Seeking advice to relieve major breastmilk pumping discomfort.
May 13, 2008 12:01 PM   Subscribe

We have a healthy 6 week old girl. We've come to a point where the quality of life for Mom isn't very pleasurable in terms of breastfeeding. We both wanted to breastfeed our child but we're approaching 'last resort' and transitioning to formula. I would like to help Mom as much as possible so I'm looking for some advice from others.

Like I stated earlier, our intentions were to breastfeed. Mom, unfortunately, has very large breasts with what we learned to be flat nipples. Our baby didn't latch very well. We hired a consultant that spent hours helping and we even called upon the hospital's nurse for further help. We thought the best solution would be to pump into bottles and if we had a shortage we would supplement with formula.

For our baby, things really went well after a couple scary days of working hard to latch. Weeks later, she's consuming anywhere between an ounce to 5+ ounces of breastmilk.

Mom, on the other hand, has slowly worn thin with this routine's wear and tear. She is using a Medela pump and upgraded to 37mm shields. We've experienced clogged ducts, hardening, highly sensitive and sometimes painful breasts. Her routines have varied from every 2 hours to sometimes getting some rest and pumping every 4 or 5 hours. They continually fill up and with her breast size they need to be emptied.

The pain is simply getting worse. We both don't want to give up and we both hate the indirect guilt factor from those that insist babies be breastfed, but we need to restore Mom's quality of life. Knowing that letdown isn't the problem and trying to relieve pain and hypersensitivity, I'm in search of experienced advice. Thanks.
posted by timmins to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Lanolin, lanolin and more lanolin. My wife practically coated herself in stuff while breastfeeding.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2008

If I may ease your and "the Mom's" minds, let me say that my daughter went through the very same thing. She and her baby are now using formula and bottles and it really has increased her enjoyment of her child, as well as the child's ability to obtain nourishment. I have reassured her that she has nothing to feel guilty about, as she and her child made every effort to breastfeed, however, it was just that her anatomy got in the way. Now her baby and she are on a pretty good schedule at 2 months and all seems to be going well. Good luck!
posted by Lynsey at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

We both don't want to give up and we both hate the indirect guilt factor from those that insist babies be breastfed

It is your child and you have to do what is best for your family. You absolutely have done your due diligence but it seems the best option is go to bottles as was done with my son. It really bothers me the pressure associated with breast feeding but the truth is that it works for some and not for others.

Your child will still grow to be strong, intelligent, thoughtful, happy...
posted by doorsfan at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

I know from my personal experience with breastfeeding that the 6-7 week mark was the time I almost called it quits. I had mastitis at week 3, cracked and bleeding nipples (TMI, sorry) and utter fatigue. Basically, I begged my husband to help out more and just stuck with it. After week 7, things just seemed to be okay. A personal note: I always found let-down to be mildly to fairly painful, even after 13 months nursing the firstborn and even with the second baby. I don't know why, it just happens sometimes. I got used to it.

BUT. If your wife is unhappy and she just hates breastfeeding, she should know that there's nothing wrong with stopping. Nothing. If she wants to keep going (and it sounds like she does), chances are things will improve drastically in the next couple of weeks.

If she feels like she needs outside help, possibly contact the La Leche League? But be forewarned: sometimes you get a really, really, REALLY enthusiastic pro-breastfeeding person and talk of quitting will be frowned upon. I did find them really helpful, just a note of warning for you if she's afraid she'll be judged.
posted by cooker girl at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

When/if she decides she has had enough, she needs your support and acknowledgment that it is fine to stop and go with the bottle. It can be a hard decision, because certain people judge mothers harshly if they don't breastfeed, but when she is not able to be as good of a Mom as she wants because her lactation problems interfere, let her know you support her choice.
posted by mmf at 12:23 PM on May 13, 2008

We hired a consultant that spent hours helping and we even called upon the hospital's nurse for further help.

I can't help but notice that an MD isn't in that list. It sounds like just excessive milk production (maybe a duct infection?). Breasts can have problems too, and an OB/GYN is likely to know a good answer. I know that there used to be prolactin antagonists (bromocriptine?) to reduce/stop milk production, but that drug is no longer used for that. I think that stress also causes excessive lactation.

