I feel like a failure with breastfeeding... — The Bump
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I feel like a failure with breastfeeding...

I feel like such a failure with breastfeeding. DD is having trouble with feedings and has been unable to gain weight for the past week. I had been hoping to breastfeed exclusively for the first month or so, but the lactation consultant and the pediatrician have recommended that we start bottle feeding her to make sure she is gaining weight. I am pumping right now and seem to have a decent supply so she is only getting breast milk, but I just feel terrible about it. I know that the most important thing is that she gains weight and continues to stay healthy, but how do you deal with the mommy guilt? I'll continue to try to nurse her as well, but I guess I am afraid that she won't be interested in it now that she has been introduced to the bottle. Has anyone had success with both(nursing and bottle feeding) even when their baby was very young?
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Re: I feel like a failure with breastfeeding...

  • Sorry you are dealing with this, it is very stressful and emotional. The same thing happened with me with DD and we lasted about a month until I threw in the towel.She was breast fed, then I pumped and gave her the bottle and then we went to formula. The pedi was having us supplement since she had lost more than 10% of her birth weight.  It was very stressful on me and the repeated trips to the pedi were exhausting on everyone. I did not have much of a supply even when pumping, so that is great that you  have that going for you. I would stick with it, I feel like I gave up way to easily. Just remember that she is getting breast milk and that is awesome, don't stress yourself out further. I know the guilt, but it gets better. Both my children were/are formula fed and they are just fine! Hopefully you won't go that route, but if so, that is perfectly fine as well.



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  • Don't be so hard on yourself, those first few weeks are SO hard even without any breastfeeding/weight gain issues. In the beginning, I was having trouble getting DS latched and he was jaundiced. The physician's assistant I saw told me to supplement with formula (bad advice, I still hate him to this day but ANYWAY!). I remember breaking down crying because I couldn't feed my baby and we were both so miserable:( It was an awful time. 

    We eventually got breastfeeding to work. He supplemented with a bottle from a few weeks old, and always preferred nursing. We continued to nurse until 15 months. He got almost all breast milk - either from the tap or pumped, but we did supplement with formula from time to time.  

    Try not to be discouraged, if you get past this initial weight gain, things will be easier. And if you end up bottle feeding (either breast milk or formula), you will both be perfectly fine!

    Lots and lots of hugs & positive thoughts sent your way. I know its such a hard time - let us know if we can give any advice to help things along! 

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  • yes. my kid never cared where it came from as long as it was milk.
    hope you find the same to be true.
    keep trying.



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  • My advice is to get working with a lactation consultant ASAP!!  I EPed for DS1 for a year and swore I'd never do that again.  With DS2 we had weight gain issues during the 1st month.  I went straight to an LC.  I had supply, we just needed help with getting DS2 to get the milk.  I know LCs cost money but if it keeps you nursing even a month more, that's still less expensive than formula.  All we needed was a good long first session and then just a check in session after that. A 15 min LC consult in the pedi's office wasn't going to cut it for us.  And I'm sooooo glad we did it b/c we're still going strong at 6 mos and having a baby who drinks straight from the tap is so much easier than EPing.  And DS2 will go back and forth between the breast and the bottle just fine. Those first few weeks are so overwhelming and challenging--hang in there!!

    Obviously do what's best for you and your baby.  Good luck!! 

     ETA: Your LO was early due to pre-e right?  DS2 was just shy of 37 weeks and the LC indicated that "near term" babies can have some issues with BFing but most usually resolve quickly with help.  I was so worried that we would have the same issues that I did with DS1 (32 weeker) that no LC seemed to be able to help us with. But LC was right--BFing issues resolved fairly quickly with DS2.

    Another thought--if you are wanting to avoid the bottle to try and avoid LO preferring bottle over breast, you can syringe feed.  That's what we did with DS2 b/c I was terrified he'd like the bottle more (at least for the first few weeks).  When he was about 5ish weeks old we introduced the bottle since I was going to go back to work.

    Sorry so long! 


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  • Hopefully all will be fine! My DS #2 was not gaining weight in the first week of life either. He was nursing, but falling asleep pretty quickly during feedings most of the time and was so very hard to wake no matter what we tried. I started pumping at day 7 and he had mostly bottles for 3 days. Once he was staying awake long enough to finish his bottles, he had more energy to stay awake and take a full feeding. We did those 3 days of bottles and then I started nursing exclusively again. And he was 8lbs 4oz at birth and slightly over 13lbs at 2 months!

    He occasionally gets a bottle now but much prefers to nurse! And he's a little over 20 lbs at almost 8 months old. Bottles definitely didn't hurt our nursing relationship!

