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Old Jan 11th, 2012, 21:10 PM   21
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I'm really sorry to read your story- it's so easy to be hard on ourselves when things don't work out the way we imagined them. Or when others cannot understand why it's so hard for you to do something that others find so easy.

I started feeling like a failure with my first daughter (now 2) before she was even born! I was diagnosed with IUGR (inter-uterine growth restriction), which went that she wasn't growing properly in me. I couldn't help but have feelings of failure since I couldn't even feed my baby properly during gestation. Since she was in distress, she then had to be born via c-section at 32 weeks weighing only 2lbs 1oz. Obviously, I couldn't breastfeed- she was too weak to attempt it and had to be fed through a tube. I pumped a lot.

When she came home from the hospital 6 weeks later, I tried to breastfeed, but without success. I saw a lactation consultant, used the various contraptions that would supposedly help her feed, but all to no avail. So I continued to pump, since at least I had a good supply (until it dried up at 7 months and I switched to formula). I felt frustrated by the whole experience, but refused to be hard on myself, since I was TRYING.

What I took away from it was that I needed to focus on the things I could do and not focus on those that I couldn't do. I realized it just wasn't useful to be hard on myself- it did nothing to help my daughter (this attitude helped when my daughter than needed surgery on her skull the next year due to craniosynotosis).

So now my first daughter is 2 and my second is almost 4 months old. The second has been able to breastfeed from the start (after a pretty typical pregnancy, just having to take blood-thinners everyday to avoid IUGR), which just makes me appreciate being able to do so much more. But I don't feel like I am "bonding" with her any more than I had with my first daughter.

Two of my friends who also had major problems BFing their first babies just had their second babies (both almost 1 month) and are both able to BF so far. They are also relieved that things are going smoothly, but would not beat themselves up if it wouldn't have worked out this time either. As long as the both the mom and the baby are happy, then they are doing what is best.

You are trying your hardest, so please stop thinking about being a failure!

Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 00:08 AM   22
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There is "nowhere to go" when you're a formula feeder. That's exactly how it feels. You can't even buy your formula in peace without a "breastfeeding is best" message written across it. What that is supposed to do other than make the person buying it feel like donkey poo, I have NO IDEA. If you're buying formula, it's likely a "done deal."

My experience left me so traumatized 7 years ago that I actually considered ending my life. Much of that depression was fueled by the internet. It was awful. The statement that pushed me over the edge wasn't even when I was told my child would likely get cancer from drinking formula. It was when a woman posted a "study" that said that women who make more of the hormone needed to make breastmilk are innately "better mothers." I can hardly type it to this day.

My drama started from having GD and having my son's blood sugars drop to 18 after birth. (a 15 will send a baby into a coma). He ended up needed glucose and formula to stabilize over a period of days of crashing into the 20's repeatedly. I had only tiny amounts of colostrum and he was too weak and shakey to latch. I took him home and pumped, and held him, and waited for milk. By day 7, there was a trickle. The next 6-8 weeks were hellish; three lactation consultants, hospital grade pump, pumping until the skin peeled on my aereolas, fenugreek, blessed thistle, oatmeal... Then the colic came. Crying jags that lasted for hours.

Women online said formula caused colic. Formula caused all my son's problems according to them. According to them, gestational diabetes is a "myth" designed to lead to c-sections and formulas. I was dumb and my doctor should lose his license. I was lazy and stupid also, in addition to lacking the hormones to be a truly good mother. Most of them admitted to the fact that they could never be friends with a "bottle feeder." (this was not baby n bump, by the way!)

I became too ashamed to leave the house. On the rare occasion when I did, I bottle fed in the bathroom.

I envisioned packing up my son and all his belongings and giving him to woman who was already breastfeedig another baby, to save him from a life with me. I knew if I gave him away, I couldn't live and wouldn't want to, but how could l keep a son that I was exposing to a life of illness and cancer?
That is when I contemplated taking my own life.

I sought therapy, and found out that a lot of women have to get therapy over breastfeeding grief. I refused pills, but it was nice to have someone to talk to.

I found out that my diabetes, thyroid condition and PCOS all contributed to poor supply. I found out from older ladies, in their 60's and 70's, that it wasn't a magical world where breastfeeding always worked before "evil" formula, like a serpent with an apple, spoiled paradise. Supply problems were and are real, and not always the result of lack of "support" or lack of knowledge.

