9 July 2012

Mommy Monday: Nursing regrets

Throughout my pregnancy there was no doubt in my mind that I would be breast feeding my daughter. I wanted what was best for her, I wanted the bonding experience it would give us and financially it was definitely the way to go for the tight budget of a nanny and a student.

Breastfeeding had always seemed like such a simple and natural thing to do. In Africa you would see rural woman with babies attached to their breast at all times and not even give it a second thought. When Zoey latched on to me immediately in the recovery room (1 hour after I gave birth via c-section) I felt an instant connection and thought "Wow. This is easy!" 
My thought was short lived.
The next couple days were filled with frustration, tears and immense pain as Zoey and I tried to figure out this whole "breastfeeding thing". I called in nurses every couple of hours to help me with feedings, but I would usually end up in tears while Zoey screamed her head off and I just lay there exhausted with bleeding nipples (TMI?). Nobody had told me that it would be this hard! I eventually met with the lactation specialist in the hospital and got a few pointers the day before checking out of the hospital.
The next few days at home I couldn't help but begin feeling that feeding my child was a chore. I never felt like she was getting enough to eat and I would sit there for hours trying to get the right latch while tickling her feet to keep her from falling asleep while eating. Eventually, I turned to my trusty Medela pump. At first I pumped just to make sure that Zoey was getting enough to eat, but soon it became very convenient to pump every feed because it meant that I could share feeding duty with my husband and my mom and it also gave us freedom to leave the house. I began to pump more and more and breast feed less and less. Of course, Zoey adjusted to the bottle and began refusing to breastfeed at all.

Because I had given up breastfeeding so early I didn't give my body enough  time to establish a good milk supply so I started to supplement with formula when I needed to (usually just 1 bottle a day). I took fenugreek supplements and drank "mothers milk" tea to try and increase my supply. They seemed to work, but some days were better then others.

I am now 11 weeks postpartum and giving up breastfeeding is my biggest regret. I spend a lot of my time pumping, which sometimes only results in an ounce or so which means that I have started using more and more formula which I hate. Although I don't see any problem with Moms feeding their babies formula, I hate how that stuff effects Zoey's belly, I want her to get all the benefits from real breast milk and also, it's incredibly expensive!

I feel that some breast milk is better then nothing so even if she is getting only half of her food from me, I will continue pumping for as long as I can. If I could turn back the clock and do things differently, but in the mean time I need to try not feel so guilty about it.

Mamas out there! Do you have any tips when it comes to pumping?
What is your breastfeeding story?

22 comments:

  1. I'm 2 weeks post partum and already at the beginning of the same cycle you're on. When I took my son to see his pediatrician for the first time.. I almost burst into tears when he asked how feeding was going. But the man made me feel so much better. He said.. while breastfeeding is great, it doesn't work for everyone. He said a happy baby is more important than a breastfed baby.. and that if breastfeeding meant gritting my teeth at each feeding and an unhappy baby.. it simply isn't worth it. He also said pumping but not feeding with the nipple wasn't worth it either.. I haven't given up just yet.. andI also continue to pump. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one.. don't feel guilty.. your baby is happy and healthy.. and don't ever let anyone make you feel bad about it. Put 100 babies in New York side by side.. you won't be able to tell who was breastfed and who wasn't.
    Best of luck!

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    1. Your doctor is a wonderful man! I wish mine said that at 2 week pp!

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  2. Ugh, sorry to hear of your struggles friend. I obviously can't really relate to you since I'm not there yet, but I've heard so many stories about how difficult (and painful) it can be to breast feed. Like Southern Elle said though, I don't think that there's a wrong or right, just what's best for you and your babe. If it's what you feel is best, keep trying to pump. If it's getting to be too overwhelming or time consuming, then don't feel pressured to keep going. Most importantly, Zoey looks so happy and healthy and adorable... and in the end that's what matters :)

    xxx
    Jenna

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  3. You can do it!! I breastfed both of my girls for a year each. At one point I almost lost my supply and the best thing I can tell you to do, which is not easy, is to pump every hour and a half for 20 minutes until you increase your supply. Drink TONS of water and keep on with the Fenugreek and Mother's Milk tea. I was taking 12 capsules of fenugreek a day and drinking 120 oz of water to try and get my milk back. It is hard, very hard - but you can do it. BUT - if in the end it stresses you and Zoey out too much, it is ok to stop. She will be perfect regardless of whether or not she is breastfed or formula fed. Good luck.

