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Is it time to stop breastfeeding?

(25 Posts)
Lisa78 Sun 22-Feb-04 09:40:51

DS2 is 3.5 months and has 4 breastfeeds a day and a formula at night. I've never really enjoyed breastfeeding, I didn't really want to do it, but I knew it was better for him so I did.
I'm feeling very ambivalent about it now and can't get my head straight! Part of me desperately wants to stop now; I want my body back to myself for a start. Plus he isn't a fast feeder, up until a month ago he would take up to an hour and a half though he is down to about 45 minutes now, whereas with his formula its about 10 minutes. Since I can't face b/f infront of people, it makes our days very restricted - getting out somewhere and back before his next feed is due. He isn't a cosy feeder, with most feeds he flails his arms and legs about and pulls back suddenly without letting go of the nipple which is uncomfortable at best and bloody frustrating at worst. And of course, its all me, no-one else can do it, though I do express some (takes me 5 days to get 1 feed!) which I loathe doing as well.
But then we have the odd really snuggly feed which is nice but they are few and far between. And I know its better for him and I worry that if I stop, he might get allergies et al, or worse. I can't work out if there are any benefits of b/f for longer than 3.5 months, that I haven't already given him.
I feel guilty thinking about stopping, which is stupid I know, but I do feel like I won't be doing the best for him if I stop breastfeeding, but then I think "but what about ME?" and then feel selfish for thinking like that. But I am now having the odd occasion, like this morning, where I just cannot face feeding him and he has a bottle instead - and now I feel guilty about it. I don't want to b/f him, but I want to want to b/f him if that makes any sense
To complicate matters, he hasn't been putting on weight as he should and has recently lost some weight, so has dropped thru two bold percentiles and been referred to the doctor tomorrow. That said, I think he is healthy and the HV's don't seem concerned about it really
Has anybody any advice or experience here, because this is making me feel quite stressed and miserable - I just don't know what to do for the best for both of us.

twiglett Sun 22-Feb-04 09:49:50

message withdrawn

Lisa78 Sun 22-Feb-04 10:56:33

Thanks twiglett
Its those "continuing benefits" that worry me though, what he would "miss" by me stopping b/f. Does anyone know what those additional benefits are?

tiktok Sun 22-Feb-04 11:37:34

Lisa, any search on the web will bring you more info - you could start here:

http://www.prairienet.org/laleche/detrefs.html

http://www.bloomington.in.us/~fsa/biologyofbreastfeeding.html

Basically, the benefits of bf are 'dose dependent' - the more the better, though any is good. The major and most demonstratable benefits are in the first six months, but the protection against ear infections and gastroenteritis seem to depend on bf for the first 12 weeks (which you have already done). The benefit to you of lowering your risk of breast cancer increases the longer you bf - do it for a year and you have increased it over six months.

The allergy thing - as he has already had formula it is doubtful if there are any allergy reduction benefits in continuing now. Allergy protection depends on exclusive bf for six months, according to the current research.

It may be your situation resolves itself - if he is already having an increasing amount of formula, then your own milk supply is likely to dwindle - not that that stops you putting him to the breast for comfort and for the chance of a snuggly feed

You are doing a wonderful thing for your son, especially as you are not all that keen, and have difficulty bf in front of others - you should feel good about that and give yourself lots of praise and applause! Doing things we are not all that keen on is part of being a parent, part of loving someoone - and we do them, whatever they are, because the benefits to our children/loved one outweigh the negative effects on us. That's why we will stand and freeze on the touchline at a football match; or read the same story book again and again to a toddler even though we are bored to tears; or mop up vomit and worse; sit through a dreadful kids movie when we would much rather have watched the grown up film in the screen next door. I'm sure any one of us can think of loads of examples.

Not wanting to bf is part of who you are, Lisa - it makes you no worse than anyone else as a parent. You can't help your gut reaction. I think it's fantastic you have overcome your negative feelings to bf. It is not stupid at all to feel guilty about wanting to stop - what's stupid about it? You know the evidence, you have feelings that push you the other way.....it's not at all stupid to want to overcome those feelings. That's what 'guilt' is, after all - it's the feeling that stops us doing what we know is not right for us (or the feeling that results when we have done something we wish we hadn't).

Mostly, doing what you feel is right for your baby is also the right thing for you. If you work out what that is, then you will both be happy

zebra Sun 22-Feb-04 11:40:59

Continuing to breastfeed, most likely, the baby would have increased resistance to all types of infection, also gastroenteritus risk goes down. You would have a much lower probability of getting any of the female cancers (breast, ovarian or cervical). You will have lower risk of osteoporosis if you keep it up. I think that there are more real benefits of breastfeeding past 4 months for the baby but they're harder to measure and complicated by other issues. Some people would say it's contentious whether they exist at all.

Would continuing to combi-feed by a good compromise for you? Give you some space, and keep up some benefits?

motherinferior Sun 22-Feb-04 11:48:42

Please don't worry about the centiles too much. My dd2 did this and so did loads of other people's bf babies, and they're all fine (you've seen dd2's picture, dammit!).

