Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Breast feeding

Here's a problem I never considered having - I spilled breast milk on my laptop after pumping. It got into the keys so I am letting it dry out for a few days before attempting to turn it back on. I am really hoping I didn't ruin my computer. In the meantime, I  am writing this from my phone, so pay no attention to typos.

I fully expected breast feeding to be hard. In fact, I expected that I wouldn't be able to do it. (How's that for pessimism?) We researched formulas and were ok with either supplementing or just having to formula feed. I wanted to deal with that before the babies were born because I knew it would be to much to deal with while I was chock full of post partum hormones. Oh, how naive I was.

Turns out I was right - sort of. I am producing almost enough milk so we are supplementing one or two feedings a day with formula. This is fine because our NICU doctor actually wanted us to give them a higher calorie formula twice a day to help them put on weight (which it has. They have gained over 2 pounds since leaving the hospital a month ago. Yay.). The problem is the girls aren't latching correctly. I was using a nipple shield at first because the lactation consultant in the NICU recommended it. so they seemed to be latching fine. I thought at first the problem was they didn't have the energy to fully breast feed while they were still in the hospital. When my nipples started hurting, I thought they just had to "toughen up" a little. But the pain kept getting worse and I started to dread feeding time. I couldn't get them to latch without the nipple shield and if they did it was incredibly painful. Plus, neither one likes my right boob. It produces less milk and the "flow" doesn't seem as good. Did i mention that Paige does more of a chewing thing than sucking? yeah, that feels awesome. Breast feeding is really turning out to be even worse than my already low expectations (and that's saying something). 

So, last week I spent 2 hours with a lactation consultant to see if I could fix these problems. She checked for anatomical issues with the girls and they do have small palates, I think she said, so that can contribute to the pain. That will likely resolve itself as they get bigger. She showed me how they should be latching and when she got them on there correctly it did finally feel better (though still a tiny bit uncomfortable because my nipples feel so raw). I even got them both latched at the same time which was awesome. I finally had hope that I could do this. I was feeling pretty good about it, actually. 

Then I tried it on my own. I got a good latch a couple times but only after 10 excruciatingly painful "wrong" latches. I was frustrated and in tears and so was Riley. Paige just stops trying after I pull her off to relatch enough times. Even though I know it's possible to get it right, I'm not sure I can deal with the pain involved to get there. I have taken a few days off and am only pumping with the hope that my nipples heal a little. Then I will try again. Honestly? I think I am ok with just pumping and formula. I have cried a lot about it and feel more conflicted than I thought I would, but I have felt less anxious the last couple days knowing I wouldn't have to attempt breast feeding. But, I will give it one last shot before throwing in the towel. I'll probably try again tonight and see how it goes. I'm supposed to have a follow-up with the lactation consultant this week but I think I will cancel. As helpful as she was, she was also not understanding of any situation that didn't involve exclusive breast feeding. She wanted me to call my pediatrician right then and there to see if I could stop the formula feeding. Her goal for me is to even stop pumping and bottle feeding breast milk. That isn't my goal and isn't realistic for me. I'll have to go back to work eventually. I just felt there was a tiny bit of judgey-ness there. SH thinks I am reading to much into it and he didn't think she was judgey. But if I went back and told her I intended to only pump, I think she would spend an hour trying to talk me out of it instead of understanding my situation and working with it. She charges too much money for me to feel like that. 

I don't really know what to so at this point. If it were up to me (and I guess it is), I would probably give up on breast feeding and switch to pumping and supplementing with formula. SH really wants me to give it another try. He thinks I am giving up to easily and I probably am. He doesn't understand how painful the trial and error is, though. So for him, I will try again but I am not feeling very hopeful. 

Anyone have any tips or advice or words of wisdom to make me feel less guilty about giving up?


  1. Read Tina Fey's book Bossypants, she has an awesome section on breastfeeding. Here's something I don't share with many people. as a health care professional, I teach all the benefits of breastfeeding. Yet I don't know if I could ever do it myself. To a certain extent, I view that breasts are sexual, and if I do breastfeed, I will never let my Husband see it. The thought of pumping scares me more. Babies who are formula fed do just fine and the ultimate best thing for baby is a peaceful and happy mamma!

  2. I'm sorry you're struggling so much. Breastfeeding twins is seriously no joke. I came in contact with several LC's and they are definitely not all created equal. Sorry she made you feel badly when you are trying your best. What about continuing to use the shields? That's what we do. Good luck with whatever decision you make. A stress-free happy mama is the most important thing for your girls.

  3. I really want to breast feed, but I'm afraid I will be like you. My nipples have always been super sensitive (to my husband's dismay) and I'm not sure I'll be able to handle it. My sister is a champ at breast feeding, so I'm hoping I can follow in her footsteps. LC's shouldn't be judgmental, especially if they've never tried bf twins themselves (maybe she has, I don't know). I think you've got to do what you can do. Kudos to you for givin it such a gallant effort. Don't feel bad should you choose not to continue. I think bf is best, but by far not the only option. If you don't do it, your girls will still grow strong and healthy.