When we began trying for another baby, (a four year journey with three miscarriages), it would occur to me in the back of my mind if the same thing would happen again. My husband did not want me to even attempt BF again, in light of what happened. Neither did my mother. Both of them had been suportive the first time but scared out of their minds after seeing me deteriorate into someone who cried all day and sat staring into space.

So, here I went this time with my hospital pump in place and looking forward to everything being different this time! Well, this baby's blood sugars were better, but still dropped. His latch was somewhat better, but not good. Lactation consultants and a social worker came to see me in the hospital. The old feelings started to come back. By day four in the hospital my son had lost over a pound and they weren't going to let him come home. I talked them into releasing us reluctantly.

After getting home, I didn't have as much luck as I had hoped and something was terribly wrong. I had very bad chills and fevers. By the time I had been home four days, I was sicker than ever. My fever soared to 103.4. I had to go to the hospital, where I was admitted. I spent 11 days in the hospital with what turned out to be an internal staph infection. Eleven days seperated from my baby, extremely ill, in bed, on 4 different IV antibiotics. I also had 3 CT scans. I managed to pump some in the hospital and was advised to dump it. No wonder. What little milk I pumped was a flourescent green, likely from the CT scans and the MRI. I had dye injected several times and various other pills. I couldn't keep up a decent pumping schedule in the hospital as I was so sick with fevers and chills.

I was finally released with a drainage bag attached to me and I had a home health visitor for the next five days. I was too weak to get out of bed much.
My husband and mother had been taking care of the baby while I was in the hospital and feeding him formula. Once again, I started trying to pump and get him to latch.

I went back on my heart medication which I had not taken during this pregnancy or my last. I had to start taking it again around Christmas. It does pass into breastmilk.

Right around Christmas, I tried to come to terms with the fact that once again, through not fault of my own really, it just wasn't meant to be. I have cried and been angry, but can't truly come to acceptance with it. I know that once again, my "baby days" will be isolated and lonely, as I won't be accepted into very many playgroups or baby groups. Breastfeeding is chic and in style here, even more so than with my first son.

I really should avoid the internet, but I am lonely sometimes. And as I said, there really is no place for a formula feeder. Not even on forums set aside for formula feeding. Every formula feeding mom is compelled to defend herself and very often has her story ridiculed or disbelieved.

Here is the truth about "99% of women can breastfeed." Only about 1% of women, or a bit more, cannot produce even one drop of breastmilk. That is truly rare. That is what the 99% refers to; not 99% of women can be totally successful and overcome supply issues.

I won't type anymore, but could write a book.

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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 00:32 AM   23
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I know EXACTLY how you feel

I gave birth too my first child in Feb 2009, I was a bit ambivalent about BF while pregnant and was not sure if I would do it or not. No one I have ever known BF, no family members BF and too be honest I do not like my nipples being touched at all. So i decided to buy no feeding equipment give it a go at least and see what happens. Fast forward to after birth literally a few minutes... my son wriggles up from my tummy to breast and latches on perfectly well with no issues.

I was discharged from the hospital and for the first week we BF ok.. great latching and I was so in love with him and in love with the whole BF process and knew this is what I wanted to do so badly. After a week the MWs were starting to get worried about LO weight gain. It was starting to dip down below his birth weight. Move onto week 2 his weight starts to dip down some more and they tell me that I will have to start formula or he needs a referral to a pediatrician. He feeds every 30m-2 hours variable on demand. I am so concerned for my baby so I try some formula... he seems starved and drinks the lots down. I do combi feeding and after a few days I am 60% FF and 40% BF his weight starts to increase. After a few more days I start to notice that the milk that I did have is starting to go away... I start to pump every hours, i eat oatmeal, i take fenugreek and (other one I cant remember), i take domperidone a huge dose every 6 hours. I seek help and advice from Dr Jack Newman who tells me that he thinks I have insufficient glandular tissue from severe PCOS diagnosed as a teen and he thinks that nothing I will do will help. He is right and a few weeks later my milk is gone.

I spent the best part of his first year riddled with guilt that I could not perform this basic motherly function... who else cannot feed their own child. I cried and cried too many tears. I let other mothers intimidate me and make me feel worse.. I went to moms groups and when I pulled formula out for baby I got those looks and I also had a few comments.. I felt so low about it that it was awful and even now I am not fully over it.

