Closure with my past breastfeeding experience, feeling a loss

Megan - posted on 02/09/2011 ( 29 moms have responded )

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When I was breastfeeding my son it was going well at first then after two weeks my milk supply began to dwindle. The doctor told me to supplement until my milk supply caught up with his needs. He would feed every two hours during this time and I would have him latch on whenever I could.

Before I began supplementing my breasts went from being engorged(at this time I would pump right after he fed because there was so much) to seeming dried up and even when squeezing nothing would come out. I pumped when he was sleeping but even that didn't help. My mother claims to have had the same issue of her milk supply dwindling after a few months. Watch could have caused this before I had begun supplementing. He did use a pacifier but just when he was asleep. My doctors prescribed regular birth control after I began supplementing, could this have been the issue?

Now that I look back I wish that I would have tried a little harder because now I feel like I am missing something. What can you do to feel differently and would I feel guilty I breastfed a possible second baby because I failed to do so with first?

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Rayanna - posted on 02/16/2011

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You did everything you knew to do and you should not feel guilty. When I had my daughter 19 + years ago she was a fussy baby from the start. My mother who had bottle fed me and my brother convinced me that she was fussy because I was breastfeeding and that she would only get worse. I stopped breastfeeding her and nothing changed except that I felt like I was really missing out on something. But I swore to myself that when I had another baby I would continue to nurse through any fussiness or whatever happened and I did. Four and 1/2 years later I had my older son and I breastfed him with no problems until he was 18 months old when he weaned himself. I am now 43 and had my youngest son 7 months ago at 42. I had a hard time with my milk supply at first, some said it was my age and others said it could have been from the emergency c-section I had. I had to supplement with formula for the first 3 months or so but then my supply got built up enough for him. I plan to breastfeed him until he self weans if possible. Hang in there!

Meaghan - posted on 02/16/2011

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I highly recommend setting up a support system before you need it. Pregnant moms are very welcome at LLL meetings. You can prevent a lot of problems because you have heard other moms talk about them. Or, you will recognize the problem and know how to deal with it and who to go to for help when you need it.
I had a very rough start nursing my preemie. I have every confidence that it will be different next time around. I know more now, but more importantly I know who has the answers!
Also, don't be shy about calling LLL on the phone. You may be amazed by how much they can help without even being there. Also, they will look up medications for you in a medical reference to tell you if it is recommended for nursing moms.
One last thought - doctors are amazing, but they don't know everything. It is impossible for one human being to know everything. Also, they do not get trained in breastfeeding. Double-check anything a doctor says about feeding your baby with a Lactation Consultant or LLL. That includes the safety of medicines, how often to nurse, supply issues, supplementation, etc.

Janine - posted on 02/15/2011

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As many people here have said, birth control will effect your supply. I waited until i stopped nursing when my son was about 13 months and then went on it. Also, if you have supply issues in the future there are some herbs you can take that do help. Blessed thistle and fenugreek (sp?). I heard about them from a friend of mine who actually checked with the La Leche League about it.

Kim - posted on 02/14/2011

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It's perfectly normal to feel that loss ... we as women & mothers know our breasts were designed for providing nourishment to our infants. When we are unable to do that, we feel as though we somehow failed - as a woman, as a mother - and grieve the loss.
What we all need to remember is, not all women are able to breastfeed their infants. And yet others could feed their own and 3 more without blinking. And still others simply refuse to even try to breastfeed. We are all very different.
My advice - Definitely do your best to breastfeed any future children you may have - but remember your mom said she had difficulties as well, so it's possible it's hereditary - and be prepared to formula feed should the need arise.
I wish you all the best.

Karen - posted on 02/13/2011

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I was told at my 6 week obgyn appointment by my doctor if I start to take birth control pills it could effect my milk supply greatly. Or any hormonal supplement/ therapy can. Thus for a birth control I opted for the copper I.U.D until I wad done breast feeding my son. This particular I.U.D does not dispense any hormones at all but for any who are interested in this make sure you do your full research. This birth control can make you have severe menstrual cramping and all so can do scaring to you uterus. But for reduce milk supply there are many herbal teas that you can find in your health food section at your local grocery store that will help if you follow the directions properly but al ways check with your doctor before using these teas some may react to other medication that you are taking.

