Health & Exercise

Reluctantly giving up breastfeeding

I gave birth to a healthy 8 lb 7 oz baby boy almost 4 weeks ago.  For the first two weeks I tried to exclusively breastfeed, but he steadily lost weight the whole time - about 1 1/2 pounds total!  He was extremely fussy and difficult to deal with.  He also developed jaundice that lingered for a long time.  He had all kinds of blood tests, and his liver function and bilirubin levels were very elevated.  His pediatrician recommended I "flush" his system with only formula for a couple days.  He gained 7 1/2 oz during that time, and the jaundice virtually disappeared!  After that I tried to re-introduce breastfeeding before every bottle, just so he could get the health benefits.  At first it seemed to work great, but as he started to do "better" and spend more time breastfeeding, it seemed like a lot of the old symptoms returned.  He would get very gassy and fussy, his poops were very very runny, and he developed soreness around the anus.

I suspect he's sensitive to something I'm eating, but NOT cow's milk, since he does great on milk-based formula.  He is like a different little boy when he's fed just formula - very happy and content.  I'm ready to throw in the towel with breastfeeding, but I kind of feel like a failure.  It doesn't help that my family is very pro-breastfeeding.  My mom had five kids, and successfully breastfed all but one of us.  She keeps saying she's "never heard of such a thing" when I tell her I think there's something wrong with my milk, and she acts like I'm trying to make up excuses.  I think it's also difficult emotionally because for 9 months I provided everything my baby needed with my own body, and I can't do that anymore.  Everyone complimented me on how healthy we both were.  I'm having a very difficult time letting go of breastfeeding, but I want what's best for my baby :-(  Has anyone else gone through this?

Re: Reluctantly giving up breastfeeding

  • We had a lot of struggles in the beginning too. We had to supplement with formula for a few months, but I was able to cut back and go back to solely breast feeding by 5 months and now at 20 months we are still going on strong! I'm pregnant with #2 and plan to continue breast feeding right up until the new baby is born. I hope that encourages you, you don't need to give you yet if you don't want to.

    I recommend you see a lactation consultant, they'll be able to help you figure out exactly what the problem is and what kind of options you have. Have you cut out all dairy or just cow's milk? You may have to go dairy-free. There are lots of other foods that could be causing the reactions too. Even things you might not think of, like I know of one woman where it turned out to be lettuce of all things.

    Also, this is something he could grow out of soon. As they reach the 4-6 month range their gut closes up and a lot of digestive issues start to resolve around that time.

    If you are determined to keep breast feeding, look up the elimination diet. Basically you eat only about 4-5 non-allergenic foods (like squash, turkey, rice, as an example) for a week and then slowly start adding back the regular foods, one at a time every few days and that way you can tell which foods your baby is reacting too. It's a bit extreme, but if it's something you want to continue on with and you think it might be a food intolerance, then that is probably the only way to know for sure what those foods are.
  • An aquaintance I know went through something similar, she is a vegetarian and after a lot of testing they found out dairy products were making the baby have a bad reaction to her breast milk so now she's temporarily had to cut out dairy in her diet as well. Things have been going smoothly for her since she stopped the dairy.
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