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guilt/mixed feelings around continuing to express

(19 Posts)
NoArmaniNoPunani Wed 13-Jan-16 13:25:24

DS is 6 weeks old on Friday. We got off to a rough start, he was born 4 weeks early by EMCS and spent almost 2 weeks in SCBU. He was tube fed a mix of EBM and formula and now he's bottle fed a mix as I couldn't get my supply up enough. I'm pumping regularly with a hospital grade pump but things just aren't improving and I've been waiting to get to the magic 6 weeks when this is all supposed to get easier.

I'm just generally feeling shit about the whole thing. I really wanted to BF. He doesn't seem satisfied with my milk and always need a formula top up. I just can't make enough. Should I just stop completely or is the small amount of EBM worth all the effort. I don't know if I'd be happier if I stopped or if I'd feel even more of a failure.

NickyEds Wed 13-Jan-16 13:39:14

You've had a rough startsad

Are you doing any direct bf or are you using only bottles?

NickyEds Wed 13-Jan-16 13:39:40

How often are you expressing?

NoArmaniNoPunani Wed 13-Jan-16 14:20:53

I'm just expressing. I couldn't get him to latch despite a lot of support from the staff in SCBU. I express every 3 hours including overnight

NickyEds Wed 13-Jan-16 15:29:20

I think bm is great stuff and any amount is good for babies. Only you know if it's worth the effort. For me, I think I'd stop. I don't say this lightly- bf is important to me but my friend exclusively expressed for 4 months and it almost drove her mad. You can bf in public but you can't express (well you can but I'm not sure many would), so you become much more "tied" to the house. It's way more than twice the work of bf or ff. I know in my heart I couldn't do it.

I think you've done a fantastic job! You've given your baby an excellent start in very difficult circumstances. You have not failed your baby in any way.

NoArmaniNoPunani Wed 13-Jan-16 15:45:09

Thank you so much for your reply. It's so hard making a decision that's all tied up with hormones and emotions so it's great to have an opinion from someone removed from the situation.

PebbleTTC Wed 13-Jan-16 15:48:37

I used to have to feed my small fella every 2 hours, are you considering breastfeeding or continue to express? You should look up kellymom great advice on there. I really found benefit from getting a lactation consultant

NickyEds Wed 13-Jan-16 16:00:47

I used to feed dd every two hours too but that has lengthened over time and her feeds are short. As I understand it expressing just isn't as effective at milk removal as a baby so when you ee you continue to have to express very frequently. You also have to do all of the sterilising and actual bottle feeding. It's really hard. What are your instincts telling you?

AmberRose17 Wed 13-Jan-16 17:37:07

My experience might help: I have a seven week old little boy and we had an awful first six weeks trying to breastfeed - weight loss prompting A&E attendance on day three (with me post c section and full on baby blues). We were on formula top ups and he couldn't latch without nipple shields due to his (snipped) tongue tie, lip tie, high arched palate, recessed chin. I gave it six weeks and was trying to BF him for in excess of 7 hours a day but the only way he would gain weight was from the top ups as he just couldn't suckle enough through the shields.

I was miserable, housebound and on the verge of PND. Meanwhile he was starting to get interested in the world but was exhausted from trying to breastfeed for hours a day. So since New Year's Day I have been bottle feeding and expressing.

My supply was always compromised but I took fenugreek and express four times a day - roughly at 3am; 10am; 6pm and 11pm. I have been managing to maintain a regular supply of 300mls per day which provides him with a quarter to a third of his daily bottle. He will probably never be 100% on breastmilk but I feel great giving him two big bottles a day and he loves it. Plus my expressing schedule is totally doable even when I am at home by myself.

I drove myself nearly mad trying to BF and spent too much time googling and reading stories of people going to superhuman efforts which made me feel like a failure. But now I am a better mummy as I can enjoy him and take my wide eyed little boy to explore the world. I'm sure BF purists would disapprove of our arrangement (and am dreading my HV coming and telling me off) but our arrangement works for me and I'm growing in confidence.

So just do whatever is right for you. If giving breastmilk is important to you, you CAN do it. If not then formula is just fine. Good luck - you're doing fantastically and your LO is lucky to have you. Xx

Bec0mum Wed 13-Jan-16 18:39:03

It is not to late to get him to latch on and feed directly, it might help you keep going. Breastmilk really is important to avoid the risks of formula use. I would get in touch with your local La Leche League or breastfeeding group (perhaps at a surestart centre?) and see what help you can find. Good luck x

Shantotto Wed 13-Jan-16 21:04:44

What risks of formula use do you mean exactly?

Caterina99 Thu 14-Jan-16 06:22:44

I mix fed DS for about 5 months. Both expressing and direct breastfeeding and also formula. any breastmilk you can give is doing him good! DS never really had more than 50%, and of course I wanted him to be ebf, but it didn't work out and I was putting so much pressure on myself to feed, express, top up, it drove me crazy! The decision to step back and enjoy him and give more formula was the right one for me personally. It's really up to you, but I managed to maintain at expressing 3 times a day for quite a long time. That felt to me like a balance between giving him milk and not going mad chained to the pump!