I had another baby in Feb 2011, and my only aim was to be able to BF effectively. I wanted it so badly. Again I lucked out with a girl who could latch straight away and I fed her on demand. It went well at first. For the first 12 weeks she put on weight just great and I was so incredibly happy then it happened... my worst fear she stopped gaining weight. I knew it was my milk so I tried to supplement with formula she would not take it. I BF her for 8 months before she finally accepted formula. Everyone was very concerned about her and our pediatrician started testing her for cystic fibrosis and a bunch of other things.. but I knew it was my milk. I went to a BF clinic... they did a bunch of tests and basically I was only producing around 2oz of milk every 3 hours and I just could not meet her increasing demands. Finally at 8 months she started to accept formula and she has flourished since then putting on roughly a 1lb a month and she is now average weight for her age rather than severely underweight. The docs would not give me any meds this time because they wont work.. I have under supply due to PCOS and no matter what happens I simply cannot work properly. Around a week after I started formula I only had enough milk for 1 feed per day and I wish now that I had kept doing it but I decided for my mental health I just needed to quit.

Even though I know where my problem is... I am still hurt and even writing this I am very very close to crying. I miss my baby suckling from me and the feeling of providing for my child.

I am planning on a 3rd child and I know it will be the same. My husband thinks that I should just FF from D1 because he knows what an emotional journey it is for me but if I can at least give her the first 12 weeks I will know that I have done something.

We are wonderful mothers and I am so glad that you have created this thread, because too be honest I hate it when some of the BF mothers who have no problems flippantly don't believe that there are true supply issues (obviously not all). It equally upsets me when women decide to just FF when they could probably BF fine when I can't. We let other people get to us so much.

I am glad to have found someone who has experienced so much turmoil. My son is almost 3 and I still feel guilty... and I feel guilty that I BF his sibling till 8 months and I could have tried longer with him. I feel bad that I don't work properly. I feel bad that we are made to feel bad by other moms, and I feel bad that we feel that we should be punished because we could not BF our babies.

If you ever need to talk some more pop over to my journal or PM me. I know how you feel.

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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 07:34 AM   24
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Hugs Mrs Pop.

My story is a little similar, but no-where near as traumatic as yours. My Mum had a total irrational fear of BF which she partially passed onto me. I always said "No way", I wasn't doing it. When I fell pregnant, after much soul searching, I decided I'd try. Decision made, and TBH, I got really enthusiastic about it. Freya was born by elective section after my induction failed, and was put straight on the breast. It became obvious fairly early that she couldn't latch properly. No-one looked in her mouth, despite DH asking if she had a tongue tie as he had one at birth. We just kept being told "It doesn't matter if she doesn't get much for the first few days." Freya fed like a shark. She would literally dive at the breast, but then pull of screaming. After a few sleepless nights, I gave in and gave her some formula while the lovely nurse on duty rushed off to get me a pump. I pumped off 5oz in 1 sitting.

We were discharged with a BF buddy who visited us at home.(very lucky to have them in our area!). I was expressing and still trying to latch her. She took one look at Freya and said "She has a tongue tie". By this time, I was dreading feeding - she would just scream and pull off, dive for me again, and was a never ending cycle and I was beginning to doubt I could do it. Her tongue tie was sorted 2 weeks later (I was bottle feeding expressed milk by this stage as she still wouldn't latch) and we tried again. Same process - she would dive, scream, pull off, dive, scream, pull the end both of us were sobbing. I made the decision to express and bottle feed.

I did this for 7 weeks before it just got too much. My supply was dwindling, I had macerated 1 nipple with the pump, a blocked duct in the same breast, and as Freya's appetite was growing, I was barely getting enough for 2 feeds. I told DH and my BF buddy I wanted to stop. The initial guilt was over-whelming. Freya has spina bifida, and I was constantly being told my expressed milk would help her bowels. It took me a while to accept that if she has bowel issues, it isn't because I couldn't feed her (and that's on top of my guilt that I somehow "caused" her SB).

TBH, if we ever have any more, I'm not sure I would try again. Freya is thriving, and we're happy. Her neurosurgeon described her at 5 months as "the brightest 5 month old he'd ever treated" (she doesn't have hydro). She hasn't inherited her father's asthma, or my psoriasis, despite being told she would if I put her on "dried up cows substitute." FF wasn't the "easy" option people think though - we had to go through several changes of milk before finding what suits her, and DH doesn't do any feeds anyway!

