They say breast is best, but... after 8+ weeks of constant pain and struggling, I don't know what to do. Breastfeeding isn't working for us, but I'm strangely conflicted about giving it up. How do I reconcile these things?
Baby Informed is 8 1/2 weeks old. I decided to breastfeed but promised myself I wouldn't feel guilt if I stopped for any reason. Well, I've failed on both counts.
Nursing has never gone well--we've been through sore nipples, cracked nipples, flattened and compressed nipples, bleeding (and ingested and regugitated maternal blood, ugh). Basically constant pain. We've met with 4 different LCs. One was absolutely no help but managed to make me feel bad about literally every single thing we were doing and gave us some new worries about weight gain besides (he's actually gaining fine, according to his pediatrician). All of the other LCs agreed that baby was latching fine--he just has a barracuda suck and a strong tendency to clamp down, which he may or may not ever stop. We've tried lanolin substitutes (I'm allergic to lanolin), APNO, nipple shields, a bunch of different positions, and pushing down on his chin to encourage him to open up, but it's made only a small difference. I'm in pain during and after nursing sessions, and it's really affecting my ability to enjoy the baby. I'm constantly stressed out and in pain, which I figure can't be good for the baby either.
For a while, we tried exclusive pumping and bottle-feeding the expressed milk, to give my breasts a break. But I'm currently home all day alone with the baby (and will be for the foreseeable future), and I couldn't find enough time to pump. Every time the baby dropped off for a nap, I'd frantically pump, leaving no time for eating or resting myself. Needless to say, that did nothing to relieve the stress. Even with Mother's Milk Tea, power pumping, etc., I was also not quite meeting his demand, so some formula was going to be necessary anyway. So we tried reintroducing nursing again, with the same mixed results as before.
This has been going on for the past 8 weeks, and I keep hoping that we'll turn a corner and things will get better. Now and then we'll have a good session, and I'll feel better, but then things will go downhill and both baby and I end up in tears, plus I'll be in pain again. So I realize something has to change. I always told myself I wouldn't be swayed by breastfeeding Nazis--I do believe that breastfeeding is best for the baby, but I don't believe in making people feel bad if they can't or choose not to. But I feel TERRIBLE about giving up breastfeeding and supplementing with formula. Even though it never went very well, it makes me sad to give up the closeness. And, of course, I feel like I'm shirking my mothering responsibilities--I'm his mother, and I *should* be producing milk and feeding him! I didn't realize how important it was to me, and how much I wanted to breastfeed, until I thought about giving it up.
I've seen this
, and they were helpful. But most of the help and encouragement I've gotten, online and from other moms, have been along the lines of "It was SO hard, but I kept at it and ceventually it worked!"--which makes me feel like I, too, should keep at it despite the pretty marked decline in quality of life and mood. On top of this, I'm wrestling with some PPD, which I'm sure is both exacerbating the breastfeeding woes and also exacerbated by them.
So I'm wondering how others have dealt with giving up--or greatly reducing--breastfeeding and the guilt that comes along with it. New perpectives on the situation are welcome ("Here's an upside that you might not have thought of," "This is why you shouldn't feel bad...") as is practical advice ("Here's how I mixed breastfeeding with bottlefeeding," "Here's how to handle the formula mixing/carrying so it's almost as convenient as breastfeeding," etc.). As this
previous poster said, I just want to enjoy my baby!