OK. That's the first thing.

I do know what you mean, as well, about the not wanting to but wanting to want to. But please don't feel guilty. Personally, I think a bit of 'what about ME' is a good thing for mothers to feel. Otherwise we just get totally subsumed in selfless sacrifice and that isn't good for anyone.

I ended up doing night and morning feeds with dd1. It worked for us. I know how stressed out and miserable you've been, and I think you've done brilliantly so far; it must be sooo difficult if you can't face b/fing in public.

Think about your options - it really isn't all or nothing. I do hope you feel better soon. Hugs.

Lisa78 Sun 22-Feb-04 14:22:03

Thanks everyone for taking the time to try and help here. DS2 promptly had one of those nice snuggly feeds when I posted - I swear he did it on purpose
Tiktok, thanks for the links. I think the problem is, in a nutshell, whats right for him is bf, but its not right for me.
Maybe Zebra and MI, you're right, I could continue to mix feed but swap the proportions. I go back to work in June and had always intended to be stopped by then, but try and do the last feed of the evening as a breastfeed, so maybe I should aim for that now, formula during the day but a breastfeed at night. Am I right in thinking he will still benefit from that, even though its just one feed?
Gawd, who'd have thought this could have me so tied up in knots?

aloha Sun 22-Feb-04 14:56:40

At this stage I think you might also feel bad if you totally gave up breastfeeding - you might feel guilty (not in any way implying you should feel guilty, I just get that feeling from your post). So why not feed when you feel like it - eg in the evening, with a glass of wine in your hand and something enjoyable on the telly - or first thing while you are in bed with a cup of tea - and give formula when you are out or simply can't face a feed. I mixed fed my ds for just over a year and found it didn't really impact on my supply - some days I only breastfed, other days I was working or out and he only got formula. I think you've done really well, and I certainly don't think you should beat yourself up for not enjoying it. I absolutely hate taking ds to the park in winter and don't feel remotely guilty about that! As Tiktok says, parenthood consists of doing things we hate - from getting up in the night to watching CBeebies - because we love our kids. Doing them is enough, we don't have to actually *like* doing them. That way madness lies! I'd say, give yourself a break, and if it would make you happier, give formula when you feel like it and save your breastfeeds for when you want to or when it's most convenient for you.

Demented Sun 22-Feb-04 15:40:25

Lisa I was just thinking about you yesterday, was going to e-mail you to see how things were going. You have done great job feeding your DS2 for so long, obviously there are benefits in continuing but you have given him such a fabulous start. I don't know if you ever did a search for Jasper's b/feeding thread, here it is here Jasper's post of 16th July when her DS was 16 weeks is particularly encouraging, she finally came out the other side so to speak. I don't know how similar your experiences are but the thread may be worth a look.

All the best whatever you decide.

Lisa78 Sun 22-Feb-04 16:25:00

thanks aloha and demented - yes I did read Jaspers thread, I have decided I hate her

I'm so confused though, I have changed my mind about what I am going to do about 15 times today.

We are seeing the doctor tomorrow and I am wondering if he will say I should start giving DS2 a few solids, given his declining weight. If that is the case, then wouldn't the breastfeeds decline anyway?

hercules Sun 22-Feb-04 16:33:08

Very young for solids, most babies arent ready until 6 months. Runny carrots etc do not contsin as many calories as milk either. I know there have been previous postings on this, i'll try to find them.

Lisa78 Sun 22-Feb-04 16:34:50

Thanks Herc, though bugger! Thought I had a good solution there - I did think I could start giving him baby rice and similar at 4 months though???

Am bloody certain I can't keep bf like this for another 2.5 months though

hercules Sun 22-Feb-04 16:41:21

I didnt enjoy bf ds but eventually got into it mainly because of allergies in the family.
I am enjoying it with dd (4 months) though.
I think that bf is a v difficult thing to do if you dont enjoy it.
The world health organisation recommend exclusive bf for the first six months so it may be worthwhile aiming for this as you may well find you save yourselfa lot of hassle and then assessing whether to carry on or not then.
With ds I kept setting myself targets so would aim for the next couple of months or so and ended up feeding him for a long time.

hercules Sun 22-Feb-04 16:47:09

Sorry cant do the link thing.
hope this helps

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk?topicid=1364&threadid=14452&stamp=031126145625

Lisa78 Sun 22-Feb-04 20:11:03

thanks Hercules (I can't do the link thing either!)

motherinferior Mon 23-Feb-04 08:03:07

Hugs again
xxxxxx

pollingfold Mon 23-Feb-04 10:19:59

Lisa78

Firstly, you have done fantastically to have BF for the 3.5 months. I have read everyones posts about all the benefits and things, but at the end of the day the happier you are the happier DS will be. DS can sense that you are tense at b/f feeding times, but are calmer with the bottle.

I feel that so many people are guilted into b/f when it just isn't right for them. I was lucky that b/f was "easy". Bottle feeding was the nightmare. I was returning to work so had to get DS on the bottle, due to travel and long hours stopping me from expressing. If someone had told me I was doing the wrong thing I think I would have screamed.

