December 6, 2012

to breastfeed or not?

after spending nearly an hour while Ry was at MDO learning to curl my hair with a straightner, I had to take a least one picture, right?

I'm talking about breastfeeding today people.  If you have zero interest in a little boob TMI feel free to come back another day.  :o) 

The decision on whether or not to breastfeed our next child has been weighing on my mind since before Baby J 2.0 even existed.  Before any crazy pro-nursers jump down my throat about how it is so much better for baby, cheaper, and the only way I can bond with my child, let me give you a little (a lot of) background… (and I am completely aware that not everyone who chooses to breastfeed is going to shun me if I don't, I'm just saying)

When Ryann was born I wasn't set on bottle or breast, but I just figured breastfeeding would work out.  I mean it is obviously the most natural way to feed your baby, right?  I read a little on nursing, and figured it would just happen.  Seriously, how hard could it be (I was am young and stupid, cut me some slack)?  I tried to get her to nurse immediately after she was born, but no bueno.  She had zero interest.  My blood pressure was all over the place and I was so out of sorts and just completely confused and overwhelmed by everything that was happening.  I could not get her to latch on, and later the nurse insisted that we needed to get her blood sugars up, so she got some formula.

Throughout the night I tried and tried to get her to nurse with little success.  She would kind of latch on, but not really.  After a couple of feedings I think we gave her another 10mL of formula or something.  Finally, sometime late Tuesday morning I think she actually latched on with some success.  It was incredibly frustrating.  It took so much effort to get her to even try and latch, and half the time it was wrong, so we'd have to unlatch and try again multiple times.  The lactation consultant tried to help me out, but that stressed me out too because honestly I'm not a fan of strangers touching my boobs.  I know that is their job and there is no shame in it, but, well, that is just me.

By the time we left the hospital Wednesday evening my nipples were so sore.  Thursday they were cracked and bleeding.  People dumbly told me 'if it hurts, something isn't right.'  Not necessarily true my friends.  Your boobs are going to hurt.  A lot.  I was dreading every feeding, fearing the pain of her latching on.  Once she got going it wasn't so bad, but you know little miss lazy latch, we had to latch multiple times during a feeding.  And of course every feeding would make my blood pressure spike, leaving me feeling sick.  Plus the whole my boobs were on fire thing.

My milk didn't come in until Friday afternoon (Ryann was born on a Monday).  When we went to the pediatrician on Friday for our newborn check-up, Ryann was down to about 5.5 pounds (she was 6 pounds 4 ounces at birth).  We were instructed to supplement every single feeding with formula and come back on Monday for another weight check.  I was so defeated.  And tired.  And sick of being in pain and feeling sick.  I half heartedly tried to nurse her throughout the weekend, and somewhat attempted to pump, but she took the bottle so well that I pretty much gave up.  On Monday Ryann was back to at least 6 pounds, and I was done.  I tried to get her to nurse here and there but she just wouldn't (and no, I didn't exactly try all that hard, but I didn't know what to do).

So essentially Ryann was a completely formula fed baby.  And she has thrived.  Very rarely has she had any sort of an illness.  No ear infections.  Nothing.  Colds here and there, yes, but we have never been to the peditrician for a sick child visit or been on antibiotics (knocking on all things wood right now).  She has maintained a healthy growth curve and as smart as can be.  Do I wish I had been able to breastfeed her?  Yes.  I wish it had worked out and had been easy.  But it wasn't.  It was really hard.  And I quit.  Do I feel like her and I have missed out on some kind of bond?  Absolutely not.  I'm pretty sure her and I want to kill each other multiple times a day (not really), but we are very VERY close.  I have not gone an entire 24 hour period without seeing that little face since the day she was born.  I am 100% the constant in her life.

Which brings me to my mental dilemma.  I know it would be much easier to just go in with the plan to formula feed this baby as well.  I more or less know what I'm doing on that front.  Other people could help me feed her.  I wouldn't have to figure out breastfeeding.  I wouldn't have to explain it to Ryann (she has never been exposed to it at all, babies eat from bottles, that is all she knows).

But, what if?

What if this baby is better at it than Ryann was?  What if my milk comes in sooner?  What if I'm not as scared to ask for help?  What if my blood pressure is a non-issue?  What if I don't deal with any anxiety or depression?  What if it works?

This time around I am a little more confident in my parenting skills.  I know a newborn will be stressful no matter what, but I'm not as scared to have a baby.  I'm hoping that I won't deal with as much PPA as I did last time (obviously there is no guarantee for that one, I'm just hoping).  Overall I am just healthier, both mind and body, than I was a couple of years ago.  When Ryann was born Chris was back at work before I was even discharged from the hospital.  This time around he'll most likely have at least one day at home with me, and then will have the entire month of March with extremely limited hours.  So I feel like I'll have a better support system.  Also?  I know it is going to be hard.  I really had no clue what I was getting myself into when Ryann was born.  Not a single freaking clue.

So what should the plan be?  Well, for now, I feel incredibly uneasy about not even trying to nurse this baby.  Because it truly could be a completely different experience.  My first goal is to give breastfeeding a good solid try for two weeks.  If I'm completely batty by that point, then so be it.  At least I tried.  The next milestone I'd hope to make it to would be when Chris has to go back to work full time (beginning of April).  At that point dealing with Ryann and nursing would be more complicated, and if I can't take it I can't take it.  And after that I'd just play it by ear.  I can't really picture myself nursing past the six month mark, but I'll never say never to anything (well, almost anything).

