To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed

That is the question! For me, it was never an option. Of course I was going to breastfeed. My mother breastfed. All of my sister-in-laws breastfed. It seemed natural. Until I actually tried it, that is.

After I gave birth to J, I was having some difficulty getting her to latch on so a nurse came into my hospital room to try and help. "Oh, you have flat nipples. This isn't going to work." My first thought was "Flat nipples, what the hell does that mean?" Then, I felt like a complete failure. It never even entered my mind that there might be a problem. Now, there wasn't really a PROBLEM, but the nurse's reaction to my less-than-perky nipples made me feel as if it wasn't possible for me to breastfeed. Instead, all I needed were those god awful breast shields that are supposed to draw out your nipple (and consequently make your boobs a leaky mess).

So I started using the shields but it really wasn't helpful. I was in a lot of pain because she wasn't latching on the right way. I was also uncomfortable. I've seen women on television or in magazines who can breastfeed lying down or in a restaurant but I couldn't even get comfy on my couch with a boppy pillow holding her head up. My back hurt. I was sooooo over emotional and I wanted to stop trying. Guilt kept me going for at least 6 weeks but I bought a breast pump and gave her bottles of my milk for the last 2 or 3 weeks. My feeling was, at least she's getting the nutrients she needs.

Finally, I gave up and things got so much better. I was much more relaxed and the time I spent with J was just as special. I still held her close to me, I still got to gaze into those hazel eyes as she sucked down a bottle. I just couldn't believe how much guilt I felt. I felt like I was letting her down. My first task as a new mom and I couldn't even handle it.

Now my dilemma is this: what do I do with the next one? Do I try again, armed with the information that yes, my nipples are flat, but I'll just have to work harder. Or do I go straight to the bottle? Is my next child going to suffer because of my fears or inadequacies? It's a sensitive subject for a lot of moms. What would you do?

Oh and thanks to Mom-101 for the topic idea. Go check out her post about weaning!


Kristen said...

I think women put way to much pressure on other women about breastfeeding. I was like you - but it did work out well for me. I imagine, however, that I would have been very upset if it hadn't.

I say it can't hurt to try again. And, I'm sure your flat nipples are just lovely LOL

rhonda said...

I had planned to breastfeed when I had my daughter. She pretty much said no freakin way. I guess since my boob was pretty much bigger than her head, she got a little nervous.

So bottle it was. I felt like the worst new mom there ever was. But we still snuggled and loved, and I guess I really didn't know any better at that point.

So Ben comes along, and I just said bottle it is. I wasn't even going to try. I didn't want that rejection like the first time.

But that's just me :)

tAnYeTTa said...

hello...first time to your blog, i'm here from Grump...I say............Follow your heart. I'm still b.feeding my 16 month old son and lemme tell you....He has shown NO sign of weaning. Is it sad for me to say, I'm sooooooooooo ready to stop. Awwwwwwwwwww.........see, that's why I say follow your heart. It's that two edged sword! Even though I'm a b.feeding mommy I would NEVER judge a woman's choice and dammit, what's wrong with FORMULA? I say the only wrong thing is if you choose not to FEED your child. Ok...I'm back. I got off on a tangint (is that word?) LOL

Mama M said...

Ah, the guilt--it comes with everything mom-related, doesn't it? I always believe you should just do what feels right to you in the moment, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. It was easy for me in the beginning but then I had a ton of problems later on. I kept going on for three months in pain, but I don't know if I would go through the pain and agony again the second time if the same complications came up. I figure I'll just see once I get there.

Stephanie said...

That is a hard question to answer. I had a very difficult time breastfeeding also and after three months and a ton of guilt, finally stopped. I am now adopting a little girl and am not at all interested in inducing breast milk (who even knew that you could do that)! Anyway, I think you just have to see what you feel like doing once the baby is born. And go easy on yourself. You are still a good mother, whether or not you decide to try it again.

Mom101 said...

Hey, glad you found some inspiration at my place.

One thing I didn't mention: the first time I supplemented with formula I burst out crying. Absurd! We were all raised on formula (which wasn't nearly what it is today) and turned out just fine. Well, most of us.

