Is it normal to be so emotional about breast feeding?

(173 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Tue 25-Mar-14 16:21:21

Hello everyone. This is my first post on the Feeding Forum and looking for some kind words and reassurance please.

I had my baby by ELCS last Friday and was kept in hospital until late Sunday night. Trying to establish BF was extremely difficult in that baby was very lethargic, vomiting after every feed and very difficult to attach. I was lucky if he was feeding once every 6 hours. He had to be seen by the Neonatal team 3 times because of concerns - he ultimately lost over 8% of his body weight within 48 hours and suffered premature jaundice.

I got very upset and disheartened by my BF difficulties and had a complete breakdown on the ward at about 4am on the Sunday morning - I was in absolute pieces, crying my eyes out, I couldn't talk, I was a mess, just walking around the labour ward totally distraught with a screaming baby, desperate to find someone to just make him stop crying. A member of staff found me and amidst my tears I just handed my baby over to her and told her to 'do something with him'. She offered to give him a cup feed of Aptamil (25mls) and as I agreed to it I felt like a complete and utter failure as a mother. I still cry now when I think about it.

For the duration of Sunday I just didn't stop crying, I felt like I was a terrible mother because I couldn't breast feed, I felt like I'd let my boy down, my husband down and that I was just useless. It was really, really awful. The doctors kept telling me to give bottles, which didn't help, but at my most vulnerable/desperate point I agreed to it - and as I watched the midwife feed my baby I just broke down again.

I spent all of Sunday in tears and like I said, if I even think about what I did (handing him over to the staff because I couldn't cope with his frustration and screaming) I cry. The staff were really supportive when I explained how I felt and they all said I was being too harsh on myself: they said that it was understandable that I'd hit 'breaking point' as I was in a lot of pain from the CS (I had been refusing strong pain relief because I thought it was affecting my baby), I'd had less than 6 hours sleep in 2 days, I was worried about my baby's health and that I was naturally very hormonal in ways most women are after birth. But in my head I can't forgive myself or justify what I did.

We came home on the Sunday night though with the general idea that we would switch to Formula and I felt pretty awful. I was in tears on the journey home. However, when we actually got home I realised that I wasn't ready to give up yet and with the AMAZING support of my husband we managed to turn a corner. We haven't used formula at all since coming home and baby is hopefully heading in the right direction. The Midwife is visiting tomorrow to re-weigh him and I'm praying his weight will be on the increase, I will feel so, so disheartened if not because I know it means I will still have failed.

I'm still having some problems with him latching on - my nipples are so, so sore but I'm determined to persevere. I have just spoken to my local Health Visiting Team and they have given me a number of the Breast Feeding Support Home Visiting Team so I'm going to call them and arrange a visit. After such a horrible start to BF I just need someone to tell me that what I'm doing is right.

I'm sorry this is so long - I don't even know what the point of it was really. I think I just needed to get it off my chest.

jellyandcake Tue 25-Mar-14 16:30:34

Please don't feel that you can't justify or forgive allowing your baby to have a bottle whilst you were exhausted and stressed. My ds had some formula in hospital and it allowed us both to calm down! It took me a week to establish breastfeeding, it was extremely emotional and hard work but ultimately it worked out. With proper support and help, it can and hopefully will work for you too. Just try not to think of it in terms of failure or success - it wasn't until I relaxed and realised that the world wouldn't cave in if I had to switch to formula that I was actually able to breastfeed successfully.

Congratulations on your baby and good luck!

jellyandcake Tue 25-Mar-14 16:31:45

And I recommend Lansinoh for sore nipples!

outtheothersidefinally Tue 25-Mar-14 16:33:39

Oh, well done! You're trying your absolute best and your determination shows what a great mum you are!

