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Breastfeeding Sorrow

(30 Posts)
Purpleprincess81 Tue 18-Oct-11 00:02:28

Hi, I'm not really sure why I posting this but I guess I need some moral support about how I'm feeding my daughter. She's 10 weeks old and before she was born I suppose you could have called me a lactofascist (little did I know). I had a very medicalised pregnancy and an induced birth which ended up in an emergency C section. My daughter didn't latch on to my breast after the op. We got loads of help and support and she just couldn't do it. I had to pump every 3 hours in the hospital to get my milk to come in,which happened on day 6 and in the meantime my daughter became jaundiced and was given formula via cup and syringe.

The saga continued at home after discharge when she was 5 days old and I continued expressing, actually making enough to feed her without the need for formula. My daughter latched on with a nipple shield when she was 2 weeks old and I happily switched to "exclusively" breastfeeding but she wasn't putting on weight fast enough and was really antsy the whole time. After 10 days I realised my supply had pretty much dried up and switched back to pumping. This time however I couldn't get my supply up and after 5 days of pumping every 2 hours I had gone from getting 15ml per pump to about 40ml. I went on fenugreek and domperidone but I can still only get about 60ml per pump and my daughter is getting half formula and half breastmilk.

She was also diagnosed with a tongue tie and we had that divided when she was 8 weeks old but she doesn't even latch on to the nipple shield anymore as she gets frustrated so quickly. I have had a couple of successes with her latching on in the past week after a couple of sessions of cranial osteopathy but she pulls off crying after about 10 seconds as she's not getting any milk.

I am devastated by this turn of events and feel really angry and sad that I'm not going to be able to feed her. I've done everything I could to make it work but I still feel guilty. I also feel like I'm missing out on something really amazing and quite frankly I think I've failed the first motherhood test. I hate pumping and it takes a large chunk of time out of my day. I don't understand why breastfeeding hasn't worked or why my supply is so shite. All the books say if you stimulate your nipples enough your supply will increase but it hasn't worked that way for me.

gallicgirl Tue 18-Oct-11 00:23:03

I could have written the same post but with different circumstances. Almost 9 months on I still get a bit upset and angry about only managing to breastfeed for around 3 weeks.

Just be proud that you've managed to feed her so far and given her the best start ever. However, FF is not the end of the world and it's important to make sure your DD is properly nourished. Are you still managing to feed breast milk solely? In which case you are doing a great job but if you need to FF to help you, then that's ok too. You've not failed but you've just had to take a slightly diffeernt path.

I'm sure more experienced people will come along and give better advice about supply and be more eloquent but I just wanted you to know you're not alone and you are doing a great job as a mother.

youngermother1 Tue 18-Oct-11 00:39:50

Forget guilt - BF sometimes works, sometimes not. FF is fine, enjoy the baby

ninedragons Tue 18-Oct-11 01:33:23

Ah, poor you. Again, I could have written something very similar 3.5 years ago - DD1 wouldn't latch properly and I spent months hooked up to a pump and dying a little inside with every bottle of formula I had to feed her before giving up completely at 6 or 7 months. She is a thriving, healthy, bright little girl. BF is great, but formula does the job.

Don't beat yourself up. You gave it a red-hot go, and in the grand scheme of things it's a pretty trivial issue. I got over the guilt when I realised that my mother, who was a war baby, was fed with whatever my grandmother could get her hands on in Oban during the war - probably whisky and unpasteurised sheep's milk grin. She is an Oxbridge-educated nuclear physicist, so you are not wrecking your baby's life!

I was dreading the whole BF battle with DD2 but she has taken to it like a champ, so your next experience may well be different.

idlevice Tue 18-Oct-11 02:25:55

Have you gone through all this with a trained BF counsellor/lactation consultant? I would hope that you have at least had that support. If you haven't, then try to find one that you could confide in & see if they have any different advice, but only if you want to see if there is any way which you might feel comfortable with perservering. Or try a different person if you already have seen one, as sometimes their experience & approach can differ.

But it sounds like you already have given it a hell of a good try & if you have accepted you can't try any more then so be it. It's bound to still make you feel shite for a while, a bit like grieving for what you thought you could have (as well as all the othe adjusting to having a new baby stuff going on!).

