Starting breastfeeding after Formula.. First time mom

  • My daughter was just born on 8/19. In the hospital she was given formula due to her blood sugar dropping and rising and me being to ill to breastfeed. My fourth day in the hospital I was given a pump but when trying to use it I couldn't express. On our 5th day we saw a breastfeeding consultant who introduced me to nipple shields.

    I admit for two days I gave up on breastfeeding being home but day 3 or yesterday she suddenly began rooting so I let her go at it. Now each meal since Iv been trying to do best I can. Like some meals I do add formula to breast milk, for example breast feeding her till we both get too frustrated to continue and pulling out the bottle but recently I'v considered trying to that in the opposite order.. 

    Our main nursing problem is I have a slow let down. It takes minutes which frustrates her to the point of screaming and pushing away which frustrates me and affects the let down more. To help I have been putting a warm rag on the breast shes nursing while trying to massage it. Her dad also rubs her head and tries to soothe her which helps.

    I just feel guilty and weird when she acts so hyterical. Like i'm forcing upon her. I just would like some tips on how to make it less stressful. 

  • Breastfeeding can be a stressful experience, but if you are willing it can also be a rewarding one. Try pumping your breasts just a bit before she is ready to eat. This will encourage your breasts to let down. Then when she latches on, there won't be so much anger! In addition, you can try buying "nipple shields" in the drug store. These can help your baby latch better and will encourage more sucking which will help your milk let down. Talk to your pediatrician about breast feeding support groups in your area or you can call the local la leche league in your town for support. In addition, your hospital probably has lactation nurses who you can call for help.

    Until she gets the hang of breastfeeding well, it is important to always offer her formula after she nurses to be sure she is getting enough. Once you and your doctor are comfortable with the amount she is nursing, you can talk to your doctor about breastfeeding exclusively, if that is something you wish to do. Many moms, however, continue to offer their babies both breast and bottle.

  • MommyRN4 has some great ideas - pumping before feeding for 2 minutes cause your milk to let down helps. You can also massage the breast, like you mentioned, and then hand express some milk for her. Try to get her ready to eat early, while she is still very calm and just smacking her lips a bit and interested but not fussing already. Hang in there! Don't feel guilty or bad - you aren't really forcing her to do anything. Trust me - babies can't be forced to do what they don't want to. You are doing a loving thing by giving her your breast milk - it's so good for her and protects her against so many diseases and is such a wonderful bonding time once you get over the frustrating aspect. Keep trying the breast first and then a bottle if you need to - it's better to try that order even though its sometimes difficult because she won't want to breast feed at all if she's had the bottle first. You can do it!!
  • Great ideas. You can also pump after feedings or between to increase your supply and have some extra to feed her after nursing (instead of or before the formula) if it seems like she didn't get very much at that particular session.

    Use a bottle that has a very slow flow (no or slow drips if you fill it with water and turn it upside down) so that bottle feeding isn't so much easier than breastfeeding. We used the First Years Breastflow bottles, which take some effort from the baby to get milk out.  is a great resource. It talks about different methods to coax the baby to want to nurse, and ideas other than bottles for supplementing if that interests you.


    A good lactation consultant (hopefully one with IBCLC credentials) could hopefully help you as well. Good luck! Many people have succeeded in getting babies to nurse after a few days of not nursing (or even longer periods of time).

  • Nicoleh92lee - did things get any easier for you with breastfeeding? I hope they did! Let us know how you are doing. 

  • Breastfeeding can be very stressful and I know with my first son he didn't want to nurse after having a bottle. Take a deep breath and remember practice makes perfect!! We even as adults don't get everything perfect the first time so just take your time and relax! Everyone else has given very great tips and another one that I did on top of everything they said was I bought orthodontic nipples for his bottles. If you look at the bottle nipple itself it is said that these nipples are formed just like a nipple when the baby is breastfeeding. My sons doctor told me to change bottle nipples and it should help because they make the baby suckle just like they are on the breast. I went out and bought these bottle nipples and I would never go back to the others. It made it so that it wasn't so easy for him to get formula out of a bottle and he would rather breastfeed!!! His doctor had the best idea I could ever think of!! I hope whatever you try works for you because breastfeeding is the most rewarding feeling in the world for a mother! Good luck and keep us informed!

  • OMG I thought that I was the only one with this problem, the feeling of forcing your baby to breast feed. My son who is 1month also pushes and fusses while I tried to latch him. As I read your post I totally relate to every word including the nurse who wasn't as helpful. I too was told by my nurse to use the shield because my nipple isn't big enough for my son to latch on but like your daughter, my son also gets frustrated because my milk doesn't come as quick as how it does in the bottle.

    I now just fed him formula because I began to pump but not as often as I should have and now I am not producing hardly any milk so I solely use the formula. I wonder thought if I use the useful information that others have given you if I could still BF my son after 1 month of being born?

  • Don't worry. My lactation consultant told me that if you feed your baby just an ounce or two of formula or pumped breastmilk before latching your baby on, they're more likely to suckle and not get frustrated. This gives you time to let down, and she won't get frustrated since she already has milk in her tummy. If you have already given up and you still want to breastfeed, try pumping consistently for a couple weeks, and your milk should come back. Stick with it, because in the beginning you'll feel like it isn't working, because nothing will come out, but over time your body will produce milk.

  • I would suggest buying a manual hand pump and try pumping right before you go to feed her. It helps draw the milk out so t wont be as hard for your baby to get the milk. I was advised to do this by the nurse when i came home from the hospital because my daughter wasnt getting enough to feed initally.  

  • I have read in baby books of women who have let their milk dry up then changed their minds about breast feeding 6 months later.  If you use a breast pump every  3-4 hours 10 minutes on each side it should cause your milk to come in larger quatities.  I also have not been able to bf because of weight issues when my son was born so I pump and use formula.  Im actualy at a point now where maybe pumping is going to be more convienent for me and at least he is still getting breast milk.

  • Articeagle-awesome job with the pumping! You are right - at least your son is still getting breast milk. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give him! I love that you are so encouraging. :-)
  • I had an awesome lactation coach that taught me the bait and switch. Never had to force my son to latch on. Just sprinkled some formula on my nipple and away he went!

  • I pump and use formula for my two months old.  I too had difficulties in the beginning and had to use formula following my son's birth because of some jaundace and my milk not coming in fast enough.  Thanks for your post since I too had the fussing and crying reaction which stopped me from trying to breastfeed.  I figured he just got that nipple confusion problem and wouldn't ever want to breastfeed.  The replies have helped me consider trying again.  Thanks! 

  • Don't get discouraged, it happened to me too.  Which ever method your baby feeds (formula or breast) you are still a good mom.  The best way to get the latch, I've found is to grab your breast with your hand like a sandwich and just stuff it in the mouth.  Good luck

  • There are some websites that have great videos that show how to get a good latch--like pediatrician Dr. Jack Newman..  La Leche League leaders are also a good resource.  You do not want to stuff your breast into the child's mouth.