude was hungry! Latching took longer and longer, and Babycakes got more and more frustrated. Despite our jokes about this changing someday, he was not a fan of having a b**b shoved in his mouth when he was trying to express his anger.

Adding to the situation, this was Jaundice Day, so our goal was to fill him as full as quickly as possible so he could go back to sunbathing. MTM_2011-08-06_085755

By that night, getting him to latch was taking an hour plus.

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The next morning we got discharged and he ate for a full hour just prior. With a quiet room and some cheerleading from mama, latching didn’t take an eternity. At home, though, our problems continued. By that night, the whole family was in tears at feeding time – dogs, cats, dads, moms, grandmas. At 1 in the morning, with many tears, I decided we’d give him a bottle.

So we did. Oh, the relief. He was full and happy and we were relieved and happy to get some sleep, more than we’d ever gotten on a breastfeeding schedule. He had another bottle in the middle of the night, we all slept more than an hour at a time, and all was well.

Except it wasn’t, not for me. That was two days ago and every feeding time has been a struggle, either physically when I try to breastfeed or existentially as I mix a bottle. On Monday we saw two lactation consultants, one of whom was really great with a practical pep talk and another who sat and watched us try to feed and then recommended a breast shield. That night he fed a few times with the breast shield and all seemed well.

Now? He won’t latch, even with the breast shield. He cries in frustration, chews on the silicone, writhes in anger and eventually pain as his belly fills with air from the effort of making his hunger known.

And I don’t have the heart to take 30 minutes to get the kid fed. I just don’t. I sit and cry and try to remember why breastfeeding seemed so important, but any reason I come up with pales in comparison to the crying of my child who just wants to be fed.

My reasons for breastfeeding:

  • I liked how awesome I felt when I knew we could breastfeed.
  • I enjoyed the quiet “mama-only” time with my son.
  • Only I am capable of breastfeeding him and it was my huge and unarguable contribution to this parenting partnership.
  • I do believe we can’t replicate the systems and functioning of the human body, no matter how hard we try or close we get.
  • Theoretically, breast milk is cheaper, more readily available, and more convenient than formula. It’s also tailor-made to the baby’s nutritional needs, I think.
  • My body will recover from being pregnant more quickly if I’m breastfeeding.
  • The endorphin rush is cool.

BUT. My son goes from happy to hungry in the blink of an eye, a tendency he gets from his parents. When frustrated he won’t latch, I get stressed, and even if he sucks his little heart out, he doesn’t get much payoff. The kid just wants to eat, and who can argue with that? He handles formula well, so although we hear his tummy rumbling as he digests, he’s not uncomfortable. Other than some spitting up – which never happened when breastfed – there don’t seem to be any downsides to giving him formula.

Yesterday was a bad one, filled with dread as mealtimes approached and guilt as I ended up mixing a bottle. My kid is a really great kid, happy and content unless he has a reason not to be. He cries when he’s hungry, soiled, or… well, that’s it. Hungry or a dirty diaper, he communicates his need. The rest of the time he’s awesome.

This morning he wouldn’t latch even with the breast shield. I’d pumped so I gave him that via bottle, but if I don’t quickly recommit to breastfeeding, I’ll lose the ability.

I know the rule of thumb is that it takes six weeks to get breastfeeding established, but how does that work? Do you really spend six weeks dealing with a crying, frustrated baby and emotional, upset mama? Why is breastfeeding so important, again? AND WHY CAN EVERYONE ELSE SEEM TO DO THIS BUT I CAN’T?

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49 thoughts on “Breastfeeding woes

  1. I have a lot of thoughts that I’ll e-mail. Also, I know I’m a virtual stranger but I would be happy to message you my phone number so you can talk/ vent to someone. I’ve breastfed three babies and had a really hard time with baby #1, a hard time for a few months with baby #2 and it’s been smooth as silk with #3. Contrary to popular myth, breastfeeding is damn hard and it sucks- at first. If you can get over this bad patch it will be easier, and it will get easier with every passing day. The biggest thing that’s going to help you is support, rest and relax. Also, if you’re not nursing you should be pumping. Otherwise your milk supply will go down, your boobs will get too full and you’re putting yourself at risk for infection. Hang in there, mama. I’ll send an e-mail soon.

  2. Keep in mind that I know nothing about this from first-hand experience. My best friend, though, never physically breastfed her sons. They were premature and latching didn’t work. She pumped and bottle fed each of them for the first six months of their lives. Is that an option?

