Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Ramble about Breastfeeding...

I think I've mentioned before that when I was pregnant, I was excited to breastfeed. I had researched it. I was so excited that this was something that I could do for Lizzy to help prevent allergies and asthma down the road {although, I was breastfed and have the worst allergies of anyone I know!}. I felt confident. After our birthing class, Justin was excited about me breastfeeding. He kept talking about all the benefits of breastfeeding and how he was so happy that I was going to do it. I knew of a doula that did breastfeeding support if needed. Don't get me wrong...I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I felt like I could do it.I felt like it was what God had made my body to do, and that it was a beautiful thing.

And then Lizzy arrived. I had a terrible experience with a lactation consultant at the hospital. She would grab Lizzy, and shove her on my boob while saying, "Don't touch her!" Then, after having Lizzy "nurse" for six hours straight in the middle of the night, it became apparent to me that Lizzy just wanted to suck for comfort. I asked the nurse for a pacifier, and she brought me one. Later, the same lactation consultant came in the room, and yelled at me that Lizzy was a bad nurser (she used to press her tongue up to the roof of her mouth when she was trying to latch on), and that if I was going to give her a pacifier, I might as well give up breastfeeding right then and there. I ignored her, and Lizzy and I both slept. The next morning, I had a new lactation consultant who was more helpful, and had me participate in the process more, but was also very condescending.

A few weeks later, we had the nursing down a bit better. But, Lizzy was extremely active from the start, and would often pull off to look around the room, even if I was nursing her in a dark and silent room. Breastfeeding was not enjoyable for me, at all. Lizzy didn't lay there and look up at me lovingly...she'd pinch, and kick, and keep trying to turn her head to look around the rest of the room. I asked my mom, "Is this normal?" and she said that none of her kids had been nearly that busy and active while nursing.

We talked to the doctor about it, who did weight checks before and after nursing, and concluded that she WAS getting enough each feeding (i.e. no apparent supply issues), she was just apparently very active. They suggested swaddling her to nurse. That didn't help much.

And then, after working out and working out, but not losing any weight, I started having a number of conversations with friends who said that they weren't able to lose any weight until they stopped breastfeeding. And that became ANOTHER reason, albeit a selfish one, that breastfeeding wasn't enjoyable. In some part of my brain, I saw breastfeeding as the roadblock to becoming "me" again after having Lizzy. But I banished that thought from my brain, and promised myself that I would NOT stop just because I wanted to lose weight. I would not stop until Lizzy was showing signs that she was ready to stop. 

Breastfeeding became something that I did, because I had the supply and the ability. I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding. I felt that it was important, but I didn't enjoy it. I haven't ever enjoyed it. So why not switch to formula?

For one, because money is tight. Don't get me wrong, we could afford formula. But in my eyes, there was no reason for me to justify not breastfeeding--I had the supply, Lizzy wasn't having stomach issues or latch issues, etc. So for me, switching to formula would have been an unnecessary expense. Let me be clear--I'm not saying that everyone who chooses to give a baby formula when they are capable of breastfeeding is spending unnecessarily. Just that for me personally, I couldn't justify switching in my mind--I felt like I needed to do what was best for Lizzy, even if that wasn't necessarily what was best for me. And I wanted to be absolutely sure that I wasn't stopping just because I wanted to lose weight.  Plus, I had set the goal of breastfeeding until Lizzy was at least six months old, and dammit, I was going to meet that goal.

Now, Lizzy is seven months old. And I'm still mostly breastfeeding, with the exception of a formula bottle for the last feeding each day, which came about for a variety of different reasons. It is the one feeding each day that I enjoy. The rest have become extremely difficult--every feeding, she'll latch on for five or ten seconds, then arch her back and scream. Then she'll latch on for five or ten seconds, then kick and hit me repeatedly. Then she'll latch on for five or ten seconds, arch her back and try to throw herself out of my arms.

When I do pump, I've been pumping the same amount. It doesn't appear to be a decrease in my supply. I am 100% convinced that she would simply rather take a bottle, because she can hold it herself and look around the room while she is eating. This has been going on for nearly a month, and I am really beginning to think that Lizzy is trying to wean.

