How to get over not breastfeeding

(39 Posts)
Dovetale Wed 26-Jun-13 19:14:58

My baby is 6 months old, she is bottle fed. I intended to breastfeed but we had a lot of problems which can be summarised as she wouldn't latch and I couldn't express.

I still can't get over it. I give myself a hard time about it every day and it is clouding my enjoyment of these early months. If anyone felt similarly and has moved on can you tell me what helped you.

mummytopoppy1 Wed 26-Jun-13 19:49:50

i felt similarly when breast feeding didn't work out for me and my daughter. I got over it when i realised she is healthy, thriving and happy on formula milk. I also give her every ounce of my love, care and attention and meet her every need - to me this is more important than what type of milk she drinks and helped me to move on knowing I do my best at all times. Your baby doesn't mind what she drinkss- as long as she us fed and loved smile

CalpolInMyEar Wed 26-Jun-13 19:50:49

Hello. I felt the same. My DS either screamed until I felt my brain vibrate or latched but wouldn't suck, and expressing got only an ounce of milk at a time until two weeks when my supply went completely. DS spent time in SCBU with low blood sugar and had repeated blood tests to make sure it was improving and he was taking in enough oxygen.

I gave myself a very hard time, I felt guilty and like the worst mother in the world.

Then I spoke to one of the breastfeeding peer supporters at my local hospital. My DS was about ten months old at the time, and I happened to meet her at a toddler group. She told me that formula isn't poison, it is the best alternative to breast milk, and that she had met women in my situation and seen first hand a baby that would not feed and been
stumped as to how to improve the situation.

stargirl1701 Wed 26-Jun-13 19:53:49

I felt the same.

I found it helped to read, and read, and read lots about bf so I could understand what happened. I also realised that it wasn't my failure. We weren't supported by the NHS.

I'm more prepared for next time if we have another baby. I will hire a lactation consultant.

It still hurts when I see a bf baby.

CalpolInMyEar Wed 26-Jun-13 19:54:07

Sorry, posted too soon.

Knowing I wasn't alone really helped, as did watching my son grow and thrive. I feel it also helped me get over other obstacles in our way (we had to wean early on medical advice, he took a long time to eat well, sometimes we still struggle to get him to eat and he's now approaching two)

He's now a funny, bouncy, gentle and kind toddler who has hit every milestone and on a good day will eat like a horse. I reckon I did a pretty good job really.

xTillyx Wed 26-Jun-13 19:57:21

Sorry you feel like this, I think you're being really hard on yourself. I tried to breast feed but after a few days DD was admitted to hospital with dehydration and jaundice. The lovely nurse there told me she fully intended to breast feed her own baby but if she couldn't she knows she'd still have a happy healthy baby.

There are some lovely midwives and I think the breast feeding support volunteers are great, but when I had my DD I was very much bullied into continuing to breast feed, then ended up with a poorly baby. I wouldn't give bottle feeding a second thought if happened to me again because seeing my DD like that was awful x

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 26-Jun-13 21:21:13

Dove, sometimes bf just doesn't work out and that can be for many many reasons. Maybe you didn't get the support and advice you needed, maybe the type of birth you had was a challenging start (it is well known that after a c section or lots of medical intervention in labour some babies are less likely to latch on and feed well).

I am sure you acted in the way you thought was best for your baby at the time, and that you tried very hard to make bf work.

Do you want to talk about exactly what went wrong, if that would help?

What your bahy most needs and wants is you and your love. Bf is a wonderful thing, but being a good mother is about so much more,

HerrenaHarridan Wed 26-Jun-13 21:25:47

In therapy days of breastfeeding I remember feeling like my whole success as a mother was registered here. If I could do it I was a good mother, if I couldn't I was a bad mother.

It's not true it's really not. Parenting is about so much more that this.

