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Thread: Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

  1. #1

    Default Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    Hi, everyone. I'm new on here and have a 13-month-old fabulous daughter. My husband and I are thinking about having a second, but truly one of my worst fears is reliving the agony of my attempts at breastfeeding. So I'd like some help/advice, preferably from moms who've struggled with breastfeeding before, because if you got it right the first time, more power to you, but it's probably (?) hard to relate to my story. So here goes...I was going to bf for at least a year. Period. I was bf'd for well over a year, despite my mom having a really horrible C-section with infected stitches and complications when I was born. I thought, hey, if she can do it with all those problems, then so will I. I had read all the benefits of bf'ing and there wasn't even a question in my mind. That's how it was going to be. I read books and articles, bought a nice pump for back-up, got my nursing bras and nursing pads, took a class on bf'ing, talked with moms who bf and lined up support, you get the picture. Well, my beautiful daughter had other plans. She arrived May '07 by vag. birth, issues but I've heard many worse birth stories, so I thought bf'ing would go fine. I knew that it is very normal for many women to have pain or issues for weeks, maybe even a few months when first establishing bf'ing. I was ready for that. What I was not ready for was a baby who would not suck. That's right, my baby would not suck for several months. I got her latched on (with help from lact. consultants and nurses and, unfortunately, a nipple shield). She sort of chewed on my breast in the hospital, but I didn't yet realize there was a problem. I knew until my milk came in there wouldn't be softening of the breast and that the volume she was getting was very small. I had problems getting her to latch on, but knew this was common and had confidence we could overcome that with time, patience, and help. I was educated on this. Also, the only position I could use and get her to latch at all was the football hold, often with assistance from my husband (bless him). It was very difficult to get hold her head in place with one hand and position my breast and nipple with the other, and often even when she was latched on, she would often not move her mouth at all. I had to constantly wake her up, but even when she was alert, she'd just sit there and not suck, even with my nipple positioned correctly in her mouth. So the lact. consultant taught us about using her arm as a "pump" and my husband would come and pump her arm up and down, which caused her mouth to move open and closed. I didn't have the extra hand to football hold, manage the nipple shield, move my breast/nipple into position, as well as operate the pump. Still, I kept the faith, knowing this was not going to be easy. So we went home from the hospital, happy and excited, thinking this bf'ing would work in the end. However, when my milk came in (and I do mean, came in big-time) on day 3, I realized we had a new problem. My daughter, even when everything appeared as it should, did not suck. When her mouth was moving up and down, even when latch was perfect and everything as it should be, my husband operating her little arm as a pump, her mouth moving in a biting, up and down motion. No pull-back feeling, no actually sucking. Despite being a dumb first-timer, I knew that if I couldn't feel her suck and my breast was still hard as a rock after 1 1/2 hours of this, something was wrong. I knew she wasn't getting enough, if anything. But I also knew she could probably get better at this with time, and that there were supplemental nursing systems to keep me from having to give her a bottle and ruin it all. Well, I really wanted to preserve milk supply and knew if she wasn't getting milk out, my supply would dwindle. So from the very first time my milk came in on day 3, I pumped fully empty on both sides after she had a chance to eat. And I made tons of milk. I got 5 1/2 ounces after she ate the very fist time I pumped 3 days postpartum. Supply was never a problem. We went to the pediatrician within a day or so after that, and they had me weigh her, feed her, and then weigh her again. She ate about one ounce. They became worried about her weight as well, as she had lost over 10% of her birth weight. And I fed her almost constantly. Approx. 12-14 times a day, for as long as 1 1/2 hours at a time. And EVERY SINGLE TIME she ate, I pumped fully afterward and froze the milk. Well, I knew she would have to catch on to this bf'ing soon so she could gain weight. We went to bf support group a day or 2 later and we did the weigh, eat, weight again and she ate about 1/2 ounce in that time. Something had to be done to get some milk into her. I spoke with the lact. consultant at the group and she gave me a syringe feeder and told me to place it under the nipple shield (my daughter NEVER latched without that shield; washing it 14 times a day became a nightmare in its own right). I sobbed throughout the lact. group meeting because it was full of moms with 6 month old babies who bf beautifully and I felt horrible that it wasn't working. My daughter was 5 days old and dropping weight fast. So we went home, this time with the syringe feeder (one more thing to wash 14 times a day, but I was NOT giving up). We would bf for a year come h@ll or high water. Well, what the lact. consultant didn't tell me is that for a nipple shield to work properly, it has to be sort of suctioned to the breast, so it really can't be used with a syringe feeder, as the tubing on the feeder breaks the suction. So that night, again my daughter fought latching on and cried like crazy but this was par for the course and a hurdle we could get over. She continued to not suck but the sort of bite/chew up down up down. No suck (try chewing up down on a straw and see if you get anything). Well with the syringe feeder/nipple shield combo., the shield would not stay on and the feeder leaked my precious hard-won, pumped breast milk and I just lost it (remember, too, that my daughter would only feed in football hold, and generally only move her mouth at all with her arm being pumped -- and now with the new equipment, even with my husband's help, things were supremely awkward). I had shed so many tears over the situation up to that point I couldn't count them. And the guilt was completely overwhelming. Why couldn't I bf? What was wrong with me? And why was I holding onto my bf dream while my daughter dropped weight and I had tons of pumped milk in the freezer? At that point I decided I was being selfish and broke down and gave my daughter my pumped milk in a bottle. Which of course caused a whirlwind of new guilt, because now I had given her the dreaded bottle nipple and ruined bf forever. I cried. And cried. And cried. And I'm sobbing about it writing this now, a year + later. Well, with the bottle, too, things were still very difficult. The very first bottle of my milk I gave her was through a nipple made to simulate the breast.

