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From the breastfeeding battlegrounds

When breast isn't best

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Day 14: Lila Claire's two-week checkup. I'm so excited to see how much weight she has gained with all the breast milk she's been getting. Instead, she LOST 2 ounces. The guilt, the tears, the fear that I'm doing her wrong are overwhelming. The doctor suggests I'm not eating enough and that I supplement with formula and start eating ice cream. Great.

Days 15-16: Terrified that I'm starving my daughter, I decide I will be a pump-only mom. I will pump and pump then bottle feed her so that I know exactly how much she is eating. I will make sure she is nourished with breast milk, because it is BEST ... which I see printed right on the bottles I use to feed her the supplemental feeding of formula the doctor recommended I give her. It's actually even printed on the cans of formula - "Breast milk is recommended"!

Day 17: Pumping AND feeding is about all I do ... oh except for washing and sterilizing all the bottles, nipples, breast shields, membranes etc. over and over and over again. My hands have aged a year in just the past two days.

I'm ready to give up. I hate pumping, and breastfeeding is too ambiguous, too scary for me not knowing if I'm starving her. I feel like a total failure - as a mother, as a woman.

Day 18: I can't bear the thought of another day washing and pumping and feeding. I decide to put her to the breast again, but I'm trying to convince myself it's OK to quit too. I start telling my friends I'm thinking of giving up to see if anyone tries to talk me out of it ... no one does. They all, diplomatically say, "do what works best for you." But they don't tell me how to deal with the guilt.

Day 21: Three-week checkup. I undress Lila Claire and carry her to the scale ... 7 pounds, 13 ounces. She's back to her birth weight. I had hoped she'd be a little heavier than that, but the doctor says it's pretty good. I can stop the formula supplements. I'm feeling better ... a little at least. That afternoon I nurse for the first time in public and feel strong and proud and committed ... though VERY annoyed that a man chose to sit on MY bench while I was breastfeeding when there were clearly plenty of other vacant benches around!

Week 4: She's eating for shorter periods and falling asleep every time I put her to my breast. NOTHING (undressing, tickling, talking, singing) I do will wake her up to continue the feeding ... until I lie her down. Then she screams. So I pick her up to try ... over and over again. I have no clue how much she's eating ... maybe she only gained weight last week because of the formula. Am I starving her again?

5 comments so far...

  • It all worked great, breezy, dreamy, not too much soreness, plenty of milk, she loved nursing....and then I had to go back to work at 6 weeks.
    I never got the hang of pumping, the amount of time it took to produce 4 oz, I couldn't actually consider myself to be working and taking the amount of time to produce the bottles she would need while I was away.
    So she became a dual kid; formula at daycare & breast at home. That was the real dream. I was no longer tense & stressed about trying to produce the milk, she was not screaming hungry and we still had times of feeding.
    As noted, the hardest were the other moms, unfortunately the leader of the local La Leche League goes to my church; I learned to avoid her. Because what can anyone every really know about anyone else's circumstances? And who is anyone to judge another mother's decision on feeding her child?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 4th February 2010