Feet up, rest, look after yourself, enjoy your baby! All sounds normal!

onceipopicantstop Tue 25-Mar-14 16:42:28

Well done for persevering! Please don't beat yourself up about him having a bit of formula. Sometimes that's just necessary to give mum a break. It's hard work breastfeeding - I think we assume babies just get on with it but it takes a lot of patience and practice, and when you're tired it's even harder. Dc1 had early onset jaundice and was very sleepy as a result. I had a lot of problems getting him latched on, and we had to give him formula to avoid him becoming dehydrated from the phototherapy. We eventually cracked it together and he was then exclusively breastfed for 6+months. I have previously worked in a health profession and had real reservations about giving any formula when I wanted to breastfeed, but at the end of the day a few bottles were not going to harm him and kept him well.
I now have dc2 who is 11 days old and am breastfeeding again, but it's been more painful this time. Like you nipples were very sore (cracked and scabbed - yuck!). What has helped is using nipple cream (Lasinoh - think that's how it's spelt?) and also feeding in the rugby ball position. I would think you could find information on line about this, until you see the breastfeeding specialist. The pain has completely resolved now, nipples healed over, and I'm back to feeding in the conventional position.

Keep going, and I hope you see a positive weight gain tomorrow smile.

Totesamazeballs Tue 25-Mar-14 17:42:08

I cried for three weeks at every feed until I went to expressing on the advice of numerous lactation specialists! It's ok to feel crap about it and I certainly did but now I look back I wish I had enjoyed those first few weeks and not fretted about formula. I am due my second in a matter of days and if I have the same experience I am going to formula without hesitation! It's not as bad as they make out. The colostrum is the key and anything after that is a bonus but I don't think breast feeding is something worth making yourself really unhappy about.

girliefriend Tue 25-Mar-14 17:49:00

Yes very normal ime grin

I had a similar bfing story to yours, dd was 3 weeks early and born by emcs. I struggled to get her to feed for more than 2mins and she lost 13oz in 48hrs shock

I decided (against every instinct in my body) to stop bfing and ff, however realised that dd actually still struggled even to ff. Against the odds I persevered and eventually bf for nearly a year.

Be kind to yourself, you love your baby and are doing your best - that is what matters!

tiktok Tue 25-Mar-14 17:52:59

sad at your difficult start and smile at turning the corner!

Of course it is normal to be emotional about feeding - just feeding in general, not necessarily bf/ff.

Feeding is part of your relationship with your baby. Keeping your baby alive and happy is fundamental to this.

The self-blame thing is crackers, really, but we all do it at times. Nothing that happened was your fault and in your head you know it, but in your heart you feel different.

Hope things go well from now on!

PurplePidjin Tue 25-Mar-14 17:54:14

Wow, well done for persevering!

I had to give my ds a few syringes of formula while in hospital because he was dozy from pethidine and I was struggling to express colostrum while we got breastfeeding established. I transferred to the maternity unit where they have more specialist support the next day, and he hasn't had formula since. He self weaned a few weeks ago at 15 months. He lost 9.5% of his birthweight (it's over 10 that's cause for concern, and losing a bit is completely normal for pretty much all babies) and was jaundiced for a few days, just while his liver adjusted to the outside world (again I think this is relatively common?)

I refuse to feel guilty. My baby was fed clean, healthy food appropriate for his age. Every feed counts, and if you manage one colostrum feed than that's as brilliant as getting to over 2 years imo.

My best advice is to go to your local breastfeeding support group as soon as you feel able. There's nothing better than a bunch of other mums making you a cup of tea, feeding you biscuits and swapping stories about the trials of parenthood thanks

confuddledDOTcom Tue 25-Mar-14 18:05:19

I had all my babies in the NNU as they were all premature, it is normal to feel all over the place. You have the emotional experience of the the NNU coupled with postnatal hormones, plus you have other people caring for your child which leaves you feeling helpless.

Try not to beat yourself up too much, in a few weeks it will seem like a million years ago.

KristinaM Tue 25-Mar-14 18:11:09

I haveno experience of SCBU but it's totally normal to be so emotional about it all. It's a huge trauma for you all, I'd more more worried if you sailed through it calmly TBH.