  3. ohhhh Im sorry!! Heres the thing-your baby will benefit most from a happy mama. He feeds off your energy, so he does know that you are frustrated, which makes it worse for him. Tell yourself that first and foremost-he needs nutrition, even if it is formula. 2- I seeyou have a pump…keep pumping whenever you can so your supply doesnt decrease. Liv was born (c-sec also) July 22 and I had (have) supply issues. I HAVE to supplement with formula. So aside from BFing her when shes hungry, I top off w formula and pump 3-4 times a day and give her extra breast milk that way. 3 – The guilt is the worst part-and its a lot of post pregnancy hormones. Trust me, it goes away little by little after the first 2 weeks. But those hormones are a biiiiiiiiiitch and make everything worse. 4 – did the LCs analyze his suck/tongue/that little skin flap between the upper lip and gums? It could be an issue with his mouth.

    Hang in there. But whatever decision you make, know that your son is getting nutrition. xoxo

  4. Hiii!
    I just read your blog for the first time and wanted to give you a big *cyber hug*.
    Breastfeeding can be tough but it is completely worth it in the end.
    I just wanted to share some tips with you that really helped me when I was breastfeeding my daughter.
    – Try to squeeze some milk on before feeding. I learned how to hand pump, so I would just pump a big out and rub it over my nipple to help.
    – Another tip that helped me get her to latch on was to rub her nose with my nipple. Her instinct was to open her mouth super wide and then I would put my breast in.
    – Also, try finding a position that makes you the most comfortable. And sometimes being completely solo will help you relax.

    I am not sure if you have tried these methods, but hopefully the tips can help!

    And remember, no matter what happens, you are a FANTASTIC mom (with breast or bottle)!!!!!

    I left my email, if you ever need a vent or anything I’d be more then willing to help!

  5. *virtual hugs*

    It’s a challenge taking care of a baby the first couple of weeks, and the woes of breastfeeding can be extremely frustrating. My baby is 16 weeks old, and he has never gotten food from the source. He couldn’t suck when he was born, and it took a lot of work for him to get the hang of it with a bottle. We started to supplement on day 2, and I continued to supplement for an entire month until my supply established enough to meet his needs. I’m an exclusive pumper, and it is not easy.

    Even though we think that breastfeeding is the most natural thing, it doesn’t exactly come naturally to mother and baby. Society puts a lot of pressure on mothers to breastfeed, but years ago it was fully acceptable to give your baby formula.

    Hang in there. Don’t get discouraged when you mix a bottle. You are still providing your little one with food, and food makes him a happy growing boy. Remember that happy mommy = happy baby. You have to do what is best for your family.

    *more hugs*

  6. I’m with you! Baby born 7/31 and I’m struggling with breastfeeding too. We did a bottle for 4 days so my nips could heal from the blisters of bad latching, and I felt guilty, plus I felt like I had two kids–the baby and the pump. After seeing a LC, the shield seems to be working okay, but she feeds ALL THE TIME because I think she gets a little less with the shield on.

    I want a series of “it gets better” videos for breastfeeding, please. I hear that’s true, but in the throes of it not working, it does seem relentless and dispiriting.

    Try to let the guilt of a bottle or formula go. Easier said than done, I know–I’m trying to do the same. Most important thing is getting him fed. Once LC around here always says: 1. Enjoy the baby! 2. Feed the baby. So remember to find at least a few sweet moments each day if you can, unrelated to the boob.

  7. I wish I had any advice to give, but since I’m behind you beginning at this motherhood thing, I’ve got nothing but just support. It sounds like you’re doing the best you can and that is all you can do. If you aren’t able to breastfeed in the end, who cares if your baby is happy and healthy? It doesn’t mean you aren’t a wonderful mom.

  8. It is sad for me to hear anyone that has a hard time breastfeeding. It can be such a special time. I can provide you only with some ideas that you can take what you want from. I only have a little experience as my son is currently 3 1/2 months old. But I did a lot of research before and since.

    The first and foremost is that you have to do what works best for you and your family. Stopping breastfeeding does NOT make you less of a women or mommy it makes you the best mommy for your child! This is your baby and you know what is best (even when you feel like you dont, i’ve been there).

    If you want to continue here are some ideas/thoughts. I would definately recommend pumping as often as you can. this will help stimulate production AND will be something to offer your baby. You can mix breastmilk with formula if it isn’t enough. Whatever breastmilk you make should be enough (even if they act hungry wait a bit). The less formula the less overfull your baby will get and the less he will expect more food. As far as pumping it is okay if you only get a little bit. you don’t make as much as you would formula feed. and once you get old enough (3 months) you don’t make any more ounces you just make richer milk (the calories in the milk change).

    My hospital gave me a little thing that sucked my nipples up and made them harder. That may be an option. Also you can get a supplemental system that you add to your breast and can provide formula or breast milk and you get the stimulation. these are bit expensive but worth it.

    the final suggestion is to stop stressing about it. babies scream and it is okay. they will learn to wait for the food. it is heard to hear. my baby screamed bloody murder for 12 hours straight for 2 weeks after we brought him home. nothing made it stop and it is okay. if he is screaming is mouth is open wider 🙂 If you stress then you will make it harder for everyone. this is natural and your baby will not starve. I found that i enjoyed more of a leaned back position when i breastfed. it was much more pleasurable and his stomache would more easily touch my stomach.

    oh if he needs a bit bigger latch, tug down on his chin. it helps (it also pulls his lip out).

