Pain, frustration, guilt - the joys of breastfeeding. I need your help!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2011
Pain, frustration, guilt - the joys of breastfeeding. I need your help!
Thu, 02-21-2013 - 9:12am

Hello there,

This morning, after yet another sleepless night (6 month old wakes up at 3:30 am ) I kind of made my decision... I'm not going to do this any longer. My baby boy is EBF (I started to give him some rice cereal about a month ago, hoping it would help him sleep, the joke's on me though). He's a big baby, wears a size 12-18 months already. I work full time, leave the house at 6:30 am and come back around 5:30 pm. I pump at 10 and 2. Please look at the pros and cons and help me make the right decision. I really hope this is not one of those 'BF even if it kills you' forums ;)


-BF great for baby

-I BFd my daughter for over a year - I feel like a horrible mother depriving my son of it so early (in my defence though: I had a much less stressful job back then, with a lot less responsibilities and nobody cared hom many times a day I snuck out to pump)


- pain - my left nipple has been torn for over 2 months - no chance to heal bc DS is rough with it

- very very stressful job - it's stressful scheduling meetings around pumping sessions, sitting in meetings and doing presentations when my boobs get sore and engorged

- lack of sleep - because I'm the only source of food for the baby, I get to sleep about 4 hours at night, ending up exhausted, cranky

- I already had mastitis twice with this baby, a clogged duct at least 3 times. Due mainly to pumping sessions at work skipped or cut short because of a hectic schedule

- schlepping everywhere with that f***ing cooler. I know it's just an inconvenience but I hate this. Wearing a fancy suit and dangling a bag of milk everywhere I go. I want my body and my dignity back (prancing around the house topless, airing my sore nipples doesn't do much to one's self esteem)

Please don't judge me, I'm trying to do my best, but as I was walking to the bus stop this morning crying, I thought: is this worth it? Wouldn't my family be happier if I was happier? I mean, over 6 months of breastmilk isn't too bad, plus I obviously wouldn't stop cold turkey, I was thinking about pumping once a day starting next week and then going to morning and nighttime breastfeeding until I'm out of milk.

Please help....

 BabyFetus Ticker
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2011

OK, now I know. I have thrush, aparently. ARGH...

 BabyFetus Ticker
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2008

Spicegirl, welcome to the board and thanks for stopping by. We are here to support you whether you choose to breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months or 2 years and I think we're pretty good non-judgers unless you're doing something that's truly harmful, like cry-it-out at 6 weeks or something. The bottom line is ultimately the decision lies with you and your husband as to what works best for everyone, both your needs and the baby's needs. I'm sure it must be very stressful to have to work such long hours every day and balance your family's needs as well.

I'm going to throw out a few questions to think about if that's ok with you. If working and pumping is too much for you, is it an option for you to wean down from the pumping and just nurse when you're with baby morning and evening? Just throwing that out that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. You write about moving to morning and evening breastfeeding until you're out of milk? What does that mean? There are moms who choose to not pump at work but still nurse morning and evening for months or even years. 

Will night feedings be any easier if you're FF? Won't it be more work to have to get up, heat up the bottle, feed him while sitting upright then have to get him back to sleep? How many times a night does he typically nurse? Do you typically nurse lying down so you can nurse and snooze at the same time? It's definitely not cool for you to get four hours of sleep. When you typically go to bed and get up?

Have you introduced any formula yet? Do you know if he will take it? Have you determined yet if formula agrees with his system or if he might have any GI upset from it?

Tell us more about the torn nipple. That sounds very painful. Have you had that a long time? Is it due to latch issues? Are you using lanolin on it? What other steps have you taken to get that resolved?

Sorry to bombard you with so many questions but I'm just looking to help you think through all the issues and come up with the decision that is best for everyone.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2011

Hi Dana!

Thank you so much for replying. I'm glad I didn't get the 'shut up and whip your boob out if you love your baby' answer I had expected Wink

So here it goes:

1. My baby hasn't tried any formula yet. He has a 6 month checkup tomorrow and I was going to ask for a recommendation.

2. I'm thinking about starting with pumping once a day at work (I do twice now) starting next week, and slowly going to just morning and evening feeding. The reason I said 'until I run out' is that I expect the supply to go down when I do that.

3. As for our schedule: I give him and his sister a bath around 7:30. He gets a bottle (Breast Milk) with some rice cereal in it and falls asleep around 8:30. I feed him again around 11ish pm and he sleeps until 3:30 am. I then feed him lying down and he falls asleep again, wakes up after 7 (I guess, I'm out of the house by then).

4. So - I go to bed around midnight, after I put him to bed and I wake up around 3:30-4 am. I sometimes manage to fall asleep again until my alarm clock wakes me up at 5:40 for work.

5. My nipples has been cracked for about 2-3 months now. I read the description of thrush and it's dead-on. The sharp shooting pain inside of the breast, etc. He doesn't seem to have any symptoms.