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  4. I've been a silent follower of yours for awhile, but my biggest advice with the little pumping I did my biggest advice, is also use your hands! Hand expression worked wonders for me in the few weeks I did it. I'm glad your still pumping though! Here is my breast feeding story ->
    http://an-unexpected-turn.blogspot.com/2012/05/major-fail.html

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  5. I am so happy you did a post on this. I feel like I've gone down the exact same path and right now I'm only producing enough for one bottle of breast milk a day. Formula is really hard on Beckett's tummy too and in my opinion has also caused severe constipation. It absolutely breaks my heart to see B so uncomfortable and I kick myself everyday for not giving breastfeeding a longer go before giving up and pumping. Like you, I don't think I ever gave myself a chance to establish a good milk supply.
    What I read was to pump 5 minutes longer than you normally would during every pumping session. Right now I'm taking a supplement called Motherlove, which was recommended to me by a woman at Vitamin Cottage and it's helping a little. I also use a hot water bottle when pumping, I lay it across each breast for half of the pumping session and I believe that is helping as well. Where do you get the Fenugreek and Mother's Milk tea? Do you feel like they've made a difference?

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    1. What formula are you using? I had to switch from regular Similac to sensitive Similac for fussiness/gas. It helped with her constipation.

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  6. Also, formula wise, my pediatrician recommended Nutramigen. It is very expensive and we haven't tried it yet, but it is supposed to be a lot easier for babies to digest.

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  7. Thank you for posting this. I am bound and damn-determined to breast feed my Zoey, but I'm terrified that I'll have a bad experience and want to give it up, as you said, for convenience. I really hope it works out for us... When I post about having a hard time, remind me to read this again. In the end though, if formula is what works better for you and your little Z, do it with no regret. Don't feel bad, because your little girl is happy and healthy, and you're doing the best you can for her! *hug*

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    1. Amber - I think if you go into breast feeding with an open mind, you have a better go with it. I think I was so determined to breast feed that I put a lot of pressure on myself in the beginning and I was extraordinarily hard on myself when it wasn't going as naturally and easily as I imagined. Just remember it is a learning curve for you and baby! It may feel uncomfortable at first but pain is NEVER okay. It should NOT hurt, you should not bleed or have cracked nipples, etc. Make sure the latch is going well from the beginning. If it hurts and people tell you it looks okay, go with your gut and keep searching for a fix. I kept going even though Riley was butchering my nipples because the LCs in the hospital told me her latched was fine, but it wasn't. I ended up seeing an independent LC and am so thankful I met her. She is the reason I was able to continue to BF until I returned to work.

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  8. Breastfeeding is hard work that NObody prepares you for. It's painful and emotionally and physically draining. It does have rewards, but in the end, a happy and healthy baby (whether formula or breast fed) is all that matters.

    You gave your daughter a wonderful start and for that you need to pat yourself on the back.

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  9. Well, you know I am in the process of switching to formula. I haven't nursed Riley in several days and only pump to comfort (I am able to go 12+ hours now without getting engorged). It was really a sad moment, but I honestly feel better now that we have finally made the switch. I get plenty of snuggles in with her throughout the day. I am glad I had the experience and hope next time I am better able to handle everything, assuming there is a next time. I gave her breast milk in those early weeks and was able to share that with her early on, but breast feeding was always a struggle from the beginning. I am glad I worked so hard to give Riley that start. You did what was right for you in the beginning. Little Zoey will be happy and healthy no matter what you feed her. You can still bond with her and love and nurture her even if you bottle feed!

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  10. I've been pumping because Cam was so early. I've heard that it helps to pump often. I'm going to see at his next doctor's appointment if I can start breastfeeding. I wanted to my entire pregnancy, but things changed after he was born and I wasn't able to. I'm nervous that he won't get enough milk from me! Good luck!

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  11. My little boy is 10 weeks old & have we had our breastfeeding moments!!! It is NOT easy. My milk supply has gotten really low at times and what has helped big time is a Solgar Brewers Yeast supplement. Kicks in after 2-3 days and when it does I am a frikken milk factory. It's pretty extreme so I now only take 2 instead of the recommended dosage of 6 a day. Don't beat yourself up over the formula though. You're a fantastic mum & love is more important than breast milk!