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Petra - posted on 02/17/2011

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Hi Megan, first of all, don't feel bad, you tried your best and you plan to breastfeed in the future. As was written in the other post I read that birth control containing certain hormones can decrease you supply, so you have to take different hormones. Also there were so many times, I thought I don't have enough milk but the best you do, just keep breastfeed and supply will increase overtime. Supplementing formula is best way to decrease your supply, I believe. There were so many times I thought there is something wrong and now I'm still breastfeeding my 9 month old twins! They always make sure they have enough milk. Good luck, it's worth trying again, you will succeed!!!

Amanda - posted on 02/17/2011

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I couldn't feed my daughter (15 yrs ago) but successfully feed both my sons 13 years later.
I feel a small amount of guilt but you cant hold on to it and you just have to do what you have to!

Savona - posted on 02/16/2011

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Im sorry that this experience happened to you =( *HUG*
Ive read on the internet that the birth control prescribed that were able to take when were breast feeding CAN cause our milk supply to dwindle down. It was one of the reasons I didnt get a prescription with my daughter.
Although I did have problems with my milk supply for a bit with my daughter when she was going through her month and 2 month growth spurt, so I asked my doctor what I could do and I researched on the internet and came up with the results of a herbal mother tea that helps with your milk supple also I took fenugreek supplements that also helps, I had to drink more water and had to have her latched longer periods of time. This all helped my milk supply boost back up.
Its not that you could have known that this was going to happen. *Hugz again*
You have to keep telling yourself that this wasnt your fault. As youve stated in your post you DID try. Its not like you just shrugged it off and said "Breast-feeding isnt working" and just stopped.
You might possibily feel guilty for breast-feeding a possible second baby but you shouldnt. It was out of your control in my opinion.
If you would like to chat then message me.

Loretta - posted on 02/16/2011

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While oral birthcontrol could definitely be a problem with your milk supply I have known woman who have not taken that route and still have had their milk supply not kick in. Taking good care of yourself during pregnancy and eating enough to get a good supply during breatfeeding is of the utmost importance. Especially drinking enough water! After all your breastmilk is mostly water. As far as your needing to supplement this time you should not feel guilty. We all have to do what is best for your babes whatever that means. You will probably be able to successfully breastfeed the next child, and why you should feel guilty about it is crazy. Your child now is not going to remember is you breast fed or bottle fed. Bonding with your baby is what is important and since you worry that you will make him feel hurt says that you have successfully done that. Just enjoy your child and the next and don't worry so much about what has to be done, just be happy that you have the little one.

Amber - posted on 02/16/2011

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I think everything was pretty much covered but I wanted to share my experience. I had a similar situation with low milk production but also bad nipples. I struggled for 3-4 months trying every product out there. I was able to get my production up a little with herbal supplements, then my baby had severe jaundice and was in the hospital. One of the nurses messed up and gave him some formula instead of waking me to nurse. Needless to say that was extremely upsetting. So there were many cards stacked against me. I loved the bonding time with my son when I nursed and even now (he's 2) I miss that time and feel a sense of loss. Especially when I see other mother's nursing their children. For me, even though I know I will have struggles, I am looking forward to having another baby and being able to try again. I know the things that didn't work with my first one and I have an awesome lactation support network.
My son is a very happy healthy growing little boy and I know that I did the best I could with what I had. Ultimately his health and development are much more important. If you are too stressed out then the baby will sense that and be stressed out too. So don't be too hard on yourself and definitely try again with your next one. There might be a sense of "I wish I could have gotten this to work for you" with your first one, but the bottom line is that you are doing the best for your children.
And definitely don't let your doctor prescribe full birth control pills while you are nursing.
For low milk production I used fenugreek about 3 times a day. It helped a little. Friends of mine took it in combination with blessed thistle and it worked very well for them. I just had a hard time finding blessed thistle. Just an FYI, Good luck and great parenting!

Shauna - posted on 02/15/2011

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Also, I forgot to mention that I never "felt" a lot of let down when my daughter was nursing, but I could always hear her swallowing when she was nursing even if I didn't feel full of milk. Many times, moms think they are underfeeding or under producing milk when they are perfectly normal. Listen to your body and unless your baby is losing a bunch of weight without any stop (some weight loss is very common in newborns), it is perfectly normal to not "feel" that rush of milk come out.