6. I've been putting on lanolin after every feeding. Also, Neosporin seems to help a little, too. Ibuprofen has basically become part of my diet due to the excruciating pain. And I'm not quick to take pain killers - I gave birth twice without epidural and took no painkillers afterwards either. This pain makes me cry and the baby gets upset that when I give him the left breast I sort of pull it back from him because I'm scared.

7. The latch is fine. It's just that at this age he bites down on the nipple a lot and keeps it in his mouth when he turns around to look at his sister or when something startles him...

8. I just spoke to my doctor about thrush - she told me to get lotrimin and bacitracin.

Thanks again!

 BabyFetus Ticker
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-21-2009

Oh my goodness sweetie, I’m so sorry you’re having nipple issues on top of what sounds like a very stressful schedule. Dana brought up some great questions and ideas.

I think as with all things take any decision slowly and leave as many doors open as you can so if you take one path and it’s not working you haven’t totally shut the door on the other route.

So any weaning you plan to do whether from the pump or from breastfeeding should be done gradually for your health and to reduce the risk of plugs and mastitis. Also the gradual route allows you to change your mind if you find what you are doing isn’t working as well as you’d like.

Certainly I think a top priority would be to take care of the thrush/yeast asap so any breastfeeding or pumping will be comfortable. No wonder you want to stop! I’ve heard nipple yeast described as one of the most painful breastfeeding conditions there is. I’m a big fan of using multiple remedies at one time for yeast and hitting it hard and heavy. Sometimes doctors will also order medications like Diflucan for yeast. You can also talk to your doctor about using Gentian Violet on the nipples and in the baby’s mouth, which seems to help for many moms. Grapefruit seed extract capsules (250mg), which you can find in health food stores, can be taken along with Diflucan and any anti yeast cream the doctor orders. All of this is detailed in “Jack Newman’s yeast protocol” (you can search online for it). You may also want to get yourself a good multi-organism probiotic. If your doctor isn’t familiar with nipple yeast treatments it may be worthwhile contacting a local LC to work with you and your doctor.

Once you feel more comfortable with breastfeeding and pumping I think you’ll be able to sort out your feelings about everything better.

There are many things to think about with regard to weaning from breastfeeding. Please don’t think of this as trying to talk you out of weaning. I just want you to consider all aspects of what is causing stress in your life as you work to reduce the stress and find the best balance for you and your family.

Most mothers find combining working and having a baby very complicated and stressful no matter how they are feeding the baby. Remember if you wean that won’t solve all the issues surrounding work and mothering. Of course I’m an LC so I’m a ‘cheerleader’ for breastfeeding but I too wonder if getting up at night to bottle feed will be easier than breastfeeding for you.

One thing I noted was you said you give a bottle with rice cereal and milk in it. I suppose someone probably told you that might make the baby sleep better but research tells us that giving rice cereal does not help babies to sleep more. In fact often when babies get solids they start waking more b/c the solids cause them to take less milk. Some babies will cluster feed in the evening which often encourages a longer stretch of sleep. Has your baby ever done this?

Also, many people think that formula helps babies to sleep better, but again the research shows us that breastfeeding mothers get on average 45 minutes more sleep per night when compared to formula feeding mothers.

Of course each mother and baby are individuals so ‘the research’ may not describe every situation but it does give us some insight into common myths and lets us know what the ‘average’ is likely to be.

A healthy baby is generally less stressful than a baby who is ill and of course research tells us breastfed babies are healthier.

As you are evaluating what changes to make to lower your stress don’t forget to look at all aspects of your life. I think so many women are stressed b/c we forget to ask for or accept help from others. Is there any way you can get some help at home?

Try to pare down to the bare basics during this season of your life. This is the time to make the household chores as simple as possible. That may mean not having a perfectly ideal house every day or not making gourmet meals. PJs and jeans can be worn several times before needing to be washed.

One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever received is to always put ‘people before things’. That means you too, you are a person. So if the choice is you getting more sleep or the house being spotless, guess what wins…………you do. Your sleep is more important than any ‘thing’ in the house.

Formula is very expensive. For six months you can estimate the cost at about $800 or more. Could you take the money saved by continued breastfeeding and hire a cleaning person or mother’s helper?

Is it possible to change anything to make your work environment less stressful? Employers are now required to provide pumping breaks.

Did you know that as little as 15 minutes a day of meditation or prayer has been clinically shown to lower stress levels? So has 15 to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise.

Ok, now you are probably stressed reading my long post……………J

Please stay in touch, I’m hoping others will also chime in with their personal experiences and suggestions. ((((HUG)))) I agree with Dana we’re in your corner whatever you decide. I truly hope you are able to find a way that works for you whatever that is.


Kathy Kuhn IBCLC

iVillage lactation consultant

and Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas and Charlotte    

Kathy Kuhn IBCLC ivillage lactation consultant Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas, and Charlotte

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2011

Thank you Kathywithivillage!

