Please read. New mom needs some support. :(

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2013
Please read. New mom needs some support. :(
Fri, 03-29-2013 - 1:29pm

I have a 7 week old, and our breastfeeding journey has felt, in my eyes at least, to be a very long and arduous one. Here is my story.  It is rather lengthy, but I am looking for any insight you experienced moms may have.

My baby was born happy and healthy on Feb 8, 2013. He latched on in the hospital after birth quickly. no problems. didnt hurt, everything was great. by the second night, though, baby was inconsolable. (well, duh right? he's a newborn!) well, being a new mom, sleep deprived, and not being able to console my baby for a dozen hours, by the middle of the night, a new nurse had come on shift, and told me that it was because he wasnt getting enough to eat. mind you, i have a VERY pro breastfeeding hospital and doctor group. they practically push the new baby onto your boob and tell you that its best.

well, i think this nurse was just annoyed at my screaming baby and told me to try and pump my colustrum to feed to him, to see if that would calm him down. so i did. i obviously didnt produce much, and as she held up the syringe, she said "if you were starving and this is all you got to eat, youd be screaming too". needless to say, this broke my heart (hormones...sleep baby...yeah. the normal me would never have stood for that) and i just lost it emotionally. i cried as my husband fed my baby a drop of colustrum from a syringe and watched the little impact it played on his fussiness. I felt like a failure. Like I couldn't help my baby, and he was sad and starving.

I was completely against formula but by now I was so delirious and emotional and being pushed into a corner that I allowed them to feed him a couple cc's of formula. watching my hubby feed him with a bottle broke my heart. that was MY job, right??

after that i continued to nurse him and my milk came in. everything was great for a while. I was on a high the first week he was home, and it did not seem like i would ever require sleep. in fact, i never wanted to sleep. i nursed him round the clock and it was glorious.

then the second week came and it all hit me. I was tired. over tired. more tired that i ever thought was possible for a human being to be. getting up for feedings was almost unbearable. i hadnt slept in weeks (couldnt sleep before giving birth either), and it was all crashing down on me now. My son would feed for an hour total. and then he would eat an hour or so later. So there was no real break in between and the feedings were just so long. I was letting him eat until his cues told me he was full. but that was SO LONG. I endured this for about another week, when the hubby knew that something had to change in order for me to get some sort of sleep and recoup. I would be going back to work in a month, and would be pumping anyways, so we decided to try pumping and bottle feeding during the night. That way, I would be up for twenty minutes every two hours instead of feeding him for an hour, every other hour. This was great to me, in theory. He needed to get used to a bottle anyways, right? and dad could play a part too. so we tried it, and he took to the bottle effortlessly. In fact, he took to it so well, that he drank three ounces in about a minute. we didnt know any better. He guzzled it down like he had never quenched his thirst before in his life. (this is a whole other issue we are facing..getting him to slow down and stop choking)This scared the crap about of me: "how is he going to want to nurse now that he knows it only takes a minute or two to get from a bottle what it takes to get from me while nursing?" Once again, hormones and emotions left me feeling lost and inadequate. And it turns out, my fears came true. He had always been a lazy eater. Falling asleep almost immediately. I would have to spend theentire hour coazing him to wake up and eat. stroking him, massaging my breasts, etc. It was very hands on and tiring. But after giving a few bottles, he was now jerking around on my breasts, pulling, tugging, and then eventually whining and crying. My left breast is a small producer, so he would get very frustrated with that one. I tried everything. I saw lactation a few times, where of course, he would eat beautiously. I tried switching him constantly. pulling him off and relatching him. dozens of different things. eventually feeding because more painful but i think i was just numb to the pain for a while.

Then, a week and a half ago, I was nursing him, and something happened. I am not sure what he did to my nipple, but it KILLED. I just about threw him off of my boob and wailed in pain. which probably made it worse. The pain was so bad I couldnt even try to break the seal. My reflex just pulled him off. I had to finish with a bottle. I figured he chomped down on me or something, and as the rest of the day continued, I knew I would need time to heal. So for a couple of days we bottle fed only. My nipple hurt, very badly. To even blow on it would kill. But by now, they both hurt. The right moreso, but they both were sore. Cold air, water, etc was just murderous. I researched things like thrush, but it didnt seem to be any of my symptoms. It looked like i had some skin, like from a typical broken blister in the tip of my nipple. so i bought shells and have been weraing them for a week and a half. I feel a whole lot better, but still not recovered. and when I pump, the initial minute is painful. I tried sleeping without the shells off last night for the first time, and woke up in pain. I figure if this doesnt get better in another week, I will go in and get checked. I havent yet only because I dont have any symptoms for any conditions like thrush.

My real concern now is nursing again. I work full time now, an hour away from home. So I am away from him for ten hours. So he is going to be bottle feeding most of the day anyways. I am sure this is all nipple confusion.