You have not " failed" , whatever happens with feeding your baby. You have done the very best you could under the circumstances, which is all anyone could expect.

CustardCream2014 Tue 25-Mar-14 18:24:49

I was exactly the same as you, feeding my newborn a bottle of formula in the hospital with tears streaming down my face!! She's now 8 weeks old and EBF, and that all seems like a distant memory. The first few days are so hard, I promise it gets better and all your hard work will be worth it. Chin up! And well done

ALittleFaith Tue 25-Mar-14 20:02:46

I had to cup feed my DD formula, she was low birth weight and so, so hungry. I didn't like it but I knew it was the right thing to do. Yes it's totally normal to be emotional - you were in pain, the hormones and sleep deprivation send you bonkers. I too wandered round the ward with DD sobbing at the midwives to help me do something to settle her.

It's fantastic that you've preserved! Well done thanks I was so glad I did with DD and after a challenging start we're still feeding now and she's nearly a year. Drink lots, eat plenty! Lots of cream on your nipples. You should be very proud of yourself.

ThursdayLast Tue 25-Mar-14 20:09:13

Oh Writer you ARE being hard on yourself.
I too had to buzz for a MWdays post section and ask them to help. I wasn't well either and I simply couldn't cope.
DS had quite a few formula top ups in hospital. I still feel a little guilty about that, despite knowing how irrational it is.

Anyways, enough of the guilt! I just wanted to let you know that in spite of our tricky start, I'm still feeding DS as much as he wants and he's nearly a year old grin.
Sometimes perseverance is the key. Good luck.
And congrats.

Ps, have you tried feeding lying on your side? Worked v well for DS and I.

Orangeisthenewbanana Tue 25-Mar-14 20:27:05

Well done for persevering. You've done amazingly well. Please don't beat yourself up about giving some formula when you and your DS were struggling. We had
similar with my DD who became jaundiced because of poor latch and my woeful supply. I was upset at having to top up with formula but my lovely DH pointed out that at the time, we did what we needed to do to stop her becoming more unwell. It bought us time and space to establish breastfeeding better.

We ended up mixed feeding anyway as we found that it suited us, but the majority was breastfed until she was 1& I went back to work. Well done and keep going thanks

PastaandCheese Tue 25-Mar-14 20:31:30

I was like that with my first. Expressing colostrum to syringe feed, floods of tears, so much pain, feelings of failure.

Having had a second I look back and think breastfeeding was how I projected the shock I felt at a hard birth and having a newborn thrust on me without really knowing what to do with her. I think there was a certain amount of shock at finding myself feeling so vulnerable. Not a feeling I was familiar with as a professional in my 30's hence the shock.

Like you I turned it around when I got home with a lot of help from DH and fed her for a year.

Second time was a million miles away from my first and I can only put this down to an easy birth and a sense that I knew what to do and what to expect.

YY to Lansinoh. Also, don't be an idiot like me and keep baby latched on even if it is agony simply because you're pleased he is actually feeding. Take him off and start again otherwise you'll end up in agony.

namelessposter Tue 25-Mar-14 20:40:22

Breast feeding really is very hard at first and it's a case of taking it one feed at a time until around 10-12 weeks, when, for many people, it just suddenly becomes second nature. Do you have a friend or relative who was fed past 6 months who can be your supporter and be there for you on the phone, or in person, when it feels too hard to keep trying, to give support? Well done you for trying so far. It's a rally lvely thing for both of you once you and your boobs get the hang of it. I still miss it hmm

Beachfarmandzootoo Tue 25-Mar-14 20:50:43

I saw numerous midwives and health visitors during the first 6 weeks of struggling with BF - the thing that changed everything for me was the suggestion that I BF for 20mins each side and then top up with formula each feed. Gradually my very sore nipples healed and I found that my DD had got the hang of things and I no longer needed to top up with formula - everything settled down at about 3 months and I BF until 19 months.