My SIL would cry in pain b/f, and no matter what counsellers said and did, that didn't change, so formula was a godsend and within a week each feed was a pleasure rather than something to dread.

I hope you come to your own decision, although I understand that it is a difficult one to make. Remember that your happiness is just as importants as your DS's

debra64 Mon 23-Feb-04 14:52:53

I breastfed both of my boys until they were 14 months old. The stopping time in both cases coincided with them getting a second tooth so that they had one on top and one on the bottom and could therefore bite my nipple!

I don't think you should do it if it makes you unhappy as your discomfort with it will be felt by the baby anyway. Also, I don't really know anything about bottle feeding, but wouldn't the swapping about confuse him? I've read that bottle feeding is easier for the baby so he might be flailing about because he finds the breastfeeding frustrating in comparison to the bottle feeding.

As far as allergies go - both of mine were exclusively breastfed for the six months and then weaned onto solids with breastmilk as their only fluid until I stopped at 14 months. The result? My eldest has terrible allergies which were prompted by his first injection as a baby. ie eggs, haddock, dogs - both hay fever type symptoms and asthmatic ones as well as weals coming up on the skin if he has contact with any of the allergens. My younger son has no allergies at all. Does anyone really know what causes allergies and whether breastfeeding helps prevent them?

I think the best thing for your baby is a happy mum - you've done well and have nothing to feel guilty about, so maybe its time to look after yourself?

debra64 Mon 23-Feb-04 14:58:15

another thought - I carried on breastfeeding because it was right for ME. I actually found it convenient not to have to worry about sterilising bottles and carrying them around. I had no worries about breastfeeding in public and in fact quite looked forward to anyone objecting so that I could argue the case of breastfeeding mums! (I once refused to leave a cafe when they asked me to because I was breastfeeding - they gave in). I found it quite awkard when I stopped and had to remember to take drinks with me everywhere I went! The point is - do what's best for you. If you have any worries about the benefits to your baby I'm sure your health visitor can help, but I'm sure she will also point out that your happiness is high up there on the list of things to consider too.

Lisa78 Mon 23-Feb-04 20:31:42

Thank you everybody for your support here, its good to feel that someone understands how important this is to me, it seems such a minor issue when I talk about it.
We saw the GP today who examined DS2 and has said he cannot find anything obviously amiss but he is a little concerned about his continued weightloss and has referred him to the hospital for a few tests.
He agreed that weaning was not the right thing and although he said that DS2 was more likely to gain weight on formula, he said if there was an underlying problem, it would make little difference and I shouldn't factor this into my decision on whether to continue breastfeeding.
I have more or less decided that I will continue with the morning breast feed and drop the other daytime breastfeeds, one per week, but substitute his evening formula with a breast feed, so he will have 2 b/f and 3 formula. (I am guessing that by reducing them one per week, it won't be uncomfortable for me, but if anyone has advice on a better way of doing this, please let me know). Also, by not stopping completely, I feel I can go back to b/f more than twice a day if I feel I want to - though I think this is just a band aid for my conscience, which is giving me hell.
I did go in to discuss this with my HV whilst I was at the Drs but she wasn't there, so I spoke to another one. She was horrible; when I said if he had more formula feeds, I thought I would feel better, she said I wouldn't when I gave him gastroenteritis. So I left - in floods of tears rather than giving her the mouthful she deserved. I'm just relieved that I can get some support from my DH and from MN, so thanks again

Oakmaiden Mon 23-Feb-04 21:15:49

Stupid c*w (the HV that is). Don't you pay ay attention to her. As tiktok said, moat of the benefits given by breastfeeding re gastroenteritus have been gained by now. You do what is right for you - you have given your baby an excellent start already and done far more than most women would in the circumstances. You deserve a really big pat on the back, not a mouthful from this clueless woman. Ignore her and do what is right for YOU. You are important too.

Clarinet60 Tue 24-Feb-04 10:21:48

What a horrible HV, Lisa. Perhaps you could tell the GP about that incident next time. I mixed fed DS1 and he liked both methods equally. I would do what feels right for you.

aloha Tue 24-Feb-04 10:35:26

I mixed fed without any confusion as well. You are doing really well and it is good that your GP is being supportive and looking for underlying causes of weightloss - I believe it's not always as simple as what you feed. What do YOU think would make you feel happiest?

mears Tue 24-Feb-04 23:45:39

Lisa78 - your plan sounds like a good one to me. Dropping feeds by one a week will certainly make sure you are comfortable. It may well be that having the pressure of breastfeeding reduced by giving formula at the times you have planned will help you enjoy the breastfeeds that you do. I am sorry that your HV wasn't more supportive. I think you should be congratulated for making a plan that will keep you breastfeeding at all. Hope it all works out for you. I really think that you might start to have more of the snuggly feeds you talked of. I hope so.

Demented Wed 25-Feb-04 19:29:58

What a horrible HV! Hope you just ignored her!

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