I am more looking for support than any concrete advice here - I've already spoken with two lactation consultants and a personal therapist about this. Of course, any new insight will be welcomed, but I'm more interested to learn if others have weathered similar challenges and come out okay.
My daughter is about 5.5 months old. I returned to work full time when she was 3 months. She's bottle-fed during the day, and while there were no dramatic problems off the bat, she did seem to get more fussy and frustrated with breastfeeding after a few days of daytime bottles. We always regrouped over the weekend though. Thing is, she's not great with the bottle either - she's just a very fussy eater in general.
Over the past 2.5 weeks, however, things have gotten really bad. I do NOT think this is a nursing strike - she acts really interested in nursing, roots around and latches on like a champ, but gets frustrated after just a few seconds. I've gotten so anxious and stressed about this that it's almost impossible for me to let down now. I can pretty much only feed her "successfully" in her sleep, and it can take anywhere from 3-20 minutes for me to let down (she would never, never stand for that while alert!). Pumping while I'm at work is going okay, but when I've tried pumping at home to stimulate a letdown and then popping her on, I have the same anxiety and don't let down then either.
I've tried relaxation, visualization, singing, walking around rocking her, looking at a magazine, and nothing has worked reliably. It might sound ridiculous, but has anyone heard of hypnosis for this? I'm willing to try ANYTHING.
I do still feel my letdowns, while I nurse her in her sleep and when I pump at night. It's also fairly easy for me to tell based on her sucking pattern. So I really don't think the issue is that I'm feeling them less.
I think she's getting enough to eat - during the week, this is really only an issue for a few feedings. I think this is way more my problem than hers, so far anyway.
I have tried bumping up my supply - I take fenugreek supplements (as much as I'm "allowed" according to the packaging) and am drinking Mother's Milk tea. I think that did help a little bit but just for a few days ... not sure if there's anything else I can try instead of or in addition to this? I've just recently been trying to read about fennel, but am confused and worried that there are possible dangers/side effects involved?
I'm extremely depressed now, which I know doesn't help. I am so adamantly against giving up breastfeeding, but I don't know if there's a point where I should just give up to get that horrible decision out of the way, mourn, and move on. I keep thinking things could get better - "successful" waking feedings are not unheard of, we have them once every few days, but I'm such an anxious person by nature that I can't help worrying that this cumulative stress, cumulative frustration and negative conditioning for her, all of it is going to build up and not resolve.
I feel like I'm totally failing her here. Breastfeeding isn't a comfort, it's a stressor. Working full time, I am desperate to hold onto that bond. I wish I had appreciated nursing more during the times I was so clearly taking it for granted.
Has anyone heard stories about instances similar to mine, where the baby seems eager to nurse but the mom is suffering from MAJOR performance anxiety and simply can't let down? I think I spend every minute of my day thinking about this, and start getting nervous up to an hour before when I anticipate she'll be hungry. I'm so angry with my body for failing me.
I'm sorry this is so long; I hope some people made it all the way through!