Shauna - posted on 02/15/2011

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Breastfeeding is fun, but it has a lot of problems too. You probably didn't have to worry about the biting, or the nipples that felt like they wanted to fall off about any time and you still know there is at least 8 more feedings on both sides to go that day. Plus, now, my daughter loves to breastfeed at night for comfort even though she's almost 2 years old and now she's gotten to the point where her favorite thing to do while nursing on one side is pinching and pulling on the nipple of my other breast!

Breastfeeding support is hard to find in this society and if you add hereditary issues, it's going to exacerbate the problem.

The number one thing that my doctor basically told me is that I shouldn't supplement because that interferes with the milk supply. Sure, you shouldn't let your baby lose a bunch of weight, but you need to eat a lot to get your breastmilk to come in and you also need to drink a lot of water. Plus the stress levels can interfere with milk production as well, so if you don't get support from family and your partner, it can be really difficult to keep it up.

Breastfeeding is basically an extension of the cuddle. If you cuddle and kiss and hug and love on your baby, there is no reason your baby will feel like he missed something.

Remember, nothing happens in a vaccum. Our society is abysmal about supporting breastfeeding and it is different for everyone.

Give your little one an extra hug and cuddle, and know that the most important thing is how much you show that love and affection.

Bernadette - posted on 02/15/2011

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Stop the birth control as this is putting an unnatural hormone into the system. Then you need lots of rest in the first 6 weeks to establish the breast feeding. So you could feed the baby in the bed and rest with the child. Get a really good lactation consultant.

With my number 4 & 5 children, I had trouble with the children feeding so I had to supplement them with the bottle but eventually they got it. Will you being any more children.

Ania - posted on 02/15/2011

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definately a birth control. also the problem is that doctors usually have no idea about breastfeeding. The have no knowledge on the very important subject. If you take pills with estrogen you will loose milk. Plus when you start supplementing you will loose milk too because your body is not stimulated by sucking so it does not produce milk. But in your case it was the pill.... Well there is nothing you can do now...but for the next time....do a lot of reasearch kellymom.com is the best website with the best information out there.

Laurian - posted on 02/14/2011

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My first baby was prem and did not latch well. After trying with nipple shields and supplementing feeds, screaming at each feed from her externally and me internally we gave up breastfeeding at 4mths. I expressed until 6mths when I was not even able to get a third of her feeds out of both breasts. With my second I was determined to breastfeed her and she is nearly a year old now and we had success. Each child is different. Yes there are times when I am feeding my second daughter and I regret not being able to continue with my first, but I just look at my eldest and know that she's healthy, vibrant, intelligent and we tried our best. We as parents do what we can to give the best for our children, and it does not help to put extra pressure on us for decisions that are sometimes out of our hands. I want to encourage you to try again, and to have support while you do so. When you have your second child, tell the lactation consultant/midwife about the problems you had with your first and get help. This is a learning experience for the both of you. I hope this helps you.

Melissa - posted on 02/14/2011

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Yes, you try again with a subsequent child. How can you deny a 2nd child simply out of guilt you couldn't for the first? We try in vain as parents to provide the same experience for our children! But we must simply provide the best from the depth of our knowledge at the time. Then later you can sincerely say, I did my best for each of my children, without any shame. Learn what didn't work and try something different. Nothing guarantees it will work next time, but you must try to do your best, and guilt will only hold you back from that.

Salime - posted on 02/14/2011

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Megan: I just read your post and couldn't help feeling related. I never got my son to latch and exclusively pumped for 8 months. Now he's almost 12 months and overall, doing great... but I also felt and still feel like something is missing. Now I'm expecting my second baby and eagerly want to bf him (and yes, I'm freaking out with the fear of not being able to bf again). All I can say is that you tried your best. No one is born knowing it all, most of the things we learn in the way. The important thing is that you seem to be an amazing mother and shouldn't feel, in ANY WAY, guilty about bf a second baby. On the contrary, your first son has already taught you so much about motherhood that you should be thankful and use that knowledge with your son/daughter to come.