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 18-Oct-11 05:44:18

I think I've failed the first motherhood test No, no, no. Over the course of the next few months and years your DD will fall over, get sick, hate you at times, scream, tantrum and bite. She will fall in love with unsuitable people and get body art that you disapprove of (possibly). She will lie to you and misbehave terrible. If you look on these things as a test, you will spend your time failing.

It's all a big adventure and you're only 10 weeks in. You have done so much for her already, just score the plus points.

MigGril Tue 18-Oct-11 13:53:46

Depending on what you want to do you can still make BF work if it's what you want. Trying ringing one of the BF helpline's and talk through your feelings with them.

As to your supply, you had a hard start a baby with tounge tie and a C-section both these problems has probably led to you having supply issues. The first few week's are curtial in establishing supply.

Have you been giving topup by bottle? You could try a SNS (supplimentry nurrsing system), this is a small capplery tub you attach to your nipple and then baby gets milk at the breast as well as you getting the nipple stimulation to help up supply.

entropygirl Tue 18-Oct-11 14:40:08

Half BF is a great achievement given the problems you have faced.

I agree with Mig though that it might not be too late. Going the other way my DD couldnt get the hang of a bottle teat until around this age if not later but she did in the end so maybe the opposite is also possible. They change so much and so quickly and every bit of BF you give is another success.

Could you maybe try pumping longer with larger gaps? You are actually getting quite a lot of milk just in inconveniently small individual amounts....I'm massively sick of sterilising pumping equipment and I only have to do it twice a day....you really are a star to have persisted this far!

FormbyDoula Tue 18-Oct-11 18:11:50

It's better to pump little and often rather than leaving bigger gaps. The more times you can pump the more milk you will stimulate. It's easier said than done, I know.

Pumping is not as good as feeding for upping supply because the pump is not as efficient as a baby at getting milk out. So don't feel too bad about the pumping.

You had a really tough start - your LO struggled to latch because of tongue-tie. There was nothing you could have done so do NOT think you have failed. It would have been a miracle if you had not had supply issues.

I think an SNS would be a great thing for you to try because it gives you the closeness you get through breastfeeding while the baby gets some milk through the tube, and hopefully through the breast as well.

SootySweepandSue Tue 18-Oct-11 18:32:12

Had very similar problems myself with a bad batch of mastitis thrown in for good measure. Did pumps, freezer bags, hospital grade pumps, nipple shields the lot. I mixed up until 10 weeks then switched to FF for my sanity.

I remember the guilt and it did last a long time. I think you just have to see feeding as just one of the many many parenting things that you will have to do.

To be honest I believe women are not told the truth regarding the difficulties that one may face with BF. Well I wasn't anyway! This leads to the feelings of failure. I just wish someone had said to me 'you know what 90% of women want and try to BF and X% are still doing it at 3 months or 6 months. The reasons they stop are A, B and C'. Then at least you would be aware of how realistic your expectations of yourself are. Everyone I knew wanted to BF I doubt there is much risk of putting anyone off. I seriously know 2 women out of my social circle of about 20 that had no major problems BF. I honestly think it's a lottery.

In 11 months time your little one will be munching on a cheese sandwich and a banana. It is not long till this moment trust me!!!

Purpleprincess81 Tue 18-Oct-11 19:59:05

Thanks for your words of support. I think I'll try the supplemental feeding thingy as I need to feel like I've done everything I could to make it work.

Sooty - I think you're right about not being told about the difficulties with bf. I think I would have been more prepared for all the trouble we've had if I'd been pre-warned but the info you get about bf leads you to think that everyone can do it so long as you try hard enough.

I've had a think about the guilt and sadness and realised part of the problem for me with ff is that I feel like others are judging me for doing it. I want to tell every breastfeeding mum I meet my story and then hand my daughter to them to breastfeed just so they really know she can't do it.

Okay, supplementary feeding thingy here I come and then maybe I can think about giving up after that..

Purpleprincess81 Tue 18-Oct-11 20:00:34

I also seriously can't wait to wean her!