But for some reason, I am still trying to nurse her. I don't enjoy it. I dread it, but I am still trying to do it. I feel so guilty about even considering stopping, and I'm not sure why...I have nothing against formula. I hit my goal of breastfeeding for six months (and then some). It clearly isn't a good experience for either one of us, and it isn't just about me wanting to lose weight...she clearly doesn't like nursing any more than I do. The important thing is that she's eating, not whether it's breastmilk or formula, right?! So why do I still feel so guilty about the idea of stopping?

I'm not sure where I'm going with this...I just kind of had to get it out there.


  1. Ansley as daytime nursing ADD ;-) She'll nurse for a few seconds sometimes and then do the back ark away from me. I think there is just so much that she wants to look at and do. Ansley has only had 4 feedings via bottle... so I think it's just a distraction thing for her. She nurses the most when I nurse her down for naps (sometimes she fights it a bit if she's overtired). I figure she will tell me when she wants to nurse. So, I don't fight her. She does wake about two times during the night and nurses for longer periods. I figure it's just a new phase.

    Sorry to hear that you aren't enjoying breastfeeding. It's wonderful that Lizzy has been breastfed for these 7 months! Great job on sticking with it that long!! If you want to keep it going, maybe seek out an LLL group near you for support? I went to a meeting this week and it was great!

  2. First of have done an AWESOME job. Secondly, we have our days where Em "pops off" as I call it (and OMG MY NIPPLES!), and she does it repeatedly, with scratching and arching her back too, etc. When she does that. I give up...and wait till she is more calm or MORE hungry and willing to just eat right GOSH darnit! (I'm not saying Lizzy isn't ready to eat or anything! Just sharing my experience) So i do know that frustration. Emeline HATES to nurse with a cover. She will flail her arms to get it off. So that is exactly why I bring a bottle out in public. I am not having that. It's annoying!

    I know a lot of women who have trouble with the whole breastfeeding thing so they just pump and do all breastmilk bottles. Just do that! (and then your formula feeding..which, by the way, is she sleeping better?? curious!) If you have the time and CAN pump and have a good pump...I say you do that. Its still the "good stuff" (aka: boob juice), and it's given to her the way she likes it.

    You have done an awesome job. 7 months is something to be damn proud of, woman! embrace it.

  3. I really appreciate your honesty. I had difficulty with breastfeeding from day 1. Jack needed to be taught how to suck (after two different LC and him losing a ton of weight in the hospital). I dealt with supply issues, both under and oversupply. Jack then developed reflux and would arch and scream a few seconds into feeding. After about three months of struggling, I decided to exclusively pump. He is still getting breastmilk, but I don't dread or get panic attacks at every feeding like I was.

    I wish I had known just how hard BF was going to be. No one prepared me for it.

    PS - I love keeping up on you on your blog!

  4. 7th months is awesome girl! My body has hit a standstill with the weight loss too and I think it has to do with breast feeding. I'm torn about when to stop as well because of this. Your not alone with some of these thoughts.

  5. I just have to write and say how much respect I have for you for nursing even though you don't enjoy it, for doing what is best for Lizzy and not what is most comfortable for you. I wish more mothers had that kind of commitment.

    I understand your feelings because that is how I felt with my second baby - I didn't enjoy nursing but did it for his sake. After being bitten EVERY SINGLE DAY for 2 months I finally got that he didn't want to nurse (I'm a bit slow!) and we switched to bottles at 8 months and we were both much happier. But yeah, I felt the guilt etc too. It's not easy. I hope you can make a decision that you are happy and at peace with. And well done for doing 7 months, that is awesome!

  6. I never had any problems breastfeeding, but hated it just the same. I had the same goal as you, make it to 6 months. I made it 6.5 and threw in the towel and never looked back. I think we are both happier now and I enjoy giving him his bottle. Not saying you should quit if you aren't ready, but if you do, IT'S OK!

