Heartbroken and guilty-should I stop breastfeeding after only a week? — The Bump

Heartbroken and guilty-should I stop breastfeeding after only a week?

im a first time mom, and for the length of my pregnancy I was dead set on breastfeeding. I tried unsuccessfully for a year to get pregnant before my daughter was conceived and I wanted to do everything right for her. I wanted to do it badly, though I was bottle fed and never actually knew anyone who breastfed their babies. I had also had a breast reduction surgery when I was 14. That was 7 years ago, and I was sure that I could overcome the challenges.

Then my baby came. She had to be induced, which after hours of hard labor turned into am emergency cesarean section. I hadn't wanted an epidural so I ended up being completely unconscious when she was born. I woke up an hour later and didn't get to breastfeed her for another hour after that.

She latched on well and seemed to be doing well for two days. On the third day in the hospital when I put her to my breast, she screamed bloody murder. She arched her back and fought me with a rigor unheard of in newborns.

I struggled through and got her fed. The next day the fighting continued, made worse by the fact that my nipples were so flat I had to use a nipple shield, which would come off as soon as she began to thrash.

The struggle started taking its toll immediately and I got really stressed. However when we left the hospital she was jaundiced but hadn't lost as much of her birthweight as most babies, so I was hopeful that things would work out.

Her first appointment with a pediatrician the day after we came home revealed a rapid weight loss, leading the dr. To strongly suggest I supplement with formula. It made me so sad to give it to her, but after she took her first bottle she looked at me and smiled for the first time.

I cried like a baby. All that fighting and screaming replaced by a sweet smile all because of something as evil as formula. I hated the formula but I was confident that she would get back to breastfeeding happily.

My husband and I paid to rent a hospital grade pump because I was still bound and determined to feed her my breast milk, though I was heart broken that for whatever reason she wouldn't nurse.

She continued to fight and scream, and she doesn't seem happy when I even hold her, like she's just dreading something she hates. Every time I pump it makes me feel like a failure and I cry and cry at the thought of her not wanting to nurse from me.

I took her to a lactation consultant today and was nicely told that I would probably always have to supplement, and that my baby was the hardest baby to breastfeed that she had seen in her 30 years of practice.

I'm now struggling with the decision to quit breastfeeding altogether. I know it's best for her and I want so badly to do it for her, but pumping makes me so miserable that I don't even enjoy my time with my baby, and nursing her involves so much screaming and fighting that I wonder if we'd both be happier just giving up the ghost.

I know If I stop completely I'll drown even deeper in guilt, but if I don't then I'm only prolonging the misery for both of us and delaying the inevitable day when I can't pump enough for her anyway.

I know a week is early to give up, and I'm absolutely heartbroken at the thought, but if I have to hold my baby down and force something in her mouth between screams, is it really worth it? I know pumping is the alternative, but it's just a constant reminder of what I can't do. I feel like I'm stuck in quicksand and I'm afraid if I don't make a decision and get fully behind it soon I'm going to keep being miserable and miss out on these special days with my newborn.

What should I do?

Re: Heartbroken and guilty-should I stop breastfeeding after only a week?

  • Huge hugs to you, mama!
    I will honestly say I have never been in your shoes, although I have a friend who was and I feel like I can imagine it. It's heartbreaking not to be able to do what you expect. However, you gotta do what's best for you and baby, and it sounds like formula feeding is it. My friend was heartbroken that she was unable to breastfeed, but her baby is so happy, she is less stressed, she knows baby is always getting enough, and it's easier for her to accept help with feeding the baby. She's so happy that even though there is a bottle always given she still has this amazing bond with her baby, so please don't feel that by not breastfeeding you have "given up", if anything you really are doing everything you can for your baby! Please don't beat yourself up for changing your mind about how to feed your baby. You are an amazing mom!!

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  • ldmwldmw
    Ninth Anniversary 500 Comments 250 Love Its First Answer
    I've been in a somewhat similar situation just 4 short months ago. Long story short, we had to supplement on day 3 for medical reasons. Broke my heart because I never even bought bottles as I was so set on breastfeeding. I had supply issues so we spent two weeks triple feeding (nurse, bottle, pump). I wanted to quit so bad but I was determined to find a way to make breastfeeding work. So I decided to exclusively pump until I got my supply up. I still almost 99% pump. It breaks my heart not to have a nursing relationship but it just wasn't in the cards for us. I asked myself so many times why I was spending 4-5 hours a day attached to my pump. I hated it. It hurt and I wanted to be with my baby. I decided to set short term goals for myself and I'm so glad I did. At first my goals were just another day or the end of the week. Then it was 6 weeks and then it was 13 weeks. And then it was 4 months. And now it is 6 months.