Forgive yourself, you have done the best for _your_child

HerrenaHarridan Wed 26-Jun-13 21:26:09

Therapy = the early

Squigglypig Wed 26-Jun-13 21:39:23

You did your best. I tried and tried for 4 months and in the end I went to see a Consultant who told me that if my daughter's weight carried on as it was she'd be admitting her to hospital with a drip in a month. I'd been to see everyone, lactation consultants etc who'd all told me latch was fine and not to give up. I had driven myself crazy reading articles and breastfeeding websites and wondering what was wrong with me. The Consultant also told me that if you breastfeed for a month then that is pretty much all the antibodies a baby needs to have and anything after that is a bonus but not that necessary. She just said ultimately your baby just needs calories and formula is fine. My now toddler took to the bottle and fed and fed and caught up in no time. She's incredibly bright, active and actually rather tall for her age. She's hardly ever ill.

Breastfeeding is a way of feeding your child and so is bottle feeding - that is all. It has no bearing on your mothering skills nor will it affect your child.

lauren6283 Wed 26-Jun-13 21:44:41

I am a mum to be and I plan on breast feeding but am not too worried if I can't because I don't think it matters as much as we are led to believe.
Thing is, if you struggled your baby would have been starving and probably screaming the house down, I can't imagine many new mothers could put up with that for long, especially when perfectly good milk is available in the shops.
You don't see murderers or rapists on trial saying, "Well, Judge, my Mum didn't breast feed". You are doing the best you can. Try to remind yourself of that :-)

stowsettler Thu 27-Jun-13 11:06:44

I feel a bit like this sometimes. I bf for just 4 weeks and gave up because we just couldn't get a latch which wasn't mortal agony for me, and where DD didn't keep slipping off every minute or so. DD took to the bottle wonderfully and is a huge eater (now 17 weeks) and FF certainly hasn't hindered either her mental or physical development so far.
I am much, much happier FF than I was BF and I am sometimes incandescent with rage at the passive pressure I felt from HVs to continue BF, but with very little help to actually do so. But I still feel sad about it. She is likely to be my only child so I'm probably never going to get the chance again.
Intellectually I know that it doesn't really make much difference in the long run. Emotionally I'm sad about it.

Dovetale Thu 27-Jun-13 11:28:45

Thank you all for your kind words. I'm going to come back and reread them whenever I am giving myself a hard time. I guess I thought I had prepared myself (been to NCT read The Food of Love) but I hadn't.

One thing which is still bugging me is if my milk ever came in. I wonder if anyone can offer their opinion. NCT told me that on day 3 or 4 my milk would come in and that my breasts would be full and painful.

My understanding of this was that it was the placenta detaching that caused a rise in progesterone and it would happen whether you were breastfeeding or not. That never happened to me, I had one night where they were a bit warm but that was it.

My baby was small and had low blood sugar at birth. They put the baby on a 3 hourly feeding schedule of putting to the breast and then topping up with formula. What would typically happen is that she would have a couple of sucks at the breast and then stop (cue blowing in her face, tickling her feet, stripping her off to wake her up but it didn't help)

Because my baby wouldn't latch (maybe because she preferred the bottle?) I was advised in the hospital to use a breast pump which I did on their pump but never got a drop out. On my last day in hospital I went to the baby cafe and they told me to hand express, so when I came home I was hand expressing and then using my Avent pump after each session. On day 7 the most I could hand express was 3mm from both breasts.

So my question is did my milk come in but I just couldn't get any out with the pump and if my baby had latched on and fed properly she would have gotten a proper feed? Or did I have nothing to give her and that is why after a few days of this she would struggle and cry when I tried to put her to the breast?

Dovetale Thu 27-Jun-13 11:34:29

thats 3ml not mm!

HerrenaHarridan Thu 27-Jun-13 11:47:39

I had no symptoms when my milk came in either. I was never really a leaker and worried endlessly there wasn't enough (slow growth etc)

Some people just can't express. I struggled on and on never getting more than 5ml combined for 3 weeks then one day suddenly there was 20ml and it gradually started to increase.
The pump does not stimulate your milk production as well as the baby.

From your last post I would attribute the distress on being placed at the breast to the stress and pressure placed on you.

