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Thread: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit


    My son, Alex, is 18 days old and doesn't seem to want to breastfeed. He's my first child, born at 38 weeks via planned c-section (I had blood pressure problems and gestational diabetes). We've been seeing a LC and have tried several different things, including a device that gives him formula from a tube while on the breast. Nothing has worked too well. Apparantly, some of the problem is my supply - I can pump 1-2 oz every 2 hours, but he wants at least 3 oz every 2 hrs. I'm taking blessed thistle and fenugreek, drinking nothing but water, and eating oatmeal every day to encourage supply.

    The main problem, per our LC, is that Alex is a lazy nurser. He'll latch on for a couple of minutes, then lets go and starts screaming. Once he starts crying, he resists all attempts to put him back on. Every now and then he'll also clamp down on my nipple and shake his head back and forth before crying - he does this w/ the bottle, too. The few times he's nursed he seems to still be hungry afterwards (crying, rooting, sucking his hands) and will eat 2-3 oz of formula from a bottle.

    His weight is good - he was 20" and 7 lb 15 oz at birth, dropped down to 7lbs 6 oz, and is currently 8 lbs 10 oz, 21" long. He had some issues w/ jaundice and was vomiting a lot his first day in the hospital, but seems to be fine now.

    I'm currently using a rented Medela Lactina to pump 8-10 times per day and giving him what I pump in a bottle. I'm also using a nipple shield to try to nurse him, although the LC says there's nothing wrong w/ my nipples. He's eating about half BM and half formula at this point, down from 75% BM and 25% formula last week (he's started getting hungrier and my supply has stayed the same).

    I'm at the end of my rope, emotionally. I really want him to breastfeed, but I'm exhausted from either pumping or trying to latch him on 24/7. I haven't gotten more than 2-3 hours of sleep at a stretch since he was born. I've thought of just pumping and feeding him from a bottle, but I'm worried that my supply won't be enough for him. OTOH, I feel guilty for even thinking of going to all formula, since BM is supposed to be so much better.

    The LC thinks we have a 50/50 chance of getting him totally on the breast and says it's basically up to him at this point. My mother, on the other hand, is vehemently pro-BF. She berates me for ever giving him a bottle and says I shouldn't feed him at all unless he's at the breast. She also thinks I'm giving up too easily and that there's nothing to breastfeeding (she exclusively BF all three of us kids). I know she means well, but she's not helping. My husband is also pro-BF, but says it's my decision.

    I don't know what to do. If anybody has any support to offer, I'd really appreciate it. Sorry for going on so long.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    to you!!!
    Wife to Jonathan Edward, 3/29/2002
    Mother of Alexander "Lex" Edward, 3/4/2007
    Attachment Parenting - it's not what you do, it's why you do it.
    Wearing Lex as often as possible
    Daytime cloth diaperer, nighttime sposie user

