Friday, June 30, 2006

Failure To Breastfeed

Failure to breastfeed does not translate to failure as a mum.

A mum wrote to me about her unhappiness at having to give up breastfeeding. I thought that I should share my reply to her and maybe, just maybe, this too will be able to help another mum in a similar situation.

Please don't be so hard on yourself for giving up on breastfeeding. I know it must have been a very hard decision for you and you must have thought about it a great deal. Its no small matter at all. Its a big decision. If you know that this is the best for your son and for your family and circumstances then let go of your guilt and concentrate on looking after the baby from now on ok?

There is also no reason for you to feel like you are a failure. You have tried your best. I am pro-breastfeeding but I don't like to push other people too hard, (only myself) because I know how that feels. Although my lactation consultant was very helpful, I sometimes felt that she pushed us too hard on occassions.

Sometimes a lactation consultant or another breastfeeding mum may inadvertently push their colleagues, friends or relatives too hard to breastfeed. I know they mean well and feel frustrated that their friend is not breastfeeding but sometimes that creates more stress for that person. I think support should be in the form of a listening ear, guidance in techniques, knowledge etc and should be no more than that.

Anyway, I'd like to point you to some other places for support. First go to babycenters article on "When You Just Can't Breastfeed". You should find this article useful. If you should need to "talk" to other mums in this situation perhaps you could join their formula feeding forum. Here's the link to some of the postings. I think you will probably be able to identify to some of what you read here.

One other thing, remember to look after yourself first for only if you are well taken care of can you look after your baby, spouse and household. Next concentrate your efforts on looking after your baby and spouse and last the housework. I tell my spouse that he is important but for now, baby's needs come before his and I let my house rot for the first few months.

Also remember that it is going to get easier and easier. I'm a good example. I remember during the early days, I probably didn't even step out of my apartment for the first 3 months or more as I couldn't cope. My toilet looked like a public toilet and I didn't do any cooking not even after 6 months. I only cooked for baby when they start solids as that took up a lot of time too while hubby and I relied on takeout food. Thats how I cut corners.

Ok. I've got to go. Take good care now.

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  1. When I see my son suffering from his eczema, I cannot help but wonder what if I had persisted long enough like you to try breastfeeding him. I matter what there will always be this tiny whisper inside me wondering about "what if" or asking myself "why did I give up so quickly"...

  2. wmd,
    Thats just mother nature isn't it? We can't help it. We always ask ourselves "Did I do the right thing?" not only for breastfeeding but for all other aspects of mothering as well. Breastfeeding was very, very hard for me and everyday I felt like giving up. With my girl, eventually I had to supplement, breastfeed at night and formula during the day. With my son, if he hadn't learned to FINALLY latch on at exactly two months and one day, I would probably have given up. I feel that those mothers who understand the benefits of breastfeeding and have tried their very best (by reading up as much as they can and getting the necessary help and support etc) should not be too hard on themselves. (But of course thats easier said than done.) Its only those who do not have the information through lack of knowledge or support who need the extra push in the form of providing them with the knowledge and advise they need to get started. Its just so sad that so many mothers are not informed enough and shrug away their ability to breastfeed by being told that "they do not have enough milk" etc.

  3. I was so determined to bf my bb when I found out that I was pregnant. I read everything about bf and bot all the equipement needed to bf. I even requested for a private room from my employer in for me to express bm when my maternity end. All these hopes dashed when I had to deliver to bb thru an emergency Caer when I was only 7 mths pregnant due to complication. My prematured bb only weigh 1.16 kg and she has to stayed in the hosp for more than 5 weeks. I cried everyday seeing the tiny condition.

    The neonatal paed requested for BM on day 1. I was able to express BM but unfortunately I was on heavy medication and my BM was no allowed to be given to my bb. The first 4 days she was given formula but unable to digest any of it. My hubby was afraid that I could not accept the fact that he hide all these information from my. During that time I was still in the ICU ward and I was not awared of all this.

    Slowly, my doc reduced my medication dosage and I'm allowed to feed my bb BM but thru feeding tube. I pumped diligently as bb was still in hosp and with enough rest at home, I was able to express enough BM. I would bring my EBM to the hosp everyday so that the nurses could feed her. Slowly, my bb grew to big enough to be taken out from the incubator.

    The first day she was out, she was given EBM through the bottle. That's when the horror started. She developed nipple confusion because she was never breastfeeded before. I would spend 5-8 hours daily in the hosp to bf her, but she just dont know how to suck. Everytime it failed, I was asked to give her the bottle instead. The nurses in the NICU told me, once she's older she would learn. Unfortunately, it never happened.

    The day I brought my baby home was my happiest day. Unfortunately her constant crying because of colic and reflux has added tremondously stress on me. My BM flow started going down the hill. From 60 ml each pumping session, I only managed to get 10 ml. Then only 2 ml. I started panicked. I read and tried everything I could find from the internet about increasing BM. My friend who is also a lactation consultant came to SG to help me. She tried given me fenugreek, protien, massage, etc.....but nothing help. She even asked me to seek help from my bb paed. I did and was prescribed some hormone pills to increase my BM flow. My BM flow came back on the 3rd day after medication, but my happiness was for short moment only. The day I finished the hormone pills which was the 5th day, my BM flow went back to 2 ml again.

    The more I tried to pump, the less milk I would produce. I was so tensed that I look and behave like a zombie. All my family members wanted me to give up on BF. They said I tried too hard that I was only punishing myself. Nowadays, whenever I read about breastfeeding news, my heart ache. Tears would flow......

  4. Oh Cowiepig,
    You sound like you went through a very tough time! Thank you for sharing here. You should be back to work by now. How is your baby doing now?


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