Stress is a major inhibitor to milk production (handy eh hmm)

Your dc being topped up with formula will have been a factor in slowing down your production but it was deemed necessary and was therefor best for your baby.

Bfing doesn't always work out. You tried everything you knew to try.

What more could you reasonably expect from yourself?

SavoyCabbage Thu 27-Jun-13 11:53:12

My milk didn't come in and I didn't managed to feed dd a drop.

I was devastated. I felt like I had utterly failed her.

My mam told me to get a hold of myself as this was only one of many many things I would do for dd. It just feels like everything at the time. There's teaching them to tell the time, learning their lines for the school play and driving them to swimMing lessons every week for years till they can swim if they fall off a boat to go yet.

HerrenaHarridan Thu 27-Jun-13 11:58:56

I had no symptoms when my milk came in either. I was never really a leaker and worried endlessly there wasn't enough (slow growth etc)

Some people just can't express. I struggled on and on never getting more than 5ml combined for 3 weeks then one day suddenly there was 20ml and it gradually started to increase.
The pump does not stimulate your milk production as well as the baby.

From your last post I would attribute the distress on being placed at the breast to the stress and pressure placed on you.

Stress is a major inhibitor to milk production (handy eh hmm)

Your dc being topped up with formula will have been a factor in slowing down your production but it was deemed necessary and was therefor best for your baby.

Bfing doesn't always work out. You tried everything you knew to try.

What more could you reasonably expect from yourself?

CareerGirl01 Thu 27-Jun-13 12:32:15

Dear Dove I felt bad for years because I didn't bf DD1 - I was ill after having her and my milk never came in. I am bf feeding DD2 - but she is a different baby and I'm five years older as well as being 43!. DD1 is healthy happy and about to start school . You did your best and that is ALL you can do.

noblegiraffe Thu 27-Jun-13 13:01:49

Colostrum is yellow and thick, milk is, well, milk. When you expressed 3 ml, if it looked like milk, then your milk came in, as in, your body started making milk.

If no milk was then removed from the breast, by expressing it or by baby drinking it, then it may have dried up, as presumably it does for mothers who ff from birth (I'm guessing, I have no experience of this).

GiveMumABreak Thu 27-Jun-13 13:10:58

I'm sure you feel cheated, but you are the best mum your DD could ever hope for - and she wouldn't change a thing! Trust me! A calm and guilt free mum is much more useful to her than one who feels guilty / sad. Formula milk is fantastic these days, and bottle feeding can be a wonderfully special and close time for the two of you!

HandMini Thu 27-Jun-13 13:14:58

You're feeding your baby.

Your baby loves you. You are her whole world.

In six months time, she'll be shovelling down a fish finger and you'll be taking a photo!

She will not remember not being breastfed.

Formula milk is safe, nutritious and will make your baby healthy and strong.

noblegiraffe Thu 27-Jun-13 13:17:50

If your baby wouldn't latch and you couldn't express (I can't express either) then what were you supposed to do? It's horrible to have had that decision about whether to bfeed or formula feed taken away from you, but you had no choice, your baby needs to eat.

I've read on here about other babies that refuse to latch and the mums end up expressing for months, but you had a double whammy of problems, events conspired against you. As there was nothing you could do about it you really shouldn't beat yourself up about it.

My DS got group B strep after birth, ended up with horrible medical interventions and in hospital on antibiotics for a week. I had it, and I gave it to him, and he was poorly. That was events conspiring against us too, we met none of the risk factors and he was a c-section so it was very unusual.
But no one has suggested that it was my fault. I certainly don't blame myself, that would be ludicrous. With hindsight, I could have been tested in pregnancy, but I wasn't, and that wasn't my fault, I didn't ignore medical advice or do anything differently to lots of other women, just as you didn't. These things happen. What matters is that he is happy and healthy. In my case, because of what was going on in my body, DS got antibiotics and medical treatment, in yours, your baby got formula. Not what we'd hoped for, but that's how it goes.

