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Anyone failed to breastfeed a subsequent baby after 'extended' bf previously?

(21 Posts)
ispymincepie Wed 19-Oct-16 20:20:20

I wasn't sure where to post this but figured there would be more traffic here than Antenatal/Postnatal depression. I breastfed each of my first three children for at least 18 months and my third until he was well over 2yrs, it's something I feel very passionately about and is very integral to how I parented. By that I mean bf always worked to get them to sleep (always coslept) to comfort them when ill or hurt etc....I've been very proactive in the last few years as a peer supporter, taken part in breastfeeding week events/sit ins, helped in the hospital etc.... having bf for years in total my friends see me as a total expert and I thought I was. Then my fourth baby was born and I never thought it could happen to us. He never managed to latch properly, I stubbornly refused formula top-ups until he became poorly and was admitted. After a day or so of bottles of formula and a tongue tie snipped I thought we were over the blip but he totally refused the breast and never managed to latch. I've been pumping milk for him for over 5 months now, an accomplishment of which I am proud. However my mental health is suffering in a big way. Not because of the pumping but because I'm just not bonding with my baby sad I don't know anyone in real life this has happened to, most people I know who didn't manage to breastfeed (and I'll admit I thought they just didn't try hard enough, I now know better) it happened with their first and they don't know any different (I don't mean that to sound like you need to bf to bond, my dh keeps pointing out he never bf any of our children and still bonded very well!) but I feel like I'm grieving, like he's not my baby, I miss cosleeping, it's totally breaking my heart. My GP has prescribed antidepressants but I don't think they're necessary just now as the side effects sound horrendous and they aren't going to help with bonding. My question for anyone that read this far, if this or anything similar has happened to you, did you ever get over it? I'm terrified I'll always feel differently about my last child.

deuscat Fri 21-Oct-16 22:05:56

OP, that sounds so tough for you. How difficult for you to be going through this. Do you think you might have PND? Maybe the antidepressants would help to lift the fog a little and that could help you feel you can bond?

Liskee Sat 22-Oct-16 19:00:01

I formula fed DS1 (nearly 2) as jenkusy dodnt take to it, and post traumatic birth, I just didn't have the energy to perservere.

I'm now breastfeeding DS (4 months) and I can see why you would be concerned, but want to say please don't be.

There is a lovely symbiotic relationship with a BF baby. The co sleeping is pretty much a necessity and for the first 10-12 weeks no one else really gets a look in for feeds and cuddles. I'm sure that gorgeous closeness and bubble like relationship exists for the whole time you BF.

However, I can safely say that I have an amazing bond with DS1, and his bond with his dad is just as amazing as your DH says his is with his children. In fact in the cloud of hormones after DS2 was born I cried because DS1 was so goddamn cute and funny and I just loved him soooooo much.

Your DS is still very young, and you sound like you've put an immense amount of pressure on yourself so far in the amazing feat you've achieved with expressing. I'd say to be less hard on yourself and more open to developing a new and different way of building a bond with your baby. You could almost go back to basics and think more skin to skin and touch time before during and after bottle feeds. Have plenty of chats and eye contact and one on one time, and just wait. Once you reconcile yourself to not BFing your littlest one as the others and accept he's the special one who took extra effort to get the good stuff, you'll start to feel better and the bond will grow.

You sound like a super mum, and your kids are lucky to have you. Especially no 4!

ispymincepie Sat 22-Oct-16 19:59:22

Ah Liskee that made me cry! Just because you understand and nobody else I've spoken to gets it. I feel like I'm in a bubble but my baby's not in it with me this time. I feel so sad when he sleeps at night in his cot without me and he's so content but people think I should be thrilled. It does help to think of him as the special one I'm just so sad at all I know I'm missing. It's helping a little that he's started to get a little clingy (again my friends think I'm nuts) I just can't wait until he's not a baby anymore, not needing milk but that makes me sad too! I do wonder about the antidepressants but worry it will put me more into a fog rather than lift it. Thanks both so much for replying.

ChocolateHelps Sat 22-Oct-16 20:26:28

This might sound crazy but could you try putting him to the breast, even at this late stage? Try a nipple shield to transition to the breast. Is he a breast refuser? Does he not latch at all? Could a nipple shield give him the teat feel he's used to. There are online articles about transitioning to the breast after nursing strikes and I'm sure you tried everything when he was born, but now he's that much bigger it might be worth a try?

I can really hear that you are feeling so sad and disappointed in the difference that not being able to breastfeed has made to your way of mothering this baby. Breastfeeding becomes such an integral way of being with your baby that not to have this mothering tool ready at any moment is really really hard!

It's important to acknowledge your feelings otherwise it just boils up somewhere else. Be kind to yourself. Is there anyone you can talk to with in real life?