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  • DD would not take to my breast at first so I EP'ed for awhile. Unfortunately, though, by the time I fed her and pumped, feedings took an hour or more, which was not fun in the middle of the night. I decided to put her back on the breast to see if she would take it, and lo and behold, she did!

    So, just keep trying. Talk to the lactation consultant and try not to stress too much. I swear, babies feel our stress and react to it. However, if it doesn't work for you to breastfeed and you just have to pump (or you have to give her formula), it will be OK. She will still thrive and will be happy that she is getting nourished and snuggled by her mommy and daddy. Good luck!


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  • Don't feel discouraged - it can be very difficult at first.  Breastfeeding has been the hardest thing I've loved doing.  DD was born premature and was unable to latch so that first week I pumped around the clock and had to supplement with formula.  We used a nipple shield for the first 6 weeks too.  Even though she was mainly bottle fed/artificial nipple those first 6 weeks we were still able to nurse after the roadblocks along the way. 

     I never used a LC, but things might have been easier if I had.  So if you have one available take advantage of them.

     Good luck - you're doing a great job!!

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  • I went through a tough time initially, too. Zoe lost 10% of her body weight the first few days and we had to give formula and I felt like a failure. Zoe had a "weak suck." I pumped to get my supply up. I tried to nurse her, but she never got much out on her own. I went to just pumping. When she was 6 weeks old, I tried her back at the breast and she did great. She nursed or took breast milk from a bottle until she was a year old. I had a great LC that helped me through all this. She was great and said pumping is still breast feeding. Kids may have nipple preference, but can still take either. Stick with it, I know it's tough. You're doing a great job!
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  • Yes, I had to supplement and BF because of a low supply with both of my babies. Despite taking herbal supplements and everything else I could do to get my supply up, I still have to supplement with formula. It was really hard on me with my first, I felt horrible. But I knew what to expect with my second and it was actually not bad, it was sort of nice doing both. My DS had no issues at all going back and forth either, he nursed until he was one (and got bottles the entire time too). Best of luck to you, do not beat yourself up, at least you have a good supply, I would have given anything for that, even if it meant pumping and giving bottles.
  • Please do not feel like a failure.  DS also lost more than 10% the first week and was jaundiced and I supplemented a tiny bit of formula (through a syringe and tubing while BFing).  Mommy guilt is a hard thing to let go but in hindsight you're going to look back no matter how you feed your baby and know that you did what you could.  I tortured (yes tortured) myself to keep going with BFing and had a huge love/hate relationship with it.  When we have our second, all of that is going out the window.  Yes I will start out BFing but I will listen to my body, my baby and my well being and do what's right when the time comes.  If that means only BFing for two weeks, then so be it.  I am not beating myself up about it again because Dylan will have turned out the same way regardless of how long I BFd him.  I am glad that I was able to experience BFing him until 7 months but the guilt went away when I realized how much happier and easier life could be without it.  Bottom line-breast feeding is hard and don't let anyone tell you different or make you feel guilty about admitting that (I've had LC's and nurses tell me how EASY it is and they don't understand why people don't do it - arrrggh!!).  You're doing a great job!!  Keep it up and I have seen babies go from BF'ing to bottle and back just fine.

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  • I had to supplement BF with formula while still in the hospital and pretty much after 3 months. Logically, you know it's okay since LO is getting nutrition and developing. At the same time, emotionally, it's not what you wanted to do. Let's face it, our emotions are dominant postpartum. I felt like I was failing DD, that I was failing myself, that I couldn't do this simple thing. It took me many months to realize BF isn't simple, that I wasn't failing anybody and DD was getting everything she needed nutritionally. When we FF, I still tried to do skin-to-skin, eye contact, and all the things the lactation consultants recommended to resemble BF.

    Good luck and don't beat yourself up!

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  • We worked with a LC and still had latch issues for a few weeks. There were times where we fed her with a spoon so that we did not have to introduce a bottle too soon. DH would also sometimes put a little breast milk on his finger and try to get her sucking properly that way.  It was very frustrating and painful for awhile. It eventually got better, but it took much longer than I ever thought it would. DD was born at 38w4d, so she was full term but a little early. Not sure how much that played a factor in her ability to latch. 

    Since I wanted to wait until breastfeeding was well established we did not introduce a bottle until after 7 weeks. Now I am debating if we waited to long. Breast feeding has gotten much better but we struggle to get her to take a bottle. Sometimes she does fine, other times not so much. I have to go back to work in Dec, so having her take a bottle would be ideal.

    Good luck and try not to be too hard on yourself. Breastfeeding is hard work. 


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