If it was just pain, you can do a local intercostal block. I don't know for sure though, which is why MDs are helpful. Significant pain is always a reason to talk to an physician.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2008

At this age, sometimes I nursed every hour. I had clogged ducts, painful breasts, yeast infections. It's best not to allow the breasts to become overly engorged because it can lead to plugged ducts. I know this is impossible at times. I would advise to stop the pumping and nurse on demand without supplementation for at least a couple weeks, if possible. This way she will not overproduce, or not produce enough, for the baby. She will still have times when the breast becomes overfilled. If she finds herself uncomfortable at night and the baby is sleeping, she can hand-express a little milk into a bottle just to relieve the engorgement and get comfortable again. Sometimes pumping can trick the body into thinking there is more milk that is needed. The baby needs to do the expressing until your wife is more comfortable.

She may have a yeast infection on the nipples if they are particularly painful and burning.

This is a particularly rough time. The baby is still very young. I cried everyday or the first two weeks or so with my first baby. I was still learning at six weeks. It took a while to get a hang of things. I have flat nipples as well. I wanted to cry out in pain for the first minute the baby was latched on, then the pain subsided. I probably had a yeast infection on the nipple at that time. I also had bleeding, scabbed nipples. Hang in there if this is something you both think is important. It gets so much easier.

But, if she is utterly miserable and not enjoying nursing, by all means, don't feel guilty about quitting. Really. Think about it. It shouldn't be an impulsive decision, because the milk supply can dwindle very quickly and sometimes there is no turning back. But really, don't feel guilty about quitting if she wants to.
posted by LoriFLA at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2008

My sister and also a close friend tried very hard to breast-feed before deciding their babies would be better off on the bottle. They both felt very bad about it, and even apologetic with people outside their families. I think it's a shame that there's pressure to continue when the baby isn't getting enough nourishment, and the mother is stressed, sleepless, and in pain.

If you decide to forego the nursing, keep in mind that there are always going to be people ready to criticize your parenting in some way. It's like a hobby for a vocal few. You two know what's best for your own family.
posted by wryly at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

As a breastfeeding mother myself, who thinks that breast milk is best, I insist that everyone does what is best for their family. If the mother is in constant pain and the experience is miserable, then for the love of jebus, don't guilt yourselves into continuing it. Don't equate breastfeeding with loving your child.

Yes, lanolin definitely helps with some of the issues (cracked nipples, etc), so if the mother isn't already doing so, coat those suckers with it day and night. Although my daughter had no problems latching, every nursing session was agonizingly painful for me for the first 6 weeks, and then suddenly things got easier and everybody was happy and I was pain-free.

Your mileage will vary; everyone has a different experience with nursing. I say give it another week or two and if the situation doesn't change then lose the formula guilt and just go for it.
posted by ellenaim at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2008

What type of Medela pump? My wife's pain decreased dramatically when she upgraded to a better double-pump. They cost in the $300-400 range, but formula ain't cheap either.
posted by mattbucher at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2008

First of all, congrats with sticking it out this far, through all those problems. Mom deserves a big hug and not guilt. If you end up deciding that pumping is not working out, then don't feel guilty, you tried, you worked hard and endured a lot of pain to give 6 weeks worth of breastmilk.

I do encourage you not to give up yet, because the beginning is often bad, but it does usually get much, much better. I would strongly suggest that your wife try joining the PumpMoms yahoo group. They are an incredibly valuable source of help, suggestions and encouragement. They will definitely have some suggestions and moral support that might help you stick it out through this early, sucky (hah!) phase.
posted by Joh at 12:39 PM on May 13, 2008

What type of Medela pump?

It's a Medela Pump In Style.
posted by timmins at 12:40 PM on May 13, 2008

Please tell your wife to stop without any guilt. She's given it her best shot and the fact is, breastfeeding just doesn't work for everyone. Ever hear of a wet nurse? Throughout history, when women couldn't breastfeed, a friendly neighbor or relative would fill in. Or the baby would die. Thank goodness we have better options now.