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 27-Jun-13 15:15:58

Dove, you had a very very challenging scenario there, which you had to deal with when you had just given birth, were exhausted and dealing with the massive life change of becoming a parent.

It sounds to me like your baby got used to bottles due to the topping up and may well have had nipple confusion. The research on this is still contradictory, but it seems that babies fed with bottles can develop preferences either for the firmer feel of the latex as that has become familiar, or the faster flow they get from the bottle. This is particularly true if the bottle feeding happens in the first few weeks. Similar problems can also exist with dummies, more info here:

kellymom.com/ages/newborn/newborn-concerns/pacifier/

If you were ff many of the feeds right from the start as per the medical advice, you never had the opportunity to build up a full supply and your supply would start to drop without expressing to remove equivalent milk to 8-12 breast feeds per 24 hours.

Your baby was small and sleepy and struggled to latch, which is also very challenging.

On top of this you faced difficulties with expressing, which made things even harder.

Not being able to express does not usually mean you have any physical problem with milk production and I am aware of someone who could never express a drop but actually had oversupply when she bf. I think I also had oversupply, but could never express much. Stress is known to cause problems with expressing and giving the obstacles which you were facing I am not surprised you were feeling stressed.

I wonder reading your posts whether you really had the technical support with bf that you needed from the hcps in the early days. Ideally, hcps can suggest alternatives to bottle top ups to prevent nipple confusion, eg giving milk by cup feeding, or via a supplementary nursing system. They should have been giving help to get her to latch well, such as advice on giving lots of skin to skin and biological nurturing. You could have been taught to hand express using the Mamet method which increases yield and told that listening to relaxing music has been shown to improve success.

Your dd has a very caring mother, who cares about her so much that she is agonising about how she is fed. That makes her very lucky - if only all children had a mother who cared as much.

Please don't worry any more and if you wanted to talk it through with one of the bf helplines the LLL helpline would definitely be happy to do that if you think it would help.

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 27-Jun-13 15:26:59

Have just reread your latest post and have a couple more thoughts. I am surprised you were told to use the pump right from the start. With expressing colostrum over the first few days it is usually thought expressing by hand is easier.

When you were at home, ideally you would have been loaned a hospital grade pump, which usually makes it easier to express.

jaggythistle Thu 27-Jun-13 15:56:25

Also every 3 hours isn't often for a newborn, especially if giving big top ups. Agree that it would not have helped supply at all for you. sad

Startail Thu 27-Jun-13 16:08:10

The glip answer is you have another baby.

It's the honest answer too.

From the first time I held DD2 to my breast it was just obvious she knew what to do. She found breast feeding the most natural thing on earth. DD1 found bottles far nicer. I don't think I ever had much choice my DDs choose how they wanted to be fed themselves.

As your DD gets older you will realise parenting is often far more about being organised by her than being in control.

Dovetale Thu 27-Jun-13 19:22:20

Thank you all so much. It's good to have a different perspective on what happened and some useful advice for next time.

I think Star is right that a different baby will be a different experience and it may heal this for me. Though I am likely to have another small (and therefore sleepy/low blood sugar) baby according to the consultant so I needed to understand what went wrong this time so I give myself a better chance.

Jaggy I was thinking that every three hours seemed not very much compared to what my friends who are breastfeeding talk about.

WouldBe I think we suffered from a lack of continuity in care and advice first we were told to pump and I had to go to a room in the hospital where the only coaching on how to pump was "press this button, do one side for ten minutes, then do the other side" I sat there crying and no one had any advice when I said nothing was coming out. Then I was told by the baby cafe not to pump but to hand express. I looked up the method you mentioned and I don't think I was doing it properly. Then the community midwife when we came home said I should be doing both. I think I was so exhausted and desperate for it to work that I just did what I was told.

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 27-Jun-13 19:33:07

Dove, I'm really angry for you sad It sounds to me as though they were overstretched and no one had the time to really help. When you have just had a baby it is incredibly hard to question the advice of hcp, especially when dd had health issues so you were under the care of the medical team.