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    Hugs!! Im sorry to hear you are frustrated. Have you tried feeding him more than every 2 hours?? I know that sounds drainin but sometimes when building your supply up they need to eat more often. Every baby is different and you cant go by the 2-3 hour standard. Also, remember that he is getting more from you than the pump is, so that is not a good way to measure your supply. Are you nursing skin to skin? My lo was lazy at first unless we were chest to chest. Then all the sudden he realized he needed to wake up and eat. Also, I would look into reflux and the overactive let down issue, that could be a problem. I dont know much about it so maybe someone else can help you out there. But I know that symptoms are very much like what you describe, the fussiness at the boob, clamping down and shaking head, etc. More hugs, dont give up!! Its tough, sometimed real tough. But before you know it you will look back and he you will both be pros. It just takes enormous patience and getting the right info.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    I'm still really new at this too and definitely not an expert, but I feel your pain. Everyone mentions how beautiful and natural BFing is...rarely do you hear that it is a lot of work!
    That being said, do not second guess your decisions. You need to do what is best for your baby, and he has gained weight well. I think every new mother doubts how much baby is getting from her, and PP is correct when they said that baby gets more out than a pump can, so pumping isn't a good indicator.
    What worked for me to help with supply was to offer DS the breast first and when he was done, I'm pump until milk slowed down or stopped. It is hard though, because you feel like all you do is feed and pump over and over, but it does help. If you empty the breast consistently, you will make more milk to cover the supply needed.
    I had the same issues with feeling exhausted and feeling like I'm just there for food. Luckily, my DH catches onto my attitude quickly and takes DS away for a bottle and lets me sleep. But these feelings are normal! Remember, both of you have to learn to BF.
    That being said, DS was on the shield exclusively until about 4 weeks, where I slowly weaned him off. He gets a bottle during the night about half the time, depending on how tired I am. And I don't feel bad about giving a bottle--happy mommy, happy baby. But if you want to increase supply, I would always offer him breast first.
    It does get better--I didn't start to really enjoy BFing until about 4 weeks. You feel like you're just there for food, and you're tired, and you're having issues with something that is so "natural". I worried about how much he was getting so much and cried about it for two weeks until his appointment and he gained weight. That was enough persuasion for me to keep going.
    Do what you think it best and don't let anyone make you feel bad! You know what is best for you and for your baby. But if you want to keep trying, it does get better and you will hopefully really enjoy it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    Your story sounds exactly like mine and I can understand your frustration 100%. I had a planned c-section too since I'm only 5ft and my baby was 9 lb 2oz, wasn't dropping at all during my 40th week. I'm also an ovarian cancer surviver with 3 previous surgeries so my doctor recommended me having a c-section. I think part of my bf problem started with a c-section. After I got out of the surgery, I was totally out of it and my baby was a bit out of it too. It was late at night so even though the nurses brought him to me, I couldn't even latch him on. Then the second day, it was already late afternoon by the time the nurse brought the pump to me to start attempting to nurse even.
    I've seeked lactation help and was told that I have short flat nipple, so they recommended a nipple shield. My baby is also a little lazy so they recommended Second Nature bottles, which he has to suck to get any milk out.
    I've been breast feeding, pumping and supplementing with formula for the last 5 weeks. When I pump, once every 2-3 hours, I only get about 2 - 2 1/2 oz total. (except for the first morning pump, then I get about 3oz) He's a big hungry boy so my BM only will not be sufficient for him. He would scream, shake his head, kick, punch.. you name it... just refuses to latch on.
    My only recommendation to you is, not to force your breast to him. I'm still figuring it out myself but it seems like if I give him a little break from the breast (half a day or a day) and try first thing in the morning when your supply is at the fullest, after about 2-5 min of fighting he latches on. My son got so traumatized with my breast that at one point, the moment I brought my breast to him, he was squirming and kicking. I'm working breast feeding him once or twice a day, just starting slow so he'll latch on without getting too traumatized, then pump the rest. I'm planning on increasing it little by little.
    My ped also said that even if he's breast fed/formula fed 50%/50%, it's still better than completely giving up. His words gave me little hope since I was feeling really guilty for not being able to breastfeed 100%.
    Good luck and don't give up! You're not alone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit


    Thanks, everyone. We haven't been doing much skin-to-skin, so I'll try upping that. He hasn't latched on since Friday, but he has mouthed the nipple a few times before getting mad. Maybe that's a good sign?

    I appreciate the support!

    Thanks again,


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    Don't give up!

    It gets SO MUCH EASIER! Weeks 1-6 are a challenge so it helps to take it one day at a time.

    Lots of people have to supplement when they're getting started with BF and end up with wonderful BF'ing stories. You are not alone!

    Your mom has a point (as annoying as it sounds)- the sooner you stop giving the formula bottles the easier it is to get him to the breast.

    Skin to skin contact is great- take a bath together, let him sleep on your chest, and look into babywearing you can do it at your house with no shirt on and they LOVE it.