Andcake Sat 22-Oct-16 20:28:35

After a similar start to you I pumped exclusively for 6 months. I did end up co sleeping for 2 years so the 2 are not mutually exclusive.
Ds is my only (after years of infertility I wanted everything to be perfect as I doubted I would ever be lucky enough to get pregnant again - I didn't breaks my heart everyday) but we have a wonderful bond and if anyone suggested anyone was superior because they breast fed properly I would probably slap them! Pumping is tiring - it takes double time to pump then feed its depressing and exhausting. As soon as I stopped I was free to leave the house for longer than 3 hours and spend proper time with my son doing lots of baby massage etc helped.

nephrofox Sat 22-Oct-16 20:30:15

I don't understand why not breastfeeding stops you cosleeping?

ispymincepie Sat 22-Oct-16 22:29:24

Co-sleeping just didn't feel safe this time as I'm definitely not so aware of him so we put him in the cot. The safe sleeping guidelines say only breastfeeding mothers should cosleep. Then the breastfeeding consultant suggested we give it another go, lots of skin to skin in bed but he wouldn't sleep in my arms or attempt to latch so it felt like an uneccesary risk. So he's back to the cot up against our bed. I have been trying most days to get him to latch, occasionally he has managed one suck but mostly he refuses and gets upset. I've not tried the shields recently though Chocolate so I'll give it another go. I don't want to give up but I know at some point I have to stop holding out hope that it could happen. It is/was such an integral part of mothering to me I feel very lost without it. My dh is being amazing and has kept me sane so far....

pontificationcentral Sat 22-Oct-16 22:43:32

yep. I managed to only latch dc3 once - she was about 7 weeks old and neither of us could quite believe it - it only lasted about a minute. She was brain damaged at birth and spent 6 weeks in scbu, and was born with no suck/ gag reflex. She was tube fed and the staff tried to encourage her to suck using newborn dummies. She was eventually able to bottle feed (I expressed from birth). The day I finally got her to latch she stopped bottle feeding and ended up back in hospital with another ng tube as she would not feed suck feed any way. I made the decision not to try again as her ability to feed independently felt so precarious that I didn't want to damage it for essentially selfish reasons.
She's 13 now. smile
I suppose it was easier for me because the lack of bf was such a small issue in the hideous overall picture, but it was a sadness that I felt. I couldn't even do that for her.
Anyhoo. I had counselling for the wider picture once the really hard years were over, and these days although I have a residual sadness that I couldn't feed her, I just recognize it as a fact. It hasn't affected our bond in any concrete sense at all, and is not a defining part of any of our lives. (In fact, the baby who needed constant attention and round the clock bf, or he would scream the fecking house down, is the most remote of the kids. Funny old world.)
Be kind to yourself. Time will heal.

ispymincepie Sat 22-Oct-16 22:50:41

Oh Pontif, that does put my problems into perspective and I try to remind myself it could be worse but unfortunately it doesn't help much right now. He is a very happy baby but I find that hard as I catch myself thinking 'don't you know what you're missing?!'

pontificationcentral Sun 23-Oct-16 00:23:24

It will get easier - for me I found it helped once I decided I wasn't going to try any more. So then I could be sad for what wasn't going to happen, but stopped torturing myself about the possibility it might yet iyswim.

LBOCS2 Sun 23-Oct-16 00:49:06

Not me, but my mum.

She breastfed me to over a year and then when she had my sister couldn't feed her - tried but said it was excruciatingly painful (I suspect an undiagnosed and untreated tongue tie, especially as DSis has a bit of a lisp). She said that of all the things that she worried about with having a second, not being able to breastfeed was the last thing on her mind and it really knocked her for six.

DSis was formula fed from about 3 weeks I think. I can absolutely say that she and DM had as close a relationship as I did with her, there has been no significant difference in health, intelligence, etc between us, and it is not something that she or I have ever really thought about - it was only because I had a baby that DM and I ever talked about it.

Embolio Sun 23-Oct-16 00:50:25

I havent managed to bf any of mine past the first few weeks, i find the hormones really affect me in a negative way. For ds1 and dd I did about 6 weeks and for ds2 (prem with no suck reflex) I expressed for about 12 weeks. I have coslept at times with all of them. The only one I found I felt an immediate bond with was dd (dc3). The other two I had to get to know iyswim. I think it's fairly normal not to feel that intense love straight away but it does come in time.

Don't discount the antidepressants- pnd can make you feel very detached, I had severe pnd after ds1 and AD's gave me perspective and really got me out of the fog. Side effects aren't debilitating for everyone and go quite quickly usually.

I think it's always disconcerting when things are different- so you have always parented in a certain way and now that's not really working. But that's OK - it's no ones fault, you and dc will find your way through it. It can be hard to see the wood for the trees when you are in the midst of it all flowers

Embolio Sun 23-Oct-16 00:54:19

Also my gran had 6 kids and bf all apart from her dc4 (my aunt), she said "things just weren't how they had been before" it can be just one of those things. Again, my gran only mentioned it because I was upset over DS1's feeding - no difference in their relationship or anything.

Zebrasinpyjamas Sun 23-Oct-16 01:00:57

I truly understand. Bf DC1 for 16 months and have not managed to do this with DC2. I'm 5 months in to exclusively (mostly) expressing. Most people think I'm mad expressing but it's important to me. For weeks I felt the "loss " of not being able to feed her directly and yes I agree I don't wake as quickly at night so am less inclined to Co sleep. In my case she didn't suck at all and her tongue tie wasn't diagnosed until 4 weeks ish.
I'm more comfortable with the feeding path we are on now. I try to be kind to myself as I know I did my best but it was out of my control. I hope you can find some acceptance too very soon.