Your wife gave the baby six weeks of breast milk. That's awesome! Now, I found pumping to be one of the most miserable experiences. I say, toss the pump, start using formula and start living again. Your wife and your daughter will be able to spend more happy time together. Spend the time she would have spent pumping on reading to the baby (yes, at 6 weeks), dangling a toy in front of her, looking out the window or taking a walk.

It makes me so mad when people say, "I had a terrible time with breastfeeding but I kept trying and finally after 3 months of misery we got there, and if I can do it, anyone can". The fact is, NOT EVERYONE CAN! Doctors do not want to be bothered with this and if a lactation consultant couldn't get your wife going, then feel good that you gave it your best effort and move on. There are so many things that go into being a good parent and one of them is knowing when one approach isn't working and moving on to the next one.

As for well meaning people who think it's their business to ask, "Are you breastfeeding her?" I would just give them a look, pause, and then say, "We really don't discuss such personal matters, but thank you so much for your concern."

Good luck to all 3 of you. I hope you have a great time with your little girl. My son is 22 months and I cannot believe how fast the last 2 years have gone.
posted by Kangaroo at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2008 [5 favorites]

(IANALC, but I am one getting started on her clinical hours, and a peer lactation educator)

*First rule of mamahood and lactation consulting: feed the baby. To that, I will add that a baby fed with love is a well-fed baby, no matter where the food comes from.

*Six weeks is a rough time. Your milk production is not yet regulated, your nipples have not yet adjusted to their new work, everyone around you has not yet learned to stop with the unsolicited feedback and advice, and you're still insecure and sleep-deprived as parents. Add to this: six week growth spurt. You guys are doing great--you're committed, you're trying, you want to do what's best, and the good news is that there isn't a supply problem.

*Have you tried: nipple shields (make sure your LC knows how to get the right size)? Hot, wet washcloths and soaks to alleviate the duct clogging and hardening (soak or cover breasts with extremely warm water for 5-10 minutes at a time, followed by massage and nipple ointment)? APNO (all purpose nipple cream, ask your doc for this simple prescription--it is a safe topical for pain, yeast, and infection)? Regular dosing with Tylenol?

*If breastfeeding is still the goal, insist that your LC work to wean you off the pump and get the baby on, or alternately, work with you to get on an exclusive pumping schedule to provide breastmilk in bottles only. At this point, going back and forth is confusing the supply issues and making the problems worse.

*Two sites that have helped many. The second site is to Dr. Jack Newman, famous gyn and breastfeeding expert, and he still answers ALL of his email from anyone with a breastfeeding question.

*Don't forget the first rule! And congratulations--you won't be in this place forever, it will get better, and a babe with such a dedicated mom and concerned and supportive father will thrive no matter what ends up being best for your family. Feel free to email me as well (in profile).

(and ps to robot made of meat LC's are the clinical breastfeeding professionals--many docs, even gyns and obs haven't done the professional work and clinical hours in the area. One should ALWAYS consult a doc when there is pain or questions, I agree, but a board-certified (IBCLC) LC is not a just layperson. And yes, there are many different and complex hormone relationships that take place to make lactation happen, and some can be out of whack and cause true medical problems, but an IBCLC is qualified to make such referrals.)
posted by rumposinc at 1:02 PM on May 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

I had a friend who tried breastfeeding and found it incredibly painful. She switched to pumping for a number of weeks, and then decided to try breastfeeding again, and had no more problems after that for whatever reason.


Maybe it give it another go, just to see, but I'm with everyone else here that you should have no guilt about quitting if it's not working for your family.
posted by at 1:02 PM on May 13, 2008

We too did the "start breastfeeding, run into a variety of problems and give way to formula" dance. It's OK.

Be proud you did it this long but rest assured (like others above have said) that you have the best intentions and it's all about your child now.

The big problem we ran into was the slight down-feelings Mrs. Writer had about the switch. I've never seen her try so hard to do something that just wasn't going to work. When our little Writer was losing weight and fighting jaundice, we made the call to switch to formula and all that entails. To this day, I think my wife still feels a little down about it (the nursing and hospital staff were quite the pricks for practically chastising her for not trying even more and sticking with it). So be prepared to hold and hug her and tell it's fine and she's not any less of an outstanding mom.

