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Breastfeeding misery!

(31 Posts)
Ivy7550 Tue 07-Mar-17 19:44:59

Hi All,

Just wanting to vent a bit really & hear some other people's experiences.

My son is now almost 5 weeks old and we are still struggling horribly with breastfeeding. Have had a few hurdles to get over so far - ended up in the neo natal the day he was born, got out next day but then got jaundiced so had to go under the therapy lights for a few days, we ended up in hospital for a week - was so happy to finally escape! He struggled to latch on properly from the very beginning and we ended up having to give formula to get him off his drip in the neo natal, then to flush out the jaundice. I tried to BF at the same time but it wasn't going well, took a while for my milk to come in (lost quite a bit of blood during birth) and then I got really severe engorgement so he couldn't latch on. Once that settled down (after 6 days!) I persevered but was just so painful and my poor nipples were just in bits, worst pain ever! They then discovered he had a tongue tie so that got snipped, made a bit of a difference but still really damaging my nipples no matter how many professionals helping me with latch/positioning and saying it looks good! Have been using shields for last 2 weeks which had allowed me to push through and I would say I'm doing 90% of his feeds from the breast now, but pain is still really bad with them - although nipples don't look damaged which is weird?!

Have got to the place now that I dread every feed and sometimes in the evenings I can't take it and have my husband give him formula (when I can't express enough) which I feel horribly guilty about sad have been treated for thrush as I am getting a burning/itching feeling during and after feeds as well, but doesn't seem to have made a difference. HV says he has a super strong suck as he actually pulls my nipples through the top of the largest size of shield you can get, eek! I feel like he always wants to feed at the moment as well which makes it even harder.

Just feeling so low about it and weeping all the time. I think about giving up and just formula feeding every day but then I think I would feel so guilty and that I would be judged for it - so I don't know what to do! Feeling like such a failure sad my husband wants me to stop but the thought makes my heart break. Driving myself mad searching the Internet for how to fix the problem!

Anyone been in the same boat??

Sorry that was so long needed to offload a bit I think!

Monkeyface26 Tue 07-Mar-17 19:57:07

It's a strange thing isn't it, the urge to feed? My husband and my own logical brain knew that giving up was a legitimate choice. Before Dd was born, I thought I would try to breastfeed but would just stop if it didn't work easily. Once she had arrived I had an overwhelming desire to breastfeed her. When she cried, I used to want it to be anything but hunger. When she went to be weighed I used to want the HV to tell me that she needed a bottle so that I could feel legitimate in giving her one. In the end I stopped at about 3 months and it was a relief to everyone. I don't think my dd settled especially, but I definitely did.
If you decide to stop, please be kind to yourself. It's food, not love. How you feed your baby is a very small part of being a mother - maybe the smallest part.

highinthesky Tue 07-Mar-17 20:01:05

It sounds to me like you've given BF a good shot OP. Feeding your child exclusively formula is not child abuse, go for it.

countingdown2gin Tue 07-Mar-17 20:06:06

It sounds like you've had a really rough ride so far and well done for getting this far.

I had three rounds of mastitis and a bout of thrush when breastfeeding my DS. It was agony every time and when he cried to be fed I burst into tears at the thought of it. Once I stopped (at 13 weeks) it was a huge relief.

The decision does need to be entirely yours, if you still want to give breast milk can you express instead? Baby will be absolutely fine on formula though, many have before him and many will after.

Be kind to yourself, you need to be happy and healthy as well flowers

MichaelJacksonsGlove Tue 07-Mar-17 20:06:28

Please stop beating yourself up over this. You have done so well to come this far. FF is sometimes the right choice so don't ever feel that you have no choice.

McBaby Tue 07-Mar-17 20:06:38

Has your baby been checked again for any tongue restrictions? We needed 3 tt cuts to get to pain free feeding?

Also cranial sacral osteopathy can help them to coordinate their tongue function after a tt operation as it helps relax the muscles they have being trying and failing to use properly.

JohnLapsleyParlabane Tue 07-Mar-17 20:11:45

Formula is not poison. Formula saves babies. Sometimes the way it does that is by saving the mental health of the mother.
No matter how you feed your baby, some folk will judge you. Do what works for your family.

Ouchy Tue 07-Mar-17 20:13:10

First of all, huge congratulations on your new baby and a massive pat on the back for managing to get to 90% breastmilk after the very challenging start you have had to breastfeeding. No one can judge you, unless they have been in exactly the position you are in, having been through what you have just been through. You are doing amazingly well in the circumstances, a super dedicated mummy.