    Feel free to email me and we can talk alot more on the subject. I like talking about it 🙂

  9. I don’t have first-hand experience to give either, however I am expecting my first baby in January, and I already worry about dealing with breastfeeding troubles! One of my girlfriends suggested that I contact my local la leche league – as she found their advice invaluable when she was having issues breast feeding.

    Here is the US link for the group: http://www.lllusa.org/ You can check and see if they have a local chapter near you. From what I understand it is a very supportive environment, with both mothers and lactation experts helping you out. One word of advice though – they are very PRO breastfeeding – just so you are aware 😉

    And regardless of what you decide, know that you ARE a good mother!!

  10. I have no experience and honestly the thought of a child sucking on my b**b is absolutely terrifying so I’m just going to be a cheerleader.

    YOU CAN DO IT! You are a rockstar.

  11. Breastfeeding is perfectly natural but not naturally perfect.

    A few things to consider:
    Is it possible that he has a tongue tie? My son had a moderate one but it was almost impossible for him to latch without a nipple shield since I have flat nipples. The lactation consultant should be able to tell, but you can see yourself if you look at pictures online.

    Can you give him a bottle of formula and then breastfeed after for practice?

    Also, pumping before breastfeeding him might help too. It can help to draw out your nipple, making it easier for him to latch, but he won’t be frustrated because he’s not starving.

    It was really hard for me to pick up on my son’s hunger cues at first, since he was very mellow and they were subtle. If you can write down when he cries to eat and then try to breastfeed him halfway through that time period, it might be easier for him to practice without the frustration of hunger.

    I would pump whenever you can to keep your supply up. There are great benefits for you and your son to breastfeed, but it certainly is not awful if you can’t or don’t. A happy mom and a happy baby are the most important things. It is so much easier said than done, but try to relax about it and do what you can. If he gets formula so be it. You’re still a great mom. It really is more difficult to breastfeed when you are frustrated and stressed out.

  12. I feel for you. I could have written this post when my son was born 16 months ago. He couldn’t latch and seemed frustrated and starving all the time. I was so gung-ho la leche that I refused to give him formula and just pumped and bottle fed him because he wouldn’t latch on my semi-flat nipples. It was awful. The story is too long to get out here but I am STILL breastfeeding at 16 months and he never had formula the entire time. We did eventually figure it out but it was ROUGH and I have anxiety about breastfeeding future children. I say this just to share that where there is a will, there is a way, HOWEVER, you should NOT feel bad if this is not the road you choose. I am a SAHM of one baby so I have a lot of time to put up with all the crap that went into it. Formula is not evil and your baby will thrive regardless of what you choose. You must just make a choice that you feel comfortable with and be at peace with it because a guilty mommy is not a healthy mommy, you know? One final tip and I don’t mean this to be discouraging but unless you pump EVERY time you give him a bottle of formula you are basically telling your body to make less milk and it will affect your milk production. So if you don’t feel committed to pumping than and it sounds like there have been a few times recently that you just mixed a bottle and let it go, just know that you will slowly be weaning and that’s OK. I just wanted to share that so you aren’t suddenly surprised if you don’t get much milk when you pump. With breastfeeding it is a constant dance of supply and demand and the littlest things really do matter. Good luck!

  13. Ok, on weddingbee I suggested pumping. A few other random suggestions. Maybe try getting him to latch sooner? Like before he gets hungrier and more frustrated. And, yeah, that’s all I got. If you do bottle-feed, try to cut yourself some slack. I know that’s hard. Re: him spitting up–how much is he eating? My daughter was spitting up more when I was over-feeding her. Just a thought. We were fortunate enough to have a pretty easy go of it at first but our trials came off and on the rest of the time I breastfed. My goal was 6 months and I finally quit at about 5 1/2. We are both happier for it. And honestly? I feel like I bond with her more over a bottle since we look at each other’s face. (Sorry I’m so scattered.) Good luck! He’s awfully cute.

  14. First of all, huge hug. I found that the learning curve to being a mom was a steep one. You have so much good advice here already. I was going to recommend the nipple shield, then I saw you’d tried it- I used one briefly and I know my SIL used one for the whole year that she breastfed. Did they have you put some milk on the outside of it? Is there a part cut away so his nose is still pressed up against your skin? Just thoughts.
    Another thought is to keep up the pumping so that you can have the option of continuing to breastfeed or exclusively/mostly pumping if you want it. Things are still SO new and if you keep pumping you’ll at least keep your options open. Don’t be discouraged at all if you don’t get much. It’s not an accurate way to judge how much you’re making as I’m sure you know. Your baby’s belly is teeny and you ARE making enough for him.

