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Breastfeeding failure and UTTER Guilt :(

36 replies

user1493581567 · 30/04/2017 21:17

Hi there,

My little man arrived into the world 9 weeks ago 12 days late after an intense induction. From the onset I was EBF. there was nothing stopping me. I went to lactation course and attended a bf support group and spent the end of my mat leave browsing nursing dresses.I could not have been more excited and in love with the idea.

The HARSH and heartbreaking reality was that my breastfeeding journey ended before it started and I'm gutted. We had 19 hours in induction and then I got an Epi and he arrived in delivery after 7 hours. We did S2S and he never latched, the midwife said '' he's just not interested in the breast''!! Words now I fully understand leave negative connections with a FTM.

My panic started. We got to the ward and every midwife tried to force him on and he was screaming, I was crying and he broke out in a little rash on his face as the room was so hot and I was sweaty. I had so many midwifes try and my confidence started to shatter. This was not happening!! I managed to hand express colostrum into a cup with the help of a midwife and watched her feed him via a syringe. Again, I sobbed as I was heartbroken...Why was he not taking to me?? We kept trying but it wasnt happening so we hand expressed and then the hospital LC came in and we got a pump and started pumping. every 4 hours. I was 38F before the milk arrived and we got kicked out of the hospital so quickly and I never got the chance to pump before getting him so I huge engorgement...We pumped every 4 hours and started trying shields on day 5. I expressed but what happened was we had no idea how much milk to give him and I got so overwhelmed. when we tried the shields he kept hitting them off with his little hands and sucked my nipples into lipstick shapes. I just did not know what was happening and I think I had huge oversupply from the pumping. I felt I was unable to manage when hubby returned to work and reluctantley moved to formula after 15 days.

My heart has ached since. I always wanted to bf and even though I can see he's thriving I feel so bitterly disapointed that we never had the BF journey I wanted. I know at the time I made this decision in a sleep deprived, overwhelmed state and the fact I was told to feed on demand did not correlate to expressing and bottles and we ended up giving 19 bottles in 24 hours at the start which was why I felt Id never cope with expressing and sterilising.

I just dont know how I will feel better over this? my heart is literally broken and I feel so guilty that I'm FF when I had such a supply and I also feel so incredibly sad we did not get to have the bf experience I so badly wanted for us. It's really put a downer on my experience as a FTM and knocked my confidence so much. I'm getting better every day but was hoping someone could pass some words of encouragment or advice my way to try get over the feelings of guilt and failure I have.

OP posts:
Mummamayhem · 30/04/2017 21:23

It's absolutely fine, your baby will be happy and healthy.

Saying that don't let anyone tell you it doesn't matter, because it does, very much so to you. For different reasons I stopped BF at 6 weeks and even though my son is now 3, I still desperately regret my decision. It doesn't matter how I rationalise it, it's one of my only regrets.

Know you are doing the best for your baby but allow yourself to feel sad without obsessing over it.

EtonMessi · 30/04/2017 21:25

Couldn't have said it better myself Mumma.

furryelephant · 30/04/2017 21:31

All that matters at the end of the day is that baby is healthy and fed, please remember that!
Was your baby checked for a tongue tie by anyone? Or did you try different makes/sizes of nipple shields? My DD could never latch and I got the lipstick nipples too, tried two different shields before she liked one, now at 5 months she's been diagnosed with a tongue tie.
Is there any way of attending the BF support group again? It's possible to relactate if you wanted to, not easy but totally possible! So if you did find shields that he liked the more you put him to the breast, the more milk will be stimulated to make. Or if he does have a tie then it can make all the difference!

However, it honestly honestly only matters that your precious baby is fed and happy! It's so obvious that breastfeeding was so important to you but it doesn't work for everyone and you should feel no guilt that it hasn't worked. Your little boy will be happy, healthy and loved regardless of how he's fed.

