Giving up on breatfeeding

  • I recently got mastitis for the second time and it was excrutiating! My son is 14 weeks old and loves breastfeeding. I have had no problems otherwise. I feel very lucky as breastfeeding came so easy for us. He latched on right away and never looked back. It has never hurt when he nurses, I've never had cracked nipples, no problems! except for Mastitis. I first got it when he was six weeks and now I have it again and its just unbearable. I recently started supplementing and he takes formula just fine. I've been on an antibiotic the past few days and have had to pump and dump and my son has been getting only formula. I feel terrible about it:( Should I give up and solely formula feed? Am I a failure if I do this? Ugh, I dont know what to do. For some reason I feel like a terrible mother if I stop breastfeeding now, but I just cannot go through this pain again. Thank you for your insight.

  • It's great that you had such an easy start to breastfeeding.  I hope that you can talk to a knowledgeable, lactation professional to get some help for the mastitis.  I can suggest some resources to help you understand some of the reasons you may have gotten mastitis.

    Good luck with your decision-making process.  Please be informed and feel comfortable with what you decide.  You're doing a good job!

  • You are certainly not a failure if you stop breastfeeding right now.  Each of us have different experiences; however, I encourage you to continue.  I'll share my story.  I was not sure that I would breastfeed for a year.  I took it one week at a time.  During that time, I had many obstacles.  I suffered from a couple of painful infections that made breastfeeding excrutiating when he latched on.  My doctor found a lump in my breast and I had to have a biopsy (thankfully, it was benign).  I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed and had to pump and dump because of the sedation meds.  I had a few colds and couldn't take cold meds.  I mention these examples to make the point that whenever I was unsure, I called my lactation consultant.  She walked me through each one to help me to maintain my milk volume, to build it back up after my biopsy, etc.  I also took comfort in knowing that I continued to do something that would provide long-term benefits to my son.  If you must wean him, this is a personal choice and you know that you've done your best.  I suggest tapping into your lactation support system or finding one to help you continue.  Best to you!

  • It is amazing how our children can make us so critical of ourselves. You are NOT a failure if you choose to stop breastfeeding and I applaud you for breastfeeding for the first 14 weeks in spite of your setbacks. Even if you stop breastfeeding, there are plenty of ways to bond with your baby while he is eating and in the end, you have to do what is best for you and your family. I do encourage you to talk with your doctor though before deciding to quit all together. You may never get another bout of mastitis again and there may be ways to get your baby to drain "ALL" of your milk ducts so you don't get infected. Think it through carefully before deciding and be sure to speak with your doctor. Let us know what you decide to do and how it goes. 

  • First of all, you would not be a failure if you chose to stop breastfeeding. 

    I had a very awful experience with my son when he was first born.  He is now almost 6 months old and I'm still breastfeeding, but it was a long tough road. I could not get him to latch properly, my milk did not come in very well until he was 3 weeks old, and "cracked nipples" doesn't begin to explain how awful mine were.  There was much crying from both of us those first few weeks.  I worked with a lactation consultant at the doctor's office as well as called the local La Leche League for support.  That made all the difference in the world.  I did develop a case of mastitis more recently and they were very helpful in figuring out ways to prevent it.  I was always in a hurry and putting my bra back on while my breasts were damp.  I now use cleansing wipes each time he nurses or I pump, allowing my breasts to completely air dry. 

    At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you.  Neither decision will make you a bad mother or a failure. 

  • I second the other ladies and will share my story as I am strictly formula feeding at this point.  My daughter was born 6 weeks premature and spent 15 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.  This was all following 2 1/2 months on bed rest...4 of which I spent in the hospital.  My plan was so breastfeed and the doctors, nurses, and lactation specialists in my hospital were on hand to help with did not work out.  Because she was in the NICU and very small, she needed to spend a majority of her time in an isolette to help maintain her body temperature.  I was able to take her out for feedings however, BFing caused her to expend a much larger amount of energy which caused her temperature to drop because she was working so hard to suck.  They also needed to monitor how much food she was taking in with each I was pumping to feed almost every meal.  We tried latching her on at least once a day and she did a few times but the ease of the bottle nipple won out.  I continued to pump to feed until she was about 7-8 weeks old at which point my supply started to drop, even with the help of a lactation specialist.  She is now 10 weeks old and only on formula.  She is doing just fine!  I was devastated that I could not BF but it is what it is and you have to do what is right for you and your baby.  Good Luck with your decision making process!

  • You are in no way a failure AT ALL!! The fact that your baby got that good breast milk for the first few months of life assures me that he got the immune building complexes that he needed. It's amazing how little breast milk gives babies all that they need! You need to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself and your baby healthy. Going to formula at this point will be just fine. It will help your baby get the nutrition he needs to continue growing and gaining weight just fine. There are many babies that are exclusively formula fed and they do just fine! I hope that you can let go of the self blame and see all the good that you are doing for that baby! Keep us posted on how things are going, Jess
  • Don't give up if you don't want to!  My twins were born 6 weeks early--I pumped and they were fed by tube or bottle while in the NICU for nearly two weeks.  I tried to nurse, but it was difficult.  I also had mastitis two times.  Once in the beginning and once when my babies were 2 1/2 months old.  I haven't had it since and they're 8 months and I'm still nursing my babies. 

     I don't understand why you have to pump and dump--doctors can give you meds that you can take and you can continue nursing while taking them.  You might want to talk to your doc.  I've been told that babies empty your breasts more effectively than a breast pump.  So if you can nurse, it should help.  Use a warm wash cloth on your breast and massage the sore/hard area before pumping.  Drink lots of water/fluids.  Nurse as often as you can (I did every 3 hours or so).  I made sure that I didn't go too long over night without pumping or nursing--no more than 5-7 hours.   

    This is pretty much what I did--I'm also careful to not wear bras that are too tight.  I hope this helps.  You will get through this!

  • Thank you shen510 for sharing your experience. I have had nearly the exact same experience and feeling really bad about it. My son was in the NIC for 3 weeks. He was so small and not able to latch on when I was finally allowed to hold him. Even being at home with him and pumping religiously every day to feed was not enough to keep up my milk supply. He's almost 2 months old now and still not able to latch on. I had such high hopes for breastfeeding, it's hard to accept that it likely won't happen. Knowing that I'm not the only one and using formula is not the worst thing - as long as they are thriving - is reassuring.

  • I just today realized I had to give up breastfeeding, my daughter is 3 weeks old and has been in excruciating pain every time i BF her. I found out she is allergic to the milk protein and I would have to change my diet so drastically that financially, and emotionally, and physically I just cannot do it. So I am fine with it, I was formula fed and turned out just fine!

  • How are things going with your mastitis? Did you make a decision regarding breastfeeding? I know we would love to hear how things are working out for you! There are plenty of moms here who are in the same boat!

  • amcnicholas- You posted awhile ago and gotten quite a few responses. I was just wondering how you are feeling about things and how you are doing? Have any of the responses been helpful? We would love an update, Take care, Jess
  • THANK YOU to EVERYONE for all of your emails. They were all very supportive and encouraging... I had to make the decision to wean my baby. I just could not take the infections and clogged ducts. Weaning has been going very well. My son has been doing great as well! He seems to be eating more at one feeding and going longer between feedings. He is even sleeping longer stretches!! He doesnt seem affected by the change. I thought he would be extra fussy, but I think has adapted because he was given a bottle very early on and I have also been supplementing for awhile. Again, thank you for all of your concerns. I really looked forward to checking my email daily to see if anyone had responded to me:) Such a supportive community.