You bring up some good points. I got the medication for thrush (neosporin and lotrimin) and it's much better. The left breast seems all good now, but it started in the right breast also, although I was able to deal with it immediately so no complaints here. I'm so used to boob pain at this point that it's not even funny :)

You're not going to believe this, but my baby started sleeping through the night (I'm talking 8-9 hours!) since I posted here. It must be an ivillage miracle!

As far as help and my housework is concerned - my Mom helps me a lot. She stays home with the baby when I'm at work and basically runs my house - she cleans, does my laundry some day, etc. I never enjoyed cleaning, so I hope you don't get an idea that I'm stressed out that my house isn't perfect - I think I'd freak out if it were! I always put hugging my kids and playing with them above doing chores, which contributes to my house being a mess, but it could be worse.

So as of today, I am planning to pump just once a day. I got some formula samples from DS's pedi last Friday, but I haven't used them yet. I have a 8 hour long training on Wednesday, with just one lunchbreak, so I need to reduce my supply in 2 days so that one pumping will suffice. I will most likely have to dump it, too Frown

I do get pumping breaks at work - I have been taking 2 30 minute breaks during the day. And there is a nice cozy lactation room, too. So really, I do have all the tools to successfully exclusively breastfeed for a while, but it's just becoming so inconvenient. I don't know if you've ever sat in a meeting, all male CFOs and CEOs of the company, and felt your boobs grow by the minute... only because someone scheduled the meeting during your normal pumping time Embarassed

So, I'll try the once a day pumping for a while and see how it goes. I will also ask my Mom to give DS his formula today, to see how he behaves after it. If he doesn't tolerate it well, I will suck it up and EBF for 6 more months. After all, this is the only time in his lifetime I will be able to do this for him.

 BabyFetus Ticker
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-21-2009

I’m glad you’re feeding a bit better. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced so much pain through breastfeeding though………ugh!

Well I’m not even going to mention the, you-know-what at you-know-when (nights) before I jinx you…………hehe. I’m just happy to hear about your miracle. I wish I had that effect on everyone….;-)

I’m also glad to hear your mom helps a lot and you allow her. Just remember this when she’s old and frail…………that’s what I tell my kids anyway.

Just curious? Why do you have to dump your milk on Wed? No access to refrigeration? If that’s the case maybe consider using a mini cooler or insulated lunch bag. If you use the blue freezer ice, that can keep milk cold enough for even a long work day, some claim even as long as 24 hours.

Ok, I’m going to share sort of a funny story about a woman working with all men and dealing with pumping. She was working on a construction site in a small office trailer. She had no privacy and was considering not pumping at all when she went back to work. So we were trying to come up with solutions, like a privacy screen or a door hanger to let the guys know they could not come into the trailer during pump time, etc. She finally decided she would ask the boss if she could put a screen in a corner of the room for privacy and let the guys know that was her time to pump and she’d need privacy (no one peeking around the screen or calling for her to get something for them). She was pretty nervous about asking the boss on this all male work site but she called me back in a few days and said she had started to ask him and she couldn’t even finish before he said, “oh yea honey whatever you need” as he was sort of holding up his hand and walking out the door as if to say, “just don’t talk to me about it b/c I’m embarrassed”. So she said it worked fine for her b/c basically the men were too embarrassed themselves to confront or even talk to her about it. So you might be surprised if you actually talk to the men about it.

Also, my oldest son who is a lawyer got a new secretary and during her first week he asked if they could do lunch in the conference room and go over a few things he wanted her to learn. She hesitated and said, “Well, I actually need some time during my lunch……..” and he interrupted her saying……………..”Oh gosh that’s right you have a baby and I guess that’s actually your pumping time right?”. So even an LC’s son (and husband of a pumping wife) can be a little dense about pumping…………..b/c they are men and just don’t think that way. So maybe take a chance and let them know what your needs are regarding break times. You may be pleasantly surprised at their tendency to be supportive.

Anyway, please be sure to get back to us and let us know what is working for you since that helps us to pass on the best tips to other moms. And of course we’d love you to share your story with others when you can.


iVillage lactation consultant

and Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas and Charlotte    

Kathy Kuhn IBCLC ivillage lactation consultant Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas, and Charlotte

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2011


So I've been pumping once a day for 4 days now. It's a lot less stressful, although I am gradually getting less milk out. The baby is doing fine with one formula feeding a day, thank goodness. Also he's starting to get the gist of spoon feeding, which is awesome.

I was even able to save the milk I pumped during the all-day training. The training center had a refrigerator for the employees, so I kept my bottle there. Woo hoo!

I still feel guilty for doing this instead of sucking it up for a few more months, but I guess that feeling won't go away Cry My baby still loves me and I think the nighttime and morning feedings are a lot more special because I don't associate them with the stress of running around with a cooler all day, it's just mommy and baby time.

Thank you All!

 BabyFetus Ticker