Kittymum03 · 30/04/2017 21:33

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JustAWestcountryGirl · 30/04/2017 21:39

O lovely, I can totally relate.
I had a very similar experience with DC1. Was absolutely heartbreaking and totally ruined the first few months of motherhood for me.
With DC2 I was absolutely resolved not to let whatever would happen with breastfeeding ruin this special time, and even tho I am now fully formula feeding I have refused to succumb to guilt and just enjoy my baby.
You are a great mum, if you weren't you wouldn't be so upset. You just want what is best for your baby, so it is natural to be upset when our feel like you're not doing your best.
But you tried as hard as you could, you couldn't have done more, and your little one will thrive on formula.
Please try to give yourself a break!

SacharissaCrisplock · 30/04/2017 21:45

Happened to me too and I was gutted when I made the decision to stop trying and to move to ff.

In hindsight it was the best thing to do but at the time I felt like such a complete and utter failure and no matter what anyone said it was me that was failing not just a combination us both not fitting together.

Just remember you gave it an enormous go and it doesn't mean you've failed in any way, a fed baby is best no matter what the method.

Spudlet · 30/04/2017 21:48

Sometimes it just doesn't work. In the past, you'd have needed to find a wet nurse, or try some kind of Heath Robinson alternative, but here and now, we have a safe and suitable alternative readily available to us. So, good! Use it. Your baby had colostrum, which is the really good stuff and a fortnight of breast milk and that is not nothing, either.

Right now this matters to you hugely because it's the first big choice we make for our children but I promise you, as time goes by it will become less significant.

Cuddle your baby, love your baby - that early nurturing is just as important as the milk you give them.

70ontheinside · 30/04/2017 21:58

You are feeding your baby, that is the most important thing!
Make feeding time a special bonding experience with cuddles and eye contact and you'll all be fine.

I get the guilt, I "failed" to bf dc1. There is enormous, unnecessary pressure to bf in order to be a good mother. Being a good mother means to care for your baby, under all circumstances. This is what you're doing when ff. You're doing brilliantly Flowers

Katurah · 30/04/2017 22:02

I had virtually the same experience. I felt guilty, then angry and now, 17 months in and expecting number 2 I am completely at ease with how my son has been fed. He is happy, healthy, weaned brilliantly and he is NO DIFFERENT to ANY of the EBF children we know. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter. I will try to BF his sister when she is born, if it works great if it doesn't my trusty perfect prep will be waiting. Please, you will feel so different in a few months, just enjoy your little baby. Stare at him as you bottle feed him and kiss his forehead. There's just as much love in a bottle xxx

GinIsIn · 30/04/2017 22:04

I had a horrible time trying to breastfeed but have realised now, 6 weeks after giving up, that it was 100% the best decision I could have made. My baby is thriving and I was struggling so much it was damaging the bond with my son. Now things are great. It's important to look forward and focus on the time you have with your baby now as they change every day at this age, not to dwell on something you can't change. Your baby is healthy and happy and fed, what it needs from you most is love and positivity, not breast milk.

Gindrinker43 · 30/04/2017 22:12

I too had a miserable time breast feeding with DS2, I'm no wimp but the pain brought me to tears so that I dreaded feeding him. We stopped at 16 days, he thrived and we never looked back.
Please talk this through and get some support, you will have a wonderful relationship with your child but you sound quite down and may need more help.

hoopdeloop · 30/04/2017 22:13

Aww love, please don't beat yourself up. Like PP posters have said, the most important thing is your baby is fed. However its easy for me to say that as I'm not in your shoes.

I'm sorry you never got much help after you left the hospital. Whilst you are understandably sad just now, I think that your mental health may have suffered if you had to keep trying and trying and it wasn't working. You may have ended up suffering with PND.

Have you spoken to your health visitor about how you feel?

cheerylilthing · 30/04/2017 22:13

As much as you torment yourself over it now, by the time baby is scoffing food & causing chaos it'll be a little easier.

Breastfeeding isn't easy for all of us & there can be a multitude of things we can blame ourselves for (slow weight gain in my case) but eventually it does start to fade & becomes less important as you have new phases to explore together.

