Friday, April 3, 2009

Breastfeeding: Should I Just Give Up?

I'm sad to admit this, but I'm thinking of giving up on breastfeeding. I have plenty of milk, so I can continue to pump, and we'd simply give Paloma bottles of EBM. I don't really have anyone to talk to about this on a practical level as everyone I know has either not breastfed because they don't have kids, breastfed fairly easily (e.g., going to a lactation consultant solved the problem), or quit after a couple of weeks because of nipple pain.

We visited with a lactation consultant and noted that Paloma is, in fact, latching on, but recommended that we continue to supplement with bottles at each feeding. That was all the guidance she offered, other than using breast compression, which I'm doing to the point of pain. Now while it's true that Paloma does have a good strong latch -- no pain, difficult to remove without "unhooking" her -- she continues to have a very weak suck, also known as an immature suck pattern:

Three to five sucks per burst, with a pause of equal duration, often detaching from the breast

That sounds about right, thanks Internet! Add to that the fact that at this point, I'm doing all the work, i.e., milking myself into her mouth, which inspires her to suck briefly before swallowing. Basically, we get a nice latch, she sucks now and then, but the only swallowing we get happens when I'm doing some serious breast compression. I'm talking serious enough to eventually make my hand hurt!

Paloma was actually feeding better in previous weeks, which means we've had a bit of regression on the breastfeeding front. As a last case resort, I suppose I could see a lactation consultant not covered by insurance or try supplementing while Paloma is on breast using the Medela SNS to see if she responds to that. Otherwise, I don't really know what to do other than quit. In the end, breastfeeding is not the important thing... making sure she gets enough food (in the form of EBM or formula) is.

Anyway, I'm open to ideas.


  1. I gave it a good try for 2 months and the consultant told me Ev was latched improperly because he was making a duck face when he sucked. I was just glad that he latched. He did eventually get better, though. If only my supply had held out.

    I wouldn't feel guilty about not feeding at the breast. If you're making lots of milk just pump it and give it to her via bottle. There's no shame in that. It's the milk that is the most important part, it's not as though she's NOT going to bond with her mommy when she's with her all the time, right?

  2. My son was born a couple of weeks early, and never latched properly. I wound up pumping for around 6 months, although my milk was never in huge supply thanks to undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

    So, we did as much breastmilk as possible and supplemented with formula, eventually going to all formula.

    I felt guilty and horrible at the time, like a bad mother. But, we still bonded wonderfully, he ate like a champ, and is now a gifted student.

    So, you are right in saying it is more about getting enough nutrition for Palmoma than anything else.

  3. Audrey: I didn't know that your supply dwindled. Do you know why? Right now my deep freeze is overrun with milk storage bags, but I realize it might not hold (esp. if she's feeding from the bottle).

    Gina: Thanks for sharing your story! One thing that is so reassuring is knowing that I'm not the only one having this problem, and that things will turn out okay no matter how she ends up getting her food.

  4. Hey Christa, sorry to hear you're having this problem. Have you contacted a LaLeche leader? I can email you the leader info for the Andover group I go to - they are wonderful and have all kinds of solutions. It might be worth a try.

    I have a friend whose baby never latched, so she pumped and fed him the EBM for a whole year - she feels it was very worth while. I also have another friend who had supply issues, nursed once daily, fed her baby what she could pump, and then switched to formula once her baby was 3 months. Baby is doing great.

    Do what is best for your family, for you, and Paloma will thrive. Best, M

  5. No, I don't know why. I have always thought it was just that the pumping wasn't enough. But I was really exhausted all the time so that probably played a large part in it. I pretty much felt like a single parent because Chris would retreat to the third floor at night and I was the only one getting up and feeding/changing/pumping all night and then he'd go to work and I was the only one feeding/changing/pumping all day with some added stress of SMIL wanting baby time all the time. So maybe I was a little depressed and that played a part. I don't know. I DO know that being tongue tied and the torticollis both played major roles in our nursing troubles.

  6. Seconded on contacting La Leche League... (not that I have personal experience with this, but there's a whole lotta 3 year olds in my current friends group so it was a recent-ish point of regular discussion).
    I spoke with a friend of mine who was big into the whole breastfeeding thing today and she recommended another site, I wasn't in a position to write it down at the time but I will double check the name of it tomorrow and pass it on. She also offered a direct ear if you're interested, let me know.


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