I'm now at peace with my decision, but I rarely go onto the BF or FF forums, never go onto posts about either on babyclub, and still feel a little jealous that my friend was able to BF totally effortlessly as a first time mum xx

Old Jan 12th, 2012, 07:50 AM   25
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Hugs, my son would not latch for the first 10 days and I gave in and put him on formula just so we could leave hospital, however I was extremely lucky and had a great community m/w who helped me immensely and got ds on boob with nipple shield. We continued to have problems for months though with poor weight gain etc, turns out the tt the m/w in post natal ward had deemed not bad enough to cause feeding problems was making it really difficult for him to get milk. I still get angry that our first 3 months were hell because they didn't have a clue about posterior tt.
like you I am hoping our next experience will be better both in the birth and feeding

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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 07:57 AM   26
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My heart aches for every single person who has felt like a "failure" because of not breastfeeding. I include myself in that group, because I didn't breastfeed Roo. There is a thread on here somewhere (I think it's in the "Groups" section) which is about support through breastfeeding grief - and it *is* grief. For a lot of Mums, breastfeeding is planned. It's the way to go. It's drummed into us, over and over, when we are pregnant, that it's "best". The problem is, the Govt. spends all this money on "Breast is best" propaganda (and it is propaganda), rather than providing real, consistent post-natal support across all geographical areas. One-size-fits-all medicine is easy to push on people before they have the reality of a hungry baby who won't latch...

Sorry, I digress. In that thread I mentioned previously, someone posted a link to a wonderful blog by an amazing woman called The Fearless Formula Feeder. She did a blog piece on guilt. When I read it, it was as though someone had flicked a switch in me - proper epiphany moment. So I'm reposting it now, in the hopes that it may help someone else. I'm also very proud to say that my story has featured on the same blog, and I've posted that as a second link

Fearless Formula Feeder - On Letting Go of Guilt

My story

Massive, huge hugs to all. Remember - a mother's love comes from her heart, not her breasts. You are all wonderful Mummies, no matter whether your baby is breastfed, formula-fed, given expressed breast milk in a bottle, donor milk, combi-fed, you name it. You're *all* amazing and you are all doing a great job

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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 08:49 AM   27
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Just because I'm pro-bf doesn't mean I look down on ffers in any way, shape, or form. I'm happy babies get fed! I've seen so many abused children who don't get fed.

Don't feel guilty. Please please please! You love your child so so much and that more than some children in this world get.

Old Jan 12th, 2012, 09:00 AM   28
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 09:20 AM   29
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oh god ms pop you and i have so much in common.

Before i gave birth I was determined to breastfeed, i read i googled i talked to freinds. I knew that if i was to breastfeed that I would have issues and that pain at the begining would go hand in hand with the determination to breast feed- I was ready for the cracked nipples the mastitis, the cluster feeds.

I read and I you tubed every single breastfeeding video i could find. I looked up latching and flat nipples and the football hold. I had the breast pump ordered and i was so ready to breastfeed. I was so determined to be one of the few that had issues and got through.

Then she arrived perfect but a month early. I wasn't ready- neither was she. She has low blood sugar and suspected infection and had real difficulty maintaining her temperature. My lovely bonding time i fantasised about where she sat on my chest and found my nipple was in reality reduced down to 15 minutes while a MW tried to jam my gigantic nipple into a tiny little rosebud mouth. So much so that she actually brusied my breast blue.

I then spent the next hour looking at her from my bed. two metres away- It could have been in the next room. She was having too much difficulty maintaining her temperature and her blood sugar so the decision was made to send her to special care. So the rooming in I had was with 3 other women with babies while i sat in my cubicle baby-less.

I could of course go see sophie, but she was in an isolette. I tried to breastfeed- when i could but because she was prem she was sleepy and not super interested. She did latch a couple of times but im not sure if i was doing it right. all the nurses were looking after the other babies.

the mw then came in and started to help me express by hand... i have never felt so exposed in my life- how odd is it to have another woman- a complete stranger- come in and play with your breast- but if thats what I needed to do to make sure my daughter had a good start in life than my embarrassment was a small price to pay-

Sophie then started to get jandice. Everytime i went in there there were more lights.. they were only feeding her what i was expressing which was nothing- she was already such a hungry baby- i made the decision to feed her via teat not tube and give her a dummy- what was I to do? i couldn't be there to comfort her- the least I could do was allow her some comfort of the dummy.

I tried again to latch her - but because she couldn't be out of the isolet for more than 20 minutes- i would get her latched and then in no time she would have to be taken off me and put back in the isolette.

All i could do is look at my baby girl and cry because i couldn't comfort her, I couldn't feed her and I couldn't hold her.

I decided that because she needed further care there was no point in me not sleeping in hospital, it would be better for the both of us if i went home and got sleep, i was sent home with instructions on how to hand express colustrum, a bunch of phone numbers and pamplets on support groups for breast feeding. Still at this point I was super determined to BF. Nothing was going to stop me. This was a blip, a speedhump, I would breastfeed, we would be happy, i would have that lovely bonding experience i heard about and saw on every bloody breastfeeding poster.