Nipple pain (and ductal thrush if you have it) can be horrendous and I would argue, impossible to feed through. I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding having breastfed two of my children to age 2+, but ductal thrush stopped me with one of my children. It is excruciating. What thrush treatment have you had out of interest?

I am not a breastfeeding counsellor/professional and its a few years since I breastfed now so hopefully someone more informed with more up to date knowledge will come to advise you soon. However in the meantime I would recommend a call to a 'la leche leage' advisor who should be able to help (google it), look on kellymom website (google it) and read all you can on nipple pain in general and also thrush, in case it helps you figure things out. I also once had help (I paid for it but it was sooo worth it) from a private breastfeeding counsellor (Anne Jobling IBCLC - again you can google her, if she's not near you then there should be an IBCLC counsellor closer that you can find). That breastfeeding counsellor was amazing.

Anyone who judges you for having used formula during your significant struggles clearly has not been in your situation. And cannot have experienced ductal thrush (if that is what you have - might not be!).

If the pain is so bad that you cannot feed your baby then I don't see an alternative to supplementation with expressed milk or formula in the meantime until the problem is resolved. Hope you get sorted out soon, don't beat yourself up - if you do end up stopping (and hopefully it won't come to that) it won't have been through choice, will it?!! Well done, you have my respect for having achieved what you have achieved so far given the circumstances. What a lucky baby to have you as a mummy x

BikeRunSki Tue 07-Mar-17 20:14:13

Ivy I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you that I hated bf, and also wished that DS wanted anything other than feeding, and wanted that medical "permission" to ff. When he was a week old, we were still in hospital because he'd lost 23% of his birth weight. I was stubbornly insisting on bf him, even though I could barely express a drop. At a week old, the paediatrician wanted to move him to SCBU, but the MW suggested a bottle (I had had superb bf support, but nothing seemed to help. The hospital even organised LLL and NCT counsellors to visit ), and so DS was ff from a week old. A weight was lifted off my mind, only to be replaced with s tonne of guilt.

A few weeks later we had an NCT reunion, and our course leader said "there are many ways to nurture your baby, feeding is just one of them". My conscious was salved.

When DD was born 3 years later, I struggled with bf for 3 weeks. I was very unwell when she was born, and told the HV that I was thinking of stopping. HV waved at 3 yo DS and said "well you know that ff won't hurt". DH was despatched to Tesco before the HV had left!

The DC are now 8 and 5. Both tall, slim, bright, healthy and sporty. You couldn't tell from their peers which were bf and which were not. Babies need feeding, loving and happy parents. FF helped me and my family achieve that.

StarDanced Tue 07-Mar-17 20:21:05

I agree with getting him checked for a tongue tie, that may be the problem. It could be the feeding position. My Ds is 10weeks and breastfeeding was so difficult for the first 6 weeks. I was screaming at each latch, and crying through every feed. I tried altering the cross cradle position and letting his legs hang so he was diagonal and that helped. It wasn't immediate but the pain went away and now I'm fine feeding him. I just wanted to let you know that it can get better. You need to do what is best for you and if that is FF then go for it. Wishing you luck

HattiesBackpack Tue 07-Mar-17 20:22:44

I just want to offer you some reassurance- if you switch to formula only your LO will be absolutely fine!
The PP who said food isn't love is spot on !
And by the time they reach toddlerhood you wouldn't be able to pick out the BF from the FF, so please stop beating yourself up about it, if you want to use formula go for it.
I know we aren't supposed to be hippydippy on here but I'm sending you some good vibes, you sound down and stressed, hope you feel better soon xx

ElspethFlashman Tue 07-Mar-17 20:27:15

You know what?

Don't let breastfeeding ruin the first few months with your baby - it sounds like the first 5 weeks have been fairly grim.

It's more important that you start to enjoy this time. I know quite a few people on here have said that struggling with BFing that wasn't working out really impacted on those first few months and you don't get it back again. Now when they're nostalgic, all they remember is the pain and the tears and the dread.

Nothing positive should be making you cry all the time.

Ivy7550 Tue 07-Mar-17 20:29:26

Thanks so much for all the kind replied everyone - means a lot to me!

Monkey - I was exactly the same I wasn't that fussed about breastfeeding when I was pregnant, but now he's here it's all I want to be able to do, weird!

McBaby - asked HV about that today and she's doesn't think the tt has grown back. I did consider seeing a chiropractor and mentioned that to her but she didn't think it would help?! But us that different to what you're suggesting? Not heard of that before!

Ouchy - thanks so much for your kind words & advice. Thrush seems to be really hard to get diagnosed, dr gave me anti fungal pills & cream, I was also using vinegar on my nipples (yuck!) nobody seems to be able to tell me if I actually have it as its not present in my sons mouth or anything, but it sounds like it from the symptoms. I have reached out to my local NCT and they are getting a BF counsellor to get in touch with me, thought it was worth another stab/pair of eyes. Don't think there are any LLL people near me (am in north of Scotland) but I will double check!

