Many people will say breastfeeding is the best option when it comes to feeding your child. Some will even try to shame you if you don’t do it, so I’m here to tell you all about My Failed Battle with Breastfeeding and to tell you it’s okay if you don’t do it. I am sharing this in hopes that I will reach someone who is battling the same problems I had with breastfeeding and hopefully shed some light on options. If you are having the same problems I hope you can learn something from my experience to make yours a little less painful. It really doesn’t matter how you feed your child, as long as they are fed. I am not here to tell you my story to make you feel like you have to do what I did or to judge you if you decide that formula is the best option for your child, regardless of your reasons. I REALLY wanted to nurse my son, and that was my plan before he was born. I wanted that bonding feeling, the convenience of not needing to use bottles or formula… I wanted the whole experience. If I couldn’t have that I at least wanted to be able to feed him my milk for the germ fighting and nutritional benefits that breast milk offers.
When my son was born the lactation consultants at the hospital told me not to use the pacifier or the bottle. They had me start pumping the day after he was born every time he ate for 15 minutes because my milk had not come in yet. For the first week we were feeding him formula or whatever I had pumped via syringe and finger sucking as we were told to do until he was able to latch and my milk came in. Once my milk did come in after about 3-4 days, I battled inverted nipples so I was trying to nurse him using a breast shield, along with inserting Medela SoftShells™ into my bra between pumping during the day. I followed these instructions until his one week appointment at which point they told me he needed to come back for a weight check in a couple of days because he had lost a lot of weight. The doctor told me to keep doing the same thing if I wanted to make breastfeeding work and that she was going to refer me to another lactation consultant.
After this appointment, I was very emotional feeling like I was failing at providing what my son needed so I stopped the syringe feeding and decided to take matters into my own hands. I started the feedings while using the breast shield until my son and I were both frustrated. That would last about 20 minutes and I had no idea how much he was getting. He always still acted hungry, so then I would bottle feed him the milk I had pumped after his last feeding, or formula if I had run out. I did not stress out about giving him formula, the bottle, or the pacifier. I knew I needed to do whatever necessary to keep him healthy and happy. After I had done that, I would pump for about 15 minutes to have milk for his next feeding. So by the time I would nurse, bottle feed, and pump, it had been about an hour and a half. That meant that when I finished I only had about an hour and a half until I had to start over. I did this for about a month until we went on a 5 day road trip and I didn’t have time to nurse him on the road.
Honestly, after a month of that whole process every 3 hours I was SO EXHAUSTED. I was so tired and didn’t know what else to do. They had told me the inverted problem would go away if I used the SoftShells™ and after pumping regularly. Well, it didn’t. He still couldn’t latch without the shield and half the time he would knock if off and I’d have to reapply the suction or there would be a puddle of milk that had leaked out the bottom of the suction part. At this point I decided to stop trying to nurse with the breast shield because it was really frustrating for my son and myself as well. So I ended up tossing in the towel on that and just pumping and feeding him my milk. Which was my 2nd choice for feeding after breastfeeding. Once I switched to this routine, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and we both were able to relax and bond during feedings rather than being exhausted and stressed out. My husband or other friends/family members were able to feed him when I wasn’t home or was occupied with something else.
I continued pumping each time he ate, and that was a great routine. My son is almost 4.5 months old and I am still pumping and bottle feeding him. I hope to continue for at least another couple months, possibly longer. If you are struggling with inverted nipples, latching problems, or another breastfeeding issue, I hope you gained a little insight into my experience and that it helps you decide which path to take. When this happened to me, I didn’t know anyone else who had these issues and was really confused on what to do. But I decided to do what was best for me and my baby, even if it wasn’t my original plan. Plans change, and one of the first things you learn as a new parent is how to be flexible!
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