Thursday, July 22, 2010

Breastfeeding Woes

So...Evan is perfect, but I am not. In fact, this breastfeeding thing really has me discouraged. In my breastfeeding class, we were told that holding your baby skin-to-skin within the first two hours of his birth would increase your likelihood of breastfeeding success by 80%. Well, guess what? I was unconscious the first several hours after his birth and didn't even get to see him until 6 hours later, so that didn't happen.

When we did try nursing, it did not go well. Evan seemed to latch on but then got frustrated and screamed. The lactation consultant at the hospital was not very encouraging. Leaving aside her pronouncement on my shortcomings (inverted nipples, if you care to know), she informed me that Evan's mouth is too small to keep a latch and as he gets older and bigger he may be able to nurse (and we keep trying!), but it's not happening now, so I should just pump.

And pump I have, with the hospital-grade pump Mike rented for me, every 3 hours around the clock, since I've been home. At most I am getting 2 oz. at every pumping, and Evan needs at least 24 oz. a day, so, if you do the math, you will see that we've had to supplement with formula. I've tried to boost my production by taking herbs, eating oatmeal, drinking lots of water, even drinking beer, but nothing seems to help. My doctor called in a prescription for Reglan for me yesterday, and I was told that if I followed the dosing schedule, my production should double within 5 days. Alas, I am allergic to Reglan. I took my first dose last night and woke up with a red, itchy rash all over my neck and chest.

So now I feel like I'm at a crossroads. Do I keep pumping for that measly amount? Is it worth it? Or should I give up and just give him formula for all his bottles? To me, formula feels like failure. I know lots of people were given formula and turned into healthy, contributing citizens (I'm one of them, actually!), but I also know that breast milk is best.

Any advice? I'm all ears.


  1. hey Laurie! So sorry to hear about your breastfeeding woes! in my humble opinion as a mother of 3 should do what is best for you and your baby...PERIOD!!!!!

    You should NEVER feel guilty about not being able to continue breastfeeding...regardless if you are breast or formula feeding the most important thing is that you are bonding with your son and enjoying these moments...they go by WAY too fast! If you and Evan are both stressed out about the situation that is not healthy for either of you.

    I think you should do what works for you. If you want to contine pumping and then supplementing with formula that is a GREAT option...if you want to do all formula that is a GREAT option as well.

    Welcome to the world of mommy guilt. It doesn't go away...we put wayyyyyy too much pressure on ourselves to do what everyone thinks we should do...again you do what's best for your family.

    Having a baby is the most wonderful, crazy, stressful, rewarding thing ever...and we are all just figuring it out as we go! I'm praying for you right now to have peace with your decisions!!!!

    Good Luck! :)

    Jill (dahlman) White

  2. Danielle ColemanJuly 22, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Did the lactation consultant recommend, I can't remember what they're called, but something like nipple shields? You wear them to help draw out your nipples? I've never seen them but I know I've read about them. I say keep trying! Maybe give him a little formula at first so he isn't so hungry when he tries to nurse and therefore won't get frustrated so quickly, and then after he has had a couple of ounces switch to the breast. Also, don't you get frustrated! I know, easier said than done, but he will pick up on it and it will unsettle him. I could go on for days about this! Give me a call if you want to talk about it, I have lots of experience!!

  3. Oh my goodness! I am a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding. I am so sorry you are going through this! First of all, "too small mouth" is ridiculous. Second of all, it takes WEEKS to get going! All of my boys lost weight the first 2-3 weeks and barely got any milk at's OK. Once it finally did come in, I had tons of it! You have to keep trying. I didn't pump at all...just kept trying to nurse like every stinkin hour! In the end, it was so worth it. All of my boys nursed until they were 2 years.

    Here's what I would do: Contact your local La Lache league pronto ( and get someone out to help you! Lactation consultants at hospitals are often crap, or so I've been told! By nurses. Seriously. In the meantime, nurse OFTEN. I mean just keep your shirt off, LOL. And yes, it is worth it for that measly amount! I'll be praying!

  4. while i do think breastfeeding is best...i don't think there should be any shame or guilt or feelings of failure if you use formula. they are only babies for such a short time...i'd hate to look back and realize i was stressed and didn't enjoy any of it because it "wasn't working"...

    i am sure you have lots of options...and you should explore them and keep trying to do what you feel is best...

    just don't want you to feel like if you end up on formula that its a failure...there is more to motherhood than nursing a can still bond with a bottle!!!!!!

  5. pump until you just can't anymore. Freeze it. YOu can use it someday for sure. Go forward on both paths...until the answer comes. IT will. AN no guilt...just relax and focus on accepting what is. Love is the best thing...and you clearly have lots of that to give.

  6. Oh, Laurie, I am there with you! I had similar issues and felt all of the guilt with Max. He had a couple day's stay at the hospital and it was hard for me to breastfeed also. I tried for two weeks. I finally switched to formula and you know how great he turned out!! I was the poster child for wanting to breastfeed--but it just didn't work for me.