With all of that said, I'd LOVE to hear from any moms who didn't breastfeed their first, but still attempted (successfully or unsuccessfully) with their second.  And I'd love to hear all your best tips on breastfeeding in general.  I need all the help and encouragement I can get.


Devin said...

My opinion is that if you have any desire to give breastfeeding a go this time, try it. Like your story with Ryann, you know that you can decide to formula feed if breastfeeding doesn't work. But it really could be completely different. A different baby and you've grown as a person and as a mother.
I nursed my daughter for 15 months, but it's was a long, difficult road -lots of pain, cracked nipples, masititis, tears throughout the entire time, but I really wanted to make it work so I suffered through. I can't say that I would do the same if we have another baby - maybe it won't work for any number of reasons and I'm ok with that too.
Ultimately, breastfeeding is difficult and you need to decide what's best for you and your baby. But there's no harm in trying because at least you'll know.

Tara said...

It can be SO difficult to have people constantly judging you for not breastfeeding. I too have a very similar story, and I too have two very healthy, happy, smart children to show for it. If you make it a goal to try, then that's just it - TRY it. If you succeed this time, you have something to be very proud of. There is absolutely NO shame in bottle feeding your babies either - remember that.

rileydog said...

I've been a lurker for a while but decided to comment for the first time! Hi!
I live in Quebec, Canada and I know our healthcare system is very different when it comes to birth, babies and breastfeeding- the nurses here are very pro-natural childbirth, pro-breastfeeding and pro-extended breastfeeding (past a year). I found it really helped having the nurses be so for breastfeeding because they encouraged me and really helped me through those first days when it seemed like it was never going to work.
One of the things they did to help is introduce a lactation aid ( This way baby is getting nutrition, which is important because the less energy they have, the less they want to nurse, but never is introduced to a nipple in order to avoid nipple confusion.
Also ask the doctor to examine the baby's tongue before you leave the hospital- my little girl was tongue tied a bit so that made latching painful. They just snipped the frenulum and it made a WORLD of difference, instantly! (
I expected breastfeeding not to work for us (crazy mom fears) but am so happy we stuck with it and now it's going so well.
If you want to give it a try, do it!

Melissa said...

I'm in an opposite situation of sorts...breastfed my first, formula feeding our foster baby. So, I feel like I'm experiencing both. :)

I would strongly suggest looking into your local La Leche League. Ours meets once a month and those mamas were AWESOME when things were so hard. Nursing was so, so hard at first.

For me, there have definitely been some pros to formula...mainly that Ben can help with the middle of the night feedings.
But, I've said many times that, having done both now, nursing is easier...for me.

One factor to consider is that many mamas lose the baby weight faster when nursing. I know how hard you've worked, so maybe that would be a motivating factor?

But, you do what's best for your family...only you know what that is. :)
You're an awesome mama, Ashley!

Caitlin MidAtlantic said...

Breastfeeding is SO HARD! I tried really hard (too hard) with my first. We made it to about 5 months, when I realized that it just wasn't working. Gave her a bottle and never looked back.

I tried again with my 2nd, but gave myself permission to hate it and give him formula. We had a better go of it, but I still quit after I went back to work. I'm glad I tried again - it's definitely less expensive, if nothing else! And it was a far more relaxed trial at breastfeeding this time. It never hurts to try!

No matter what you decide, remember that you are a great mom and you are making the best decision for your family that you can. No one knows what is best for your family better than you!

a_est said...

Feel confident if you want to try it again in the fact that you know your child will survive & thrive even if you switch to formula! There is no harm in trying, even one nursing session with some colostrum is better than nothing but you're already well aware of the fact that your newest addition will do fine with formula!

Best of luck!

maria said...

Good for you! Do what feels in your heart! What def helped for me was finding a GOOD lactation consultant!

maria said...

I mean: do what feels good in your heart! .. kind of difficult to type with a babe on my lap! ;)

Danielle said...

I've lurked for a while, but thought this is something I might be able to comment on! First off congratulations!!

With my first son Rowen (20 months) I attempted to breast feed but was told from the start that I needed to supplement with every feeding since I had had a breast reduction, which in some cases can result in you having very little milk. So I would spend time trying to breast feed him, and then get really disappointed after I fed him for a half an hour and he still gulped down a full bottle. By the end of his first month I was done breast feeding, and like your daughter, Rowen is a very healthy formula fed baby.

I just gave birth to our second son Finnegan three weeks ago and went through a lot of the same thoughts as you are regarding breastfeeding him, I didn't want to just write it off because I had a hard time before. When Finn was born he was not a good latcher and it took almost ten hours to get him to actually latch on. I'm pretty sure the saving grace for us during this period (and still now) was the introduction of the nipple shield, which helps with latching, and in my opinion doesn't make the process as painful. I am still using them with every feeding. The nursery should have some to provide at the hospital but you can also pick them up in the nursing section at target. Again I was told to supplement but I ignored that advice to try to give us the best shot at successful breastfeeding. And while I am only a few weeks in, Finn is exclusively breastfed, which is something I never accomplished with Rowen. Also I was religious in the beginning about making sure I put Lanolin on after every feeding and before showers which I think helped with the cracking/bleeding.

Sorry to be so long winded, but hope this helps!

Paige said...

First I want to say, that is a beautiful picture of you!

As far as nursing...just the other day I wrote a post about nursing on my blog.

I'm by no means a "must breastfeed" momma, but it worked for I say just try and see what happens. And don't stress yourself out about it.

Amy said...