I don't want to start a breast vs. bottle conflict here, but we did find formula was better for us due to the above comments, as well as flexibility it gave us, it kept our little one more "full" for longer stretches of time, and it might be selfish, but I felt like a more involved Dad because I could better do the 2am feedings with mixed formula so Mrs. Writer could rest. Was it expensive? You betcha, but a healthy baby + happy mom > saving money via the breast.

Oh, did I mention to hug the new mom and let her know it's going to be OK? Don't ever stop doing that.
posted by fijiwriter at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2008

Please don't feel guilty for not breastfeeding, if it comes to that. A bad parent doesn't feed their child. A good parent does feed their child. You and your wife fall into the category of "good parent." Feeding your child is what needs to happen, whether it be via breast or bottle. If mom is miserable and quality of life is being compromised, then end it - guilt-free - knowing that you did all that you could and there was no more to be done. If someone asks if you breastfeed, look at them like they're crazy and answer, "YES we feed our baby!!"
posted by Sassyfras at 1:12 PM on May 13, 2008

If she really wants to continue trying, she might do a lot better to stop pumping and nurse on demand for a while. She may be still oversensitive (it can be quite painful as you adjust as it is) because of the switching back and forth between nursing and pumping. In fact the pumping may be stimulating her to overproduce. In the first couple months your breasts are constantly adjusting their production to figure out what your baby wants and that's why it's important to have the baby nurse whenever it needs to and be careful introducing artificial nipples or with pumping - not saying you can't do those things, but it can mess with establishing breastfeeding, and cause issues.

If she is feeling engorged she can use cabbage leaves from the fridge tucked in her bra to ease the pain and engorgement (not more than a couple times a day, however).

Reliving clogged ducts - keep nursing with the baby's nose pointing in the area of the clog, and take Tylenol every few hours if the signs of mastitis start to appear (hard lumps, red lines).

Ultimately it's something you have to power through in order to keep doing it, the pain thing, and the hitches along the way as you figure it out (and often, I found, a lot of bad info and advice from people that should know better). I thought I had a horrid hard time with my first (two weeks of pain pain pain) but I had it even worse with my third, to the point that the only thing getting me through it was knowing it WOULD end soon if I just stuck with it. Had I not had previous experience nursing and a lot of support from my husband, I may well have given up. So I really feel for your wife, it's a hard spot to be in. Lots of luck.
posted by Melinika at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2008

My wife switched to formula after trying with several consultants and nurses to get the good latch. It never happened and ultimately the baby lost weight, a lot of weight, because my wife was less inclined to breastfeed, the baby couldn't get enough milk per session , and there was much sadness.

Then something wonderful happened. My wife's doctor absolved her of all guilt. The guilt was the worst part. It was ingrained in my wife in all her pre-natal classes that if you don't breastfeed you are dooming your child to a future of sickness and learning disabilities. Propaganda! Of course it is optimal, but if plan "A" doesn't work you have to have a plan"B". My wife's doctor helped her accept what was possible.

My wife still cries when she hears someone talk about breastfeeding, but our 6 week old daughter is healthy, caught up on her weight and all is well.

Good luck. It will be okay.
posted by SMELLSLIKEFUN at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2008

-Go to/call a doctor or nurse and ask about mastitis, ASAP. Especially if she has a fever, has a hot spot on one breast, or feels flu-like symptoms.

-Trouble latching for the first few days, totally normal.

-La Leche League is great, and full of moms for her to talk to.

-Her breast size has nothing to do with the amount of milk she makes--her pumping routine does! Make sure to ask your choosen professional about that.

-When people say Lanolin they mean Lansinoh--it's hypoallergenic, you can get it at the drugstore. Lifesaver.

-If she feels like she's overproducing, she should avoid oatmeal. It increases production.

Good luck, and make sure to keep mom comfy with a pain reliever, and lots of water.
posted by sondrialiac at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2008

I suggest Mom take a breastfeeding break of about eight hours. then try nursing on demand. Try to wean off the pump...also, go without a bra during the day and night too if at all possible.

If after a day or so things don't start looking up, or if she really is just sick of it all, there is no guilt for quitting. You have gotten the baby at least six weeks of breast milk which is MUCH better than nothing. FWIW the first time you nurse, it is always hard the first few usually does get better, but, hey, ymmv.
posted by konolia at 1:26 PM on May 13, 2008

Yet another mom who almost threw in the towel at 6 weeks, here. It IS a rough time.