  7. I have total and utter respect for you girl for even going that long because I couldn't do it! I had an AMAZING lactation consultant too, but it just didn't work. Neither one of my kids would latch on very well. It was a constant struggle with both because they would do the same thing, kick and scream. Emma would always fall asleep within 10 seconds of eating. So frustrating! I didn't enjoy it one bit. I only went for about 2 months with Ethan (1 of those where I mostly pumped) but that was fine with me. With Emma I didn't even last that long. I decided it was better for all of us to be able to spend more time with my 2 older boys as well instead of being locked away in my room on and off all day, and then being in constant pain because of engorgement the rest of the time.

    I do know how you feel though, I felt defeated and so disappointed in myself. But you do what is best for you and your family, which from the sounds of it, if you're not enjoying it, can't be good! I also would suggest maybe trying to pump instead if that is the main reason you do it is to save money and for health reasons. She is still getting the same thing whether its directly from you or not. I totally understand the money issue as well. I said I wouldn't ever breast feed again with our next kid(s), but then when I see the prices of formula it makes me think twice! Whatever you decide, just know you are doing a great job and you are so amazing for going this long already! Hang in there!

  8. Brayden started to do the same thing when he was ready to wean, so it might be a sign! All babies are different though. At about 8 months, Brayden just showed absolutely no interest and would fight me to the core. So, I started formula with a sippy cup and I hated every minute of it. BUT I knew that I did what I could for as long as I could, so it helped me feel better.

    You are doing a wonderful, selfless thing for Lizzy! 7 months is fantastic. I had that same goal of a year but he was so active, that was never going to happen.

    Maybe try pumping? Go with your gut!

  9. Thanks for posting this! I really appreciate reading other people's experiences with breastfeeding. And I really want to congratulate you for breastfeeding so long! Don't beat yourself up if you decide to stop anytime soon. Do what is best for your family. You have already helped your precious little girl so much.

  10. If she wanted to nurse but you wanted to stop it would be one thing. But your daughter is telling you she wants to get her nourishment a different way. Don't feel guilty for listening to her.

  11. Sometimes it just feels good to get it out, right? You know, I really hated BF'ing at first, but now I love it and I'm so thankful for that. I'm lucky that it's been smooth for us after about month 3. I can't imagine dealing with a screaming baby every single time I nursed. I would be miserable. :( And I think it's amazing that you've gone as long as you have. I'm a huge BF'ing advocate and plan to continue for as long as I can, but I put a happy mom and baby over a breastfeeding relationship. ANd you've made it to past six months - that's HUGE.

    I haven't read the other comments, so maybe this has already been said...but what about exclusively pumping? You enjoy giving her a bottle, so maybe that would sorta be the best of both worlds?

    Good luck in whatever you decide!!

  12. You are an amazing mom - and what ever way you decide to go with feeding and growing Lizzy - you are doing awesome.

    My daughter was a toughy for the LONGEST time. She fought and cried and never seemed to get enough. Then when I was working and pumping - there was not enough and my supply was dropping. I left work for other reasons - but at about 4 months it just got easier. Now she is still popping off and on - but not as bad - or at least it doesn't bother me anymore.

    Being a happy mom, and enjoying your time with your daughter is more important than anything else. Only you know what is best. Jut know that being a mom is selfless - with or without breastfeeding.

  13. You're a great mom - you've made it so far and you've given Lizzy exactly what she needs. As she eats more solid foods will your nursing sessions decrease? Maybe you can hang on if soon she'll just be nursing a few times a day? Whatever you decide, you've given her so much of an advantage already and she's going to be a healthy, happy baby no matter where her food comes from.

    Tommy's an active nurser, too. We're working through it, some sessions are great, others not so much. It took me 6 weeks to not dread feeding him (he's 8 weeks now). Just in time for me to go back to work, naturally. I was surprised at how difficult it was in the beginning, but like you, I was determined because of the health benefits.

  14. I was breastfed and I have allergies and asthma. Faaaaail.

    I was unaware that there's such a thing as a lactation consultant. Seems like something a regular-ass pediatrician could do. I mean, I'm no medical expert, but...


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