Breastfeeding is HARD and requires a solid support system. I did nurse both of my girls but not without issue. My first had latching issues and lost over a pound. I ended up using a nipple sheild and that helped. At 3 weeks I went to a local LC that helped me SO MUCH and from there it was smooth (ish) sailing for the next 13 months, at which time I weened b/c I was 4 months pregnant and my milk supply tanked. With my second, we again had latching issues and she had a touch of jaundice and wasn't pooping it out (bc she wasn't getting enough food) so we were readmitted to the hospital for a night to help with nursing and get her on the bili-lights. I nursed her for 17 months.

Regardless of my thoughts on breastfeeding, I really think your plan should be to have no plan. Go ahead and try it...have patience and faith and see how it goes. If it doesn't work, move on and don't stress about it. You will do the right thing for you and your baby no matter which path you choose!

Kathryn said...

With my first, we had the same issues as you. Not a good latch, anxiety, and an all around crazy mama. When my milk came in 5 days after James was born, we had already been to the doctor, in which she said we should supplement as well. It was refreshing to hear from a pedicatrician that not all babies are breastfed, and it's ok not to breastfeed.

But that didn't stop me. I went on to exclusively pump for three months, and I hated every single minute of it. Two bouts of mastitis and a crazy mama later, I finally quit. And I remember that weight lift off my shoulders as soon as I had my last pumping session. I felt normal again.

Then came Drew, and I was determined to try breastfeeding again. He was completely different from James. He latched great, hungry as ever, and I knew what to do. But then my husband went back to work, and I was home alone with an 18 month old. Nursing is hard when it takes 45 minutes every 3 hours, and trying to entertain a toddler. That, and I honestly realized I didn't exactly like nursing. I loved the concept of it, but when it came down to it, I hated actually doing it.

Then I thought I'll pump like I did last time, and I brought my pump out of hiding. I stared at it, and then I picked up the phone to call my husband. I asked him if he would think less of me for not even really trying to nurse Drew. He of course supported me in whatever decision I would make, so I quit.

I can honestly say 9 months later, I don't regret my decision, because it was the best decision at the time. Is there a pull for me to give nursing a try next time? Yep! But, I think it'll be different because my boys won't be so young and need me, and I'll have the time and support to get in a groove to breastfeed.

Do not feel the pressure to nurse. You have to do what is right for you, and remember, they don't ask on college applications to check the box next to breast or bottle fed :)

Dawn said...

I tried with my first and only lasted two months, she was tongue tied and never latched on correctly and on top of that she got thrush. After my second was born I nursed and we nursed for about 6-9 months he was a breastfeeding champ and it really didn't hurt (the way that i remember it hurting, you know, with tears streaming down your face trying not to throw your newborn child across the room because it hurt so bad). My advice, don't stress out about it, try it a couple of times, if it doesn't work don't feel bad. Enjoy these moments with your child, you want to remember happy moments and not moments of resentment or frustration. You know?

Kelly B. said...

Long-time reader, first time commenter, and I first wanted to thank you so much for writing about this! When my two and a half year old son was born after an emergency c-section, he was given formula right away due to low blood sugar. I experienced a lot of the same whirlwind that you did in the hospital between recovering from surgery (that I really hadn't mentally prepared myself for), not having great lactation consultants or nurse support ("You should try feeding him, here you go!" as they walked out the door), latching issues, and low milk supply so he was primarily formula-fed from the get-go. I did supplement with what breast milk I could produce through pumping for the first three months, but even that was exhausting and frustrating. I'm now pregnant with my second and leaning very heavily towards exclusively formula feeding from the start, but still having some of the same doubts/concerns as you about whether I should even attempt to breastfeed. Not much to offer in the way of advice, but wanted to let you know that there are people out there in the same boat and thank you again for putting this out there, especially knowing how rough the commentary can be from some moms out there who are firmly planted in one camp or the other when it comes to this topic.

Mandy@ a sorta fairytale said...

I am a huge advocate of breast feeding. I did it with both of my babies. But also, I support your decision as a mother to do what is right for you, so no judgements here.
But here's the thing, I think the most important thing is to be educated. (Which it sounds like you are now). BF is hard. I don't know if you ever read any of my BF posts, but I wrote a lot on the topic. It is one of the most natural thing, but it takes a LOT of effort. Like a lot, a lot. It wasn't easy with either of my kids!! It hurt both times, and both time, my babes had trouble latching, and "getting it". It took WEEKS to settle into things. It was draining and exhausting but we got over the hump and it was wonderful. So..... my advise is to stick with it (if you want!). It usually always gets better after a few weeks. But of course, only you know your situation.

Kristal said...

I've breastfed both of my babies. The second time around has been FAR easier than the first, and not just because I'd done it before. A huge part of it was that I'm just all around confident in my mothering skills, where I wasn't so much with my first baby. Honestly, everything has been easier the second time around simply because I have a lot of confidence this time.

I'd say your story is very common and a perfect example of a failed system. No support, nurses pushing formula (which is BS, by the way. Blood sugar is not a good reason to give baby formula, but they do it anyway...), lack of information (your milk taking 5 days to come in is very normal and it will come faster the second time around), misinformation about baby losing weight (again, normal when your milk takes several days to come in). You can definitely take steps to educate yourself on those things this time around because the truth is, many hospital systems just don't have a good knowledge base or support system for breastfeeding moms.

Also, I HATED nursing Isaac for the first 6-8 weeks. No one told me about the killer pain when he would latch on, the painful letdowns, leaking was all shocking to me and I hated it. But at about 8 weeks, it started getting better and I joined a nursing moms group that gave me a ton of support, interaction, and knowledge. It was literally a sanity saver for me.

