Saturday, March 19, 2011

Breastfeeding Woes

I really don't like breastfeeding. It is probably one of my least favorite things about having a baby. That and the horrible afterpains and the seemingly endless postpartum bleeding. But breastfeeding is my nemesis when it comes to babies. I just can't seem to do it and eventually I give up entirely and just switch to formula.

I know, it's not the worst thing in the world to formula feed your baby. And I shouldn't care what other people think about my choosing not to breastfeed. It's not like I didn't try, because I always do.

In fact, while I was pregnant with this baby, I was seriously considering just skipping it altogether because I know how hard it is for me.

I can't ever get the baby latched on right without help from a lactation consultant. And even then, it takes a good 4-5 days before my milk comes in, so I have a very hungry baby for quite a few days. And then, because my milk takes so long to come in, I always, ALWAYS, end up with a baby with jaundice, so there's the extra doctor's appointments for heel pricks and weighing in because they always lose so much weight at first. And then there's the tedious moments where I'm waiting all day for the baby to poop out the bilirubin. And I have to stop and think, should I just throw in the towel and start the bottle?

I decided to try anyway because I'm not dumb and I know that breastmilk is best for baby. Still, I'm having a very hard time with it.

This time around, I can't seem to get him latched on right at all. It hurts like crazy every single time I nurse on either side the ENTIRE time he's eating. That's right, twice every one to two hours for fifteen minutes each time I am in severe pain. Let's see, since he's been eating every one to two hours and nurses for about fifteen minutes on each side and he does this ALL day long, that's THREE HOURS of excruciating pain.

I've checked his lips. They're flanged out like they're supposed to be. I've checked how much he has in his mouth and how wide his mouth is open and all of it looks right to me, so I can't figure out why I am in so much pain. He also never seems satisfied and sometimes, I'll nurse him twice from each side before he's finally done. And then I still feel like my breasts are full.

But I don't know who to ask for help either. I should have sought help from the lactation consultant before I left the hospital because I could already tell I was having problems. But she only came by my room once and he happened to be off to the nursery for a blood test to check his sugar level at that time.

At any rate, I feel like a complete failure when it comes to breastfeeding. With my first, he was premature and stayed in the NICU for two weeks, during which, I pumped every three hours day and night. He couldn't suck, so he was fed through a tube in his nose and I would come in every six hours and put him to the breast while he was being fed through the nose. When he came home, I managed to continue the breastfeeding for nearly three more months, but it was so tiring and demanding that I finally caved and weaned him to a bottle. Fortunately, I had a HUGE supply of frozen milk from that hospital stay, so he continued to be fed breastmilk mixed with formula for about three more weeks after that. My second baby I nursed exclusively for two months (two very long miserable months) and then gave up after two more months of nursing alternating with bottles. My third baby lasted about four months as well, but mostly just the first 6-8 weeks. After that, he was probably getting more formula than breastmilk, but I was still trying. My 4th child, my daughter, I only nursed for two months.

When this baby was born, they put him immediately to my breast, which was what I wanted. But after he was born, I couldn't stop shaking, my whole body was shivering and shaking to the point that I couldn't even hold him. That didn't subside for about 2-3 hours after the birth, so by that time, they had already whisked him off to the nursery and given him a bottle. I wasn't upset or anything, after all, what was I supposed to do? I couldn't even hold him, I was shaking so bad, and since I couldn't hold him, I couldn't feed him. Plus, it was good for my husband to have some time with him, feeding him and bathing him in the nursery.

But I wonder if these circumstances have made it difficult--that the first feeding he had was a bottle, so that's why he hasn't been latching on or sucking right. And I have no idea how to fix it. Today, we are waiting for him to poop. He's had jaundice all week and has gone in repeatedly for heel pricks to check his bilirubin level. It hasn't been extremely high, not high enough for phototherapy, but high enough that they are concerned. He did start gaining the weight back a few days ago, but he hasn't been pooping AT ALL, which is a huge cause for concern.

Anyway, I'm about ready to give up and I'm only at day six. I just can't stand the pain. The lack of sleep, I can handle. I'm pretty good about catching cat naps here and there while he sleeps. And nursing lying on my side so I can kind of doze. But the pain I just can't handle. It seems to be getting worse. And I feel frustrated and like a huge failure.


Jen said...