    I know that a ton of skin to skin contact really helped us. Lock the door and make everyone else do everything else for you so you can do nothing but connect with your son. Remember that he’s new at this too. He’s a baby, he will cry! These are all things I wish I could go back and tell myself during those first weeks!

    Last, don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work. You alone know what’s best for your son!

  15. Hugs for you!! We were right where you are about a year ago. I don’t know if you found this, but I thought the daily jaundice dr visits for the first week home *really* screwed with our nursing (every time she was hungry & we started to nurse, we had to leave to draw blood, or leave for the dr), and it wasn’t until we gave her formula that the jaundice went away.

    We nursed (and supplemented; I had a breast reduction + inverted nipples –> supply issues) for around 4 months. I have since read that using the slowest flow nipple (I think for preemies) helps them not expect the easier flow from a bottle, so they’re less likely to develop the preference. I second the advice of pumping every time you would have nursed if you want to keep supply up. Having said that, I couldn’t do that because I’d put baby down to pump and she’d cry and cry; to me, that wasn’t a reasonable trade-off. Which sounds all reasonable & measured now, but I cried buckets of tears over the guilt of formula, the feeling like my body had failed at something that was supposed to be natural (while also processing my labor, which involved an intervention I hadn’t planned on), feeling like my baby was rejecting me…. That was SO hard!! Oh yeah, and I’d also second the advice of doing a little formula so he’s not so hungry, and then maybe switch to nursing once he’s calm?

    For whatever it’s worth, I’d consider my kiddo formula-fed and she’s only had 2 little colds in her first year, and is incredibly strong & active & developmentally on-target/ahead. And formula has been really convenient & I got to give my husband the opportunity to bond while feeding her, which meant as much to him as it did to me. So it does have its benefits if you go with that. Good luck to you whatever you decide 🙂

    • Also? Pumping (electric, hospital grade) made me feel waaaaay too bovine. And I’d pump a total of like 1.5 ounces at a sitting. Total. So yeah–much better off just cuddling with baby.

  16. I had the same exact issues as you. Daughter had jaundice, milk hadnt come in. Big boobs so I thought I had all the milk in the world. It took me about a month to truly get the hang of it. I wasnt expecting my daughter to cry like I was choking her when I tried to breastfeed her. Truth is – for the first few weeks I pumped, gave bottles of breast milk and tried to breastfeed as well. If she or I would get too upset when trying to latch, we’d stop, I’d feed her a bottle of breastmilk – and then we would try again at the next feeding. She slowly came around.

    The truth was – there was no magic fix to it. We just had to get used to each other. I had to be patient (which Im not by nature). She had to figure out that the boob wasnt going away. And now at 5 1/2 months it seems silly that we ever had these problems. So I hope you stick in there for a little bit – if thats what is important to you. Its okay to use formula too.

  17. I know the nurses gave my SIL a hard time and created a lot of anxiety about flat nipples. I think it psyched her out in some ways, like she was too different or not normal or couldn’t do it right. They also encouraged her to use the shield – which created more issues and more tears (that’s not the first time I have heard that either). My suggestion based on being around her and her struggles the first few days/weeks are:

    Try to time about when he is hungry, start trying to feed & getting him to latch before he’s actually crying and that upset.

    Drop the shield. Tons of women with FN do it on their own and you can too.

    Try to relax.I’m sure this sounds crazy but my MIL would tell her to drink a half a beer. I think her point was to get her to relax a bit, bc as it was mentioned before, the baby does feed off your energy.

    Hugs & good luck!!!

    • @Courtney, Making my way through these comments, but I feel compelled to agree here with a couple points. 1) fun trivia: beer actually increases your milk supply, so yay! 2) I don’t know what your routine is, but I would agree with feeding him early, before he goes nuclear on you. Those newborn weeks are hard! I fed mine as soon at he would wake up, then changed diaper after the meal. He seemed better able to focus on the task at hand that way.

  18. (((HUGS))) Oh, Marisa, it’s not easy for everyone. I went through the same thing.

    I had to be induced and my daughter came out with extra fluids, so her weight was inflated but even so, when she dropped 1.5 lbs in 1.5 days, we were all in a panic. I broke down when the nurses suggested supplementing with formula. I rented a hospital breastpump and got up every two hours to pump while my husband supplemented with formula.

    Within the first week at home, she developed thrush (white bumpy yeast on her tongue) and refused to have anything to do with me. Lactation consultants explained to me that it hurt her mouth to have to work so hard, so keep pumping and feeding her what I pump along with supplements while we treat the thrush and reintroduce the breast in a week or so.

    THEN, I talked to a third lactation consultant and asked my OB for a prescription for Reglan and what little sanity I had flew out the window. PPD set in so fast for me that I had no idea what hit me.

    At the end of the month, I threw in the towel – I was never able to make enough and once my little girl got a bottle with ample supply, she had no interest in working for it. I cried after I turned in the rented pump and it took me quite a while to mourn the fact that I wasn’t going to have that experience with my daughter long-term.