Regarding bonds and ear infections and all that - I think there are several things that affect the mommy/baby bond. I breastfed Isaac, but it still took me several weeks to bond with him. There was a lot more at play in his birth and us bringing him home than just our nursing relationship, so while I absolutely think breastfeeding helps form a bond, I don't think it's a make or break kind of thing. And with risks of formula, formula feeding doesn't guarantee ear infections/asthma/allergies/etc, it just increases the risk. So it's totally legitimate that Ryann has been healthy, regardless of her feeding experience. But that doesn't mean there wasn't a higher risk.

This is just my personal experience, but I'll say this: breastfeeding isn't easy, especially the first few weeks and especially with a toddler. If you aren't dedicated to it, it's simply not going to work. It's just not something you can "see how it goes" cause 9 times out of 10, you'll run into some snags and if you aren't committed to it, you'll walk away from it. I'm not saying it's bad to not be committed to nursing, I'm just saying that it would benefit you to think about how important it is to you. If it's important, do it. But I just think it's one of those things that won't happen if you don't dig down and commit to it. (Geez, reading this back, it sounds so hateful and I truly don't mean it that way! Just trying to be honest about my experience with it.)

Good luck with your decision!!

Anonymous said...

This is such a tough, tough topic. Ultimately, only you can decide what's best for you and baby. I wish it wasn't such a divisive topic. I won't go into detail about my trevails with nursing/pumping/formula feeding with my girls. All I'll say is read "Bottled Up" by Suzanne Barston. I'm reading it now and wish I would've had it sooner.

Jenny said...

Breastfeeding is HARD. I honestly don't know one single mama who would say, "Oh yeah, it's been a piece of cake since the beginning." But I also don't know one that regrets giving it a shot.
I'm only 7 months in to nursing my first baby, but Ruby was a lot like Ryann when she was born. 6lbs 4oz, low blood sugar. I gave birth in an extremely pro-breastfeeding hospital, and they gave me the chance to nurse before pushing the formula. But every time it was like, "Well, go ahead and nurse, but if blah blah blah, then we're going to have to give her formula..." I basically had to fight for another chance each time to keep going because even though it was the most awkward and painful thing ever, I knew myself. I wanted to breastfeed Ruby, but I knew that if I opened the door to formula when things were really hard, it'd be a slippery slope to no nursing at all. And for me, I didn't want that.
Ruby lost more weight, and was very jaundiced by our 3 day postpartum appointment, and she was rehospitalized. I was told formula was the easiest way to flush out the bilirubin, but that I didn't have to, and there were alternatives to that route. So with my stubbornness, every two hours I'd nurse her, then pump, then wash the parts, then finger feed her the pumped milk with a syringe and tube, and then do it all again. It worked though, and eventually she turned around and started gaining, and eventually the jaundice went away.
HOwever, we went home, and it still hurt like hell. I remember sending my husband to every drugstore in town to find me some Soothies because it hurt so bad. Everybody said that after the first 2-3 weeks it got super easy. But it didn't! But that's where education and GOOD lactation consultants came in (I saw some crappy lactation consultants too, but I knew enough to get better help, so I kept going until I could find a good one). It took about 6 weeks for us to get the hang of it. I'd heard "never quit on a bad day" and some days I just kept going looking for a good day that I could quit on. But on the good days, I didn't want to quit, and I think that's helped me get this far.

I TRULY don't believe that in our culture we can be successful at breastfeeding without a huge, good support system and a lot of education. Sign up for a class right now! Make Christopher go with you! Find a mom's group that you can go to with women whose babies are a similar age. It is SO helpful just to hear that other people are going through the same thing at the same time. And ask for help. I didn't want strangers touching my boobs either, but I knew I didn't know what the hell I was doing, so I just had to bear it. And use your blog! It looks like there's enough of us nursing mamas on here to be a really good support system for you.

Giving it your all for 2 weeks to start is a really good goal. This time around is a different situation, a different baby, and you're armed with more knowledge, and in the end you know that your baby will get fed no matter what, even if you do go to formula, right? So give it a try. You can always go to formula if you need to, but if you never try nursing, you can't go back.

megan said...

my babies were almost soley pumped fed :) i pumped then they bottle fed but i too thought like you did that breastfeeding would just happen and be easy and that was so not the case... i say give it a try and if it doesnt work try pumping and if that doesnt work go buy that formula! i think whatever makes mom happy and comfortable and out of pain and brings increased endorphins means happy baby. this might not be the best topic to get advice on too. do what your heart and body and baby tell you to do. good luck momma!!

Lindy said...

Breastfeeding is hard at the beginning, but I found with time it got a lot easier. The first few days/weeks were painful and pretty miserable. Lanolin was a saving grace, and so was a nipple shield. I think people who say if it hurts at first something is wrong, are wrong, it hurt at first for me but after a few weeks it stopped and hasn't hurt since.

At first she took forever to eat, 30-45 minutes. By a month or so she was down to 20-30 minutes. Now, at 7 months, it is around 10 minutes. I thought I'd quit at 6 months before she was born, and now it is so easy and convient (and free) that I plan to go to a year.

If you try this time, the worst thing that can happen is it doesn't work and you go to formula. Babies are a lot different when it comes to nursing and she could be great at it.

Lindy said...

I should add those comments are coming from somebody who tried to make formula not an option before she was born. I told the nurses no formula and didn't have any in our house when I came home. In the first few weeks I knew it would be easier to quit, and I knew I wanted to do it at least 6 months. I think those things helped make it through.

