There are mothers who have tried everything. They have attempted to get help and have not been able to breastfeed. There is not enough support out there for them, and they feel isolated because of this. If this sounds like you, I hope you will find some encouragement in knowing that you are not the only one.
If you need breastfeeding support...
It Was a Relief to Stop
Mae Mae's story
I tried to breastfeed and made myself crazy. I tried Fenugreek, which gave me migraines - realizing the side effects years later when I used it for something else.
I pumped 7ml per bilateral pumping and 70 ml a day. Pumping 10 x a day was not helpful. I supplemented early on because of jaundice and multiple other risk factors.
I cried more volume in tears than the milk I made; eventually, it dwindled to 40 ml per day. I got my period at six weeks, as evidenced by it following every month after.
I decided I was done at that point. It was a relief to stop. Stopping was what needed to be done for my sanity and our bonding. I respect those mothers who continue despite similar situations.
I'm looking forward to my next pregnancy. I'll probably try two weeks and call it. The colostrum may be the only gift I can still give, and that's worth the effort to me.
Pumping sucks. Literally
I was told to pump eight times or more a day by the IBCLC. I don't think she fully appreciated what a full-on task it was. I tried my best, but my house, marriage, baby, and energy suffered. It's not practical. I wish they wouldn't push pumping on mums who can't breastfeed, as it only draws out the grieving process (and yes, it is grief) over being unable to breastfeed.
I tried my hardest. I couldn't have done any more.
Bell Shaped Breasts
I had my first child and, like most expecting mothers, went to all the classes at the hospital on breastfeeding with no thought that perhaps this wouldn't be an option for me as this was never discussed.
I knew my mother couldn't feed me properly, but I didn't know why. We had an emergency C-section, and my beautiful daughter was born. Along with the effects of the surgery, I was suffering from carpal tunnel, which prevented me from holding my baby in the right position to feed.
The midwives at the hospital encouraged me to keep trying, but my milk wasn't coming in. I thought it was because of the operation. We left the hospital after three days when my husband realized how the pushing of the nurses and my screaming hungry baby were impacting me.
We tried for another four days with a midwife visiting our house. I used a breast pump and breastfed until my nipples were cracked and bleeding, but I wasn't getting enough milk.
My mother spoke to the nurse and told her that she couldn't breastfeed, and she remembered that her mother also had problems.
Our daughter lost more and more weight and was becoming so sick that we were considering taking her to the hospital to have a feeding tube. It took us to get to this point for the midwife to agree that it wasn't working finally. She said that I had bell-shaped breasts, which meant that the baby could not stimulate the milk ducts to produce and release the milk, and it was most likely GENETIC.
We went straight to the supermarket and started formula. Within a few days, our baby put weight back on and was sleeping and happy.
My biggest disappointment was that it took us so long, and we put our daughter's health at risk, all because of some preconceived idea that "Breast is Best." New mothers are not provided with enough education to realize that there are other options if things don't go to plan (and let's face it, how many pregnancies and births do).
We need to be given the correct information so we, as new mothers, can identify when we have to choose between an ideal and the reality of the situation.
I wonder how the midwives will feel if I turn up to my next birth with a bag packed with bottles, teats, and formula.
Hooray to this website for discussing these tricky topics and allowing women to express their frustration and disappointment and share their experiences.
We must let each other know - it's okay, even if society doesn't. We have all tried our hardest to breastfeed with no success, but ultimately, we have done the right thing for our children, which is what matters the most.
Not One Drop
I tried for six months for hours a day and night with no milk supply. It was so stressful that l was advised to do a top-up, but that was an entire bottle of formula.
I was told to buy a professional pump - nothing came, which made my poor baby suck for hours a day - frustrated, and he would kick and kick me - it was the worst experience ever.
I wish I hadn't put him through it. As soon as he got the bottle, he was so happy. Looking back, I feel it was wrong of me to put my baby through that for so long. I should have stopped making him try for two hours before he got the bottle. It was so unfair on him.
I Tried Everything I Could
It's so good to read these stories and finally know that it isn't just me who has struggled. My daughter is eight months old, I was always fully intent on breastfeeding exclusively, but this wasn't to be. I had to supplement with formula from two weeks after birth, which I found heartbreaking.
I tried everything I could; doctor-prescribed medication, herbal supplements, pumping, days on end in bed getting skin-to-skin contact, a lactation consultant, a kinesiologist, and practiced EFT (emotional freedom technique - clears emotional blockages). I even joined La Leche League and requested hormone and thyroid tests from my doctor, but nothing helped.
I still put my baby on my breast. Although she gets so little, it acts as a soother. I found the lack of support almost unbearable; there is so little understanding for women who don't produce enough milk.
My nurse thought I had postnatal depression as I would get upset by not being able to feed my baby. I was told that it shouldn't make me sad. The worst thing for me was the attitude of professionals who didn't offer support but expected me to give my baby a bottle and get on with it.
No one understood my deep need to breastfeed my baby and my utter desperation at being unable to. I'm blessed with being pregnant again. Although I'm already anxious (I know this won't help!!) about feeding our next baby, I know I don't have the strength to go through it all again.
I hope my next experience is better, but I'll have to take it one day at a time.
It Is Not Your Fault
I feel sorrow for anyone that has dealt with this. I read all of the articles here, and I felt like maybe I should have tried longer with my firstborn, Adam. I tried for one week.
The hospital stay was pleasant until the second day, in the morning as I was preparing to leave. I tried again to pump and ended up with half an ounce from both breasts on a double pump. The nurse kindly brought me a bottle and some formula for him when I began crying because I felt so inadequate.
I got home and began the most grueling week ever. I had some colostrum on the first day, but that's all he got through the entire process.
I pumped a lot at home and tried to have him at my breast for more than an hour each time. The first three nights at home, I got no sleep. I was hallucinating from the sleep-deprived state I was in.
The nurse at the hospital told me three to four days and my milk would come in. Well, it never did, and I tried just as hard the rest of the week, but while sleeping this time, I just couldn't. I had to use formula.
I had entirely depended on my own body to be enough to nourish my baby. It just did not work out that way.
Adam just turned three last week, and he is the most intelligent little boy I have ever seen. I am currently four months pregnant with my second child, and I may try to breastfeed, and I may not, and it is my decision.
My hubby's family could not stop asking, and I told them that I think I would give it a shot one more time, but I also told them my story, and they seemed understanding. Of course, I feel odd about even talking to my mother-in-law because she breastfed my brother-in-law until he was five! Yeah.
It is unfair to ourselves, our newborns, or anyone else around us. It is an unhealthy state of mind to be in. I have learned much from my experience, so I'll give it a shot. If it doesn't work out, it just doesn't; that is what there is an alternative for.
There should be more information on this subject available. And no one should be ridiculed for this problem. It is not your fault. I wish you the best!