To all the advice above, I would add that it does sound like maybe she has some overactive supply / overactive letdown happening - if that's true, be careful not to pump too much, she'll just continue to have an even greater supply. I had very large breasts and really bad overactive letdown - it choked my baby, and he wouldn't latch. The milk would pretty much squirt into his mouth with no effort for 10 straight minutes, so he barely EVER latched or stayed latched.

I had to go to "one boob per feeding" style nursing, at just a few weeks old. And yes, that's very painful for the other boob that's not getting drained. I had to pump just the TINIEST bit off and tough it out - the supply regulates itself almost instantly. By the next day, it's noticeably better.

For painful nipples, I recommend squirting a dollop of lanolin on a contoured nursing pad, smushing another contoured pad on top to evenly spread lanolin on the center of both, then pop them in the freezer (pull them apart and put them in there face up). Pull them out when needed. OH SO AWESOME. Also, hydrogel pads.

My son had to be weaned to special formula at 6 months, and it was very very hard on me, but to be honest, there were many positives to bottle feeding. You'll do what's best for you! Good luck.
posted by peep at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2008

I totally and completely agree with many posters who say it is okay to stop if you feel like you need to.

That said, if you are looking for new ideas in the struggle, here are mine. First, obtain a hospital-grade pump, either through your LC or your local LLL. Someone should be able to point you toward a rental or loan situation so you can try it out without shelling out hundred of bucks. I found the Pump in Style to be convenient for travel and work, and that's about it.

Then, if she's getting sick of wearing a big old milk soaked bra all the time, have her try [switching to a tank top with a couple of absorbent cloth diapers laid across her breasts held in place by the shirt. That was a practical way for me to go braless at night without waking up in a puddle. And I was making GALLONS of milk. Or so it seemed.

Finally, if you and she decide to try to continue either nursing, nursing/pumping, or pumping, keep talking to professionals. Nursing is hard, but if she is in pain, something is amiss, and someone should be able to tell you how to work around it.

Good luck. Rest assured that things will look up soon, one way or another. Six weeks is a hard age because you are the parents of a very hungry lump. But soon the baby will be smiling, laughing, and responding to your presence, and nursing or not, that will be awesome.
posted by iscatter at 1:48 PM on May 13, 2008

You're close to the time where it generally gets better, easier, more of a groove, as others have noted.

But speaking as someone who has been accused, with some merit, of being a Nipple Nazi (I prefer "lactivist"), you should not feel bad about stopping if that ends up being the right decision. You're going to learn that with many parenting things, the best choice is to do what makes everyone happiest in the long run.

And when people give you shit about it, you smile politely and advise them to fuck off. It's not up to anyone but you guys and the baby.
posted by padraigin at 2:09 PM on May 13, 2008

Oblique Mom is a certified lactation consultant, so I asked if she had any insights for you. Her reply:

"It was unclear to me as to whether this mom has been able to breastfeed directly or not, or if all of the breastmilk is fed via bottles. It seems that all of the breastmilk is fed via bottles and if that is the case, indeed that can be a taxing chore. Direct breastfeeding, once every one has gotten the "hang of it" is usually considered to be a pleasure for most moms and can actually be relaxing. Pumping on the other hand can be a real burden, and it is not unusual for moms to have problems keeping up with the constant demand of having to pump to keep up their supply.

"I would recommend Dr. Jack Newman as a resource. He suggests that sometimes babies who have been previously unable to latch, often can do so when they are about this age. The mom should put the baby skin to skin beween her breasts at times and see what happens. You can access some of Dr. Newman's information at the following web address:

"If she continues to use bottles, be aware that sometimes babies will take more from a bottle than they would if they are on the breast, because typically bottle nipples flow so rapidly. I would suggest they try a slow flow nipple, (some people like the breastflow bottles; you can get them at Target), and interrupting the feedings frequently to burp or talk to the baby. You want the actual bottle feeding session to slow down to more closely match the time it might take to breastfeed the baby. This may slow down the amount the baby would take at a time.