Kristy said...

I'm on the other end, my daughter was bottle fed from the get-go by my choice. I'm just someone who felt like breastfeeding was not for me. I do not feel like I missed out on anything and she is now a healthy happy 2 yr old. It was just what worked for us, as bf is what works for a lot of others. That mixed with others who bf comments above shows that either way your baby girl is going to be fine so do whatever is going to make you, your hubby and your new baby happy!

shawna [of styleberryBLOG] said...

My best advice, successfully feeding both exclusively breastmilk with big challenges and no husband, is to find some good support. Find a person who you can really trust who will tell it to you straight--a lac consultant or just a friend who has successfully bf'd. It hurts like hell. It's exhausting. It's much more difficult than bottle feeding, but you have to be committed if you are going to succeed. If you are nonchalant about it, then expect that kind of result. It's not for everyone, but you've got to find support. Someone to tell you that you don't need to measure. That you have to let go of the "how much is she eating" and the "she has to eat for 20 minutes" thought process and trust your baby can do it. Measure the wet diapers and growth. Know that most people are terribly uninformed about what it is really like to exclusively bf--and bypass their advice for those who know. I can be that person for you if you'd like (I'm a great texter--I can be your text cheerleader)! I think someday I'll be a lac consultant--but for now I just like helping friends--since there are so few people who make it long enough to have the experience to help. You have to believe in yourself and your baby and know that it is not easy! At all!!

Kim3278 said...

Firstly, kudos to you in bringing up such a hard to speak about topic. Breastfeeding is hard work. HARD. With my third baby now 15 months (and still nursing)I have had a multitude of things that have kept me going. Keeping in mind these things worked for me and may not be your cup of tea. You need to do what is best for you, your baby and your family. That comes first!

I had a lactation consultant on speed dial, just in case. Where I deliver, there is one on site, that will visit you (included in the hospital stay) and offer tips, work on latch, make suggestions, offer support, or praise. I also had one lined up just in case I needed one outside (which I did).

I also used an online support board (ie a group on facebook). I had two actually, one for the local BFing group that meets at the hospital and one of women of whom, I don't know anyone personally. I felt comfortable asking questions on both, and sometimes, it made it easier in those early morning/late night feedings to talk to someone who was doing or going through the exact same thing.

All three of my kids have been nursed passed 12 months. This is a personal decision. My goal was never 3 months, 6 months a year. Its a nice goal and goals are good to have but I just took it day to day. There were days that I did NOT leave my couch and just nursed. These are the days that I wanted to give up. But, eventually, those days pass. I also am a huge fan of lansinoh, Jack Newmans Nipple Cream, and soothies gel pads.

Just be easy on yourself and remember that no matter what, your baby will thrive! I'd say try it out and if its a go, great, if its not that is great to.

I'm so excited to see this baby!(and the nursery).

Nessa Bixler said...

I went into the breastfeeding thing like you - it is the way you feed your baby, so it should be easy. Someone convinced me into taking a class and they cleared up my illusions... breast feeding can be really hard. If there is a class - take one.

Both my babies were completely different - different struggles and breastfeeding problems. My daughter was EBF, my son has had some formula supplementation.

Breastfeeding #2 with another little one at home is hard. But have a plan. I have a basket that had cool toys (stickers, washable markers, new little toys) for my daughter. She only got them when I was feeding her brother. And I change them out. Also, I used TV, the iPad and DVD's to help keep my toddler occupied while I nursed.

If you want to try - do! Going into it knowing that it isn't always easy helps. I almost quit so mant times... one time specifically the only reason I kept going was because my daughter refused to take a bottle. On I marched. Take it day by day... your baby will be perfect either way.

Lauren said...

Let me tell you from my experience having breastfed 4 kids, but not exclusively. There are people that will tell you that it is so hard to breast feed and that you must give it so much effort and stick it out, and elude to the fact that if for some reason you were not successful it must be your fault because you did not give it a full effort. I think that is arrogant and hogwash! I myself wanted to exclusively breastfeed my babies so bad! I nursed through infections, babies in the NICU, myself in the ICU for 2 weeks, low supply, and poor weight gain. I had lactation consultations tell me that I would have enough supply because every mother produces enough milk for their infants! WRONG!! I did not produce enough milk, and it wasn't for lack of trying. I took the herbal supplements to try and help, I took RX drugs to help, I pumped in between feedings, I rented a hospital grade pump, I did everything my lactation consultant told me and I was still not producing any more milk. I went through this dreadful process each baby! Obviously this had been and issue even centuries ago, because they had wet nurses. My point is, don't listen to those that make you feel like you haven't worked hard enough and therefore your milk is not supporting your child, don't listen to those that say you need to only formula feed either. If you want to try again, do it, but don't expect it to be much different. It might be different, it might not be. My kids are extremely healthy! My twins are 4 and have had only 1 ear infection. My 7 year old has only had antibiotics twice in his life and my 2 year old has never had an illness! They were all a mixture of formula and breastmilk, but as time went on they were more formula that breast. Do what you want and don't be guilted into doing anything else!

J said...

Big hugs girl!

My first was a 27 weeker and I was only able to pump for him since he wasn't able to nurse for almost 2 months - pumping exclusively (and inconsistently - I'd often let 4 or more hours go by without pumping which is the main reason why I failed at EP'ing by the time he was 4 months old) was hard, especially once he came home and I was trying to nurse/burp/change him, then pump/clean pump parts/start right back over again. It just couldn't work, so he was on 100% formula by 4 months. The guilt I felt over (and still feel over) that was HUGE HUGE and I promised myself that when he had a sibling, nursing that baby WOULD HAPPEN FOR AT LEAST 12 MONTHS.