  2. #2

    Default CONTINUED>>>Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    I wanted her to still have to work to get it so we could still work on normal bf. But I had to get some food in her. She chewed up down up down on that nipple just like she did mine. She ate for 45 min. and didn't get a measurable amount (no, not even 1/4 or 1/2 ounce, after 45 min.). So I had to give her a less ideal nipple. I didn't want to give up on bf and thought that each feeding I would try to get my daughter to eat some from me (however little that might be)then I'd give her a couple ounces (all she ate at that time) of pumped milk in a bottle. I cried and cried and cried some more. I continued for several weeks to feed her (and even with an easier nipple she'd take anywhere from nearly 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to eat her 2 ounces), pump totally empty, save the milk, freeze the extra, clean the pump, and desperately try to get a few minutes of sleep before we did this all again, about 12 times a day. All day and all night. I began to dread feeding her because it meant I would have to pump again. When my sister or husband or whoever else took over for a while, I'd have them wake me up as soon as she was done with her bottle so I could pump for next time. My husband had 2 weeks off from work. After that, things became more difficult, and of course when she was a few weeks old, she stopped sleeping constantly between feedings, but she still wanted to be held constantly when awake (which I loved). So I struggled even more with the pumping because it would take me a while to pump and I'd feel guilty for not holding her at that time. I wasn't coordinated enough to pump and hold her simultaneously. I told myself we could keep this up indefinitely. After all, she would soon be eating more at once and less often, so the frequency of pumping sessions should decrease, right? We continued to try to bf normally sometimes, but there wasn't as much time to work on it as I'd hoped. I kept in touch with the lact. consultant, who tried to help us out. I felt embarrassed to have to duck out of social gatherings to pump (I'm incredibly modest but had always told myself when I bf I'd refuse to "run and hide" and instead discreetly bf wherever we were...it's a whole different idea to pump in front of others, can't say I'm that braver). Things continued this way until dd was about 1 month old and then the nipple problems from being torn to shreds by a pump 12 times a day for a month began to suface. I started to get hard knots in one breast. I knew this was a clogged duct, so I tried EVERYTHING I read about how to resolve it. Well, the best way, apparently, is to have your baby continue to bf. Not an option. So I tried digging out the openings on my nipple with a needle (read sometimes dried milk clogs the openings). I did not gripe about the pain. It didn't work. I tried hot packs before pumping. Didn't work. Warm showers. Didn't work. Pumping at different angles including on the floor on all fours (probably funny, but not at the time). Didn't work. My breasts became more and more engorged and painful and both began to be filled with hard lumps that nothing seemed to relieve. Despite frequent pumping, I began to get almost nothing when I pumped. I was engorged but the milk would not come out. Then one breast became warm and red, then the other. I began to have shooting pains when I tried to pump, but continued to get almost no milk. I did not want to go to the ob, but I knew unresolved clogged ducts can get infected and require surgical drainage, etc. So I went. Turns out I had mastitis on both sides and a yeast infection of both my nipples. Basically, my nipples were ragged from such frequent pumping (sometimes small pieces of skin would fall off, but I didn't complain...no one said bf was easy, right?) and this allowed bacteria and yeast to have easy entry into my breasts, and with the clogged ducts, there was nowhere for the bacteria to go, so I got mastitis. The yeast caused the shooting pains. At this point my breasts felt like warm red rocks. They gave me prescriptions to resolve the infections and also told me that no amount of pumping really drains the breast as well as a baby (I didn't know that before); this meant pumping alone without bf'ing normally increases the risk that all this would happen again -- blocked ducts, then mastitis/yeast. I could tell the nurse and nurse practitioner were taken aback by the