I don’t think everyone who doesn’t breastfeed – or starts and then switches to formula – is a flunkie, I promise. But I went into this having read all the books and taken all the notes from the classes and ready to ace the breastfeeding test – and I didn’t. In fact, I was so well-researched and ready to follow “the rules” that I got totally lost when it was time to adapt to make things work. So, this is my perspective on breastfeeding in the hopes that it helps someone else who just can’t figure out how this whole thing is supposed to work.
If you have flat n*pples, you’ll be okay, but be prepared for pain and a frustrated baby. Mine couldn’t figure out how to latch on because there wasn’t an obvious thing to latch on to. Over time, he broke up the tissue around my n*pples and they do stick out now, and it was just as painful as it sounds. Even if you have flat n*pples, make sure your baby is latched correctly to minimize the pain.
You’ll be offered a breast shield almost right away if you have flat n*pples, and you can do as I did and refuse it (actually, I kept “losing it”) so that your baby learns to suck on a breast. I’m glad I did that. Later, however, the lactation consultant did recommend one for getting us back in the groove so I wish I hadn’t actually gotten rid of them. If offered, take and hide them.
If the pain gets really bad (or only sort of bad, because you’ll be all gung ho and willing to deal with pain for the sake of your baby until suddenly you’re in tears and can’t stand the idea), bust out the breast pump. I have to say, after days of my son sucking on my painful nips, the breast pump was a welcome relief because nothing was touching the surface of my n*pple.
You CAN absolutely supplement with formula sometimes and not be a failure, and your baby can have formula and breast milk in the same feeding! The night I gave in and gave him formula from a bottle, I figured it was all over… and so by the time we saw a lactation consultant the next day, the fire in my belly to breastfeed had been replaced by the argument that helped me feel less guilty, and my attitude didn’t ever recover. What I could have done, had it occurred to me, was give him a half ounce of formula to knock the edge off his hunger and then shift to the breast. In fact, we did that later on, but by then my supply had fallen and we’d gotten used to the convenience of formula. If you do this, be prepared to win the battle with the tiny frustrated baby who now expects all sustenance to drip out of a n*pple into his mouth without any effort, but once you know he’s not STARVING, it’ll be easier.
Buy a few different bottles and have them stashed so that you’re not frantically researching them in a haze of guilt and disappointment. Freeze them if you must so that you’re not tempted every time bf’ing gets hard, but have them around. I’d suggest a Dr. Brown’s, Avent, and Mam, since those all get good recommendations from people who breastfeed. Make sure you have slow flow n*pples.
Okay, that’s all I have for now. Good luck!