NoArmaniNoPunani Thu 14-Jan-16 07:27:26

Thanks for the replies
Amber: that really does show how crap my supply is. I pump every 3 hours but only manage about 200mls a day. I think I'll start reducing the pumping onto a similar schedule to yours for the sake of my own sanity and see what happens. I'm also taking fenugreek although I have no idea if it's improving things.

Bec0: did you miss the part of my post where formula kept my baby alive in SPBU? Really unnecessary comment.

ChocChocPorridge Thu 14-Jan-16 07:36:12

OP, you are already doing an amazing job expressing every 3 hours - I'm sure you've tried all the stuff like looking at him while you express, but some of us just aren't milkers. I could never express more than 50ml in a sitting - and that was a good express, generally it wasn't enough for a cup of tea. My sister produced pints!

At this point, I think Amber probably has the best advice. Find a pumping schedule that you can live with (if you want to) - I bet it doesn't even change how much you express - my biggest time was about 10:30 in the morning, but there was virtually nothing at 10:30 at night, and settle into mixed feeding.

I was lucky enough that DS figured it all out in the end and I could drop even trying to express, but plenty of babies don't, and they're just fine on formula or mixed. In the grand scheme, across a population it makes a small difference. For an individual baby it's just a few months in a lifetime of decisions that will pale into insignificance in a couple of years.

frangipani13 Thu 14-Jan-16 07:37:25

What are the "risks of formula use?" That's a silly unhelpful comment.

I too, had a rough start with my LO and she was in NICU for 5 days tube fed breastmilk and formula. she was tiny and fell asleep at the breast and just didn't seem interested no matter how much I offered it. My supply was awful and expressing made me feel similar to you but I was getting nowhere near the amount you managed to express.

For me the decision to give up expressing allowed me to enjoy my baby instead of feeling like an exhausted mediocre dairy cow. I had my heart set on breastfeeding but it wasn't to be. I really think I would have developed PND I I had kept it up

Only you can decide whether to stop or carry on but as long as your baby is healthy it really doesn't matter how they are fed.You have given them a really fantastic start and you should be proud of yourself for persisting this long.

AmberRose17 Thu 14-Jan-16 11:11:31

NoArmani, I didn't want to make you feel bad! 200mls is great and my experience is that pumping less frequently actually means a similar overall yield each time. I was doing 6x a day before and got the same amount. I know everything you read says regularity is key but I think with things like milk supply the reality is that every human is different so the 'one size fits all' approach you get online isn't necessarily reflective of your own body.

I also wondered what the PP meant about the 'risks of formula use'. Quite simply without formula many babies would be dead or extremely unwell. Plus, there are women on here who have had to come to terms with not BF and as a consequence are vulnerable and close to depression. Those kind of comments don't help.

Focusfocus Thu 14-Jan-16 12:34:58

The "risks of formula use" is a rather unfortunate term that seems to be used on some lactivist groups. I was recently on a breastfeeding support group on Facebook and I'm breastfeeding - despite that I had to leave because I could take no more of the sanctimonious berating of FF mums.

DangerMouth Thu 14-Jan-16 20:42:31

NoArmani this was me not that long ago, l was pumping every 2 hours from 6am to 8pm and then twice overnight for dd2. My supply did increase as time went on (l did a few p/p sessions which helped). But expressing isn't like bf and l dont think this magical 6 weeks you talk about will happen (fwiw bf only got easy for me when dd1 was 12 weeks, and everyone had thrown this 6 week about but it just wasn't true for me)

But omg, the hard work in expressing, setting my alarm while dd2 slept, managing my day around my two hourly sessions and also l had dd1 to think of. I said to myself what would l be happy with and 3 months is what l honestly thought so l worked towards that ( saying for example l'll get to 6 weeks, then 8 weeks etc until l reached my goal). Dd2 is now at 4 months ff and l couldn't be happier with my decision. The 'freedom' we now have as a family is great.

Long winded but what I'm trying to say is pick how long you'd be happy with and go with that.l know a lady who has exclusively provided ebm for her dc until he was over 6 months. There was no way l would have gone that long, but for me it was 3 months. If it's 6 weeks for you be bloody proud of how long you did this for your ds for (especially as you are recovering).

fredandme123 Thu 14-Jan-16 20:49:54

I expressed for about 6 weeks and mix fed and then switched to solely formula. Similarly has latch issue and I was exhausted, hormonal and in pain from it all. I only have one regret and that is that I didn't try harder to get professional help, I have since met a lovely lactation consultant who I wish I had found when I was struggling with feeding as then I would be able to look back and say I had exhausted all avenues. Your doing an amazing job, especially with 3 hourly expressing not producing you enough milk to satisfy the baby. I do think if you can get the baby feeding directly from you would be able to get to sole BF tho so all is not lost if that's something you want to do. Good luck with it all.

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