[deleted account]

Doctors will tell you that the pill doesn't affect milk supply, but it usually does. There are supplements & meds that you can take to increase your milk supply. Next time check with a lactation consultant. I took Fenugreek to increase my supply w/baby #4 just to build up a stockpile for emergencies. Some meds even cause lactation in women who've never had babies. If it hasn't been too long, you might try to start it up again (use the meds & go off the pill first). You may have to always supplement, but some breastmilk is better than none. My lactation consultant said that you generally produce 25% more milk with each child even if you DON'T breastfeed at all. Next time might work even better. :)

CHRISTIE - posted on 02/13/2011

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My milk tried to dry up but my Dr gave me regland and it come back! You may have tried to pump too early. If you still want to breastfeed try taking regland. It helps you produce milk! I would definitely try breastfeeding with the next child! It is a wonderful experience! I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! God bless and I wish you the best of luck!

[deleted account]

Also, it's important to remember that each of your babies are unique, and there is no comparison between the relationships you have with each.

Donna - posted on 02/13/2011

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I think you have to remember you did what you thought was right at the time. I had an issue where i so desperately wanted to breast feed myself but my baby would not take it and fought me every step. I tried so hard for weeks and worked with lactation consultants on a daily basis and eventually made the decision to bottle feed. At first i expressed then it became too difficult to keep up with everyday life expressing and feeding so essentially feeding bub twice. It took me ages to come to terms with it but i know i did what was right for my baby and for me also and that is what i think we all need to remember. As for how you will feel if you manage to breast feed a second bub i think that is entirely up to yourself and if you allow yourself to remember you did what you thought best at the time. I wish you luck on second time round as if i am lucky enough to have another i will certainly be trying again too.

Kristi - posted on 02/13/2011

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Also, I second eats on frets in your area. There are lots of mamas who would love to donate to a babe in need of milk to keep them off formula. Please find a chapter in your area, if babe still needs milk.

Kristi - posted on 02/13/2011

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Oh, honey, I am so sorry your first BF experience didn't turn out like you'd hoped. ((hugs)) you did the best you knew with the information given.
For future reference, for the first 6-8 weeks, your baby should be at the breast at the very least every 45 minutes. You heard that right. Most babies are at the breast FOR 45 minutes EVERY 45 minutes. Throw the 2 hour schedule out the window, and nurse every time baby opens his/her mouth. Regular birth control pills will kill your supply, AND, when you are breastfeeding on demand, most women don't even need birth control. Your body will naturally suppress ovulation, making it impossible to get pregnant, but if you still feel like you need a back up, get the mini pill. It's progesterin only and won't mess with your supply.
How old is baby now? With some herbs and a lot of hard work, if you are truly wanting it, you may be able to relactate. I would suggest finding a La Leche League near you either to get help with that, or when you are pregnant next time. The women of LLL are divine and they are there to help you ♥ best of luck mama

Karen - posted on 02/13/2011

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Hi your doctor full of shit.. get with this support group http://www.llli.org/,, know has the Le Leche League.. I was a 32 A cup size that went to a b cup size.. I nursed 4 children.. Mother's milk does not.. depleated.. The more you nurse the more you produce.. Hell we are a mammual.. You do however must eat correctly. Fresh vegetable, drink pleaty of milk and water.. eat healthy at all times.. Leave Mc. Donalds alone.. Walk excrise.. Don't give up.. This group will help you.. Hell weh my duaghter had my grand daughter the male doctor tried to make her nurse every 2 hours.. I nailed him to the wall. When he gave her that order. I told him the yell she was going to. and I told him that right in his face at the hospital.. I told the wimp to get me his boss.. The head doctor came in a women..And I point blank asked her if she was a mother and did she nurse..She replied yes.. I then stated to her.. Well did you nurse every 2 hours. she said no.. I said well. Note the order was changed and the male doctor was no longer on the case.. Like I said BullShit.. you mother have to eat well.. for note when baby nurses off of you he is taking your calumin from your bones.. So milk, cottage cheese, yorgurt is vry important for you.. But honestlyh reach this group they are wonderfull.. if fact they have a breat milk bank for sick children.
I'm now a grandmother

[deleted account]

Megan, you've done a great job with the information you had, so don't feel guilty at all! Enjoy your little one!