By the time baby #2 was born, I was still as convicted about nursing and, even though baby #2 was premature as well, I began pumping within an hour of being wheeled out of the recovery room from my c-section and just had tunnel vision about nursing. I was stubborn, and it was not at ALL always easy, but my 2nd was an awesome nurser and we made it to 13 months of breast feeding! Let me tell you what made that happen: NIPPLE SHIELDS! Yes, everyone tells you that they will decrease supply and not to use them long term, but honestly? They worked miracles for me! It IS a slight pain to have to wash it and use it each time, but my nipples were never sore or cracked, never bled, and I never had latch-on pain. Try it out! Medela makes the brand I used! Good luck girl!!!

jamielenee said...

I am still nursing my 13.5 month old (trying to wean her right now actually) but I wanted to comment (first time I've commented on your blog.)

Breast-feeding is very hard at first, and a huge time commitment to get started in the first few weeks, but it does get better. What I did before having my daughter was read as much as I could about BF-ing so I had a good base of info. My favorite resource, still, is the La Leche League's book - the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you think it's too granola, but it's great for all kinds of questions you might have, and they can direct you to local resources for help if you need it when baby comes - with latch, etc.

All that being said, I think it's awesome you're considering it, even if you decide to go with formula. Your baby will feel your love, no matter which method you choose! Go Mama, go!

Brooke said...

I had a "normal" experience nursing my first two children, but I had a VERY difficult time nursing my third. I know what it's like to be sore in the beginning. I've nursed with bleeding and blisters and mastitis before. But this was more than I could handle. Nipple shields, soothing gels, lanolin, different holds, nothing worked. It wasn't mental for me. Its was toe-curling, tear jerking physical torture, and I felt like the baby could sense my stress and anxiety. And the fact that I couldn't even sit still through the pain was not comfortable for her. That's not condusive to bonding. Breastfeeding is cheaper... it's a great diet... lots of reasons why I would have loved for it to work out. But I made a decision that was best for all of us (my family). I'm confident in my decision because I can compare my experiences with breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding. I feel sad for those moms who feel like failures because it doesn't work out for them. I want to hug them and say, "It's ok. You're a good mom."

Baby From Scratch said...

From your post it sounds like you want to give it another go this time around. DO IT! Like you said you are armed with experience and knowledge that it is not always easy to breastfeed, an advantage for sure. My experience with my first (second is due in April) has some similarities to your story though my DD was great at latching (hope your second one it!). However because I was on an IV during labour her birth weight also included 'water weight' not accounted for by most DR. So in the eyes of the Dr she was losing too much weight and they too were in a rush for my milk to come in. We were cohorts into supplementing though my husband refused to do it. I am lucky that he was well read in breastfeeding and had enough facts and information that he felt confident that things were fine. Still the Dr was forceful in their opinions which I took to heart (and felt like a failure). Long story short I tried to supplement but DD would not take a bottle (never did either) but I also was prescribed domperidone to increase my milk supply. Problem was that my milk DID come in and on time (so the health nurses and LC said) and I ended up with a wicked case of mastitis (ouch!!) had to go to the ER every day for 5 days to get IV drugs it was that bad and every Dr male or female recoiled at the sight of my breasts! So my milk did come in it's time and the baby was actually fine regarding weight (so said the nurses, LCs and my current midwife). Still though latching was painful and so was let down BUT it got better it took a few weeks maybe 3 and then breastfeeding got better, easier, not painful and it was LOVELY! I successfully breastfeed for 25 months and never thought I would. There were times when I doubted myself but I had a great support team; my partner, LC, heath nurses and friends.

Here are my suggestions. Meet up with the local LLL as above have mentioned, see if you like them. Check out other Lactation Consultants find one that YOU like and try to have them on call when baby comes. With luck they will come to your house if there is a problem or it least take your call when you are stressed or struggling. Read up on breastfeeding too, knowledge it power. The 'Womenly art of breastfeeding' is a great book.

Most of all do what works for you. If you breastfeed successfully this time -awesome, if you do a combination of formula and breastfeeding awesome, if you end up throwing your hands up to save your sanity - awesome, you are doing what you need to do to be the best mother you can be. Wet nurses were around since the down of time for a reason... breastfeeding is not possible for everyone. Good luck with your choice and I look forward to hopefully reading your success whatever it looks like.

Sharstin said...

love this pretty pict! well i would say do what works out best for you and your babe. i tried breastfeeding with caleb and zoee and it was a nightmare and stressful. After a few weeks we went to the bottle. Then there was Nora--she was a natural--and it was great:)

Sarah and Derek said...

So glad you did this post! Obviously I am only 2 weeks into this whole breastfeeding thing but it is WAY more painful and time consuming then I thought it would be. I've wanted to give up numerous times and like you, I am 100% ok with formula but I am trying to work through it.

I was nervous to have a lactation person help me too but there was 1 there to help me right after I had her and I think that helped tremendously. I had no idea what I was doing and as awkward as it was, she was able to help me latch her right away. I actually ended up calling her the next day to come help me as well because my boobs were already getting scabs and it was painful. Don't be nervous to ask for their help, their older ladies who have probably seen way worse :)

No matter what you decide, it will be the right choice for you and baby.

Stephanie and Ryan said...