  • I had plans too. I'm over 40 and read that it didn't matter if you have really small breasts. They grew some while I was pregnant but not that much. A few hours after my son was born I got him to latch on with help of one of the nurses. One side hurt more than the other. He would fall asleep within minutes (not the 10+ minutes per side as suggested). He also didn't wake himself for the next feeding and even after pre discharge visit by the lactation nurses he wasn't any more eager to participate. What do they call it 'lazy' feeder? By the day of discharge he had lost 8oz and by the first pediatrician weigh in on day 5 he was down another 4 or 5oz. Told to go ahead and supplement 1 or 2 oz of the ready made formula the hospital provided after nursing or in between. So I had to keep waking him up every couple of hours, change the diaper or something to stimulate him and then thought I could feel milk let down more than just colostrum phase and even got a couple of drops with hand massage or when took a shower. One side is extremely painful but he does ok on the other and we're both crying at some point during the process. By week 2 made appointment with lactation group at the hospital and was told that he was quietly 'starving'. He's not waking up frequently because he is hungry and then going to sleep while nursing. Rented the pump, supplemented with the syringe in his mouth while on the breast (that plastic tip hurts and it is awkward) and continued going through the painful process. He gains a couple of ounces in few days but not the pace they say he should be on for weight gain. Told it is OK to give supplement by bottle right after feed and I have also gone on the herbal supplements (fenugreek, the milk maid and yogi fennel teas and in search of goat's rue). Feeding time and frequency pretty much take up the whole day. While my mom is in town at least get a few minutes to actually eat and deal with the more time consuming post delivery bathroom toiletry tasks. Somewhere in here I'm supposed to remain hydrated and consume a few more calories. Going in for a weigh in every other day - get a new baby ready for a car ride etc. and basically feel like only one trip a day for anything and somewhere in here I'm supposed to be able to nap when he naps, eat and take a shower. One of those tasks has to go by the wayside on most days. I basically don't feel like I have any more milk, only getting a few milliliters when pumping after feeding or in between and the bottle is immediate and does not hurt. Guilty yes, worried about nipple confusion or anything like that - no - he's nursed from me, and at least 3 different types of silicone nipple and hasn't refused any of them. It's week 6 and I've basically stopped pumping, not getting anything, doesn't appear to be bringing down more milk (as far as how they feel) and I'm lazy too about it when have other things to do and at least two of those are eating and sleep or a shower. Time to turn in the rental pump and see if his weight is on track. Give my Sensible Lines storage tray to someone that can pump and store.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Octavia3 on 15th June 2009

  • Many years ago, I worked with a lady who tried to breastfeed her 2nd child (she hadn't done it with the 1st). For weeks she tried and finally had to give it up because she wasn't producing enough to fully feed her baby girl. She was made to feel like the worst mother in the world because she put the child on the bottle. It was bad enough that she felt bad in the first place 'cause it was something she had really wanted to do, then here comes the brest nazis (as she called them) and them going "tisk tisk, breast milk is the ONLY milk", etc I think she finally told them to shove it where the sun doesn't shine and blow it out their ears. She put the kid on formula and he was perfectly happy, which in turn, made her happy.

    I didn't breastfeed and I wasn't breastfed either. My reasoning - why should I have all the fun with being up during the middle of the night with feedings? :-D We simply switched off the 2am every other night. Worked like a charm and, tho she had her share of ear infections and strep, which I might add are common with breast fed kids too, she was fine. Quite frankly, I never gave it a 2nd thought. And lo and behold, I wasn't harassed about it either. Course I think that also had to do with my attitude of not letting someone guilt-trip me into something I had no wish or intention of doing anyway.

    Just take your time. If it's to be, it will be. If not, don't worry about it. Formula is fine. Besides, with the formula, then hubby can do it too and let YOU get some sleep. :-D

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by JKLD on 4th June 2009

  • I have grown to loving every minute of breast feeding after starting out hating it. I was engorged. My boobs which were originally a B cup went to beyond DD. At two months, my nipples were cracked and bleeding. I cried everytime my daughter would nurse then fall asleep a short time later leaving me full of milk. Id go to put her in her crib and she would start screaming again. All I remember of the first three months were sitting on the couch nursing her... staring at the christmas tree nursing her... and waking up 3-5 times a night to nurse her. I was delirious. Then, at 4 months, all the agony came to a complete stop. I got over the hump and its a breeze. Its just getting there that is the hardest but it IS worth it. My daughter has yet to be sick, is in the 95% percentile for height and weight and the feeling you get when all the pain is over with in not comparable. On top of that it is a HUGE accomplishment if you can stick it out because it can be one of the most trying experiences ever but with the greatest reward. The more you relax, the more milk you will let down and don't skip on the fluids or eating if you are not producing enough. Most important thing to remember is its not forever.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by TLoiselle on 23rd April 2009

  • Calm down! you baby is less than a month old. Take a deep breath and let things happen naturally. My daughter hated the bottle and I had to go back to work after 3 months. It all takes time. Don't measure yourself or your daughter by every time you breastfeed her. Also if you are tense (your body will be) and you might not even find a natural position to breastfeed.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by z on 23rd April 2009