Breastfeeding - did I give up too soon?

  • Before my son was born, I was adamant that I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year.  However, I had problems with low milk supply and have been supplementing with formula ever since my son was 3 days old.  For the first 5 weeks, I tried to increase my milk supply by pumping and breastfeeding, but I never was able to get more than an ounce or so at each pumping session.  I finally gave up on the pumping and have been feeding exclusively formula for the last two weeks (my son is now almost 7 weeks).  

    With everything that I have heard and read about the benefits of breast milk, I feel like I am cheating my baby out of the nutrition that is best for him in favor of doing what is easiest for me.  I know my milk supply is out of my control, but I feel incredibly guilty.  Even two weeks after making the decision to stop pumping, I feel like I should have tried harder.  Does anyone else feel this way?  

  • Ottergirl - I certainly don't think you have taken an easy road. You've been working very hard at pumping and breast feeding. That's no small task! If your milk supply is not coming up to where you need it to  be, that really is out of your control and many moms deal with this issue. It's not your choice and therefore, nothing you should feel guilty about! Many moms still enjoy doing some basic breastfeeding and then bottling after for calories. Your baby still gets some immunity support with a bit of breastmilk and then calories with the bottle. You could always try that but in the long run, your little boy needs a mommy that loves him and holds him close. That's the most important thing and I can tell you do that. Don't beat yourself is really too short to do that. Just enjoy your sweet boy. :-)

  • OMG! I had the same problem! I'm so glad that I am not the only one who feels this way! I am still pumping (only at night) just to give him a little something. I'm not sure it is even doing anything tho. My son is now 9 wks old. Thank you for this post.

  • Looking at how much you pump is not an good indicator of how much a baby is able to transfer when put directly to the breast.

    Our bodies are made to respond to our babies and not to a machine.  Sometimes, the hormons don't kick in as well when pumping.  However, the amount hat you pump is not a good indicator of how much milk your baby transfers when directly feeding from the breast.  Some tricks that help are--looking at a picture of your baby while you pump and smelling a blanket or article of clothing that has your baby's scent on it while you pump.  You may also need to make sure that the motor is functioning properly and that the flanges are the right fit for your breast.

     Also, you could talk with a lactation consultant or other professional about ensuring that your little one is getting enough to eat.  There are some places that have very sensitive scales where you can weigh your little one before and after a feed to know how much milk was transferred when the baby nursed.  Another good way to determine how much your little one is eating is buy counting wet and dirty diapers.

  • If you'd like to continue breastfeeding, but are having difficulties, then I suggest talking to your pediatrician about getting in touch with a lactation consultant. But don't beat yourself up too much about breast versus bottle feeding. In the end PediNurseJulie1 is right, you need to do what is best for both of you and sometimes breastfeeding just doesn't work out. Good luck!