    Try for as long as you feel you need to and if you wind up sticking wth formula, do your best not to beat yourself up about it. ❤

  19. So much good advice here…just wanted to chime in with support. Here are my two cents:

    1) no matter what, as long as he is being fed, you’re doing the right thing
    2) it doesn’t have to be all or nothing…you can supplement with formula and then try breastfeeding (that’s actually how transitioning to solid foods worked for us…the kid was hungry, so once we got him over the hunger craze, we could get him to focus on the food we needed him to eat)
    3) Your question, “Do you really spend six weeks dealing with a crying, frustrated baby and emotional, upset mama?” is a great one. I don’t know the answer to it, but I don’t think people really spend six weeks in that same place where you currently are. Perhaps trying to focus on it like it is labor…one challenge at a time…will be helpful. I know it is difficult to lose that perspective when you’re living in it…believe me…even at TWO I forget that the moment will pass and we won’t live in it forever!
    4) you know this, but you’re doing a great job. You are an awesome mommy and you know what is best for you and your baby. Mom guilt brought on by our own pressures on ourselves is the hardest mom guilt to get past. You’re still so new to this. Give yourself a break.

    Hugs to you, M.

  20. The best advisce when I was having the hardest time with nursing was “happy mom means a happy baby”. I was struggling so much. I was in horrible pain and my baby wasnt eating. I made the decision to go to formula and I instantly felt relief. There was a lot of guilt over not giving it longer, but I just couldnt imagine how much longer it was going to take. The bottle worked for us. He was happy, and I was happy. You have to do what’s best for you and what works. I defintely agree that your baby will feed off of your energy. Happy baby = happy mom.

    People are always going to have advice for you and tell you what worked for them. Remember that this is YOUR baby and you get to make the decision about whats best for him. 🙂

  21. First, let me say congrats on the little guy. He’s a cutie pie!!!

    Second, I’m not an expert, but I too am a first time mom and am breast feeding my daughter, and I am going to give you some tips that I have learned from her.

    I get more milk on one side than on the other, so when its time to nurse her from that side it usually doesn’t work that well, she tries to latch on, but can’t and ends up getting frustrated. I constantly wear breast pads because I leak so much, so when I have to feed on that side before I open the bra I squeeze a little out. I found it helps to draw out the nipple a little and makes it softer for her to latch on.

    Also my baby goes from sleepy to fussy to screaming for food in a matter of seconds, so when she starts to stir to wake up, I get the boob in her mouth before she has a chance to scream. Goes against what they told me in the hospital that she needs to be awake to eat…she does just fine half asleep.

    Also when I feed her she gets gassy quickly, especially if I can’t get the milk in her fast enough. The hospital also told me to put her horizontal to feed. I have found that she is much calmer during and after feedings if I keep her at an angle with her feet closer to my hips instead of pointing towards the other boob.

    Hopefully some of this helps, but if you can’t get him to latch on, and pump instead or even if you use formula, you are still a GREAT mom, and are doing the best you can for your little man!!!

  22. Big hugs. Breastfeeding was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It is worth it. My baby fed non-stop due to undiagnosed reflux she screamed in agony if not feeding pretty much all the time she wasn’t asleep (she only slept 7 hrs in 24!) I would always recommend loads of naked time you and baby. In the bath is great. They get so much calmer and easier to deal with things.

    My baby was massively impatient because of the pain in her throat so desperate for milk. I found if I pumped the let down and then put her on she got the instant gratification of milk. That and putting her on the minute I knew she was going to start with the screaming – which was basically the minute she woke up! Hang in there. It does get easier. Don’t give yourself the 6 week deadline though, take it a day at a time now. Or a week. Give it a week and reevaluate. It’s such an overwhelming time in general it’s hard to think straight and with a clear head. You’re doing great x

  23. I have never done this so I don’t have any advice – but I’m rooting for you to figure it all out! I’m so sorry this is hard and I wish it were easier. I hope you are able to figure out a system that works for you and baby soon. xo

  24. This really struck home with me, especially after I spent broke down sobbing at 4am last night, begging my 3 week old to calm down, stop comfort nursing, and sleep.

    Obviously, I am not full of advice. However, the best thing I did prior to the baby coming was join my local chapter of La Leche League. Believe it or not, it was so comforting to hear about the struggles every single breast feeding momma had before I tried on my own. Now, I know who “gets” it when I find myself hysterical at 4am.

    It’s not easy–and people that say it is have either forgotten or are lying. I trust you’ll make the choice that’s best for you and your little man. Good luck!

  25. Please don’t give up yet. You have plenty of time to decide to formula feed, but relactating is no joke. Have the consultant come back… And keep coming back if that’s what it takes. You’re doing thus because it’s what’s best for your baby! Every day he gets breastmilk from you is a wonderful gift. Hang in there and one way or another things will get better — either you’ll get the hang of it or you’ll be a little leas hormonal, more rational and will be able to think everything through and make a decision, even if it means formula.