    Try latching him on when he's really sleepy; he might not get so angry.

    Also if you're to the point of giving him a formula bottle or EBM give him a few sips to calm him down then try to relatch him. (this is how I got my own LO to start latching when he was freaking out the first few weeks)

    Mommy to
    Logan 5-23-07
    Colby 12-14-09

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    You are doing a great job sticking it out and trying so much to make your bf'ing realtionship work And right on!! to your husband for supporting your choices!!

    Quote Originally Posted by foilgirl View Post
    The LC thinks we have a 50/50 chance of getting him totally on the breast and says it's basically up to him at this point. My mother, on the other hand, is vehemently pro-BF. She berates me for ever giving him a bottle and says I shouldn't feed him at all unless he's at the breast. She also thinks I'm giving up too easily and that there's nothing to breastfeeding (she exclusively BF all three of us kids). I know she means well, but she's not helping. My husband is also pro-BF, but says it's my decision.
    Mom is partially right, to some extent. (The bottle is easier and some come to prefer over the breast). However, if your baby is having a hard time latching and will take a bottle, then that's what you need to do (IMO) while you work on the latch. He needs to eat. Bf'ing is NOT always easy. Everyone momma has a different experience. Heck, the two I'm nursing are different.

    Lack of sleep stinks. I have a 9 week old - I'm still up every hour to hour and a half most nights. We don't co-sleep. I know how you feel but he might just need to nurse more often and this will also help your supply. My dd3 would "bobble" on and off the breast the first week. I would change sides and this seemed to settle her...an idea maybe?

    All above info about skin to skin and wearing your lo is great advice. You are also doing the right things to boost supply. Letting lo nurse A LOT is the best thing for supply.

    Good luck and hang in there. This place is great for support!!
    Last edited by Chris H.; August 7th, 2007 at 07:25 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    My baby was in the NICU for the first 3 weeks of her life, during which time I pumped and they fed her by bottle. When we got home and I tried to breastfeed her she did the same thing as your son -- crying, shaking her head back and forth, couldn't latch on. It was SO frustrating and I almost gave up, but my mom (who is pro-BF) berated me for giving her the bottles and told me to keep trying to nurse her.

    FINALLY at 8 weeks old she got the hang of it and started to latch on. She is now nursing exclusively and it is awesome! No more pumping or washing bottles/pump parts!

    I think she just had to get a little older/stronger so that she could latch on better.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit

    It sounds to me like your baby has a bit of nipple confusion, which certainly isn't helping a latch problem. If you can, try not to use a bottle nipple, and use only your breast with the supplemental nursing system (tube thing you mentioned). Your baby does need to eat, but bottles are a distraction from breastfeeding (believe me, I've been there ), and in this case, I think your mother is right. If your baby is gaining well, weight is not an issue, and therefore, he can go without a bottle for a bit. It isn't easy to do, but we were able to get dd back to the breast by denying the bottle altogether, when our LC told us about the same thing--that we had a 50/50 shot. At this point, you are the mom, its not up to him...its up to you! You can always go back if it doesn't work out, kwim?

    Tiny babies have very tiny tummies...they need to eat frequently, and they often don't take in more than 2 ounces. He may be acting hungry again just a bit later, when it seems you just nursed him! Try not to watch the clock, watch the baby. And a pump is a very unreliable source for determining your output. If your baby is acting hungry he needs to nurse more, that's all. I know it feels like you are nursing nonstop, and it will feel like that for a few more weeks or even months, but it will get better!

    It would be nice if you could get in touch with LLL leader to work with you on the latch. I had much better luck with LLL than with LCs, mostly because the LC I worked with didn't have kids of her own and wasn't accredited correctly. She had no idea what I was going through emotionally!

    Wife to a grizzly
    Mama to my little deer (12/05) my loving bear cub (9/07--), and our little tiger (3/22/10)
    Born by one c-section and 2 amazing VBACs

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