Feeling enormous guilt over formula feeding

  • My little girl is about to be one week old tomorrow. She arrived at 36 weeks and 6 days, which makes her a late preemie. After delivery i was told by the lactation specialist that I have short nipples and because my baby is early, she does not have a well developed latching response and thus will not/cannot latch on to my nipple for feeding. I was also not producing any milk in the 2.5 days that I was in the hospital. I have a family history of poor lactation, with my mother only having milk for a month and grandmother (mom's mom) not having any at all either. I was not directed at the hospital properly and always assumed that i would breastfeed with ease. She has been eating Similac for Fussiness and Gas, and cannot latch on to my breast for more than two sucks, still. I tried the nipple shield and she refuses it. I attempt to pump, but at each pump I produce more more than about 20ml of milk (if im lucky), and she is now up to 50ml per feeding (of formula). I feel extremely disappointed in myself. I feel like I am a terrible parent for not being able to give my little girl what she needs. Pumping is painful most of the time, and it is so time consuming, but throwing in the towel and just formula feeding seems so selfish. I do not know what to do, as the guilt is getting bigger by the day.

  • First of all...congratulations on your new baby! Secondly--don't beat yourself up for giving your baby formula. She is getting some great nutrition and you are helping her to grow. Thirdly--and most importantly....if you want to breastfeed than you most certainly can..it just may not be as easy as you envisioned. Call your hospital or talk to your doctor about any lactation consultants in your area who may be able to help you. Keep using the nipple shield and dribble some formula onto the nipple so she gets "interested" in it. Try to put her on the breast 3-4x a day and make sure you are pumping every 3 hours to keep your milk up. Drink lots of water and keep it going. Your milk is still coming in very well. She may take a month to get the hang of it, but she will get it if you are consistant. That being said...if you end up not breastfeeding and strictly formula feed, just rest assured knowing that your baby is getting great nutrition and all she needs to grow and develop. 

  • I felt guilty for all but one day for not breast feeding. I attempted more than several times to pump, and breast feed her. She had no trouble latching on, but it took forever for my milk to come in. When it finally did, I had already resigned myself to formula. For one last ditch effort, I did pump the day or two after my milk came in, and my baby just spit it right back at me. In fact, She was sooo dissatisfied with the breast milk that when I gave her a bottle... she gobbled it up. I think breast feeding is natural and great.... but I'm sooo glad I decided to formula feed her.

  • First of all, your worth as a mother does not rest upon breastfeeding alone. Don't think so little of yourself. :-) You have so much that your baby needs like love, attention, snuggles, and more. With all that being said, you are still very early on to be producing a full milk supply. Your milk does not usually come in for 3-5 days and even longer at times if you have a late preterm infant. If you want to, you could continue to pump after each feeding for about 15 minutes. When pumping hurts, it can be because the suction in turned up too high and you may need a different size flange than you have on the pump. Make sure your nipple is moving very freely in the flange and isn't smashed in there. I echo MommyRN4's advice...dribble milk into the nipple shield and that may give her some interest in sucking. You can continue to try a few times a day and then give a bottle afterwards. I'd encourage you to give it a little more time and patience. Your little one would potentially have trouble even if you had super evert nipples and tons of milk...she is a bit early! Give it a couple more weeks and if it just isn't happening, then realize you gave it your best shot and your little girl will be just fine. :-) 

  • I completely understand where you are coming from. When my daughter was first born, I felt as though I had to fight her every feeding to try to latch. She has a lot of issues latching since day one and would fuss and fuss before and after feedings. My husband would literally have to hold her head to my breast otherwise she would just lick or swivel her head back and forth and get extremely upset that she couldn't latch and get what she wanted right away (and even when she did latch, she was never on properly). At a week old I had an entire day where I just bawled every time that my husband told me he thought she was rooting it turns out I had mastitis and my left breast stopped producing completely, I couldn't even expel anything from it for a whole day and a half. Since I was allergic to the normal antibiotics they give you, I was going to have to pump and dump for over two weeks while I was on the antibiotic. We had to start giving her formula and once we did, she made a complete 180. She was so much more content and her tummy was finally filled. It turned out that she not only had a latching issue, she was also burning off everything she was eating while breastfeeding because she couldn't get enough from me. I was planning to pump till I was off antibiotics and then try again, but my day consisted of feeding her a bottle, staring at her while I was pumping, barely getting anything while I pumped, getting maybe an hour of sleep if I was lucky and then doing it all over again. I felt like I was neglecting her and missing out of so much bonding time so we decided to just keep her strictly on formula. I felt really guilty and Extremely selfish, like I was taking the easy way out until the nurse who was in the ER when I got diagnosed with mastitis reminded me that I needed to take care of myself too so that I can be around to take the best care of my daughter and that taking care of me isn't selfish. She is 2 months old now (as of yesterday, I can't believe it!!) I have 3 friends who all had babies within 2 weeks before or after my daughter and they were all able to work out breastfeeding. Even now when they post something about their breast feed babies or nursing their babies to sleep a little part of me feels so guilty and a lil depressed because I don't have that and can't do that for my little girl. When I get to feeling that way, I just remind myself of all the reasons that formula worked out better for our situation. My daughter is happy and healthy and growing beautifully! And I try to make up in other ways so that I still have that bonding time with her. Sometimes I will just let her sleep on me most of the day so that we can snuggle. Sometimes breastfeeding just doesn't work out, every situation is different for every family and you just have to worry about what is best for you and your little one. If anyone judges your mothering skills based off that one thing, then I'm sure that they haven't seen you once around your baby. You are doing what is best for her to grow properly and healthy and that makes you a WONDERFUL mother already! Hang in there, I know it can be hard but try to look at all the benefits of your babies growth. :)

  • Congrats on your baby! I have to say that I had the same problem, I wasnt able to breast feed for long and I felt a terrible guilt as well, but my baby is now 10.5 months and she's been on similac sensitive/advance since about 5 weeks old. She is a big baby and doing perfectly fine. Let your mind and heart be at ease to know that this isn't bad for your baby and that you tried your absolute best.