  26. First off, belated congratulations on your adorable new son! And sorry to hear about the breastfeeding woes. Really, truly sorry, because I’ve been there and know exactly how bad it feels, at a time when you’d so much rather be loving up your little one.

    For me, the problem was supply. It just wasn’t there. I took the supplements, did the constant pumping, changed my diet, did basically everything I could, and it just wasn’t going to happen. An hour of pumping would pull an ounce, which I would dutifully mix in with her bottles, so she could get all those wonder-benefits of breastmilk. But I spent the first month of my baby’s life hooked up to a pumping machine when I could have been either snuggling her or resting up to take better care of both of us. The decision to quit trying was so difficult, and I genuinely grieved. But for what it’s worth, by a month later I considered it a fantastic decision and couldn’t remember what all the fuss was about.

    Which is all to say, for you…. It’s hard to know someone else’s situation. If you think this is just a hiccup on your path to successful breastfeeding, then read all the great advice above, hang in there, and enjoy those amazing moments of feeding your baby from your very own body!

    But if practical circumstances and your intuition tell you this isn’t going to happen, no matter how long you hang in or what you try: (1) Ignore all the advocates who say “it’s about supply and demand; there will always be supply if you manage things right.” For some women that is completely untrue, and all that does is make women feel guilty for medical problems they can’t control. (2) Ignore all the advocates who imply that breastmilk is the only route to an optimally healthy baby. Millions of people were raised on bottles and do just fine. My daughter has been healthy as the proverbial horse and is on her way to being a genius; clearly she hasn’t suffered greatly from the loss. (3) Do what’s best for you and your family. Seriously. You’ll be glad in the end.

    [And don’t hesitate to email if you need more support on that end. You wouldn’t be the first sister-Bee I’ve talked through quitting!] Good luck to you, dear.

  27. I completely agree with what Tara said above. For me, it was a combination of Claire’s refusal to latch properly (only now do I realize that it may be due to abnormal attachment of the maxilllary labial frenum, or the flap of skin between the upper lip and nose…none of my LCs even checked this!) and chronic pain from an endless cycle of mastitis and thrush, returning again and again. (And just in case anyone isn’t aware, mastitis feels like the flu and thrush literally feels like razor blades ripping through your boobs.) I went through almost 3 months of Claire’s refusal to nurse directly from the boob, pumping for HOURS a day, and suffering severe pain when I finally decided to call it quits.

    I cried a lot during those months, and shed even more tears as I decided to quit breastfeeding. BUT, like Tara, soon I could hardly remember what all the fuss was all about. And I realized that all the time I spent hooked up to the pump, all the time I spent stressing and in physical pain, was time I could have spent with my baby.

    Yes, breastmilk is best. But formula is pretty awesome too. Claire’s NEVER been sick in the 10+ months of her life (not even a diaper rash), does not suffer from any allergies, and everyone tells me that she’s smart as a whip.

    So if you really feel that you guys can get through this, take all the great advice above, seek LLL and LCs, and persevere. But if you truly feel that this is getting in the way of your bonding with your baby, that you are not happy (and always remember that you can’t make your baby happy unless you’re happy first), know that formula is perfectly safe too. Do what is best for you and your family and your collective happiness. And please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you need any support, whichever road you choose. Good luck!

    P.S. — http://fearlessformulafeeder.blogspot.com/ is a great site for support if you decide to formula feed…even if it’s just to help supplement!

  28. You have great advice already.

    Breastfeeding, while natural- doesn’t always come naturally! My milk didn’t come in till day 4-5. And this was after two horrible nights of cluster feeding that left me with RAW BLEEDING CRACKED nipples. It took, NO joke…. 12 sessions (2 a week) with an amazing lactation consultant, multiple comfort/support from two different la leche league leaders AND a friend who breastfeeds to ge me to be successful at it for 11 amazing months!

    I know how emotional, heart wrenching and what strong desire you are experiencing. FOR ME it was key that if i wanted to breatfeed (which i did) i surrounded myself with support: my husband, my sister, my mom, thr la leche league leaders, my breastfeeding friends, going to la leche league meetings AND going to the lactagion consultant for ENCOURAGEMENT, constant feedback, constant momma-hand holding.

    If you want to breastfeed and continhe, i have a friend who used the breastshield and she managed to stop using it once her little daughter figured out how to latch at 4-5 months. And she did it! And she was so proud of herself and her daughter! You can do it! Align yourself with people to give you your hugs, your water, your food! Hang in there! Just keep going to the lactation consultant who helped you the MOST! Do not go to people who arent helping! It took me until week 9 of my daughters life to get the swing of things! And really? Until month four from new mommy breastfeeding culture shock to realize I am a 24 hr restaurant.