I think you do what you gotta do. That's all there is to it. Happy mommy = happy baby.

Andie D. said...

I had a very similar experience and wrote about it on my blog. I did a lot of soul searching, research, and asked a lot of questions to decide if I should try to breast feed my 2nd.

In the end, I decided to go with formula. The nice thing about formula feeding your 2nd child is that others can help more easily, daddy can get up in the middle of the night too, and you're able to be a little more free to spend time with your 1st.

Although I felt a little guilty for not even trying the 2nd time around, it was the best decision for me and my family. Follow your heart, and you'll make the best decision for yourself and your family.

Nicole said...

I, too, suffered from the guilt monster, called my mother-in-law, who started putting the pressure on the breastfeed as soon as she heard I was pregnant. I had trouble getting my daughter started and, I, too, cried in the hospital when the nurse insisted on supplementing with formula. Eventually, we got the hang of it and I continued for 10 months. I didn't enjoy it at all, though, and seriously considered avoiding it with my son. But, again, guilt won out. He, too, had trouble getting started. This time, I had mixed feelings. I thought if he doesn't catch on, then I'm off the hook. But, of course, he did. I ended a little sooner with 8 months. Frankly, I respect the women who decide to formula-feed in spite of all the pressure to breast-feed. What makes the mommy happy, in this case, benefits the baby the best!

chichimama said...

Happy mom=happy baby. There is nothing to feel guilty or bad about if you decide not to go that way.

I was the opposite, I totally planned on formula feeding but then ended up breastfeeding both kids.

Either way your 2nd will be just fine.

Suzanne said...

This happened to me, too. I had a really hard time breastfeeding both my kids, and wound up pumping instead. That turned out to be exhausting, too (especially the second time around), but I felt so guilty and deficient as a mother that I wanted to continue pumping as long as I could.

I regret not getting better lactation help; maybe you could try it again, but enlist the aid of a lactation consultant. Either way, though, the baby will be just fine.

MrsFortune said...

Thanks for sharing this! I can feel like less of a failure if this happens to me! But that nurse - damn her! what a way to make you feel like a total failure!!! I'd have been a wreck.

Awesome Mom said...

I have not sucessfully nursed either of my kids. My first son has a heart defect so he was too weak to nurse and not all that interested in eating much of anything. I pumped for him because he was my only child and he had health issuse so I wanted to do every little thing that I could do to keep him healthy. Along comes son #2. He was having low blood sugar issues and his tongue tied so he could not even get it past his gumline so his latch was beyond painful. By the time it got clipped he was not wanting to work for food, he wanted the bottle becasue it was easier. I was devistated that yet again I had failed at nursing. But after thingin about it I realized that I was pretty happy that he was eating and I did not have to deal with the tube like I did with his brother. I say if you want to give it a try but if you don't suceed don't beat yourself up. I still would like to nurse a child and will keep trying.


I have flat nipples with ABSOLUTLEY no sensitivity. Numb nipples dot com. I wrote a lil something on this matter myself: http://girlsgonechild.blogspot.com/2005/12/my-boobs-are-none-of-your-business.html

For some women, breastfeeding, well, sucks. And that is OK.

Heather said...

Go with your heart and if you think you'd like to try breastfeeding again, block out all the stupid things that dumb people can say to you (ie. flat nipples - pssht!). If you think it is going to cause you additional stress on top of all the other stuff that comes with a new baby, go with the bottle. The Nursing Nazis can just go suck an egg. My best friend (kidlet.typepad.com/) had a hard time nursing and supplemented and had immense guilt about it until she saw her daughter thriving. I agree with chichimama - happy mommy=happy baby. Go with your gut!

P.S. I have heard of moms with inverted nipples going on to nurse the next one no problem. So who knows?

Her Grace said...

You know, if it was me, I think I'd try again anyway. With your daughter's eating issues, there may have been more going on than just your flat nipples. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

That said, I nursed my second one only about 1/3 as long as my first because I was just so damn busy!!

Good luck!