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  12. My little boy is 10 weeks old & have we had our breastfeeding moments!!! It is NOT easy. My milk supply has gotten really low at times and what has helped big time is a Solgar Brewers Yeast supplement. Kicks in after 2-3 days and when it does I am a frikken milk factory. It's pretty extreme so I now only take 2 instead of the recommended dosage of 6 a day. Don't beat yourself up over the formula though. You're a fantastic mum & love is more important than breast milk!

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  13. I had the frustration and pain when we first started. I had to use a nipple shield to breastfeed while my nipples healed. You should try it, they use these to transition babies back to the breast all the time! Mine was a medela one that the lactation specialist gave me but they sell them at baby stors too. Just an idea... Also, there is this oats and whey protein powder (you can buy it on amazon) that helps.. It has several key ingredients to increase milj supply. Protein, water, and oatmeal! Vanilla is pretty good. Good luck!

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  14. Hey...i just wanted to say well done for pumping for so long! I bf my 15 week old, but it has been tough. I also use Medela nipple shields, when i first used them, the relief was immense and it doesnt affect the latch as i use them on one boob and not the other..i urge you to give them a go ;) even if you dont carry on...you have given her the best start and she will be perfect no matter how she is fed.
    xxx

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  15. hello,i've came across your blog while jumping from one blog to another.I have 13-month-old daughter and she also refused to breastfeed from the first day she was born.I always breastfed her while she was asleep and didn't give formula for the first 5 months.When she fell sleep,I took her pacifier out of her mouth and gave her my breast:)But when her eyes were open she never drank my milk.At first I was very depressed 'why didn't she want me,isn't she aware that i am her mum.But then I quit upsetting myself thinking of these things.She stopped sleepy,breastfeeding when she was 5 months old and I started to pump four times a day.It was really very hard and stressful.Just think of other things,never focus on milk while you are pumping.I used to watch tv or surf on the net,talk to frends on the phone to distract myself.It really worked.I pumped 6 months and quit it when she was 11 months old:)Wish you good luck.Hugs from ─░stanbul Turkey!

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  16. My boy was a month premature and establishing breastfeeding was incredibly hard. He couldn't latch on so I had to pump a lot and was using nipple shields. I was avoiding using the bottle and was feeding him with a cup. Hw was like a little kitty:) We both stuck at it though and after two months of hard work I was rewarded - he finally latched on without the shields. There was a sore nipple period after that but I just kept on going. He is now breastfeeding exclusively, gaining a kilo a month. Establishing breastfeeding is incredibly hard work and I am sharing my story to give you hope for your next little one ;) Zoey is adorable and happy which is all that matters in the end.

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  17. I began breastfeeding but switched to pumping after a week because my daughter was losing too much weight and wasn't having any dirty diapers. I understand the regret that you feel and I just keep thinking if I had only tried harder that it would have worked out. I hate spending so much time pumping when all I want to do in cuddle with my daughter. I cried so much early on. I felt like a failure because my baby prefered the bottle to me. Then I found a forum of women who exclusively pump. They have tons of ideas for incresing supply, time saving tips, and travel advice. This group has been a huge help. It motivates me to keep pumping and helps me feel like I am not alone in this. Here is the link if you are interested http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a4592405/the_exclusive_pumpers
    I highly recommend reading the first post about The Top Ten Questions.

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  18. Oh k8, I'm sorry to see this post. I know the feeling and we are the biggest critics of ourselves, as mothers to be we have it all planned in our head and feel so strongly, and when it doesn't work out that, we can be so hard on ourselves. But you do what is best for you and your family and not because the book tells you.

    When Shi latched on, she was so eager and rubbed me raw, one side especially. I dreading feeding times on that side. I saw a lactation nurse every 2 weeks for the 1st weeks. With out her, I am not sure I could have stayed with it.

    Can you increase the amount of times a day you pump? I know it can be inconvenient, but maybe your milk will increase with the increasing of feeds/pumping?

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  19. Hi there ... I came across your blog from Hayley (everything in between). Anyways I just wanted to chime in and say kudos to you for working so hard and wanting to breastfeed and pump. Its hard work but you can do it! I breastfed both my babies and pumped for a full year both times when I went back to work. here's a few tips - keep drinking LOTS of water, eat lots of oatmeal (i loved oatmeal cookies!), drink your tea and continue taking your fenugreek. Your best output will always be in the mornings, so make sure you pump in the mornings and continue doing so every 2 to 3hrs.

    Here is a great site which i referenced a lot:
    http://kellymom.com/
    http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/exclusive-pumping/

    and lastly please don't feel bad or guilty for giving her formula. you have to do whats best for you and your baby:)

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