Forgot to mention - HV mentioned today he has a slightly recessed chin/lip which could be causing issues, anyone have any experience with this issue?!

The rational part of me knows that formula is by no means the end of the world & certainly not bad for my baby, just can't help getting the guilt which is so silly I know!

ATisketATasket Tue 07-Mar-17 20:34:53

Sounds like you're having a really rough time. If it helps, you're not the only one! My story is very very similar to yours (painful bleeding nipples, tongue tie released to no avail, thrush etc). I am at the point now where baby(now 11 weeks) is having a combination of expressed and formula (more formula than ebm now), and it has been very hard to come to terms with(particularly as I breastfed my first child without issue).
Two things have helped me these past few days. Firstly I have tried to stop thinking of formula as 'formula/some evil alien product' and think of it as just milk with lots of added vitamins etc. Yes it's not breastmilk, but it is not actively harming my baby. Secondly when I bottle feed my baby I can look her directly in the eye whilst feeding, which was never possible breastfeeding (I also need both hands and have to concentrate more, so no more internetting whilst feeding). To me that is creating a positive bond with my daughter just as much as breastfeeding does, but in a different way.

It's not what I had hoped for or imagined, but each day is getting easier. I really hope things get easier for you, regardless of how you end up feeding your baby.

Ivy7550 Tue 07-Mar-17 20:38:53

Bike - thanks for sharing your experience, that's very helpful to hear smile

I know, my husband keeps saying there's no point torturing myself over something so silly as a bottle of formula! It has helped over the last week giving him a bottle in the evenings to have a break, makes it feel more manageable, maybe mixed feeding is the way forward.

Ivy7550 Tue 07-Mar-17 20:44:09

ATisket - thanks that is so helpful to hear and a great way to look at the situation! I think it is a matter of coming to terms with things being different to how I imagined, just seems like everyone around me is successfully breastfeeding and I'm here thinking "why can't I do this?!?!"

daisygirlmac Tue 07-Mar-17 20:45:32

Ivy I could have written some of your post. My 4 week old was on neonatal for a week after a crash section and we also had to give him formula to get him off the drip so we could go home. I expressed while we were in hospital then gave breastfeeding my absolute best shot when we got home but it just never quite happened for us, I think a combination of a baby who just did not want to put the effort in having had bottles in hospital and I'm not sure I was producing a lot of milk (midwives all insistent I topped up with formula). Ended up in the worst of both worlds expressing and doing formula top ups.

I ended up in tears one night and just thought, why am I doing this? It's such a hard decision to make, I cried for three days straight after switching him to exclusively FF but do you know what, he's not only fine but thriving. As one of the neonatal nurses said to me, feeding is weird, the decision doesn't come from your brain and it's not something you can approach logically. If BF isn't working out for you then big unmumsnetty hugs and your baby will be fine if you switch to formula.

Ivy7550 Tue 07-Mar-17 20:54:41

Daisy - sounds like you've had a rough time of it, I'm so glad your wee boy is doing so well now smile seems like the hardest part is making the decision, that's what I'm really struggling with!

Cinnamon84 Tue 07-Mar-17 20:59:56

Congratulations on your baby and getting this far with breastfeeding! I was like you and put enormous pressure on myself to breastfeed and felt awful about giving my ds formula.
We did it so I would bf during the day, dp would give formula when he got home from work at 6, then we'd take turns between formula and me expressing milk (it was all very complicated and I remember being exhausted)... I'm still going at 6 months (mainly as its more convenient) and dp gives him a bottle once in the morning and once in the evening and it works well as it gives me a bit of time to sleep/shower etc.
What I mean is that you can make it work for you so you get a break. If we're out and I don't feel comfortable bf in public or ds is fussing too much I can give him a bottle and bf when we're home, it's fine. It works really well for us.
You should feel proud that you e come this far, it will get easier xx

ChocolateHelps Tue 07-Mar-17 21:06:53

LLL has a national helpline of trained breastfeeding counsellors who take calls at home. This time of night can be a great time to get through to someone. You would be surprised that so much can be described over the phone. They won't make you breastfeed but will really listen to you and help you work out what is best for you and your family. They don't give advice but information to make up your own mind. You are having a really tough time of it. See what help you can get tonight. Big hugs