"The mother should be commended for the time and hard work that she has invested in giving her infant the best possible nutrition. These are obviously caring and committed parents and I hope they are able to find a solution that is best for them and their baby."

Hope this helps! And I want to add my voice to the chorus saying that, with parents that care as much as you two, your daughter already has a great head start to her life, no matter what she ends up eating. :)
posted by oblique red at 2:15 PM on May 13, 2008

I think the advice here has been great. I just want to add, whenever you guys do give up breastfeeding, whether it's now or later, be ready for feeling just a little bit of grief about it being over. I remember feeling that when I gave it up. A few pangs, and I moved on.
posted by ysabella at 3:13 PM on May 13, 2008

Congratulations to you for sticking it out this far!

I too thought that if most of the feed is coming from pumps you will not be getting the direct feedback loop provided by the baby. So it may be that she is having to pump more than the baby needs which starts a vicious circle of over-production leading to the problems you outline.
As Oblique mom suggests babies will generally take more from a bottle so your wife must be absolutely exhausted. It is not at all the kind of pleasurable experience it is meant to be if it is constant pumping.
I suggest trying a day of trying to get the baby to latch on the breast , if you still want to that is! No-one would blame you guys for switching at this stage, your efforts have been truly heroic.
If you still want to keep trying there's loads of excellent tips here. I would simply add that a blocked duct can sometimes be cleared by Dad if baby is not sucking (the tip about pointing baby's nose in the direction of the blockage is fantastic and worked for me, but it appears that this babay is mainly fed breast milk from bottles, is this correct?).
If it doesn't freak you out that is. YMMV.
posted by Wilder at 3:53 PM on May 13, 2008

I had such a hard time with breastfeeding my first child, and I didn't have a support group at that time. Most of the information I found on the internet basically equated formula with meth-spiked Dr. Pepper. I spend the first few months pumping and feeding, pumping and feeding, and crying because I was both in pain and feeling like a horrible mother. The whole process worked eventually, but if I went back in time, I would have switched to formula much earlier. I would rather have been able to enjoy this amazing time with my baby.

Some of my friends breastfed their children; some used formula. Our kids are now in school, and all are thriving. None of them had an undue amount of illness, none failed to bond with their moms, none are any smarter or dumber than the other. So many of the choices we agonized over as new parents don't appear to have any effect now (cloth/disposable, binky/thumb, geometric mobile/giant floating elephants, crib/cosleeping).

Breastfeeding has benefits, I'm sure (although the news media will always promote the "science proves that X affects your child" because we will reliably freak out about such stories). But so does sanity. If breastfeeding is making you miserable, and you've long past the initial discomfort of the first few weeks, don't hesitate to stop. You're not hurting your child. Please do what you need to do to enjoy this time. It goes so fast.
posted by bibliowench at 4:12 PM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think there is a lot of great advice in this thread, but bibliowench's especially. I am another mom who gave up breastfeeding, with a tremendous amount of guilt, around 8 weeks. My son failed to gain weight in his first month of life, and the doctor advised me to start supplementing with formula -- something most breastfeeding advocates I knew were horrified by -- and, a month later, my supply had all but dried up and my son was on the bottle 100%. I felt guilty, I felt like a bad mom for not being able to effortlessly provide for such a basic need of my child's. I bought into every negative thing about formula and felt like crap every time I gave a bottle, for at least a couple of weeks, with residual guilt lasting way beyond that.

Then, slowly, I began to get my life back. I found that I personally managed way better without the sleep deprivation and constant breast/nipple pain. My baby blues subsided; I found myself having more energy and, seemingly, a better ability to bond with my son. At the same time, he settled into a great routine, was very attached to both myself and his dad, and began gaining weight like a champ -- he's consistently been in the 75th percentile for weight and off the charts for height for as long as I can remember.

And, when I think back to all the things I stressed so much about when preparing those first bottles of formula, I kind of have to smile. My son is and has always been a great eater, slept 5-7 hours at night at 8 weeks old and has slept 12-14 hours at night for almost as long as I can recall. He's also had exactly one instance of a runny nose his whole life and never a high fever, any ear problems, or anything else. He's also the happiest, funniest and best-adjusted kid I know. He's 18 months old now.