When you have another baby, I would suggest the following:

Read the womanly art of bf (the LLL book) while you are pg - it has a lot of technical advice for any problems that may crop up

Start going to a local bf group when you are pg - my local LLL group has been a lifeline and LLL groups welcome pg women. Get the number of the nearest LLL leader

Get a number for a local lactation consultant (ibclc) in case you need more advice and find out how much they cost.

Look into whether it is viable to express colostrum. I am going to do this next time as if you follow the guidelines for doing it safely you can express colostrum in late pg and freeze it for the baby in case baby needs to be syringe fed in scbu. LLL have a leaflet on this for about £1 that you can buy. They also have a leaflet on the Mamet technique.

Definitely ring the LLL helpline when you are pg and they will advise on anything you are particularly worried about.

It definitely wasn't your fault, so please don't even give this a second thought from now on. There is every reason to think you can bf your next baby.

Startail Fri 28-Jun-13 00:38:47

My two were both diddly, less than 6 and a half pound babies, both a few days early, that's about the only similarities there are between them.

psychologymum Fri 28-Jun-13 14:09:04

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Empross76 Fri 28-Jun-13 14:15:48

I had similar issues with DD and managed to BF for only three very difficult weeks, during which time the stress ofit drove me loopy.

As soon as I stopped I felt calmer and more in control and DD was clearly more content.

But I still beat myself up over it and felt a failure. DD had also been an emergency C-section and I felt like a failure about that as well.

The turning point for me was when I realised that had she been born a hundred years earlier or in a third world country, we would not be here - the C-section would not have been an option and we'd both probably have died. And had I not been able to breast feed DD, she would have perished as there would have been no alternative.

It sounds simplistic but that flipped it for me and I started to feel very lucky rather than guilty!

lotsofcheese Fri 28-Jun-13 21:01:48

Dove, I could almost have written your post - my DD was premature, small, jaundiced & sleepy.

Despite expressing night & day, initially by hand & then pump, trying biological nurturing, skin to skin, nipple shields, rooming in before discharge etc etc, DD wasn't able to latch on & my supply wasn't adequate - 20ml from my right breast after a month of expressing round the clock - bloody depressing!

I had great support from scbu, both in hospital & at home. I persevered for a month, putting myself under immense pressure & to the detriment of my 4 year old, who was plonked in front of a tv all day every day as I desperately tried to express after every feed, get her to latch on etc. I didn't leave the house for a month.

Despite all this, it didn't work. I spent most of that month in tears, feeling so miserable as I wasn't BF.

It was hell on earth & a relief to stop, although I still feel sad to this day.

I'm not sure if I will ever get over it, but I have moved on & am just trying to enjoy my DD, as I couldn't do that during the month I was too busy trying to BF.

Please don't feel bad. You tried bloody hard! Be kind to yourself & enjoy your baby xxx

adogforme Fri 28-Jun-13 21:11:27

SavoyCabbage put it beautifully. Breast feeding CAN be beautiful but if anyone thinks it's the most important thing you can do for your child then they are seriously unhinged. I breasted for 8 months and weaned to solids in the most hideously smug, home-cooked, 'he'll eat anything' way. Now as a toddler he won't eat anything if it's not beige and covered in breadcrumbs. Go figure!

BUT I will love him fiercely when he screws up and through the hard times and will go to all his major events. THAT matters! Enjoy your baby and wait for the day the wee chubby hands grab you and they say "I luff oo mummy". It's worth it!