I struggle breast-feeding with my first, and I hope when the time comes for the second baby, I will be able to more successfully. I look forward to reading what you decide and how it works. Question- what setting did you use on your camera to get this picture? I love it!

fifth house on the left | family blog said...

i unsuccessfully breastfed for 3 weeks with my first. we had major latching issues so i moved on to strictly pumping and then i immediately gave up when i developed an abscess in my breast. it was terrible and my anxiety levels immediately went away the moment i quit. like you, i assumed it would just happen and it didn't and it was probably the worst 3 weeks of my life.

fast forward to my second baby who is now 6 weeks old and i'm still breastfeeding which was my second mini goal i set for myself {my first was to make it to 3 weeks,where i previously left off}. it's HARD, it has been hard. every day i seriously want to quit, but i'm waiting for this hurdle to pass and hope the light at the end of the tunnel is near. it hurts and i had bleeding and cracked nipples for weeks. we had/have major latching issues and i think i still do because it hurts...still. i did see a LC which helped, but we still have our issues that we are both working through everyday. some days i wonder why i'm even doing this when it stresses me out so bad...especially since i have a 20 month old running around the house and is pissed i'm not giving him my undivided attention anymore because i'm nursing what seems like a million times a day for almost an hour each time {he is a very lazy eater}.

speaking as someone who is freshly going through this that experienced a very similar situation as you the first go around, give it a shot. set mini goals for yourself throughout the beginning stages to keep you freshly motivated to keep going {that's what has helped me so far}. don't expect to quit if things get tough, because they will be. either go into it that you will do it or not. get support, don't be afraid to ask for help because that will make things so much better.

i wish you so much luck in whatever decision you make because you are the one that will be living this day to day. you have to do what's best and easiest for you and your family. you can do this, especially when you set your mind to it :)

p.s. your picture is crazy beautiful! definitely should be framed in little miss' nursery. good luck ashley!

Jennifer said...

The best advice I ever received was to NOT be too hard on yourself. I always said I would "try" breastfeeding and if it didn't work out...then it didn't work out. If you're willing to put forth the effort it's worth it....if you're too tired or just simply can't nurse at all....your child WILL NOT suffer. You can bottle feed and STILL bond with your child. Yes, it's possible. ;o) I nursed exclusively for 9 months. I pumped often and allowed others to give my son a bottle. It was a nice little break. I don't regret nursing, but it's REALLY best if you have support from your spouse. My husband was great! About two weeks into nursing I seriously wanted to give up. My husband was the one who encouraged me to continue. I'm glad I did. It's a challenge at first, but once you get the hang of's simple. Good luck! You look great btw!

Mimi said...

Every baby is different, so maybe your new baby won't have the latch issues Ryan had. Babies don't need much to eat the first day, all they are trying to do is get your milk to come in. Milk coming in takes normally at least 3-4 days.

It hurt like hell when I was in the hospital nursing Sammy. I didn't have any problems with people helping me learn to nurse. I had everyone helping, just so I could make sure I got the help I needed when I was in a place I could get it. Our hospital lactation consultants are always available though even after you are discharged. Also, there is a breastfeeding class you can attend during your hospital stay.

In the middle of the night when I was trying to nurse him and just couldn't figure it out, it was a nurse tech from Uganda who had come in and helped me almost more than anyone. She showed me different holds told me to use pillows to support my arms, etc. There is so much to figure out with nursing for the first time. Try not to stress about the baby eating! Babies stomachs are the size of a marble at birth, a marble!!

I had gone to our lactation class and had pretty much been dismissed bc they said Sammy was too sleepy since he was just 14 hrs old. They sent someone to our room later and she was so rude and I felt so unhelped by her. I told them we weren't being discharged until another lactation consultant came in. By this time about 40 hrs after birth, my nipples were starting to crack and were bleeding. The lactation consultant that came in basically shoved Sammmy's face into my boob and it was crazy, there was no pain! It was awesome to know there was a latch that didn't hurt. It gave me so much confidence.

When I got home and was nursing it was toe curling pain. It finally dissipated, but not after I had called two of my friends to come and help me figure out what I was doing wrong and right. It takes a village right?!

A few things I learned in the first few days that helped were that I couldn't sit in a bed or hospital bed and hold Sammy well enough to get him to nurse. I needed a place to rest my arms (think rocking chair). The boppy really helped too. Also, when Sammy was all swaddled it just made it worse. I really needed his arms free to get it right.

Hopefully this helps you. Just keep your chin up, once you push through the initial few week hurdles in nursing it becomes amazing. Sammy dropped 10% of his birth weight and by the time we went back in for our weight check 5 days after his birth he was way over his birth weight. We are now almost 14 months in and have been so fortunate to have exclusively breastfed. I just wrote a post about our breastfeeding journey, you can see it here.

Mimi said...

Also, the best thing I did was follow on facebook. They always have such inspirational stories and the website has wonderful information to basically any bf question you could have. I bet if you posted the link to this post over there you would get amazing support from many a lactation consultant as well as veteran bf mom.

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your post- as well as all the comments. I had a similar experience to some of the posts. My baby (now 4.5 months) had a poor latch- and even when he did latch, had a poor suck (and even now has a poor suck with the bottle= but he is plenty healthy). He too lost over a pound, had low blood sugar. I was feeding, then feeding him expressed milk through a finger tube, then supplementing him with formula through a finger tube, then pumping every feed for 2 months. Finger tube gave way to bottles...I had to wash all the pump parts and all the bottles and have the time to sit and nurse...and once family left and husband was back at work- do that every 2 to three hours plus all the other newborn care and householdish chores.... IT WAS EXHAUSTING! I had the sore cracked bleeding nipples and all as described by others. I was never engorged. I never had enough supply etc.