    I tried again with Ari, and my midwife even tried nursing her, but she was a bit of a "lazy latcher". After Michelle (my midwife) saw me holding Ari with a bottle(with tears running down my face, I might add), she said,"you know, you look so much more natural the way you are holding her, with the bottle. It seems like that is best for the two of you."

    She was also a huge advocate of breastfeeding, but she could see the difference it made--I had better eye contact, and I was less stressed out. I literally cuddled Ari as I fed her.

    I am all for breastfeeding, but not at the expense of the baby and the mother. You are also probably experiencing all kinds of emotions still, and that can make it hard to relax. Especially when you are trying to nurse.

    Please know that whatever YOU decide will be what's right for you and Evan. I know you are already a good Mom--look how much you are trying! Evan knows this, and will always know this. Please call me if you want--I'll be thinking of you!!

    Karen Dubrinsky :-)

  7. Laurie,
    I struggled with pumping, and only got 2oz at a time, ever. Even at 9 months. But eventually the bfeeding did get easier for me. I was a mess at the beginning, thinking that giving the baby anything other than breastmilk would "ruin" it- but it won't.

    Just give him what he needs via formula, and keep trying to see if he'll latch for a little while. I liked the suggestion that you give him a bottle first, so he's not furiously hungry.
    Pumping can be torture- don't do it around the clock. Skip the middle of the night pump and have Mike give him a bottle then. It's good for the daddies to give bottles!
    And people will tell you not to skip ANY pumping, but honestly, it isn't worth the drain when you're dealing with a newborn.

  8. Thanks, all of you, for your advice and encouragement. For now I am going to keep trying, one day at a time -- but I like Sarah's idea of skipping the middle-of-the-night pumping. :o) That might make it easier. If anyone else has any brilliant ideas, send them my way.

  9. Please know I am not against formula at all! I didn't mean that. :)
    Also, my friend takes fenugreek and in her words it "plumped me right up big time!" Maybe that would work better than the prescription?

  10. Thanks, April! I have been taking fenugreek and blessed thistle for at least a week and they haven't made a difference as far as I can tell, but I'll finish the containers just in case. :o)

  11. Hi Laurie,

    Breastfeeding is really hard. I remember calling your Aunt Sally in tears because of the cracks I got and the blood that Will was vomiting as a result. I ended up getting an infection and it was just plain awful. I was able to press on and get over that hill, but it was not easy and there were many tears along the way. You are certainly not alone in your despair. In the end you need to do what you believe is best for you and your baby. Having a newborn is stressful as it is, just remember that your sanity and the sanity of your family is very important. Whether you continue to pump, supplement, or do exclusive formula, I think you will find that babies are amazingly resilient. Wanda P.

  12. Wow, everyone's comments are really great. I too had a terrible experience with my firstborn and ended up solely pumping for 6 months straight. It was tiring and double the work. I don't recommend it! I was living off of guilt just as you are feeling. We as moms need to remember that discouragement and mommy guilt is not from the Lord. You are tired and new to everything and Satan really knows how to get to us while we're exhausted and exasperated. It is a continual challenge that just rolls over from one stage of child rearing to the next. Enjoy your time with your son and do what is best for your sanity. It sounds like a combination of feeding techniques is what might work for you. Give it all over to God and don't be so hard on yourself! Good luck. :)

  13. i think it's fennel seed oil that a friend of mine said increased milk supply for her. i'll check and get back to you! don't get discouraged!!!

  14. Laurie, since my 'baby' will be 26 in a couple of weeks, I don't know how much my opinion will count...but don't let this stress you out too much. Yes it's good for the baby (and you) to be able to breastfeed, but I agree with "anonymous" that there is much more to being a good mother than whether you nurse or bottle-feed. You just make the most informed decision you can and trust your judgement. Love you all, Janet

  15. You've tried a breastshield? It was the only thing that worked for us... but it did work! Que also couldn't latch on his own. We had to use a shield the whole time until my supply ran out around 8 months.
    I really feel for you... it was tough for us too. I estimate, among the ladies I know, that somewhere around 80% have a difficult time with breastfeeding. I honestly only know a couple women that have had success from the beginning. It's a tough thing to suddenly know exactly how to do.
    In my opinion, anything you do for the health and welfare of yourself is, automatically, in your child's best interest.

    Good luck to you both <3
    We'll be thinking about you!

  16. Laurie, I know this is late in coming, I just wanted you to know that I had a hard time breastfeeding my first, too. The hospital lactation consultant was on vacation when I gave birth to him and I had no idea how hard it could be. One of the nurses gave me a nipple shield and told me to use it for a couple of minutes and then take it off, so that he could get used to the nipple and not have to have the shield as a crutch once things got "easier." Unfortunately for us, it didn't get any easier and I ended up pumping until my supply dwindled to nothing (5 months). We had to make the switch to fomula so I know that mommy guilt and it's just not worth it. Formula IS a healthy option and what is emotionally, mentally, and physically best for you is also best for Evan. It's ok to not feel guilty. What's to feel guilty about anyway? You are exploring every avenue so that you can make an educated and loving decision. Kudos to you, little mama, you're doing great!--Janie Kay Hafner