The other vital info was Lansinoh plus cabbage leaves in my bra, apparently they release vitamins which help with healing and I would recommend to anyone else in pain with BF.

I spent a lot of time crying and upset about how difficult BF was, formula would not have been the end of the world had that been the outcome, but I understand your desire to keep trying - good luck whatever the outcome flowers

Madratlady Tue 25-Mar-14 22:55:40

You've done amazingly well and you should be so proud that you stuck with it and are now bf. I still feel guilty at not somehow getting my ds to bf (tongue tie not diagnosed and snipped till 5 weeks by which time he refused to bf) and every time I have to give him formula I wish I could bf him but I can't express enough mulk for my hungry boy.

LateBear Wed 26-Mar-14 06:41:02

Hi Writer, I remember you from the pregnancy board, so congratulations on the birth of your LO!. My baby is 3 months old now and EBF but it was very tricky to start with. She was very sleepy in hospital, I have quite flat nipples so latching wasn't straight forward and it took about 5 days for my milk to come in. When she did wake she was very hungry and I had to top up with formula as they were worried about her getting dehydrated and blood sugar dropping too low. I didn't have a c section but a very long induction and had also had very little sleep over 3 days. I was so worried she wouldn't take to bf but with support of midwife they advised me to always offer the breast first then the bottle and the kellymom website and calls to helplines in tears we did get there. yy to lansinoh and I did get very sore cracked nipples from her feeding for hours at a time when the milk came in but I was desperate to drop the formula so I could get my supply up. In hind sight I probably could have phased it out a bit more gradually. At first it was agony when she latched on, I thought I was doing it wrong as 'it's not supposed to hurt' but had my latch checked by 3 or 4 people and no one could see I was doing anything wrong. Over about 6 weeks it gradually improved and one day I realised it doesn't hurt any more. So yes it can be hard, emotional and painful but it does get better and you've done amazingly well so far. Another thing to be aware of if you've had a section and presumably been given anti biotics is to make sure you don't have nipple thrush. Hang in there! thanks

namelessposter Wed 26-Mar-14 07:07:02

Hope you're feeling better today. Just one more thing - with both of my babies, around 3-4 days post partum I had a hideous hormone crash and just sobbed for hours.my body hurt, I was exhausted, hormones all over the place. Then a day or two later, it was better. Not perfect - still tired,still sore, but better. Just take it one day at a time x

littlebluedog12 Wed 26-Mar-14 07:11:12

Oh god yes, totally normal. I remember breakimg down in tears in the formula aisle of Tesco! I felt like I'd failed, which is ridiculous now.

Sounds like you are doing brilliantly.

LateBear Wed 26-Mar-14 07:24:38

I know you've not given formula since you got home but I found this article very helpful with regard to not feeling bad about mixed feeding at the start
kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

Mirshid Wed 26-Mar-14 07:57:27

Definitely empathise, my daughter who is now 10 weeks was born very quickly and was as a result full of mucus and very sleepy, we had to syringe feed her for the first 48 hours followed by a cup and in sheer desperation a bottle of expressed milk as she was so sleepy and becoming jaundiced. This allowed us to turn a corner and after 5 days in hospital we have been EBF ever since though have had some struggles along the way but have managed to keep going with support of this board, breast feeding cafe and nct support line. My daughter dropped 11% of her birth weight and took 3 weeks to regain it but has since gained really well and jumped up 2 centiles. I am so glad I persevered but I just take it one feed at a time and try to tell myself when things are tough that every drop she has is a benefit! Well done for persevering I'm sure all will be fine x

mrsmugoo Wed 26-Mar-14 09:53:24

I've been in floods of tears almost every day since 2 weeks ago when my son was born over his hit and miss breastfeeding. I've resolutely refused any formula so far as I had an ELCS due to breech so I feel I want to reclaim breastfeeding as the natural thing as I missed out on labour.

Every time he refuses to latch it feels like a personal rejection and failure on my part.

Keep going, take all the support you can and you are doing amazingly.

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