Pippaandpolly Tue 18-Oct-11 20:09:21

I had similar issues and only lasted about 10 days before going over to formula entirely. I felt terrible and still feel guilty sometimes, but my husband said something really helpful to me which was that in raising our daughter for the next 18 years we will be 'parenting not breastfeeding'-I had conflated the two in my mind so if I wasn't breastfeeding I was failing as a parent, when in reality I gave it my best, it didn't work, and long term we have lots more parenting issues to focus on than how she eats. It helped me-I hope it helps you too smile give yourself credit-you've given it a bloody good go for a really long time-you should be proud of yourself!

Secondtimelucky Tue 18-Oct-11 20:21:17

Purpleprincess - I know it's said lightheartedly, but please don't feel you're holding out until weaning. It's close to one before many babies are getting most of their calories from breast milk, so that's a long road to be unhappy on. Try to make peace with whatever feeding method you use instead.

Where do you live? What RL support have you been getting?

Purpleprincess81 Tue 18-Oct-11 20:30:20

I live near Southampton and have gone to a really fab breastfeeding group there as well as one in Winchester. I've also spent hours on the phone to the NCT.

Secondtimelucky Tue 18-Oct-11 20:40:59

That's good - I just thought I'd better check since help can be so patchy. I hope the SNS works for you. I know someone who used one with great success. And if it doesn't, you'll know you did everything.

By the way, anyone with any sense or compassion isn't judging you. I fed DD1 for 21 months and DD2 is four months and going strong. I'm just the sort of person you might be worrying about, but I promise you I don't look down on anyone who ends up formula feeding, or who chooses to. What I am passionate about is good help for women who want to, so that they get the best shot. That's not the same as judging any woman who doesn't breastfeed, whatever the reason.

Loika Wed 19-Oct-11 13:25:24

I totally agree, we are definatly not told enough about breast feeding to be prepared for how tough it can be. I thought when I was young and single if you FF, you hadn't tried hard enough but the more I read and spoke to people the more obvious it became that often it wasn't their choice and you shouldn't feel guilty. Maybe your next one will take to it better, you can only try, which you have with knobs on!! I am very impressed, I am not sure I would have done everything you did to carry on BF.

featherblue Sun 23-Oct-11 10:50:41

Hi purpleprincess81 - I could've written this post. Actually I wrote some very similar posts here recently. My DD is 17wks and we have had many of the same struggles -- tongue tie, low supply, constant pumping, domperidone, fenugreek, constant breastfeeding, etc etc. You can search my name for our experience.

I am also completely heartbroken about it, and I'm being treated for PND because of it. Have you spoken to your GP about how you're feeling? When I started getting treatment (anti-depressants and CBT) I started to come out of the depths of the sadness about it.

Recently I've started to come to peace with the breastfeeding relationship we have. She breastfeeds for around 10 minutes before each bottle. I've cut down my pumping to 2x/day, which has also given me some peace. She has one (mostly) breastmilk bottle per day, plus whatever she gets from me. The rest is formula. Part of what has helped me come to terms with it is that I know I did everything I possibly could to make it work. That, and the fact that she's still getting some breastmilk.

Try the SNS so you know you've done everything. Hopefully it will work and will help to get you back to EBFing. If it doesn't, remember that she is still getting as much breastmilk as you're able to give her, and that many many people would've given up long before now.

Hope you start feeling better soon.

Annpan88 Sun 23-Oct-11 21:12:55

I'm so sorry for how low your feeling. You're doing all you cam. You haven't failed at the first part of motherhood. It sounds hard to believe but in a few years time you won't even think about how you fed your amazing lovely healthy DC. Enjoy your baby, give as much breastmilk as you feel you can and be happy xx

petaluma Sun 23-Oct-11 22:35:57

I wish I'd been able to read these posts when I had ds1. I, too , struggled with bf after a difficult birth and ECS. I suffered from pnd and a feeling that everyone was judging me for ff, even though I did bf as much as I could and pumped for 3 months.