(FWIW, I'd still try breastfeeding our next child in hopes that it was easier, and I know better than to think formula necessarily has anything to do with the benefits I described above. I just wanted you to know that amidst all the breastfeeding craze, there's lots of things that go into creating a happy and healthy child, and formula can be part of that plan, without guilt or shame. Good luck.)
posted by justonegirl at 4:48 PM on May 13, 2008

My daughter is 6 months old. I exclusively pump because of the same problems you described (I knew I'd be pumping when I went back to work full-time so I figured why not do it all the time so baby could get breast milk?). I started pumping in the hospital under the advice of the lactation consultant. I pump four times a day, every day, sometimes five times a day. It's a huge undertaking, and I don't recommend it for everyone. If breastfeeding worked, I'd go back to it in a heartbeat, but it hasn't worked, so this is what we're doing. If she wants to keep up with the pumping exclusively:

Lanolin on the nipples helps tremendously. It's not a cure-all, but it helps.

Hot shower before pumping. Just let the water run over. Not so much a hot bath, though (at least for me).

There are gel pads sold by Gerber that can go in the fridge for 20 minutes to use AFTER pumping. WONDERFUL.

Wear a loose-fitting bra as often as possible. I got a sleeping bra from Breakout Bras and it looks like a sports bra, but fits loosely and keeps things contained, so to speak.

Medela's website has some really good information about pumping and comfort levels. If it wasn't blocked at my work right now, I'd link to some of the better ones. is another good resource. Look up pumping and there are tons of links there.

(this is for all breastfeeding moms) If the milk starts to dry up, something that works better then Fenugreek alone is More Milk Plus from Mother Love. It works awesomely.

Your wife can email me if she'd like. I've been doing this for six months and am going to try to do it for six months more. It sucks but it can be done. More woman do this than I ever thought.

When you get the pain factor evened out, the next hurdle to overcome is the frustration of spending four or more times a day strapped down to the pump. She needs to relax. Watch a tv program, read a book, call a friend, use that time for HER. Not bills. Not work (unless she's at work). It may be the only time during the day she can get to herself.

All that being said, it's a pain in the ass to pump exclusively. Formula is not the end of the world. Millions of babies have thrived on it. Good luck.
posted by schnee at 5:26 PM on May 13, 2008

Tried breast feeding, just did not work for us. Real life isn't always as idyllic as you'd think. Tried pumps, no worky, started supplementing with formula, and eventually the kid preferred formula.

Now, I'm happy it went down this way, I (as the husband) could do every second feed, and generally bond more with my kids, and help my wife more (more sleeping breaks etc) making for a better environment.
posted by lundman at 5:40 PM on May 13, 2008

My mother had to stop breastfeeding me when I was about two weeks old- she had a terrible asthma attack, and the medicines she had to take for that and continue taking to ward off another attack meant she couldn't breastfeed me. 18 years later, I'm healthy and well-adjusted and smart and blah blah blah. As long as your baby gets fed, no one but nosy busybodies or fanatics cares what your baby eats. A mother does a million more important things for a child than serve as a food source, so don't see breastfeeding as a test for awesome motherness. If it interferes with your health, or your wife's health in this case, don't feel guilty for giving it up. Your kid will turn out perfect either way :).
posted by MadamM at 5:41 PM on May 13, 2008

FWIW, if it eases your mind at all, I have a healthy, gifted, athletic 16-year-old who was never breast-fed. I had some health issues that required me to take meds after he was born, so I was unable to breast feed him. He's always been extremely healthy, and his only surgery was for a blocked tear duct. We usually go to the doctor once a year - for a well check. He just took the ACT (a year early) and scored in the 95th percentile in science. Don't let the horror stories about formula-fed kids scare you too much!
posted by caroljean63 at 9:03 PM on May 13, 2008

I would recommend to hire a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) again. Babies grow so fast at this age, she may know totally different things to try now.
I know that formula is not the end of the world, and if breastfeeding does not work out it is great that it is an option, but you really wanted to breastfeed, so it makes sense to hire a professional again.
I am not normally the person to recommend "get a lawyer" or "go to a doctor" but this is one area where you really need to see an expert in person.
posted by davar at 9:00 AM on May 14, 2008

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