    But look- you know whats best for your pscyhe, and you have to listen to your heart and what brings you peace. I know you and your son can do it, but I fully support your decision if you want to stop breastfeeding. But remind yourself you CAN be successful. You have to weather the learning curve! You are both learning! Givr iy time!

  29. (oh and i forgot to address your question about the crying thing).
    ALL babies CRY. For so many reasons. And you have to deal with the crying.

    You may not want to hear this: my baby cried from 10pm till 2am RELIGOUSLY everyday for the first…… Wait for it…… Sigh…. 4 months of life. Some kids just cry more than others. It may/may not be food related, it could be that 4th trimester time…. It could be just how the kid is just programmed. (though my kiddo mellowed out when she started to crawl at six months of age.

    Hang in there. It DOES get easier. This will all be a blur and there is a silver lining and it is all so very worth it!!! ((Hugs))

  30. I’m so sorry to hear you are having a hard time! It will get better, I promise.

    As other people have said, whether you choose formula or breastfeeding, your baby and you will be fine. But if you can stand it, I think it’s worth it to keep trying to breastfeed. The health benefits to your son are really significant (especially if he’s going to be in daycare from a young age). Also, if my daughter is typical, babies love breastfeeding much, much more than bottle feeding. It makes her so perfectly happy and content (at least after the first few weeks when we were still learning), in a way that bottle feeding just doesn’t.

    When I was having trouble at first, it helped me to remember that:
    1. up until very recently, babies that couldn’t breastfeed died. Thus we are all descended from people who successfully breastfed (and who ate that way as babies), and there’s no reason why I couldn’t do it too.
    2. babies are born knowing how to do basically nothing. My daughter had to learn how to breastfeed (she wasn’t good at it initially): when she was unhappy or screaming because she couldn’t eat the way she wanted to, I reminded myself that she was just learning how to navigate her world, and it was the first of many valuable lessons she would have to struggle through in order to become an adult. It’s not your fault your son hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet!

    Good luck with whatever you decide, and remember that you are doing a great job!

  31. Congrats on your amazing son! There has already been such great advice left above so I just want to emphasize that there is a steep learning curve and it isn’t easy. Just trust your own intuition and let it guide you. You are doing a great job. Be gentle on yourself.

  32. You can do it!! My baby’s 10 weeks old and I’ve lost count of the 3am cry sessions we’ve had together. I don’t think anybody could ever have told us how truly hard it is, cuz let me tell you: it’s hard!! But your son is beautiful, you are a
    Great mom, and all those crazy fears that come closing in at 3am will most likely never be realized. Hang in there girl! The morning always comes…

  33. PS have you thought about taking away the paci? I was advised by the pediatrician and doula to wait until he was a month old. And I managed to hold out until 3 weeks. I credit my great supply (at first) to that — when he wanted something in his mouth to comfort him, the only choice was the boob.

  34. Don’t give up yet! The first weeks are hard but you can both learn how to do this! I second the advice to take away the pacifier and keep offering the breast. In my experience lactation consultants sometimes make a lot of fuss out of nothing and can create a lot of stress. Spend as much time as possible with just you, your husband and that beautiful little boy. Too much stimulation will stress you all out and nobody will be happy. I even kept the tv off until breastfeeding had been well established. 10 months later we’re still going strong. That being said – make the choice that is right for you and your family and be kind to yourself 🙂

  35. I had a c-section last year, and my milk never came in more than a 1/2 ounce, each session, if even that. My daughter was jaundiced, lost weight, and we supplemented with formula by finger feeding with a syringe. An ounce every 2 hours. It was insane, and my memory is foggy. We had a lc and she even said “Give that baby a bottle.” No one told us the syringe feeding was only a very short term solution. It was a hazy hectic few weeks, and I wish I had stopped sooner so I could just enjoy those early moments. Just feed your baby any means you can, and do not feel bad about it. The time will just fly by. Just wait and see. That baby will not want to snuggle, and soon will want “DOWN!” to play and explore. Take lots of pictures, of the two of you, and as a family. We seem to always be sleeping in our pictures. ;o) My daughter goes to daycare, is 13 months, and she has only been sick (knock on wood) a handful of times. I think it has more to do with good hygiene practice than breast vs. formula feeding.

  36. I feel like I could have written this post myself. My baby girl was born 7/7 via emergency c-section, and the NICU gave her formula while I was in recovery and I was not allowed to breastfeed her until over 12 hours after she was born. She latches properly and sucks like a champ, but I cannot physically produce enough to satisfy her, regardless of how often I nurse and how often I pump. I have to supplement her with formula (usually between 8 – 14 oz /day) and I suffered an extremely guilt-frustration depression for several days because of this. People DO NOT HELP by telling you to “stick with it” or reminding you how beneficial exclusive breastfeeding is. Unless you have experienced this letdown, you have no idea. I have several friends who think I am such a horrible person by partially formula-feeding my baby, and its hard to convince yourself you are doing the right thing. However – your baby has needs. And however you fill those needs has nothing to do with anyone else’s approval. You’re doin great, Ma!