Andthen Sun 23-Oct-16 01:16:09

I only have two Dds but this happened to me. DD1 was bf to 13 months, co-slept and refused to be put down. DD2 was born 5 weeks premature and latched perfectly but just wouldn't suck. After two weeks in hospital post birth (and seven weeks in total) I was desperate to be allowed home and we weren't being allowed until she could feed so tried expressing and a bottle- she took to it straight away. Once home, I managed two weeks of pumping before I gave up - so impressed you have done it so long OP. DD2 was then ff and not only did she not co-sleep, but was in her own room crazily early as she seemed to prefer her own space!
Fast forward almost five years and DD2 is twice as tactile as DD1. She is has just started school and is happy and independent but whenever she's with me or DH, she wants to cuddle and stroke us. I feel incredibly bonded to her and I know she does to me.
Five years ago I couldn't quite believe that DD2 wouldn't bf and I was so sad that we wouldn't have the same relationship as I had with DD1. I bet now though that if you asked a stranger to guess which DD was bf, 9 out of 10 would say DD2 wink
Hang on in there OP. You are doing brilliantly.

sycamore54321 Sun 23-Oct-16 01:58:43

OP, I think this may have less to do with your relationship with your newest baby, and more to do with a shock to your own sense of identity. It can be jarring to realise that something you were proud of, and attributed to your own hard work and skill, can be whipped away from you by a change in circumstance that you had no control over. This is all the more the case if you are seen and admired by others for this attribute. Unfortunately it seems like a really harsh case of pride coming before a fall, and combined with post-partum hormones and the usual tiredness and stress of a new baby, you find it manifesting in the relationship with your lovely child. The good thing from your post is your new level of self-awareness, which will help you overcome this challenge.

Please reconsider your decision not to take the antidepressants. PND is associated with women who are unable for whatever reason to use their preferred feeding method, and you fit squarely into this category. Your doctor will have made the recommendation based on what is right for you. PND can sometimes stop you getting the help you need.

Best wishes,

ispymincepie Mon 24-Oct-16 10:27:03

Thank you all so much, I feel much less alone now I've heard from others who understand and you've reassured me our relationship won't be damaged forever. I think I shall reconsider the antidepressants. Zebra the feeling of loss is truly awful and doesn't seem to be getting better. I have definitely learnt a lot from this experience Sycamore but have really struggled with that loss of identity, I felt by this time I'd found my parenting groove but everything has been so different from how I figured it would be. Thanks again.

29redshoes Mon 24-Oct-16 10:41:47

ispy I'm sorry you're going through this and I hope things improve for you soon.

I'm not in your situation as I only have one DD and though we tried hard, breastfeeding did not work out for us. But I must admit I found it very frustrating that all the peer supporters/breastfeeding specialists I came across had enjoyed a wonderful breastfeeding experience with their own DC. It just didn't match up to my own situation. And although many of them were lovely and did try to help, it constantly felt like we were talking at cross purposes as they just couldn't relate to what I was going through.

I would encourage you not to give up your role as a breastfeeding peer supporter. I actually think that due to this experience you will be an even better support to new mothers than you were before. In those early weeks I wish I'd met someone who could relate to what I was going through.

And you haven't "failed" at anything, you've done your best with the cards you were dealt and that's all any of us can do as parents. You sound like a great mother to me.

sofatrainer Mon 24-Oct-16 10:56:19

I didn't BF my eldest as he wouldn't latch but fed my subsequent children for 6 month each. He's 14 now and we have always had the most wonderful close relationship, he even texted me the moment he had his first kiss. I beat myself up about it for so long especially as he had a severe milk allergy but honestly, please try to accept the situation, the milk is such a tiny part of it. All children are different, this baby didn't want to be BF, be led by them just as you clearly were by your other children. I've taken anti depressants, suddenly the fog lifts and you realise you feel like you again, it's worth it

Zebrasinpyjamas Mon 24-Oct-16 11:00:31

I've been thinking about this again. One of the things I found hard is if I spoke to people (in real life) about it, they just said to give her formula. It didn't (and doesn't) feel that straight forward to me in my scenario. Logically I know many thousands of babies have formula and are happy children and adults but I felt it was an emotional decision that I didn't want to face. Ultimately for me it isn't really about the feeding choice itself but the loss of something I loved about the early months of ds1 that I assumed would be replicated with dd. Also it comes at a time when you are tired and having big hormone adjustments!
I think worrying about our relationships with our children is natural. Imo the baby months don't directly translate to strength of relationship when they are children or adults. All stages evolve. Eg my DS has had a few months of being a "daddy's boy" despite the extended BF to toddler hood. Happily he's more balanced between wanting me and his dad again now.
I'm glad you are reconsidering the AD. Even if you decide not to take them, it's worth thinking about again and making the right decision for you.
Lastly I repeat myself, you have healthy happy children so please be kind to yourself. You sound like you are doing a great job at parenting.

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