  4. Like you, I really want to breastfeed, but I am going into the experience knowing that it is going to be difficult and that there is a possibility that my body won't cooperate. You just never know.

    I'm sorry that your LC is such a pill. As a mother of twins you are hormonal, tired, etc. and the last thing you need is a woman coming in and not being supportive.

    I agree with Amber- you gotta do what you gotta do. If you are pumping the twins are still getting all of the immunity and good stuff- and if the twins are used to bottles already that makes your transition back to work easier!

  5. So, I went through a very similar experience with my baby who was born 5 weeks early. He spent two weeks in the NICU, and I worked with several LCs. I also tried the nipple shield because he wasn't latching correctly, but nothing seemed to work. When I finally got him home I continued to try, but had to pump and give it to him most of the time. I was like you, I dreaded feeding time. I always thought I would be one of those women who loved breastfeeding, but I did not. I ended up getting mastitis several times and the pump was not strong enough to unclog the duct. The day I decided to give it all up I left a huge relief wash over me. I was so worried about what everyone else (my husband, mother, MIL, friends, etc.) would think. But everyone told me that I have to do what is best for me. And if I'm not happy breastfeeding, then the baby won't be happy either. I did feeling some judgement when I would go to playgroups and whip out my bottle of formula, but no one knew what I went through. I wanted desperately to breastfeed, but things don't always work out as planned. We all know that breastfeeding is best and all that, but there are many positives to formula feeding. You can feed them ANYWHERE. I once walked around a busy store shopping while holding my tiny baby and feeding him at the same time. You can have other people (husband, mom, etc.) feed the baby giving you a much needed break and time to bond with the baby. I was worried that I wouldn't bond with him if I didn't breastfeed, but that is a bunch of baloney! You will bond just as much when you hold them in your arms and give them a bottle. It's much easier to travel with formula than breastmilk. I would measure out the powder formula and put it in a bottle. Then when I was ready to feed, just add the right amount of water and viola! You can be away longer than three hours from the baby and not have to worry about pumping. You have your body back. After everything you have put yourself through to conceive those babies, your body has sacrificed a lot! It will be nice to be able to eat and drink what you want for a change and not have to worry about it. It's really not that expensive. I remember my pediatrician telling me that I would figure BFing out because I wouldn't want to spend all of that money on formula. You can get coupons and buy it in bulk, it will be totally fine. And most importantly, your babies will be totally fine. My baby thrived on formula and never got sick. These days formula is highly regulated, so any type you give them (even the Walmart brand) has to meet all of the FDA's requirements.

    My heart goes out to you because that month I spend trying to make it work was probably one of the most miserable of my entire life. And it should have been the happiest. IF you can't make it work, everything will be okay. I know its hard, but don't let anyone make you feel guilty for your personal decisions. Do the best thing for you and that will be the best thing for your babies. :)

  6. no advice besides IT IS up to you and you should FIRE an LC that makes you feel bad!

  7. http://wordsofwilliams.com/why-i-quit-breastfeeding/

    Here is someone who went through similar problems and how she worked through them......and her ultimate decision. I think there are a lot of good points in the comments too!

  8. No advice here except to say that I've heard from a lot of moms that you just have to find your own way and do what works for you. Hope your nips heal up quickly!

  9. I have a similar story as Paige above, minus the NICU part. We had serious latch issues. I worked with FOUR LCs who kept telling me how great her latch looked and didn't understand why I was crying out in pain. I thought it was me and that I just needed to suck it up, but it was something more. I began to resent my daughter and her need to eat, and that was not good. The pain was unbearable and the bleeding and bruising on my nips was horrid. The LCs seemed more surprised by the bruising, but I wasn't! I ended up using the nipple shield which was my saving grace. It worked and she ate and we were able to recover, but eventually it affected my supply, I got a breast abscess, plugged ducts EVERY DAY, and like Paige, the pump didn't unplug them (and neither did the baby). It would take me 60-75 minutes to pump and I just couldn't get the milk out. I tried the tricks, asked the right people, etc. I got tired of people thinking I was exaggerating or whatever and just accepted that it wasn't working. Around 3.5 months I discovered my daughter hadn't gained a single ounce in 7 weeks. Even though I knew it was over, it was still so emotional. I had all the logic, but I had all the hormones. It was so tough to wean her, even though I HAD to because I was starting to get 3-4 plugged ducts/day at that point. Honestly I've blocked a lot of it out because it was bad. Once she was fully weaned and on formula, it was awesome. I kept wondering why I was crying before when we could be so happy. Don't underestimate those stupid hormones. All the logic in the world still made it a tough transition, so I totally understand why some people choose very different paths. Just some of my experience, but no actual helpful guidance!!