    • @Maloke, Can I just say that instead of thinking you are horrible for supplementing, that I think you’re *awesome* to make the effort to keep up with breastfeeding at all? Good for you, and shame on them. Sorry. I have no idea who you are, but I wanted to sick up for you, internet stranger.

  37. it’s crazy huh, reading all these comments, how many people, have difficulty breastfeeding, or at least getting it started. welcome to the crazy world of breastfeeding. I gave birth a year ago, my baby had jaundice, milk still wasn’t coming in, hospital said to give her a bottle of pumped milk and formula supplement to flush the jaundice out, and continue to try to breastfeed. cracked, sore nipples. taking a shower hurt, putting on a t-shirt hurt. i had a private consultation with a lactation consultant. i tried to breastfeed, and when she wasn’t screaming at the breast, she would latch for 1/2 hour which was great, but a lazy sucker, so she’d be hungry 1/2 hour later. after a month of this, and lots of crying, guilt, but for sanity sake, i went to pumping exclusively. the community of EP was great and very supportive, and for about 5 months I did this. not gonna lie, pumping exclusively is hard–physically and mentally. having a supportive husband was very helpful. and yes some of the trickiest parts, is how/when to pump while she is crying. a bandaid solution was the medela portable pump, and praying that she’d be happy in the swing while i got my pumping done. for the most part, i had a schedule figured out with her and most days it worked, though some days she would cry and scream while i was pumping and i did my best to keep it together and calm her down. another guilt to contend with was feeding her formula, but i got over it quickly. she is now over a year old, and drinking regular milk, and she’s a smiling, sweet, curious, happy, goofy kid, and i’m totally in love with her. I look back to the newborn months, and of course I wish that breastfeeding worked out, but I know too that I did the best I could for her, the best I knew how. My husband, my family, my husband’s family was so supportive about pumping and then going to formula, but back then, I was my own worst enemy, feeling so guilty about everything. So, I wish I could tell my new mom self back then, that it is hard but don’t beat yourself up and be so hard on your self if breastfeeding isn’t going the way you thought it was… I would have told my new mom self that SHE WILL be FINE, stop obsessing over everything and feeling guilty about everything, and to just enjoy her. I know, easier said than done. Good luck, I have been a lurker for some time, and have enjoyed your journals, thank you for sharing so much.

  38. I’m glad to see you’ve gotten so much encouragement already. I’m due in 10 weeks, and I think the kindest thing I’ve been told is that the first 3 weeks are awful. I found it kind because I don’t want to go into it with any illusions. But it gets better. I’ve heard this from everyone. It will get better for you, too… and you have a lot of people pulling for you, no matter what you ultimately decide!

  39. one more thing – I’ve suffered low milk supply for awhile now. Combed the internet for solutions – did everything they said from eating oatmeal to watching videos of my daughter, calls to the lactation department and fenugreek 9 capsules a day. The only thing that helped was a prescription of Reglan for me. I was super frustrated that people kept saying ARE YOU SURE YOU HAVE A LOW MILK SUPPLY PROBLEM. Or just telling me to “keep at it”. The hardest part is making the decision – once you do that, you’ll be at peace. P.S. Having my husband do one night feeding a night really helped me survive the day.

  40. I haven’t read the other comments, but did want to say that we have been going through a similar situation. Our Baby Boy was also born via c-section just over 5 pounds, and breastfeeding has been very very difficult. In short, I was pumping and syringe feeding for about 3 weeks, and it took a solid 5 to get Baby Boy latched well and eating enough. It is a lot about your patience and perseverance but I wanted to assure you that if you decide to stick with it, it does get better eventually. What helped me most as he was crying is trying to stay really calm myself- this is really hard, and the hormones don’t make it any easier, and having some mantra in my head of why I’m doing this. The other thing that helped was just letting the baby get a little bigger- you can’t do much about it but imo it made a big difference. We are just a few weeks ahead, so email me if you want more details! and lots of hugs!

  41. It sounds a if he is associating the breast with something negative right now and that is why he won’t latch. I would recommend relaxing with him when he isn’t hungry. Lay in bed with him without a shirt on and him in just a diaper. Just spend time snuggling and letting him smell you. Don’t try to force him. Also, let someone else give him a bottle whenever possible. You want him to associate breastfeeding with you, not bottledeeding. just relax and keep trying!

    I had to use a nipple shield with my daughter for 4 months. One thing that helped in the beginning was filling a plastic syringe with formula or EBM and squirting some in her mouth as she was sucking. That way she was getting something right away. After I felt my milk let down I would just let her feed normally. Good luck and it does eventually get easier!

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