On giving up…

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.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “On giving up…

  1. Anonymous

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out. He’s still gorgeous though!

  2. Anonymous

    Oh Tehani, I’m so sad it didn’t work out for you this time! Don’t worry, he’s obviously healthy and strong, and everything’s going to be fine. Concentrate on healing yourself up! You’re an awesome mum in so many ways, and if it’s not working, it’s not working.
    HUGS.
    Now the decision has been made you can get on with getting better (omg breast pain I remember it well) and getting on with the million and one other things to do with looking after kids & a newborn.

  3. Anonymous

    Sorry to hear this – I remember Mum’s trauma when she couldn’t breast feed my youngest brother (she managed six outa seven, so that’s not too bad). Knowing that Max is healthy and happy will, I hope, go a long way to helping you get over the pain of not being able to breast feed.
    Hopefully to make up for it, Max will do something else much easier than the other two πŸ™‚ He owes you now πŸ™‚

  4. Anonymous

    A fed baby is better than a starving baby. These decisions are hard, but you’re making them with brains and wisdom.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Stu. Hey, did I thank you for the gift! It’s gorgeous! I can’t remember if I emailed to thank you – was a bit of a blurry week when it came πŸ™‚

  5. Anonymous

    I’m so sorry, and I empathise deeply. I was distraught when things with Vinnie were completely over by the six week mark, and I cried about it every period for about a year. I was so pleased Jack managed five months, but I still miss it.
    *hugs* from me too

  6. Anonymous

    I’m so sorry that it hasn’t worked out. But you tried *everything* – sometimes it just doesn’t happen. It’s more important for bubs to be fed and growing and Mum to be non stressed.

  7. Anonymous

    Oh babe! You really did your best though and you’ve given Max all the options you possibly could! And a not-sore Mama is a good one outcome to have too!

    • Anonymous

      Not sore and not stressed! Plus other people can feed him and stuff too! Just got to convince hubby to do the night shift now πŸ™‚

  8. Anonymous

    I’m so sorry that it’s not worked out the way you wanted, but glad to hear that Max is coping well and that you’re healing. *sending hugs* You’ve done everything you can and no one can ask for more than that. You’re doing awesomely – also I agree with GJ that a not-sore Mama is an awesome outcome!

  9. Anonymous

    Big hugs Tehani. Ditto to GJ. Looking after yourself is vital. More hugs.

  10. Anonymous

    Thank you for friending me, I feel so honoured *grin*.
    Sounds like we had very similar situations, I eventually decided enough was enough when I realised the milk in the breast pump was pink because my nipples were bleeding so much.
    That pain and guilt and sadness colours your world so much when you are struggling with feeding, and it doesn’t help when you’ve done it successfully before because ‘dammit’ you wanted the same for all kids.
    Do you have a microwave steriliser? It was worth every penny I paid for mine, back in the day *grin*. Just remember, once he starts crawling and licking things off the floor you can stop stressing about the sterilising…

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