I managed to express 3ml of colustrum into a syringe- I was exhausted- running on 2 hours of sleep and it was 1am- knowing that the one thing my girl needed was sustenance i drove back into the hospital to drop off what i had. Two lovely MW were on and they allowed me to spend as much time as I wanted trying to feed her- we did really well. It was just lovely- it was what i dreamed of, she latched she drank and after we finished she settled back into the isolette calm, satisfied and happy. I was just so pleased. There was hope- Thank god for those two women, who let a strung out mother do what she wanted to with her daugther- because that was the only positive BF experience i really had.

I got my pump, started the EBM, everyone was very supportive, i was only expressing 10mls at a time but everyone was happy and kept on saying thats good for a couple of days in- wait till your milks in- the next day it will double and you will be well on your way. I was STILL so very positive about breastfeeding. Yes sir ree i was going to be one of those women who would be a breastfeededer.

Sophie started to improve, so she was sent to another non critical hospital and on the way her IV got damaged. So rather than put her through the trauma of putting another line in the decision was made to stop the IV glucose and start her on formula- I didn't care - this was a blip- i would get her on breastmilk soon enough- no need to worry- meanwhile i was madly pumping but the problem was my milk really didn't come in. I was waiting for engorgement- the feeling of having footballs on my chest- but really i had nothing- a little tenderness- nothing at all like i had in first tri- and my supply didn't really go up- 20-30mls was all i could express- i tried to get into the hospital for her feeds. Two weeks of madly rushing to the hospital, Breastfeeding, expressing and then coming home to repeat the cycle again later that day. My whole life was running to the hospital and being attached to a pump- thats it.

My supply never really increased. Finally she came home- I had a tin of formula, a positive outlook and my baby girl in my arms. The next day a nurse from the hospital came to check on sophie- she was lovely- full of support and plans to get sophie on to the breast- as I wept over my pitiful supply, she was so confident that I could be a breastfeeder that I was still hopeful that I could make it work. So sophie and I started a pattern - I would breast feed, she would bellow because she was hungry and i didn't really have a letdown response as such (not that i could feel) i would then feed her my ebm topped up with formula and then i would spend the next 30 mins attached to the pump.

The next day a different nurse arrived. An old battle axe. I was open and expressed my desire to breastfeed and told her of my supply issues and that i was only getting 20-30mls in total every session- she looked at me with a look of shock and scorn and said oh my god thats terrible. At that moment, i felt my hopes and dreams of breastfeeding shatter and fall at my feet. I knew at that point I could not put myself through this anymore- She demanded i go see my doctor to get pills to help my supply but i was so down and defeated that i knew that it was just a matter of time before i cut out the BM completly. I got the pills, i prayed that my supply would miraculously go from a drought to a land of plenty - but all I got was another 10 mls.

I kept at it for a total of 6 weeks. I was tearing myself up, Sophie was doing fine on the formula, I was not ok on the breast. I made the heartbreaking decision to stop, it was far more important for Sophie to have a happy mum than any bloody antibodies in my milk.

The decision was hard at first- i would still cry at the drop of a hat at my failure, but the more she grew and thrived on formula the happier we both were. I envy those women who managed to get through the tough times , but Im happy where i am, it may not be the best choice but im so Ok with her being fed this way

For those women like me- who couldn't manage it - be kind to yourself- no antibodies are worth the cost to your health and bond with your baby. If you cant do it, its totally ok you did your best and that is good enough- I promise.

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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 09:26 AM   30
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I feel enormous guilt as well. I keep reliving that fateful day where I believe I messed it all up. I had major trouble getting a latch, even with the LC (my MIL is one by profession!) with me all the way! Finally this over bearing nurse told me if I didnt let them give her a bottle in NICU that she was going to be so dehydrated that it would do her harm. I gave in.

Never, even with 2 week in home LC was I ever able to get a latch again. We kept trying for weeks as I pumped, but she never could figure it out. I do feel a huge amount of guilt especially since my own mother in law teaches breast feeding to other women and I even feed my own dogs raw food. My baby on the other hand, I felt would be getting second best.

I will say finally accepting that she would need formula took a huge weight off of my shoulders, I was able to stop resenting my baby and enjoy her. My PND lifted very shortly thereafter.

My little one is beautiful, healthy, smart and thriving, even on formula. Even so, I will always feel like I let her down! I do need a lot of hugs!

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