Oh, Jenna, I'm so sorry you're struggling with breastfeeding. That is not a pleasant thing to go through. I had a bit of a rough time with Parker and I finally tried nipple shields. Have you tried those? It might be worth a try before you give up. They are very inexpensive and they were a huge relief from the pain for me. I know you can find them at Babies r Us. Here's a link so you can see what they are:

If you do decide not to breastfeed, it DOES NOT mean you are a failure in any way. You are great mother and whether or not you can breastfeed in no way changes that. Good Luck and congratulations!!!

swedemom said...

Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry. That is so hard. I had a really hard time breastfeeding my youngest. I stuck it out for six weeks of a lot of pain, but eventually it came together. But if I had been sick or too tired, I would have stopped.

I believe in the importance of breastfeeding, but I also am deeply grateful for formula. I also believe in the importance of a happy mom during that first year of a baby's life. If breastfeeding doesn't make you happy and your dread it or it makes you miserable, then it isn't worth it in my book.

You are a wonderful mom and I know that you'll do fine in whatever you decide. Don't feel guilty about your choice--whatever it is. You're the mom and you know what is best for you and your baby.

You are not a failure. Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but history is full of stories where women couldn't breastfeed. If they weren't lucky enough to get a wet nurse, then the end was usually pretty bad. I think formula is a great blessing.

I nursed my boys, but I gave formula to my daughter. She is just as healthy as my other kids. I chose not to breastfeed her for health reasons.

Hugs to you.

P.S. So sorry about that shaking. That sounds scary. I shake really badly during labor, but I usually stop after I've delivered. That must have been super frustrating.

Stacy said...

Congrats on little Jonah. Happy to hear he's made it safely.

I've had a ton of breastfeeding experience, classes, training etc, but that's no substitute for being there and seeing the two of you working together. If you want to make it work, you really should see if you can get some help rather than just suffering through things. And if you don't want to pay for a lactation consult, you can call La Leche League- the leaders there are great and will help free.

Make sure you're drinking tons and tons of water to help with your milk supply, and getting lots of good food. Also, have your pediatrician or someone knowledgable check him for a tongue or lip tie. That can make breastfeeding very painful!

There's a product out there called "soothies"- it's a little gel pad you put over your nipples and it will help protect them and help them heal. Did wonders for me with max, who was my most difficult nurser. You can usually find them at Walgreens. Good luck, let me know if I can help.

Becky said...

Olivia was early, jaundice (sp?), wouldn't nurse (I had no milk), only wanted to sleep and would only poop with the help of KY and a thermometer. After drinking gallons of water, the nasty tea, my ped's lactation specialist told me to find a good formula and let it go. I myself never have had a good milk supply so I understand and I don't call it throwing in the towel. A health, happy, FUNCTIONING mother is more important than what goes in their mouth. It's unnerving to have to feed a baby a 1 to 2 hours that won't wake up and won't poop on his/her own. Good luck, but know you're not a failure if he eats your breastmilk out of a bottle.

Royalbird said...

Thank you for your comments of support and understanding. I've still been trying, but I admit, we've also been supplementing with a little formula here and there (only about once every couple days) and some pumped milk. He seems to be doing better with the jaundice since we started feeding him a little supplement and gaining back the weight he lost. And Stacy, thanks for the info on the soothies, I'll definitely be looking into using those!

BYU Hottie said...

I agree with the previous comments about the nipple shields--they can make a big difference! And I felt horrible guilt about supplementing my baby, but he was happier once I did. After several months, I didn't need to anymore, but once I got over the guilt, I felt a lot more relaxed.
Also, anytime I was stressed about nursing, or had anxiety about something, he would not nurse well. When I just let go, chilled, and nursed (oh, and distracted myself with my fav tv show) things went much better then as well. (easier to do with the first, rather than the 5th though.)
You'll know what to do, and you'll make a decision that's best for you and little guy!
After all, you are a very experienced mother--he will be fine! :)

Jackie said...

Girl. You have enough to feel guilty about, don't add this to the list.

Try your best then move on with no regrets I say.

Love ya!

Royalbird said...

Well, he didn't gain back his birth weight by his two week checkup, so now we are supplementing even more. I will be happy if I can just make it to six weeks at this point. It literally takes about 1-1/2 hours to feed him and then he needs to eat again 1-1/2 hours later. So I think it will be less stressful for everyone involved to just switch over to formula.

Royalbird said...

And I didn't mention that I had consult with the lactation specialist at the pediatrician's office and she said I was doing everything right, so at least I feel good that I did try and it's not my fault that things aren't going well. She said he nursed like a two-day old, not a two-week old. The funny thing is, the way he sucks and nurses is just like all my other babies did the whole time I tried nursing them.


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