Monday, 1 December 2014

Breast Is Best. Unless It's Not.

I'm so fucking sick of the pressure to breastfeed - external pressure and the pressure I put on myself. 

Breastfeeding is HARD. Really hard. I feel like nobody told me this, or even warned that it was a possibility. I worried from the start that I wouldn't have enough glandular tissue to breastfeed (IGT I think it's called) but deep down I hoped (thought) I'd be one of those perfect mother earth mamas who would be able to feed my child perfectly from my body. I also thought we'd have a beautiful birth and that somehow PND would elude me. Clearly I thought wrong on all counts.

We had a rocky start in the hospital, F was so full of mucus (even after all the suctioning) that she didn't want to feed, which in turn meant that my milk production wasn't being stimulated properly. Or something. One of the midwives had to hand express colostrum from me to feed F so she would get the nutrients and antibodies and all the other good stuff colostrum contains. So I was milked like a dry cow - hardly any came out (and to this day I can't express more than a few drops of milk at a time). 

When we got home from the hospital F was hungry. We persevered with the breastfeeding for a few days - my nipples were agony, her latch was poor, and even after a successful feed she was hungry - and then I caved and sent HN1 out to buy some formula to top her up with. It's torture watching your baby scream and eat her fists because she's so hungry because your body can't provide for her. Topping up with formula was such a hard decision, not just because I felt I was failing, but because in this culture the Breast Is Best brigade push and push and push. It feels "wrong" to formula feed, and you are judged. Every time I feed F formula I feel the need to justify it. Constantly having to explain that I just can't make enough milk to feed my baby is also shitty.

And it's not like we haven't tried to up my supply - breast feeding often, trying to express, breast feeding only, fenugreek, oats, I take metaclopromide... The only thing that's worked is the drugs but even with them I don't make nearly enough to satisfy her. So, we mix feed. I feed her from both breasts and then she has a bottle, which is tiring to say the least (especially in the middle of the night). Her last feed at night is bottle only but I daren't drop another breast feed in case it further reduces my supply. At least she's getting some breast milk.

Plus, breastfeeding is something I enjoy and she enjoys. Sometimes she refuses a bottle and looks for the breast which is a really nice feeling (the warm fuzzies evaporate pretty quickly when I can't satisfy her, although she's often happy to suck away and use me as a dummy. I'm apparently willing to sacrifice my nipples for this). Perhaps I should talk about my nipples... OUCH. They've been cracked and bruised and bumpy and now they go totally white when she sucks. I have painful let-down and it's agony when I'm cold and they go hard (apparently I also have Raynaud's). My nipple saviours are my Lilypadz silicone breast pads - nips can't go hard which solves that problem, plus they're kept warm and moist enough to heal and not crack. The bruising is another story. When F has hold and, say, needs to fart, she whips her head from side to side with my nipple in her mouth. FML. And she farts an awful lot (apple doesn't fall far from the tree...).

So there we have another reason why I feel like a failure. They seem to be piling up. It would be easier to give up breastfeeding altogether and switch to formula only, I just can't bring myself to do it. I refer you to the aforementioned pressure, internal and external.


  1. You are doing amazing! I'm another low supply sufferer. I've had 3 babies and all 3 times I've needed packets of domperidone to get enough of a supply going. It took me 4 months to get enough of a supply to drop all formula with my first. It was a case of it I didn't top her up with formula she didn't gain weight.

    One thing springs to mind though, has your baby been properly checked for a tongue tie for be specialist? It sounds very much like my experience with my third baby who had a very well hidden and repeatedly missed posterior tongue tie. Even the farting sounds the same as TT babies can fart more as they take in more air.

    And if you are struggling to decide if you want to stop, remember why formula was invented in the first place.... to save babies lives who were unable to breastfeed for whatever reason. That's exactly what you are using it for now.

  2. Thanks Celesse - it's amazing that you increased your supply enough to drop formula. F was checked briefly for tongue tie by the lactation consultant but I'll ask the child health nurse to have another look.