    The first month was the hardest! The second got a little better. The third was way better because our routine was established.

    I have a few pieces of advice for you and I'm sorry in advance that it's all over the place and is somewhat contradictory. First, stop feeling guilty. You are an amazing mommy. It doesn't matter how your baby is fed, but just that baby is fed and mommy is healthy. Second, don't quit on a bad day. Tough it out on bad days and set a date in the near future to reevaluate if it's time to quit or not. Third, since you were so set on breastfeeding I would recommend based on my experience to pump exclusively for a month or 6 weeks. Reevaluate then and see if you still hate it or if you feel like it's getting better. I know it's so hard to see now but it really does get better for most. Lastly, if you really feel on a good day that you're done. It's okay! Formula is not evil. It's food for your baby. And it's easier on momma. If it's what's best for you and you family, no shame.

    One more thought, what pump do you use? I'm on my third one in 4 months but have finally found the one that works best for me, is portable, and comfortable. Spectra S1.
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  • My first week breastfeeding was absolutely terrible. LO would scream and thrash. I constantly had scratches all over my chest from her flinging her arms at me. I would end up in tears wanting nothing to do with my own daughter. I remember taking long showers when family was over just so I could cry without anyone knowing. At the end of the first week, I was ready to give up. I felt guilty about wanting to quit, but my husband was so supportive and kept reminding me that if I am stressed, baby is stressed. There is nothing wrong with bottle feeding.

     There were a couple of methods that ended up working for us. If she was crying, I would give her a bit of a bottle just to get her to calm down and be less hungry. Then she would be relaxed enough to latch on without fighting me. The other thing I did was swaddle her as tightly as possible. This was probably more for my sake. It kept her hands down and prevented her from scratching me. After a few days with the swaddle she could eat without it. We also saw an LC who had us stack her up on two pillows when I fed her. It was annoying, but it worked. The process of swaddling then getting pillows arranged was inconvenient, but it made it so she was finally able to breastfeed and I was able to enjoy her more and not dread every feeding. She is almost a month old now and the majority of her feedings are pretty easy. No swaddling. No pillows. We still give her a bottle every once in a while, but this is just to give me a break and to keep her used to using a bottle. 

    I really want you to know that there is still hope for breastfeeding if that's what you want to do. You can't let yourself feel guilty about trying to get LO to work through it. My LC was against the swaddling, but I really think it helped to keep baby calm (which kept me calm). If you want to exclusively pump (which is something I really considered), remind yourself that baby is still getting breast milk which is great! If you decide to do formula, look at all the people around you who were formula fed and turned out perfectly fine! It's ridiculous how many people act like giving a baby formula makes you a bad mom. As long as baby gets fed, there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty.
  • I just finished a class on child nutrition and wanted to throw this out there - formula is not evil and you are not a bad mother if you choose to stop BF or if you supplement! Babies lose weight after birth because it takes up to a week for the mother's milk to start providing the fat content needed to fatten baby up. Formula provides that fat from day 1, giving baby an extra boost and preventing baby from losing as much weight. There are obviously pros and cons to both, but at the end of the day, both BF and formula babies thrive!

    The stress you're feeling could also be contributing to your struggles, so you may find that a weight is lifted when you give yourself permission to do what works for you. Please don't feel guilty about doing what's best for you and your baby!
  • 1. Long term outcomes are statistically identical for FF and BF babies. The most rigorous study on this topic involves sibling pairs (i.e. successfully gets around the socioeconomic biases): http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/sibbreast.htm

    2. Arching is a sign of reflux, which can sometimes be helped by feeding the baby upright (i.e. with a bottle). Have you had a pediatrician weigh in?

    As the PP says, stress is not good for either of you. Your baby will be fed and thrive either way, so there is no reason for you to put all this pressure on yourself. Good luck1
  • I would see another LC.

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