Whatsername17 Tue 07-Mar-17 21:20:31

I moved to formula with dd1 when I had lactation failure. I beat myself up daily
I cried so much and felt like a failure. Dwelling on those feelings was a huge waste of time and energy. I can't tell you what to do, all I can tell you is that, at 5 years old, she is happy, healthy and very clever (she is on the gifted and talented register at school for literacy and numeracy.) I wish I'd spent more time looking into her eyes whilst giving her a bottle and less time worrying that it made me a crap mum to be giving her formula. I wasted her babyhood worrying about things that do not matter. With dd2, breastfeeding has worked and she is ebf. It's lovely, but I do not feel any different than with dd1. We've bonded just as well and the hard bits are just as hard. The only visible benefit is that we've saved money by not needing to buy formula. Make the decision that is right for you. Do not feel guilty or apologise. There is so much more to being a mum than how you feed in the first few months. You've had some great advice here if you decide to continue with bf. I just wanted to give you some perspective from someone who has been there and survived. You are doing brilliantly. Go with your gut and enjoy your lovely baby.flowers

crumble82 Tue 07-Mar-17 21:37:49

I bf my DD (now 3) until she was 6 weeks old, the pain was excruciating and I dreaded feeding her. I finally stopped after spending a week in hospital hooked up to iv antibiotics to try and get rid of the abscess which had developed as a result of my awful mastitis. They didn't work so I had an op under general anaesthetic, spent the next week in morphine and the following 5 weeks seeing the nurse daily to have the hole in my breast 're-packed' with gauze.

With my second DD i bf for a day to give her some colostrum and she's been ff since. I have felt so much healthier, both physically and mentally.

You have done a great job so far and given your child the best start possible, but your health is just as important. The only one putting the pressure on you is you so please don't feel bad if you switch to formula.

riddles26 Wed 08-Mar-17 08:50:07

Congratulations on your new baby. flowers for the difficult breastfeeding journey so far.

It is really tough isn't it? I don't feel like anything prepares you for the difficulty and pain, not to mention the disappointment when it isn't going how you want it to. My daughter didn't have tongue tie but I also found it extremely painful until 5-6 weeks and still had a tingling pain on one side until 7-8 weeks. Like you, all professionals said to me that her latch and positioning were fine but my nipples were (and still are) always pointed at an angle at the end of each feed. All literature also says that this shouldn't be the case if breastfeeding is going well so I was really confused. I was given numerous possible reasons such as strong suck or that my nipples were longer than average so inevitably would be compressed in the roof of her mouth but I didn't feel like it was going well. Also, my daughter never came off the breast at the end of the feed, she would happily stay there all day and night given the opportunity and she never emptied them, all leading me to believe something wasn't right. Like you, I kept going (and expressed whenever I could so my nipples could have a break). Eventually the time came where the pain went and feeding became easy and now at 4 months, I can genuinely say it is completely painless and the easiest thing in the world. Some aspects still don't fit with how breastfeeding 'should' be but she is happy and gaining weight so I just don't think about it anymore - this is much easier when baby is older and you know they are gaining weight and well etc.

If you feel you can't keep going, please have no guilt in switching to formula. It is there for a reason and will provide your baby with the nutrition they need to grow and develop. No-one has the right to judge you and your mental health is extremely important for bonding with your baby too. If breastfeeding is damaging that, it is detrimental to you both at this point.

Could you possibly try combination feeding and see a private breastfeeding counsellor to see if they can offer you any further assistance? I haven't seen one myself but have heard wonderful things about them. There are also a number of Facebook groups where women offer lots of support and advice (I do feel they pretty much criminalise formula use though which I absolutely hate) but if you want advice on breastfeeding they do anything they can to help so may be worth a try. Alternatively, keep combination feeding going for a few more weeks to see if the breast pain settles. If it does then you can go back to exclusive breastfeeding as there is lots of advice available for increasing supply again if you haven't completely stopped. This is only if you want to keep breastfeeding, please don't feel like you have to.

Do what is best for you and your family and don't feel any guilt for making that decision. You have had a rocky start and done amazingly well to get this far.

Ivy7550 Wed 08-Mar-17 14:40:47

Thanks for replies/advice everyone - great to hear everyone's experiences, makes me feel like I'm not alone in this! Sounds as if mixed feeding might take the pressure off me for a while, and need to stop with this silly guilt! Still don't want to give up just yet but need to make a decision if this goes on too long as it's not good for any of us if I'm totally miserable all the time!

Crumble - poor you what a horrible experience for you! Glad you're doing so well now smile

savagehk Wed 08-Mar-17 14:51:06

I've not managed to read everyone's suggestions, but would you feel happier expressing (with a decent pump) and bottle feeding until your nipples feel better? Worth asking your midwife if the hospital hires out pumps (which will be more powerful than one you can easily buy).

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