Unable to breastfeed

Hello everyone. I've been reading a lot of posts recently about the pressure to breastfeed and just wanted to share my experience.

I'm mum to a 3-year-old and a 5-week old and was unable to breastfeed both times.

When pregnant with my first child, I was determined to breastfeed but unfortunately there were serious complications after a traumatic birth that meant we were separated for 7 days so obviously I couldn't breastfeed initially. I was able to express colostrum and breastmilk and once we finally got home from hospital I started expressing 8 times a day in order to give my child breastmilk exclusively.

Needless to say, it was very time consuming (setting up the pump, expressing for 10-15 mins, washing the pump parts, sterilising, THEN feeding, burping etc etc). I had no time to do anything else, despite help from my mum and husband. In the middle of all this, I received tremendous help and advice from my nct teacher, breastfeeding counsellor, doula, the midwives and nurses at the hospital, health visitors, la leche league, YouTube videos. I even bought a device that makes nipples point outwards (I have flat nipples), and tried nipple shields but NOTHING worked.

In the end, I decided to pump just twice a day and supplement with formula just so I could leave the house and actually enjoy some cuddles.

With my second child, I was much more laid back about the whole thing. I decided to give breastfeeding a go and if it didn't work out, I'd pump just twice a day and supplement with formula. I'm pumping as I write this as breastfeeding didn't work for me second time round.

Sorry for the long post but I just wanted to share that, despite good intentions, breastfeeding just doesn't work for some people. Don't get me wrong, I'm still upset and feel like I failed my two children but I tried everything and still couldn't do it.

It's ok to express and/or give formula and unlike me, please don't feel bad about it if you can't or choose not to breastfeed.

Hope this helps xxx

2 Replies

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  • Helo bd123,

    Thank you very much for telling us how things worked out for you with your two babys. When I first read "unable to breastfeed" my initial assumption was that your babys didn't get any of your own milk. But that was actually not the case! You tried very hard and you went on to express your milk and give your babies a combined nutrition of breastmilk and formula. To me that sounds like success! Your babys got some milk from you, so your efforts ans harship were not wasted at all.

    My mum tried breastfeeding and gave up in a matter of 2-3 weeks, it was formual after that. Me and my brother seem to have turned out healthy and ok. My niece did get formula from day 1, and she is the healthiest happy young girl I know. Those are only personal anecdotes, but proof that feeding on only or mainly formula can be totally ok.

    I'm only in my first weeks of pregnancy, if everything goes well, I'll have a healthy hungry mouth to feed next summer. Reading your account, I'll try to take it as it comes. Of course I would like to go ahead with the breastfeeding, but I won't stress if nature doesn't make that one easy for me. As long as my baby comes out healthy I'll have enough to be thankful for.

  • Hello it-is-now-or-never,

    Congratulations on your pregnancy!

    You're right about the breastfeeding, I didn't even think of it that way. And it is ok to give formula. I guess it's all about managing expectations. You sound like you've got the right attitude about giving it a go but not stressing about it.

    Wishing you a wonderful pregnancy x

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