I want to be able to nurse him. But just sometimes. Working all day, finally getting all the way, and then having hour long nursing sessions all night (he is sitll eating every hour and 45 minutes now, and taking in like 5 ounces...which i am still working on being able to produce consistently) is not in the cards for me. I have to sleep sometime in between working full time, and caring for him. If I stayed at home, this would be a different scenario.

I feel guilty that it feels easier for me to pump every two hours around the clock than it is to nurse him. but seflishly, it is right now. because he doesnt just nurse like so many babies i hear and read about. that latch onto mom while laying in bed and feed for 20 or so minutes and are content. I tried nursing him the other day to see if it felt any better, and it did, but was still painful, and after 45 minutes, he was still showing hunger cues and we had to give him a bottle anyways (he took two more ounces). So he is not successfully nursing from me. Which is demoralizing. Even if I do nurse him, he doesnt seem satisfied, and/or jerks around, and is very disorganized and hurtful while feeding. So the idea of nursing has two sides for me: I want to do it because I know how important it is for the baby and 2. I don't really want to do it often, though because it has become such a hassle. I would just like the option to do it every once in a while just to remind him of it whenever I feel up to it. WHich makes me feel incredible selflish.

What should I do? It doesn't seem that my issues are straightforward and I havent come across anyone with similar issues/feelings, so I feel incredibly alone. Between trying out new nipples because of his chaotic and ravenous eating habits from a bottle, dealing with his choking and gasping from sucking a bottle down too fast, and his reflux, trying to heal my own nipples, feeling guilty about not nursing or wanting to nurse anymore, not sleeping as im pumping round the clock, taking supplements because my supply was so low, and he is eating SO MUCH, and having anxiety about pumping long term and how tiring that in itself is, as well as being scared that my supply may not last forever, my husband and I are extremely worn out and this is starting to take its toll on us as well.

I'm just so lost and I feel there are no real "answers" for me and I have no one to really talk to about this.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2013
Mon, 04-01-2013 - 12:37pm

Okay, I'm brand new to this forum, but here are my thoughts:

1. I completely understand the feelings of guilt and selfishness, but you need to do what is best for you and for your baby.  Right now, that sounds like pumping/bottlefeeding.  You have no reason to feel bad about that; no one can blame you for needing some time and being unable to work full time, nurse for an hour, and then have only an hour until the next feeding.

2. I would highly recommend seeing a Lactation Consultant, if you haven't already.  They can evaluate your baby's latch, check for tongue-tie (possibly the cause of the pain), offer suggestions for nursing, and help define a schedule/routine for pumping to ensure you maintain your supply.

3. It sounds like the bottle you are using may be to high of a flow for your baby.  The choking, and sucking down 5 oz at 7 weeks sounds like the milk could be coming too quickly.  This could also contribute to your baby's fussiness at the breast.  We went through several different types of bottles until we found one with the appropriate flow.  All of the bottles that are marketed for "the breastfed baby" like Tommee Tippee, Comotomo, mOmma, and they were all too high-flow for our little one.  These bottles in the 6 oz size, have the slowest flow we have found.  But, be sure you get the 6oz, as the 9oz has a higher flow nipple.

4. I have been fortunate to never deal with nipple injury, but I attended a breastfeeding group weekly for the first 13 weeks of my baby's life, and it was led by a Lactation Consultant.  The LC would tell women with nipple injury to pump only, on that side, until the injury was healed.  They could still nurse on the other side.  Once your injury is healed, I would suggest you try to nurse your baby once a day, or every couple of days, just to remind him what your nipple is like, versus the bottle nipple.  But just because you're nursing doesn't mean you have to sit there for an hour!  Nurse for as long as you can stand, then give him a bottle to finish out the meal - and, if possible, pump after that because he probably didn't empty you.

5.  This is hard.  This is SO HARD.  I think many of us never realized how difficult this would be, especially when we still insist upon getting our babies breastmilk despite breastfeeding difficulties.  Hang in there.  I'm at week 21 with EPing, and we manage to get in a nursing session most days.  My daughter used to take an hour to an hour and a half to finish a nursing session - now she can empty a breast in 10-15 minutes.  But not consistently enough for us to move back to exclusive breastfeeding.  Our system works for us now - she gets 95% of her sustenance from pumped milk, and a little bit of a snack and some comfort from nursing.  

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-21-2011
Mon, 04-01-2013 - 1:56pm

Hang in there mama!!!  This is hard and it is exhausting.  Even when everything goes the way it is supposed to it is hard and exhausting.  Throw a monkey wrench in the works and it's hard/exhausting by another 10-fold.  That's a lot. 

Don't beat yourself up.  At the end of the day, what you do needs to work for you.  Not everyone else.  Just you and your family.  If EPing is what gets your kid fed, great.  If nursing does it, great.  If it turns out you have a kid, as a friend of mine does, with some very serious allergies who has to be on special prescription formula or she stops breathing, great.  The goal here is to keep everyone fed and in the best condition possible. 

I agree with everything the prior poster said 100%.