I found support at a local hospital bfeeding group (not the hospital where I delivered)-- it was the best support ever, because they clearly valued all that was good in bfeeding, but also did not shun me for supplementing. It was because of them that I even made it as far as I did....

Basically at about 2.5 months, I quit pumping 8 to 9 sessions a day and began only pumping when I had the time to "hook Up" amidst all the household chores and family slowed to pumping 3 to 4 times a day. I had to for sanity sake- I felt like I was spending more time with my pump and washing the accesories than I was spending with the baby!!! And that was the tilting feeling that made it OK to formula feed. Every now and then, I feel that "I wish" feeling that bfeeding was a bit smoother for me and that I had more milk and that he had a better latch (a chicken egg thing perhaps for those who have lower supplies and kids who don't latch well from the get go) consultant even told me that my boobs were quite fleshy and they were perhaps not good producing boobs...which hurt me emotionally (perhaps because of my pp emotions and anxiety, perhaps because of her comment delivery, and perhaps because it was true)....

Let me add, I have also dealt with a bit if ppa and the bfeeding journey perhaps contributed to those emotions as well...

All that being said- we plan to have #2 fairly soon (we are in our late 30's)...and I have similar emotions to you... right now I feel I will give it a try and put as much into it as I possibly can (knowing that having a newborn and a toddler is also an added hurdle)...and I will try to go as long as I can...and if formula feeding occurs...I will say to myself, it's OK.... I like what you said-- I'll go for two weeks and then see where things are... actually that's how I even made it 2.5 months this go round...I kept saying- just one more day, just one more week...and I thought I wouldn't make it past my 6 week obgyn follow-up... and then it was 2.5 months...which to me was a success....not a if 2 weeks is success...then it is-- :) Best wishes and much love to the journey with #2 to you and your whole family! :)

Ashly said...

So I am totally a new mom (with an almost 4 month baby now) but I thought I would share my experience. My plan was to breastfeed but if my baby didnt take then of course I would formula feed. I def have to say breastfeeding was much harder than I had thought it would be(even after taking a class and reading about it) and for the first time I totally understood why people chose to bottle feed. My little guy latched on great and had no problems with that but I was SO sore. Unbearable sore. Miserable. But I kept hearing it would get better with time so I decided to stick it out. I would say it was rough for 6 weeks. That is a long time to dread feeding him simply because I was sore. Finally at the 6 week mark my soreness went away and since then I have loved breastfeeding. It is convenient and easy to me now and I am really glad I stuck it out. (Although I wanted to give up so many times at the beginning) I am glad I didnt! So if your little girl does latch well it may take you a little longer than 2 weeks not to be sore! :) Although I say if it too stressful just formula feed and dont feel guilty about it! Oh and one other thing... use Lasinoh Lanolin ALL the time. That was quite possibly the only thing that saved me!!

Meredith said...

I had a similar (terrible) experience breastfeeding Lizzy...I BFed until she was 9 months, but every session was terrible!

This time? SO MUCH EASIER. She latched on well right from the start. It hasnt been totally pain free, but it also hasnt really felt unmanageable either, even with the nursing 24/7...and I think a big part of that was that the recovery was easier this time around (and I bet it'll be easier for you too with as healthy as you are this pregnancy!

I guess my big piece of advice is not to make decisions about how you'll parent this next baby based on how you parented Ryann--they may well be TOTALLY different personality wise, and you won't know til you meet her!

pds2507 said...

First -OMG GORGEOUS picture!
Next - I love that you posted this and I'm saving it for future reference when I decide to go for number 2. My first ended up being formula fed. My milk took a full week to come in and his weight was dropping and he became jaundiced and my husband freaked out... it was a big huge stressful mess and I dealt with SOOOO much guilt that I continue to battle to this day. I think I want to attempt to breastfeed my second kid BUT I'm terrified of failure again among other things. So thank you for sharing and asking and I hope that you share your feeding journey with us, at least some, once Baby Girl 2 is here!

Amy Higgins said...

At lease you can say you tried?

I became pregnant with my son when my daughter was 4 months old. after 6 weeks of fussiness and me nearly dying (thats a bit dramatic, but i did end up in the hospital in the middle of kansas on out cross country move because i was so ill i couldnt move) I decided it was time for the health of all 3 of us to quit. we made it almost 6 months.

to compensate i breast fed my son, exclusively.. no solids.. until he was a year old when he weaned himself (lack of interest, he was a busy boy!)

Kathleen @ Measuring My Life said...

Give it a try if you want and honestly I swear by nipple shields, they saved me from pain, had a horrible time with my girls latching, but with that I had like zero pain.

Jaime said...

I didn't even try nursing my first born... I was only 21 years old and I had no desire to do so... That was almost 5 years ago. I just had my 2nd born 3 months ago and I said the whole pregnancy that I was going to BF... it was so hard at first... give your body time for your milk to come in. the nipple shield saved me from quitting because it was super painful. After doing it for 3 months it feels so normal to nurse him. He does take a bottle while I am at work and I pump 3 times a day. I would look into making the lactation cookies to help with your milk supply. The taste really good and I saw a big difference and the one thing you want to do is drink water constantly... that will help a huge amount! good luck!!!

Anonymous said...

Yessss! Agree 100%

Anonymous said...

La Leche meeting and in home visits were a lifesaver for me. Good luck!

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