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My Breast to Bottle Experience

(11 Posts)
Janos Tue 01-Mar-05 16:20:53

I felt it would be helpful, for me - and maybe other mums - to put all this down into words, as reading the BF/Bottle debate has bought back some very strong feelings. I would like to explain how it affected me (me - not anyone else, not generalising) physically and emotionally.

First, a confession. I started a thread about 6weeks ago (I think) as 'sadmumupnorth' about giving up BF to Bottle Feed. At this point I was in the throes of pretty nasty post-natal depression. I do not say this lightly as I was on the verge of suicide. I owe my wonderful, supportive health visitor a huge vote of thanks for helping me to get the support I needed to start recovery. She was wonderful (but that's another story!)

I'm starting to come out of this now.

OK, I'll begin at the beginning.

When I was pregnant with DS (now 16 weeks old), I decided that I definetely wanted to BF. I did loads of research, attending BF class, watched another mother BF'ing and read loads of literature. I felt that yes, BF was totally for me and my baby and was looking forward to it.

DS arrived nearly 4 weeks early (unexpectedly) and was born by emergency C section.

From the start, I found it incredibly hard to get him to latch on. All credit to the hospital, I had plenty of help from nursery nurses and midwives although it was an NHS ward and resources were stretched, so continuity of care was limited. I don't mind saying that I was terrified, really frightened and in quite a lot of pain. Despite this I am proud to say that I managed to BF DS in recovery which was very rewarding.

My first expereince of trying to BF was unsuccesful, but I persisted an persisted. I was in agony, and had raw, chafed nipples. I distinctly remeber a midwife literally forcing DS's head onto my breast. It was a horrible experiece.

Oh yes, On top of this, I had a vile itchy rash all over my body, very little sleep, and was in quite a lot of pain from the c-section wound. Despite all of this I persisted. DS was fed colostrum which I got into him by squeezing it from my nipples into a syrnge and then squiting into his little mouth. This too was very painful.

DS still did not want to latch on, even when my milk came in. The proposed solution to this was BF DS by exprerssing milk using an electric pump (which was not always available) and then feed to him via a cup.

Thankfully I was able to express milk quite easily. However, one time he was screaming with hunger. I had no expressed milk to give him due to the pump being unavailable. Eventually the midwives provided a bottle of formula, which he wolfed down. I was mostly able to provide him with breast milk tho as I managed to express quite a bit. I know from my experience talking to other mums that they did not find expressing easy and I was lucky I could at least do this.

Well, this is turning into a very long rant - longer than I thought!

To cut a long story short, I had so many problems BF that I moved DS exclusiveky onto bottles at 9 weeks. I was so incredibly sad as I had really wanted to BF.

I am more than happy to go into detail if anyone would like to ask me any questions abou this as I haven't got the energy to type it all in one go.

tiktok Tue 01-Mar-05 17:20:10

Janos, that is such a sad story....I am really admiring of your struggle and persistence.

If you want to find out more about relactation - and it isn't for everyone - just say. Some mothers do find it is worthwhile.

Janos Tue 01-Mar-05 17:40:54

How does relactation work, tiktok? I didn't realise it could be done. There is still a bit of milk in there, but not much.

I'm also on anti-depressant medication so I'm not sure if it would be medically OK. I know you said you are a BF counsellor, do you have experience of this?

aloha Tue 01-Mar-05 18:10:24

Poor you. What a horrible experience. I know a bit about where you are coming from as my ds was born a little early buy c-section (37 weeks) due to placenta praevia and my milk took about five days to come in. I was told I was starving my baby, I was bullied into giving formula...it was all very upsetting and I was very upset. HOWEVER, I did manage to see a hospital breastfeeding advisor who told me that it was OK for him not to have milk but only colostrum, and made me feel much more confident. Forcing your baby to latch on by manhandling him (and you) is known to actually prevent a good attachment and can scare babies off the breast altogether... very, very poor practise and you really didn't get the support you deserved. Also, you should have had proper advice from an expert on positioning if it hurt that much and your nipples were getting damaged - it doesn't have to be that way. I mixed fed, but gave much more breast than bottle for over a year and ds got better and better at feeding as he got bigger and stronger - he wasn't a natural at it the way my daughter is! I think if you still have milk and you want to try again, then maybe it might be an idea for you, but I really think you should see if your hospital runs breastfeeding clinics as unless you get the positioning right it will hurt and that can put anyone off. Good luck. I hope that whatever you decide to do you can put this awful start (which isn't your fault at all) behind you.

tiktok Tue 01-Mar-05 18:19:02

Anti-depressants can be taken during bf, Janos....I will post a link in a bit. Relactation depends on having a motivated mother and a co-operative baby....I have known mothers relactate after several months (really) of only bottles. If you do a search on mumsnet, or start a thread specifically about it, you will see there is a wide range of experience.