Whatsername17 · 30/04/2017 23:10

I couldn't bf dd1. I had lactation failure. I tried but with no support and I ended up ff. My biggest regret is that I spent her early days feeling sad and guilty. She is almost 6 years old and, honestly, she is perfect. Absolutely perfect. Despite being one of the youngest in her year group, she is one of the brightest. She is funny, kind and caring. Skinny as a whip and has a fantastic immune system. I ebf my second daughter and I'll be honest, it was partly because I needed to prove I could do it. But, at 3 months I started to have some supply issues, realised I didn't massively like bfing, spent so much time feeding my enormous baby that I missed out on spending any time with dd1. Then dd2 decided to go on a nursing strike and cried every time she saw my boobs, meaning I had to rock her to sleep and feed her whilst she was asleep. You know what I realised? It wasn't worth the worry and upset. So I introduced some formula and I'm now mix feeding. I've got the best of both worlds. Enjoy your baby and do not beat yourself up. You are doing a brilliant job and your lo is perfect.Flowers

Cranb0rne · 01/05/2017 14:10

You didn't fail, you were failed by the midwives who tried to shove your baby on your breast and who made it a stressful experience for you both. The same sort of thing happened to me with my first. I had no help from a proper breastfeeding expert, was kicked out of hospital the day after being induced and no-one checked my baby for tongue tie. It's really sad that this happens to so many new mums.

wineapotamus · 02/05/2017 04:35

I think when you want to breastfeed and it doesn't work out, there's nothing like it for guilt and sadness. I had a tricky breastfeeding journey with my ds (now 5) and I used to feel very upset seeing friends successfully breastfeeding when i was giving bottles. It really coloured our first few months with our longed for baby. The feeding situation is what it is, it's not what you hoped for, but a very sensible health visitor told me that managing our expectations of parenthood is very important! Reality vs the ideal can be a massive headfuck. Formula is a perfectly reasonable alternative to breastfeeding, and you have nothing to feel guilty about. You are doing your absolute best for your baby. If I had my time again I would be much kinder to myself, try to move on quicker from the disappointment, and enjoy the baby more. It matters so much now, but this time is fleeting. Bfeeding is great, but it's food, not love. Your child only has one mum, and it just wants to be close to you, boob or bottle. Nothing will change that. Hugs to you. It'll get better.!
Ps you could always try a bf support group to see if they can help to get baby back on the boob. You might not be able to ebf, but maybe a few feeds a day (or a go on the boob before a bottle, or between bottles) might help alleviate your sadness about the end of breastfeeding?

MargaretCabbage · 02/05/2017 08:36

I'm so sorry. I've been there. I managed to BF DS1 for two weeks before stopping and I felt so sad and guilty for months. I felt like I'd failed. Rationally I knew formula feeding was fine but it was a really hard time for me. I found it started to get better when we started weaning, and I could concentrate on getting really good and healthy food into my baby as a healthy diet has more health benefits long term (of course he's a toddler now and mainly lives on bread!).

I've had a second baby now and have managed to exclusively breastfeed for seven months. It's made me realise there's nothing I could have done differently with DS1, no matter how much I convinced myself I was to blame, it just wasn't working. And breastfeeding hasn't turned out to be the magical bonding experience I imagined, it's just a mundane part of life.

I hope you feel better soon. Flowers

ICJump · 03/05/2017 09:20

That sounds like a very tough start. Have you talked with anyone about your feelings. Breastfeeding counsellors are trained to help you work though your feelings around breastfeeding.

user1493581567 · 03/05/2017 10:28

Thanks so much ladies, I have spoken with a BF counsellor and have tried to attempt re lactation but very lightly so it's not really been working. I'm doing ok but just feel I didn't try hard enough nor did I try best for my son which is why I feel so miserable over it. I think we just got off to a REALLY bad start and I got way too overwhelmed and was in a terrible emotional place after everything but it's so sad as now I feel we would have gotten there. Hindsight it a beautiful thing for that and I know it was not like that at the time so I do really need to try and move on and live in the present. I'm doing OK but have huge guilt still and feel I always will unfortunately :( Thanks so much for the kind words and support x

OP posts:
ICJump · 03/05/2017 10:41

I'm glad you've reach out for some support.