vq1234 Sat 29-Jun-13 08:34:24

Hi there
This thread is like a godsend to me as I am going through something very similar and feeling incredibly down about it.
After 7 weeks of trying and 2 bouts of thrush, mastitis and finally a huge breast abscess which saw me in hospital for 4 days in total (in & out) and it being a stressful and agonising experience feeding each time, I made the agonising decision to stop Breastfeeding and am now finding it very difficult to cope with. I met my NCT friends this week and burst into tears when they started Breastfeeding. I keep second guessing myself but know that I would be going around in circles and spending my days in hospital with baby which can't be good if I continued. Doc has said as I am prone to nipple thrush it makes it more likely I'd get mastitis again if I got a blocked duct which then could mean another abscess. I remember lying in hospital with baby next to me, having my breast drained and sobbing and that was when I decided to stop.
I have now feelings of guilt and real shame when out and about and feeding him; and intense jealousy at my friends who have no or little problems doing it.
Any support or words of wisdom to help me get through this would be greatly appreciated as I feel I am in a lose lose scenario. I only had a week where Breastfeeding went well but on reflection it always hurt and I always woke up incredibly engorged, and baby was on the breast permanently also. It makes me feel awful as supply was not the problem, infection was. I keep looking back to that week and feeling guilty and sad, I was so happy then and felt like such a great Mum, now I feel like a failure and just so sad!
If anyone is in the Wandsworth area of London and is going through something similar I would love to chat.

CalpolInMyEar Sat 29-Jun-13 19:36:28

I'm not in London, I'm not even in England but I wanted to give you a wee <hug> VQ and say you are not a failure. You're doing beautifully, and the best you can. Your baby needs you and he needs you home and well. And you've given him the best start you can, now you've got the rest to do, the weaning, the falling over, the kissing it better, the snotty cuddles at 2am and that amazing moment at 6am when you walk to the cot and he smiles at you like you're the only person in the world who matters and you forget you were pissed off that you had to get out of bed at 6am.

Ethlinn Sat 29-Jun-13 20:14:38

Just wanted to say I actually ended up in tears after having read this thread. Dovetale, just wanted to give you a massive hug. I know how you feel, I tried so hard to bf DS, never worked. I ended up expressing for 8 weeks-hard work!!! DS had bad reflux and was screaming ALL the time, I didn't have the time to pump. I still feel guilty about it (DS is nearly 6months) although I would never admit it in RL. But I know for sure that I can still be a good mum, it's not bf itself that makes you a good mum, there's much more to it!!! And you sound like a lovely person, so just enjoy your DD and all the cuddles and love you can give her!

Feecameron Sun 30-Jun-13 22:45:16

How cathartic to read all of this!! I have also had to make the difficult decision to give up bf after 5 weeks. I had 5 bouts of mastitis in 5 months (twice with 5 week old DS and 3 times with dd 2 years ago!) and during the latest bout (2weeks ago) my left breast stopped producing milk altogether. I just became so anxious about mastitis returning I decided the best decision for me and my whole family was to switch to formula. I am RIDDLED with guilt but my midwife gave me the best advice which was "make peace with your decision and go and enjoy our baby". She's right, life's too short.... My baby is thriving and happy, I'm a healthier, happier, less anxious mummy.
You tried, you did your best some people never bf or can't for health reasons. Your love, devotion and nurturing is far more important than being able to produce milk. Keep smiling.

catherine19 Sun 30-Jun-13 23:25:24

This has helped me so much as I felt exactly the same ds was mildly ill at the start and not alert enough to feed I expressed which was given via a tube and the cup. I 'gave in' and used a bottle at 1 week so we cud go home although the did offer us to s o establish feeding.
I tried and tried but ds would not latch properly. I expressed every 2-3hrs for the first 2wks and never managed to fully give ds ebm. I felt u had failed as a mother. I reduced and then gave up expressing at 7wks because I was still only getting small amounts and I just didn't have the time, and wante to ge out and about more.
I think I will always feel like I hav failed that part of mother hood but I am more then making up for it in other ways. We are both happy and healthy.
At first I avoided feeding ds in public and panicked when people asked me about feeding. I though everyone would like was rubbish and dint live ds but as I hav met more mothers I hav been suprised at how many dont bf.
I keep telling myself at 6mths it won't matter ( as much)
I always had the impression that lazy, unloving selfish women didn't bf and I hate that I thought that, it's soo not the case!

catherine19 Sun 30-Jun-13 23:28:21

Why had I only seen the images of happy breast feeding women and never heard about stories like these. Bf is hard! People should no that!

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