It isn't for everyone, as it means you are basically offering your breast to your baby, and pumping/hand expressing, many times a day, as well as giving formula; keeping an eye on the formula intake and ensuring it goes down gradually to allow the baby to take more at the breast/take more ebm from the bottle. This is time consuming....but if the baby is happy to go along with it, it can bring results

One rule of thumb is that it takes the same amount of time to build up to a full milk supply as there has been time without bf - in your case 6 weeks. However, some milk does come back very quickly, and you don't need to be relactating with the same intensity for that whole time.

Some mothers don't retrieve a full milk supply, but they do get some back - enough to make it feel they are definitely bf.

I will come back later with the link about the anti-depressants.

MummytoSteven Tue 01-Mar-05 18:24:15

Hi Janos. sorry you had such a rotten time with bfing. I had a bit of a rotten time too but in a different way, with jaundice coming back at 2.5 weeks, and DS becoming dehydrated and being whisked back into hospital for them to rehydrate him and run loads of tests on him.

In terms of the anti-Ds. You can definitely take Prozac whilst bfing; not sure of the position with the other SSRIs but they are all pretty similar drugs. I was told that there has been research done with Prozac which showed that a tiny amount of the medication got through into the breast milk, but it had no effect on the baby. In fact as I started on the Prozac whilst PG, the psych actually encouraged me to bf, as that would reduce any withdrawal symptoms in DS after birth!!!

Janos Tue 01-Mar-05 18:30:14

The AD's I am on are Fluoxetine. My sister, who'se a nurse tells me that this is essentially the same as Prozac - is she right?

I did see a doctor who said that I shouldn't go on antidepressants as I was still BF (this was when DS was about 6 weeks old), and should continue as he was a bit prem.

He is a really healthy baby BTW - a bit grizzly ATM, I suspect he is teething!

MummytoSteven Tue 01-Mar-05 18:41:08

Yes, tis the same as Prozac.

tiktok Tue 01-Mar-05 18:44:31

Janos, fluoxetine is just the generic name for Prozac, which is a brand name. So yes, it is the same.

The best discussion on the use of Prozac with bf is in the work of Dr Thomas Hale, and you can see the forums where this is discussed here: messages He is basically reassuring about the use of it during lactation - and truly, he is the world's authority on drugs and mothers' milk.

Your doctor prob meant well, but is wrong to say you should not use a/ds when bf - there are plenty with an excellent track record and this site gives some alternatives, while saying Prozac is not suitable....yet Hale's work indicates that we would have less concern about a non-newborn with Prozac, and in any case, the risk of anything is v. small.

Doctors should share their knowledge with mothers and decide together what to do.

I hope this helps you a bit

throckenholt Tue 01-Mar-05 18:45:37

My DS1 was born 2 weeks early, my twins 1 month early - none of them wanted to suckle. I finally convinced DS1 to breastfeed at 1 month, the twins never did latch on. I am bloody minded and had a very supportive DH - I expressed almost exlcusively for all of them (9 months for the twins).

What no-one thought to mention ( I stumbled across this months later) is that the suck reflex doesn't develop until very late on in pregnancy - so many babies born early really have no instinct to suck - so trying to breast feed is almost impossible.

If I had been told this I would have realised that expressing was a short-term stop gap and babies can learn to suckle as they get older. Instead I got steadily more demoralised trying to get them latched on in the early weeks, and gave up in favour of expressing as the only way to get breast milk into them. If I had known then what I know now I would have tried much harder to breastfeed when they were 1-2 months old (by that time with the twins I had totally given up trying). In hindsite I realise DS1 learnt to latch at about the time the sucking reflex developed properly.

Now why did no mid-wife ever tell me that ?

moondog Tue 01-Mar-05 18:55:41

Janos, I'm sorry that you had such a bad time.
Breastfeeding was very very difficult for me with dd. It took 6 weeks of pain and misery and feeling very low. In fact, first 5 months of her life were vile. Didn't really enjoy it at all .
Felt very jealous of all the other mothers I knew who were enjoying their new babies. I wasn't.

My good friend has just called who has two children around the same age as mine (4yrs and 8 mths). She was/is not keen on the idea of b/feeding and gave it a go with no 1 and lasted 4 weeks. With no 2, she did it for 16 which was a much more positive experience than with no 1.
After the 16 weeks she felt that she'd done it long enough for her and switched to formula.

I know she feels really proud of herself and I like to think that my non judgemental support and encouragement persuaded her to give it another go.

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