From everything you've written here. You did work hard. You did what you could. That is enough.
You shouldn't feel guilty but maybe a feeling of grief? A sense of loss for the mothering you though you'd do.

There are some techniques you can use while bottle feeding to mimic breastfeeding. Things like only you doing the feeds, skin to skin while bottle feeding.

MrEBear · 03/05/2017 11:06

Hey don't feel guilty about it having to switch. You've tried very hard and given it your very best shot and give him the very best start you could. Be really proud of every single drop of BM you worked so hard to get into your baby.

I could understand you feeling disappointed esp after all your efforts. You have no reason to feel guilty about switching to bottles. I'm lucky BF came easily to me and bottles sound like hard work but plenty of us were raised quiet happily on bottles.

Kittymum03 · 03/05/2017 12:24

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

InfinityPlusOne · 03/05/2017 12:38

I could have written your post almost word for word myself. I hope it will be some consolation to you to know that you likely won't feel guilty forever. My DS is 6 now and while I look back and feel sorry for myself that I got so upset and felt so guilty at the time, I now longer feel that guilt anymore.

Sometimes with the best will in the world and all that preparation things still don't go to plan. I was also induced and DS also refused to latch and despite repeated attempts never did. We had to move to formula when expressing didn't achieve much in the way of supply. He's now a very tall, skinny, full of beans, mischievous cheeky, loving young lad and our wobbly start on the feeding front has faded into the distant past.

Don't beat yourself up, try and focus on your new family and reassure yourself that he will be fine. Too much guilt and upset can lead you down some dark paths and most of that pressure and guilt you feel is coming from within. Be kind to yourself.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius · 03/05/2017 13:52

@user1493581567 - please, please don't beat yourself up about this. I struggled with breastfeeding all three of my dses, and I beat myself up about it - I called myself a failure for years. Ds2 even ended up in hospital, with the staff saying things like 'failure to thrive' because he had lost so much from his birthweight, and not regained it at 6 weeks old - which was terrifying.

All three dses ended up being formula fed, and all three of them have grown up to be strong, healthy, intelligent young men (they are 20, 22 and nearly 24). Two of them play competitive sports, and are doing well at university, and the other has a law degree and a good job. I can see absolutely NO ill effects from them having been formula fed.

Breastfeeding is great, but it is just one of the many great things you can do for your child - giving them an interesting, healthy diet when you start weaning, encouraging them to play and be imaginative, laughing with them, talking to them, making sure they get enough sleep, helping with homework, listening to their woes - the list goes on and on.

@InfinityPlusOne is right about the dark paths - when I had my sons, I had an undiagnosed tendency to depression, but developed post natal depression after each of them was born - and I do think that the pressure I put on myself to breastfeed, and the guilt I felt when I felt I had failed, contributed to that.

I had forgotten the advice from my all-time favourite childcare author - Libby Purves. She wrote a book called How Not To Be a Perfect Mother - the gist of which is that we don't have to be perfect all the time - as she says, even a perfect Madonna (the religious sort, not the pop icon) needs an hour off with a drink and her feet up. Obviously we all want the best for our babies, but there is a balance to be made between doing our best, and striving so hard for absolute perfection all the time that we put too much pressure on ourselves.

Congratulations on the birth of your wonderful son. Please believe me when I say that you are absolutely the best mum you can be - and enjoy the lovely baby snuggles. There are so many wonderful things waiting for you as he grows up, and you and he both deserve every happiness.

Bringmesunshite · 03/05/2017 14:10

Totally get it. Won't recount my own awful experience.
The guilt still tweets me now and then and my dd is 10.
If I could go back in time I would give myself a big hug and say your baby is fed and thriving and she needs you in so many different ways that don't involve bf. I would tell myself that she is going to be a bright wonderful girl that will drive you crazy in all the usual ways.
I can't order you not to beat yourself up - I'd be a hypocrite apart from anything else. But know that it is not good for you or your baby or your family to hold that hurt inside you for so long.
Please speak to your GP if you can't stop being distressed about it. And if your GP is rubbish try to see another one. Have someone advocate for you if it is too much.
My dh would give a manly hug to whoever your partner is too.

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