I have given up trying to breastfeed Max. It’s not a decision I’ve come to easily, and every time I tried to talk about what was going on for the past week, I’ve ended up in tears (even now I’m tearing up!). I think I tried everything I could possibly try. Expressing worked for a few days, but then I started to have trouble getting enough out, and finally realised that I was actually causing more damage. Shields sort of worked for a couple of days, although Max hated them and fed extremely fussily when I used them. But then the pain wasn’t really diminished when I used them so they really weren’t helping. I used Lansinoh cream, which everyone RAVED about, and again, which seemed to work for a few weeks, but then it seemed things got so traumatised that even that couldn’t help anymore.
I contacted the Breasfeeding Association and got a wonderfully comprehensive reply from one of their great volunteers, with some excellent suggestions, but again, I think things might have gone too far by then, as nothing worked. Eventually, I realised that it was possible I now had thrush – this meant of course that the Lansinoh was actually hampering healing rather than facilitating by this stage. The chemist gave me two gels to use (one for me, one for Max). I don’t know if this would have eventually cleared things up, but after 24 hours of that treatment, I was in so much pain (not from the treatment so much, although it wasn’t entirely painless, but from the weeks leading up to it) all over – not just breasts (although that was pretty awful), but also shoulders, neck and back from hunching over and compensating for pain, as well as tension from it – that I just couldn’t do it any more. I’ve now gone for 36 hours without breastfeeding and my nipples are still really sore, dry and cracked (although not red raw anymore). And I think my supply had already started to dry up, as I’ve had minimal leakage and no real pain at this stage.
This is hard to come to terms with for so many reasons. I loved feeding my first two, and it was something I’d really been looking forward to. I’m really going to miss not having that. Secondly, I know breast is best. Formula can’t compete with breastmilk for the benefits it offers, and I regret I can’t give Max a better start than five weeks of breast milk. Secondary to all of this is the cost and inconvenience of bottle feeding. It’s time consuming, expensive and far less easy than breastfeeding. I loved just being able to take me and baby! Now bottles and formula have to be part of the baby bag, and there’s an endless cycle of washing, sterilising and filling bottles with boiled water. And a tin of formula is between $20 and $25 and lasts about a week or so (less, as they get older). Bottles aren’t cheap either. That’s a lot of money in twelve months that could have been allocated elsewhere.
So yeah. I’m sad about this. But Max has been having formula for about a week now (interspersed with breast up until yesterday) and he’s fine. He isn’t having any tummy upsets with it, and he doesn’t seem bothered by the difference, taking the bottle no problem. He’s healthy, content, sleeping well, and just lovely. And that’s what really counts I guess. But I will miss it, and I regret I couldn’t continue persevering, but I seriously couldn’t function with the pain. I needed to be a mum still in every other way, and I was on the path of not being able to do anything else! Decision made, with sadness.
Something else I’ll miss – sweet-smelling breastmilk burps. Formula burps are not nearly so nice.