appearance of my breasts and nipples. The nurse somehow managed to get my breasts to drain some in the office (I think it's because it felt bizarre to have her running her fingertips down my breast, and tingled and then finally milk started pouring out). I put dd on one breast and thought, hey, there's milk coming out, maybe all is not lost. It was probably the only time my daughter got a full feeding at my breast. Because it was pouring into her mouth (and poring onto a towel from the opposite breast). I talked to the lact. consultant later (maybe that day, I'm not sure). She said I really needed to cut back on pumping to about every 4 hours. I thought this sounded impossible with a newborn, to do anything on a schedule like that. We tried once again to bf normally with the lact. consultant, but because my daughter was still chewing up down and not sucking, and milk wasn't leaking out like at the ob's, it again did not work. The lact. consultant had dd suck on her finger to assess her suck, and agreed that she was still not actually sucking in a pulling way that would get milk out of my breast; dd also apparently had a high arched palate that didn't make it easier. She said that there was nothing she could do to fix this problem, the way they can help fix a poor latch or some other things. She said the only thing they had left for me to try was a hospital-grade pump. So I tried it. I was engorged but got almost no milk out. The suction felt like a lot less than my expensive home pump, and the clogged ducts were not relieved by the hospital pump either. That was it. There was nothing else to try. I asked to lact. consultant if I should just give her formula. She said something like it would be reasonable if I decided to do that. She couldn't come out and say "Of course!" because she's a lact. consultant. But she was very nice to me and I appreciate all her help. So I decided that was it, I had no idea how else to keep trying to bf, and I wanted to stop pumping while I was on the antibiotics and would avoid being engorged all over again and possibly getting mastitis again. My husband later said he didn't think my nipples would ever look normal again, they were so torn up (they do). So I gave my daughter a bottle from there on out, finishing up the frozen breastmilk and starting the dreaded formula. I cried and cried from having to give her formula. In all, she had exclusively breastmilk for about a month, with occasional breastmilk after that from the freezer stash. I realize that worse things happen to people all the time, but I will feel guilty and awful about all this until I die. I miss being able to nourish my baby and experience what I could imagine is a wonderful bonding experience. Sometimes, as silly as it sounds, my breasts still ache to feed her while I'm instead giving her a bottle. I know about all the health reasons for bf, too. But I really don't feel like I had a choice about any of this. I don't know what else I could have done. I don't know if my daughter would be alive today if the only way was bf'ing. Sorry for the length and sadness in this post. It is a sore spot in an otherwise wonderul experience I've had with motherhood. It hurts me when people think badly of women who can't or don't bf, because I did my best. Please let me know if anyone has had a better experience after having problems the first time. I really want to have another child but I don't think I could go through this again. Hands down, the worst experience of my life. Please also let me know if/how you'd throw in the towel with all this. I couldn't do all this with dd being a toddler as well as having a newborn. Thanks for reading this. I've been waiting a long time to get this off my chest (haha) and have someone, anyone, understand why all this was so upsetting.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    18,063

    Default Re: Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    thanks for sharing your fealings....
    Do you have a local group you go to?
    IT might help to talk to your local leader over the phone or at a meeting.
    Shes around to listen! And give support.
    lots of mothers find their 2nd or 3rd baby is a totaly diffent experiance then thier 1st.
    You just do it one day at a time.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: CONTINUED>>>Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    x 1000 mama - your story is similar to the struggles many moms have experienced You're not alone.