There's no reason you wouldn't be able to have a happy breastfeeding relationship with your next child.Other mums have given you some great sites to look at., so do follow their suggestions.
Also, there's a thread in this community entitled " BF MYTH: Breastfeeding comes naturally, doesn’t it? – Or does it?"
http://www.circleofmoms.com/breastfeedin...
This is all about preparing for breastfeeding.
Look after yourself!

Samantha - posted on 02/13/2011

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Don't beat yourself up, my milk dried up and I didn't go back on bc! I only got a few weeks and was really upset about not being able to feed my son...but the first few weeks of breast milk are crucial and if you were able to do that then you helped more than you know. Make sure to enjoy the bonding time with baby even if you are feeding formula.

Amy - posted on 02/10/2011

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Yes! Regular Birth control is 99% the reasion for the drop in supply!! I had the same exact issue with my oldest as you are having now. I switched to the mini-pill after my supply tanked. I worked so hard, managed to pump enough to feed him, then I got sick and nothing would get my supply back up at all.

The dammage is done, you can do many things to try and get it back up, but (not to sound harsh) it won't be easy maintaning it. Never stop on your worst day, Come to terms with your problems your facing and be ok with what ever choice you decide to make. I made it till 4 months, then we had to suppliment a lot, by 6 months I quit.

Now, onto some brighter news. The next time you breastfeed you won't have the same issues (Unless you take the wrong type of birth control again). I went on the Mini-Pill at 2 weeks post baby, and I've had no issues with my supply. I pump, not nurse due to working full time and going to school full time, but with all that I pump 60 oz a day most times (sometimes more and sometimes only 50 oz).

Do I feel guilty I wasn't able to do this for my first that I'm able to do now, not at all! With my over supply (it's not an issue as the milk is not inballanced) I was able to donate hundreds of oz to another mom who was having supply issues. The fact that I am doing so much better makes me feel like an amazing mom, the fact that I can donate some of my extra milk makes me feel like I'm making up for what I couldn't do before.

I encourage you to look at eats for feets (on facebook), you can talk to other mom's and possibly find someone who would be willing and able to donate milk to you.

Also, I asked my dr if the regular birth control would effect my supply and he said no. At the hospital I had several ladies tell me he's wrong, and after I did research online I found that they were right. When I asked to switch to the mini-pill my dr stood by the "It dosen't effect your milk supply" and said he'd switch me but thinks I'm over reacting because it "didn't cause my supply to tank". Take what you've learned and make the best of it.

Celeste - posted on 02/10/2011

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Ditto Sara. You did the best with the information you were given.

I think the most important thing to do is to educate yourself. When you know better, you do better. There are things that I wish I would've done with my daughter in regards to breastfeeding.I did the best I could with the information I was given But, I took the new information that I learned and applied it to my twin boys.

When the time comes, learn as much as you can about breastfeeding..Go to kellymom.com, attend LLL, buy or borrow books at the library. Arm yourself with information!

[deleted account]

We learn things and do things differently as time goes on. You didn't fail. You did an awesome job with the information you had and the situation you were in. Now you're here and looking for help to be able to meet your breastfeeding goals with future babies. You should not feel guilty for that at all! Feeding on demand is a great way to establish and maintain supply. That means feeding baby when s/he starts smacking lips, sucking on his/her hands, rooting, etc. It's normal to have engorged breasts in the beginning. As your supply regulates your breasts will no longer feel as firm and full. This is normal and doesn't mean your milk is going away. It means your body is adjusting. The best way to know if baby is getting enough is by diaper count. If your baby is having 5-6+ wet diapers in 24 hours then baby is getting enough milk. Supplementing is a slippery slope. If you're supplementing then baby is not stimulating your breasts. If you have supply issues with another baby and have to supplement look into a supplemental nursing system. It's a tube that's taped to your breasts and connected to a bottle filled with breast milk or formula. This way your breasts are still being stimulated to make milk and your baby is getting what s/he needs. Also, regular birth control will dry you up. Talk to your doctor about alternatives like the mini-pill. Try finding a lactation consultant (should be one at your local hospital) to help you. La Leche League is also great and they are worldwide. See if there's a group near you. Many moms go when they are pregnant to start getting advice/info. http://www.llli.org. Here's a great link to help you figure out if you have supply issues and what you can do to fix them. Kellymom.com is a fabulous breastfeeding resource.

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/low-su...

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