1) if the baby is choking and gagging on the bottle, the flow is almost certainly too fast.  You may want to try a premie nipple as this is often recommended to mimic breastfeeding since it is the slowest flow out there.  You may have to specially order them.  I've also heard the new medela Calma is supposed to be a much more controlled flow since it is both sucking and compressing like when baby is at the breast.  I didn't try these with my son, but it's another idea.

I'm also posting a link for paced bottle feeding, becasue this should help slow your son down too.You might want to share this information with your provider and husband (whoever give bottles) so they are aware.

2) How is your milk flow when you pump?  Is it really intense, does it come fast?  How much milk do you actually get?  It might be that you are actually having a really powerful let downand your son is jerking around at the breast becasue it is too much for him and he may not be able to transfer well until he is older and stronger or until after your supply regulates in a few months.

3) If your nipple still isn't healed, you may want to go ask your doc for a prescription for APNO (all purpose nipple ointment) to help with the healing and get it checked out to be sure it is getting better.  Pump on that side to maintain the flow and go from there.  It sounds to me like you had a milk blister.  I had a couple.  They are aweful and can take a while to heal.   But I'm no doc.

4)  I want you to know that every mom who gets bitten/chomped while nursing thinks about quitting and cutting the baby off.  It's not bad and you aren't abnormal.  That's really a normal feeling.  Please don't feel guilty for having feelings of basic self-preservation.  No one wants to be bitten.  No one wants to have that kind of pain.  It's horrible.  Truly horrible.  My coworker stopped nursing the 1st time her son bit her.  Seriously.  She went out and bought formula that day.  She just did because she coudn't/wouldn't deal with it after that.  It's not just you who feels this way and it doesn't make you a bad mom.  Even if you quit nursing because you got bitten and fed formula from this point on, it wouldn't make you a bad mom.  You are doing the best you can to love and provide for your child and that is wonderful and beautiful--and taking care of yourself is an important part of that.

5) If you decide you want to nurse, you may be able to coax him back to the breast later.  You may not.  It really depends on the kid and the situation.  I had to see people give up on something early when it is a long-term decision (nursing a 6-7 month old is completely different than in the newborn period--like worlds of difference).  Unfortunately, a lot of moms never make it to that point, where it gets easy and convenient, for a multitude of reasons.  Do you have a comfortable spot to nurse so you can sleep/doze off while you try to nurse if you want to?  I went back to work at 9 weeks pp and if I hadn't had a comfy spot to doze with my son, I never would have made it.  Not that you have to, but that I want you to feel like you have options.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2013
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 1:49pm

You are so not alone!  I had to make the same hard decision when my son was 3 weeks old.  We were fighting the same fight you were: He would feed for an hour or more and then want to go back on the breast just an hour after finishing.  I was loosing my mind, but I was ridiculously stubborn!  Everyone kept telling me to give up and just give him a bottle of formula, but I was determined to breast feed my baby.

Eventually I tried using a shield and that really helped with the cracking nipples.  I also had what I called a "lazy boob" - one of my nipples didn't stick out as far and my son seemed to hate that side.  The shield made a world of difference when he was nursing on that side.

Unfortunately the decision of whether or not I continued to nurse was taken from me when I feel asleep during one of our marathon feeds one night.  I woke up in a horrible posotion (the baby was sleeping blissfully, of course) and could hardly move.  Being stubborn as previously mentionned, I continued to nurse him for a day and a half until my muscle pain was unbearable.  My husband ended up having to take me to the ER where I was put on morphine.  The pain was so bad that I couldn't even hold the baby for 3 days, let alone try to nurse him. 

I immediately started pumping and haven't looked back.  I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot nurse my son normally, BUT have convinced myself that I am not a failure.  My son is still getting all the same nutrient he would get on the breast and there are quite a few perks: Daddy can feed baby too, Mommy is not killing her back and Baby feeds much more efficiently and we all get more sleep.

It took me a while to understand that there is no one way to feed the baby that is better than another.  You have to do what works best for you and your family.  You are no good to your baby if you are stressed out.  If you are happy and healthy, your baby will know!

As for sore nipples, you're preaching to the choir.  I had really good luck with a prescription cream called "Jack's All-purpose Nipple Cream". It, along with a quality pump, had made all the difference in the world.

Best of luck,


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2013

I am so releaved to find this and see that I am not alone. I chose to just pump because the most important thing, to me, is that my girl is getting breastmilk. She fell in love with the easiness of the bottle while in the hospital. She was jaundice and I had to watch my husband feed her formula and felt like a complete failure. I had the supply, but my large inverted nipples were a problem and I wish someone had given me a nipple shield sooner because it worked, but it was too late. Everytime we tried the breast she fussed and cried and the "bonding" was not going to happen that way.

Occasionally, I try to breastfeed and the last time I tried it, it felt like she was going to tear my nipple clean off. I guess she wasn't getting milk fast enough. It made me feel better about my choice to just pump. I think I feel the pressure of wanting to be the best mother and I am starting to realize that it will be different for everyone. I'm one of those "type A's" and need to relax about it and enjoy this baby rather than waste time with worry and guilt. She won't remember any of it anyway.