    Please know next time might be totally diffrent AND since you've got a little heads up at some of the troubles that can occur you can, as andrea said, get in touch with support before another baby arrives

    We, as mothers, give birth to guilt, when we give birth to our children. The goal, however is to make sure we parent looking ahead - not behind.

    Good luck to you next time!!!!!!!!!!
    Click here to find an LLL leader near you...or call 1 877 4 LA LECHE for help now.

    "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead



    Definitely try to contact your local leader if you can.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Default Re: Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    to you for going through all this to BF while some mothers don't even try to do it although they have no problems at all.
    We have had many struggles through our BF journey with my son and at one point when I was talking to an LC about our problems I said I will give my next baby a bottle right away to avoid such problems. She said my next baby will be nothing like my first. Every baby is different and you will likely have a totally different experience. So don't let your fears to get you. And don't feel guilty about anything. We do our best as mothers and that is all we can do.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: CONTINUED>>>Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    first of all, lots of You did a great thing mama! Don't beat yourself up!

    Since it was your dd that wasn't able to successfully get milk out of your breast, I don't see why your second child wouldn't be a master breastfeeder My second breastfeeding experience was the exact opposite of my first. With my first, I pumped more blood than milk, with my second I never had a hitch.

    You had a really sad experience - again, lots of
    ~Jenn~


    mother of 2 boys!
    08/14/98~~03/20/08

    Birth: 7lbs 12oz, 1 year: 22lbs 11oz
    until he self-weaned 4 days before his third birthday ... still on occasion ... and happily

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****************
    People need to understand that when they're deciding between breastmilk and formula, they're not deciding between Coke and Pepsi.... They're choosing between a live, pure substance and a dead substance made with the cheapest oils available. ~Chele Marmet

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience the first time around.

    What I would say is that you and baby are a BFing team, the new baby will be completey different and you may have other struggles with the new baby. As dissmissive as this may sound, you'll have to put the past behind you with the new LO and relax and attempt BF with new LO. Things will be different and you will probably be successful.

    The new pregnancy will be a new experience, don't let the past issues scare you away from a beautiful relationship.
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    Oh, honey...let me give you virtual hugs first!

    Let me give you MY version of a breastfeeding horror story: A pregnant woman who says "Yeah, I guess breast is best or whatever, but I don't really buy into that because formula is so advanced. I just don't feel like having a baby attached to my boobs all the time, you know?"

    That is a horror story, to me personally. Your story is the story of a loving, committed, dedicated mother who did everything she could to give her daughter the best start in life. Next time you start to feel upset, just look into your beautiful daughter's eyes and feel her love for you, and understand that you deserve not to feel guilty anymore.

    In terms of having another baby, every baby is so different there is no reason to think you will face the same problems. Only you can decide when/if you are ready for another child...but don't let fear keep you from something that you feel is right. Imagine if, prior to having your daughter, you knew what you would have to go through...it would seem overwhelming, but it in the end was worth every second, wasn't it?
    Erin - Hayden James is my beautiful boy - we've been nursing happily for two years, with no end in sight!


    Change the language, change the reality.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Default Re: Please Help...HORRIBLE BF experience....warning....horror story ahead

    After reading your post I don't feel like my experience (although challenging and frustrating for me) even comes close to what you have been through. You have my sympathy and I sincerely hope that breastfeeding your next baby will be as easy and rewarding as your first was difficult and heartbreaking.

    I have to congratulate you on your determination to bf your dd...I think that's really amazing!

    Although my son (now 12 weeks) and I have bfing figured out finally, the first few weeks were not easy and I experienced some of the same emotions that you describe in your post. He became a very hesisant, and eventually lazy, latcher because of oversupply of milk. He would only eat for very short amounts of time (sometimes only 5 mins!) and I worried constantly that he wasn't getting enough nourishment. Besides that, it broke my heart every time he choked, coughed and sputtered when he was eating...I was drowning my poor little baby! Although I've been able to continue bfing him, the guilt I felt was horrible...I often thought, if I can't get this right then what good am I? This is obviously not the case for me or for you but, as I'm sure you understand, I couldn't help feeling that way.

    I think it's great that you are now able to share what you went through and your feelings about it. You're definitely not alone and I can relate to the guilt and constant crying you talk about. I'm so sorry you had this experience trying to bf your first baby, but like I said, I really hope next time is a whole different story for you.

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