Monday, May 31, 2010

Breastfeeding- final thoughts hopefully

I don't mean for this blog to become an all about breastfeeding blog but I wanted to give an update on how its going. Since last posting I stopped directly breastfeeding him, choosing to pump instead. Yesterday I had no spare milk and he was starving so I decided to nurse him. It went bad. We tried for 45 minutes and he screamed until his throat went hoarse. I guess this is what they call nipple confusion. I gave him to Jack who fed him formula and I ran upstairs and cried my eyes out in the dark. Today after a day of pumping and feeding I decided to try breastfeeding again. Again, he began screaming but Jack would take him away when he cried and soothe him and we'd try again. Finally he latched and though it took us a lot longer than it should he nursed successfully. And you know what? His eyes closed, his arms resting on my breast, it felt nice. When we got done he looked at me as though he was seeing me for the first time. He smiled at me and cooed and while I'm sure at this stage (three weeks) its probably gas like the books say, his little smile flew right into my heart and melted it completely. It gives me the strength to continue. I can't say the issue I've had with breastfeeding is over, after all, this is only a one time thing, but today I didn't cry instantly and I felt some hope. It also helped that Jack took a night feeding shift and my parents are visiting so I've actually managed to get more than four consecutive hours of sleep. When you feel more rested, things don't seem so dire.

It was hard to give formula. I wept and felt like such a failure. Then I read a passage from Momma Zen (seriously, if you're pregnant or parenting you must buy this book). She urges you to see food as food, to not look at it as representing failure or success. I've been fixated on breastfeeding = success and formula= failure that the feeding became way more than about the feeding, it become a matter of ego, a matter of me. This reminder helped me let go. Sometimes he will get formula- and its okay.

Another difficult issue about breastfeeding has been the time commitment. A feeling of being trapped (and I'm not alone in feeling this way). A lactation consultant told me law school required you to focus to get through it. Its hard but you did it because it was worth it. I'm trying to see it this way. Quitting law school tempted me countless times but I took it one day at a time and found my way through. Mama Zen talks about how parenting requires facing your ego (I swear she's not paying me to plug her!) I've lived thirty years and eight years of marriage on my own schedule. I'm not sure but perhaps this is playing a part here too.

I've heard at two months breastfeeding will get easier. Today I feel strong enough to get there. Maybe when I'm sleep deprived again I will feel differently- but I'm hanging on to this feeling today. I can't tell you how beautiful it felt for him to nurse on me and for there not to be instant tears springing to my eyes.


  1. Ah, mother's guilt. Sigh. Whatever you choose to do is right if your beautiful baby is happy and growing. And totally agree, one day at a time :) Now I'm off to try and find that book...

  2. you are so awesome.

  3. I still struggle with breast-feeding and feeling inadequate about K's poor weight gain. And guilty that I'm still EBF. I'd hope it would be better by 3 months. Hope I can still hang in there when I go back to work in 2 weeks.
    Keep on taking it 1 day at a time.

  4. It is hard - I am hooked up to the pump for at least 2 hours per day...

    You are a great mom - it shows!

    If you are going to hang in there - make sure you are nursing and/or pumping every time he feeds to keep your supply going - it is tough when you need to get sleep but it does get better. I promise!!

    Also, if he needs help on the nipple - you could consider a nipple shield - I know a lot of LC's do not recommend those but it could help if he is really preferring the bottle.

    I still nurse my little girl - my boy does not want anything to do with the nipple - it goes just as you described - lots of screaming (him!) and lots of stress for both of us. So I do not nurse him anymore - it breaks my heart but he is still getting all breast milk. ((HUGS))

  5. It takes about 12 weeks to build up milk supply so until that time you will probably have to give formula as supplementation and that is okay. I give it at night so that I don't have to think too much about it.

    It really is okay.

  6. I have not tried breastfeeding yet, as I'm still in the final weeks of my pregnancy, but I think everything you wrote is SPOT ON! And I KNOW you are not the only one who has these problems or feels this way - if anything you are in the majority I would guess. So keep reading Momma Zen (I already have it and can't wait to crack it open) and just do the best that you can do everyday. I study a lot of Buddhism and that is a big teaching. You can only do the best that you can do in the present moment. If that means an occasional formula feed so be it. Whole generations came up on formula and you know what? they were okay. Your child will be okay too. And more importantly, you will be okay and I promise you that having a mom who is okay is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than having a baby who is fed exclusively breastmilk.

    I had huge anxiety issues when I was pregnant and ended up going on at 16 weeks. EVERY SINGLE DOCTOR I talked to told me to go on it. They all said that me being okay was more important than any possible side effect. I promise you that taking while pregnant has more possible risks than occasional (or full time) formula feeds. Of course I felt really bad about it and did a ton of research (making me feel worse many times) but in the end I knew I needed it and I took it. And you know what, I felt so much better afterward that I never thought twice about it (well that isn't true, but when I did I quickly and easily admitted it was what I needed to do given the circumstances). I plan to keep taking while I breastfeed because I'm SURE I will have baby blues and have a higher chance of getting PPD (I've also suffered for many years from depression). Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that many women have to make decisions that are difficult and put themselves slightly ahead of their babies, but they do that because they love their babies enough to want to be there for them in the best way that they can. That is more important than the other negatives that might be present.

    I hope all that helped. I don't mean to seem preachy, but I feel very strongly about these issues. You are doing an AMAZING job and everything you are feeling is a natural, physical reaction to your baby. It might not be the reaction people talk about, but it's totally normal and you should not feel like less of a mother for your (understandable) response. You need to be the best mother you can be, and if your circumstances require you to not breastfeed constantly, then so be it.

    Good luck going forward!

    Kait @

  7. you are brave to keep exploring the world of breastfeeding and all of the emotions it brings up, both beautiful and difficult emotions. i'm so grateful you've been taking it one day at a time, one feeding at a time, and are doing your best in any given moment.

    p.s. if your little guy had his eyes open when he smiled at you (which it sounds like from your description), i would count that as a social smile! they usually start at 4 weeks-ish, so while that means he's a smidge early to smile, he really couldn't have been more timely. aren't those little smiles to die for?!

  8. I am so glad you're doing better, and thrilled that you had such a good experience. Here's hoping for more smiling and fewer tears (and screaming!) no matter how they come about. Thinking of you and your Jack & your wee one every day. Take care.

  9. I am trying to keep my mouth (fingers) shut on this issue because I feel rather strongly about it. :) But I am really glad that you are feeling more positive, more hopeful, and enjoying the benefits of breastfeeding right now. I know it can be hard, very hard. I hope it gets easier for you soon.

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  11. I'm so glad you had a great experience with him. I am going to try to breastfeed and I know it won't be easy. I applaud you for continuing to try even when you have to cry your eyes out!

  12. i am having the same guilty feelings. i have been trying to breastfeed my twins but "failing" because they have lost too much weight and the pediatrician has put them on formula supplementation. i am scared that they are going to prefer the bottle over the nipple now and its difficult because they fall asleep on the boob all the time and don't get enough. my milk production is also sucking. it's hard not to take it personally and think of it as a failure on my own part. food is food. food is food. thanks. i'll keep telling myself that.