Breastfeeding Woes

I wrote the entry below on September 22nd, in a private Mom forum I belong to, when I was still really upset about not being able to breastfeed. I don’t feel as guilty anymore, but I know that a lot of women feel the same way I did, and I thought that I should share this post in case it might help someone come to terms with a similar situation. Ok, disclaimer over. 🙂

Title: This Video Made Me Cry (Breastfeeding Woes)

I saw it tonight while watching Glee, and it really upset me. It’s such a stupid commercial. While watching it, I kind of laughed at it and waited to hear what dumb diet it was promoting. When it was revealed that it was a PSA for breastfeeding, my smile faded. I formula feed, and not by choice.

Breastfeeding has been rough from day one. In the hospital, the nurse gave me a nipple shield on my first night, which I thought was awesome because S actually started eating! And the shield was cool because I could see milk in it, so I knew he was getting some. When the lactation consultant came in, she saw that I was using the shield, and never taught me how to get him to latch without it. So I kept using it. I didn’t know any better. Unfortunately, S wasn’t getting enough.

My little guy apparently has a problem sucking (he wants to chomp, not suck) so he wasn’t getting enough to eat. He was born 7lbs, but by the time we left the hospital, he was 6lbs. By his first month appointment he was 5lbs. During his first month, we tried all different kinds of things, and he was eating every 2 hours, but the doctor eventually told us that we needed to supplement with formula.

At first, I was still breastfeeding and then giving him a bottle of pumped milk with a little formula in it, and that went great – he ate it like a champ and gained weight. At his next weight check, he was in the 7th percentile, which was the first time he’d made it onto his growth chart. After a while, S stopped wanting the breast. He would fuss and pull away from it, and it was very frustrating. I had read about “nursing strikes”, but none of their suggestions were helping. I was already feeling guilty that I couldn’t feed him enough to gain weight, and now my heart was breaking that he didn’t want “me” at all. Lactation consultants at my pediatrician called me and offered to help, but I never took them up on their offers. I didn’t want to incur a fee (I don’t even know if one would have been charged…) and I felt like I should be able to do it on my own. Breastfeeding is supposed to be natural, why can’t I do it???

My supply was already low, (it would take me 30min just to get 2oz from each breast) probably due to a combo of the nipple shield and his weak sucking, and once he stopped eating directly from me, it got even lower. Sometimes I would sit there for 30 min and almost nothing would come out. Like, so little that it wasn’t even worth putting it in the storage bag. I didn’t learn until a couple of weeks ago that pumping isn’t always a sign of your supply level, so I just kind of gave up. I felt defeated.

For a while we just bottle fed him formula. And then I tried feeding again with the shield, and it went ok…he would eat, but only for 15 min total, not 15 per breast like he used to. Then he would freak out and refuse to nurse any more. It was so much work for him, and the pay off just wasn’t there. If he nursed from me though, I was able to pump 1oz per breast in 30 min. After a while though, it just didn’t feel like it was worth it. I felt like I was torturing him by making him breastfeed, so I stopped.

I had S in my lap when that PSA came on, and as I started to tear up, he smiled at me; waved his little arms & cooed. It’s been hard to come to this decision, but my son is happy and gaining weight, and able to sleep halfway through the night on formula. I can go out of the house and not watch the clock. I can drive the two and a half hours to Ft. Drum and back every week like I need to. I can sleep in because my husband can feed him now. I don’t know why this isn’t enough for me.

I am just so sick of lactivists telling me that “breast is best”. I know. And I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t do it. Do I feel bad about it? YES. So much so that I am still upset about a stupid PSA I saw on TV something like four hours ago and typing up this overly long post because I just need to get it out there. Stop telling me that I’m feeding my son chemicals and that formula is the 4th best option in the list of ways to feed him. I feel bad enough already.

I feel guilty because sometimes I wonder if these feelings are real or if they’re just excuses because I’m lazy and really hated getting up all the time in the middle of the night to feed him. (Because I did hate it. I am not a morning person, so having four “mornings” every night was not cool.)


I’ve been trying to pump with no success, and trying to feed him once a day, thinking that some milk has to be better than no milk, but he hates it. He is a good sport for about 5 min and then gets mad when nothing comes out but a couple drops. I start work on the 4th. At this point, I think I just need to suck it up and accept that maybe I could have done the partial milk feeding thing, but that giving up that second month probably killed its chances of working for me. I should have kept trying to pump every two hours, but didn’t. I lived my life. I was selfish. And it wasn’t worth it in the end.



  1. […] Breastfeeding Woes Posted by: sillypanda | January 6, 2011 […]

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