I'm on here only because I've just had dd2 and although bf is better this time around, my old insecurities have resurfaced from a day of constant feeding culminating in dh giving dd a bottle. I had to leave the room as i felt so bad! I promised myself I wouldn't beat myself up if it didn't work out this time but it's still as bad-particularly as I thought bf was going so much better thistime around. I feel so bad for my ds too as all he sees is his mum with a baby constantly clamped to her boob! I long to spend some time with him on our own sad

gaelicsheep Sun 23-Oct-11 22:52:35

Petaluma sad - I could have written your post a year ago, almost word for word. Things recovered for us now and we're still going.

Purpleprincess81 - I will be no help here because I felt the same as you when everything went wrong with DS and I too felt like I had failed. If anything I feel worse now that things are good with DD - I feel like I let him down, even though I know that it was lack of support that was really the problem. I do think, personally, that time with your baby is just too precious to be spending much of that on pumping.

My approach with DS was to accept that I would mix feed him, which turned into full formula feeding by about 4 months. I started weaning him early (4.5 months) because I felt, rightly or wrongly, that solid food was no less harmful than formula and a whole lot less guilt inducing for me. Not suggesting you do this, just that I think I understand how you might be feeling. x

organiccarrotcake Sun 23-Oct-11 23:10:16

Purpleprincess81 It is not possible to work out what's happened from your post, but I can imagine that the tongue tie would be a serious contender for much of the problem. Your breasts really need to be stimulated by a baby to really keep the supply up, and if she can't, she can't. It's possible to exclusively express but it is less common for this to be successful than exclusively breastfeeding.

You've done EVERYTHING right. Try to feel proud of what you've done - you're trying so hard and trying to work things out. It's not your fault that you had a medicalised pregnancy and delivery. It's not your fault that your daughter had a tongue tie. You'll know next time, if you have another, to get them checked for TT straight away to reduce the time that it's lurking, if there is one, and you did a great job getting her to a cranial osteopath - they're often helpful.

If the problem is that she's not getting enough milk from you, the SNS may well be a great solution. You might consider contacting La Leche League as they have a great leaflet on relactation/building up supply/SNS which should help you.

Try to keep positive. It is absolutely possible that you may be able to move to exclusively breastfeeding if you still want to - and if you don't, then the helplines will really help you to work through feelings you have about this.

There is one other thing I might consider doing if I were you, which is to get a copy of this book: www.amazon.co.uk/Breastfeeding-Mothers-Guide-Making-More/dp/007159857X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319407766&sr=8-1. If it is the case that there is another underlying problem, this may help you to find it.

I hope you find resolution one way or another.

Sarahplane Sun 23-Oct-11 23:47:00

We're currently mixed feeding as well but in the process of switching solely to formula. Ds is nearly 10 weeks and due to reflux is only managing to keep down sma staydown, breastmilk just comes straight back up so I can sympathise there. Everytime I get upset about it, I remind myself that the important thing is that he's getting fed whether it's formula or bf. You had a lot of challenges and have done well to get this far and give her baby the vest start. Yes breast is best but formula feeding is perfectly good too and it's not going to make much difference in the long run. Stop feeling guilty and beating yourself up about it and enjoy your baby. You're not a failure you've done well to give your baby the best start when plenty women don't even try breastfeeding. You sound like a great mum who tries her best for her baby.

petaluma Mon 24-Oct-11 14:04:33

It's lovely to find so many supportive mums on this thread.

Gaelic sheep thanks. When you say recovered and still going, do you mean bf or just that you've generally come out of that fug of newborn with sidecar of toddler madness?!

gaelicsheep Mon 24-Oct-11 20:58:17

I meant still breastfeeding and no one can be more surprised at the outcome than me! She's 16 months now and I'm trying to start weaning her gently. I'm surprising myself at how emotionally hard I'm finding it actually.

We went from night time formula feeds for 12 weeks, nipple shields, expressing you name it back to exclusive breastfeeding until she was 25 weeks. I returned to work full time when she was 7 months, never expressed a drop yet somehow here we are.

I do hope that doesn't sound smug at all because I will never ever forget the nightmare that was my entire breastfeeding experience with DS and the first 3 or 4 months with DD. Never. Rather I'd like it to give you - and perhaps the OP - some hope.

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