Ever get over feeling like a failure?

Nikki - posted on 03/10/2009 ( 20 moms have responded )

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While I was pregnant (and before I even got pregnant) I wanted nothing more than to breastfeed my baby. I wanted to give my baby the best I could - I didn't want to have to use formula. Coming from a family where no one breastfed, I read anything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding, I even took a breastfeeding class. I was ready! But I wasn't ready for my baby to refuse me. After starving her the first day, she refused to nurse from then on! I tried and tried but she would scream everytime I got her near my breasts! I tried nipple shields and Mothers Milk Plus and various other things but nothing worked. Not only would she not breastfeed, I couldn't get enough milk for even one feeding!. I tried pumping for 6 weeks, only to get no more than 2 oz daily - at least she got that little bit daily. I finally just gave up. I really didn't have much support at home and being a single mother it was really hard. I stopped pumping after 6 weeks. My baby is gaining weight and thriving - never been sick until just reccently. She's very happy - smiles all the time.

Is it normal to grieve not being able to breastfeed? How long does it last? My baby is 8 months and I am still heartbroken that I couldn't breastfeed. I feel like such a failure! Is this normal? Maybe I will have better luck with baby number 2 - whenever that time comes!

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Lisa - posted on 03/15/2009

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I understand the feeling. I nursed my son for 16 months, and planned on doing the same f or my daughter. However, after she was born, they found that she has a cleft palate. Due to this, she can't nurse. Everyday, I grieve the loss of this relationship. I am pumping...every 3 hours...and I hate it. She is 13 weeks old now, and I hate pumping and the lack of sleep because of it. At least I could sleep while my son nursed. I wish I could make you feel better. Just know that every single drop of BM you gave your daughter was a wonderful gift. Relish that you daughter is happy, and healthy. Enjoy the time together.

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Vanessa - posted on 02/20/2011

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I know how you feel, I BF my first successfully for the first year with absolutly no problems and when I was pregnant with my second I never even considered the possibilty that BFing would be any different. I was so wrong, my daughter completely sucked my nipple off, my doctor said it was the worse Bfing damage she has ever seen and because of lack of support to continue ( my family only wanted what was best for me) and my own extreme pain, sleep deprivation, and postpartum hormones all over the place I made the decision the stop BFing. I still regret this decision and have never gotten completly over it...she is a healthy, happy and thriving 3 year old but she does get sick alot more then my BF daughter and i always wonder if its because I didn't BF.
I now have a 3.5 month old that I'm happy to say I'm nursing but it hasn't been an easy road, but I would not accept failure this time around and surrounded myself with lots of Bfing moms so when times were tough I could get the support I needed. I think its completely normal to feel this way, but its a different experience with every baby and there is no reason to think that you won't be successful with baby #2. Try not to be to hard on yourself we all do the best we can and sometimes even the best laid plans don't work out. In the end what is important is our babies health and happiness. I found alot of help and support on The Leaky B@@b facebook forum, when the times comes for baby #2 they have tonnes of tips on increasing your supply.

Ania - posted on 02/19/2011

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Similar situation happed to me...my child was refusing me too...but I got lactation consultant she just came in and supported me because there was nothing wrong with me or my child, he just didn't know how to do it. She helped me adjust position and that was it after 5 days of me constantly crying and feeling like complete failure she came in, I relaxed and he started eating....I don't want to stop now....My son is 1 year old.... I feel for you...sometimes all you need is another woman next to you who will help you with whatever you are dealing with. LC is the best spend money I would really suggest that. Hang in there

Heather - posted on 02/19/2011

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I think it's healthy and normal to grieve for that. My mother-in-law still laments how she wasn't able to continue breastfeeding her son (typical non-supportive 1970s story) and that was close to 40 years ago. I think if it didn't work and you wanted it to, it's hard to let go of. Coming from the other side of that ... I managed it and am still breastfeeding (baby's 13 mos.), but I remember very well how incredibly difficult it was in the beginning (two hellacious months and several rounds of mastitis including a hospital stay). After going through that, I learned not to judge--both myself and other women. If you've tried your best and you've had to let go, so be it. The main thing is, you've got a healthy kid. Be thankful, and be forgiving. : )

Jody - posted on 02/17/2011

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Hi there, I'm so sorry that you weren't able to breastfeed and I think your grieving is normal. I just typed into google "I couldn't breastfeed my son and I feel like a failure" because I am currently struggling with the fact that I wasn't able to breastfeed. I also during and before pregnancy knew I wanted to breastfeed. I looked forward to giving my children the best for their physical growth and for their emotional development. I feel like a failure, but I tried so hard. My son is almost 3 months now. I keep wishing things could have been different. I keep worrying about what I'm not giving him through breastfeeding. I just try to focus on the positives and devote my time, thoughts, and energy to being the type of mom I would be if I were breastfeeding. I try to nurture him, put his needs before my own, hold him, respond to his cues as quickly as I can and respond to his cries as quickly as I can. I was pumping too and could also only get about 2 oz a day or so, and that was pumping every 2 hours! Just keep your chin up girl and know that you tried your best and be the mom you want to be (that's what i keep telling myself too). I also hope to breastfeed any other babies I have! I feel better prepared for problems now!

Aphie - posted on 03/14/2009

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All the best Nikki! Sounds like you've had such a rough time.
I hope if you have another it's blissfully easy and you don't have to ever go through this again.

(Apparently pumping is no indicator of output - babies are way more efficient than pumps, even the hospital-grade electric ones, so don't feel like you were mistaken there. I got so little in pumping, but my son is definitely getting lots of milk.)

I really feel for you.
I can't imagine struggling with these issues whilst being a single parent. How frightening and overwhelming.

It sounds like your daughter is very, very lucky to have a Mummy who loves her so much and cares so much about her well-being!

Nicole - posted on 03/12/2009

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Nikki,



I'm so sorry that it didn't work out for you but give you lots of credit for the great effort you put into trying.  Breastfeeding is not easy, compared to bottle feeding and it is a very selfless and time consuming path to take.  I can understand how you feel, I had issues with decreased milk supply with my 3rd and 4th child and was fortunate enough with hard work, to get it to come back in.  I nursed my daughter for 13 months, and my son is a month old and so far we're doing well but I was in tears at the thought of not being able to breast feed.  I can only hope that over time your feelings of failure will change, remember that you're not alone and that you did your best.  I hope the next time works out better for you.

Nikki - posted on 03/11/2009

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Thanks to everyone that has replied. I wish I had known about this community from the very beginning! Each day gets better and I just keep telling myself that I tried - I tried hard - and that maybe things will work when and if baby #2 comes along. Thanks again for all your support!

Nikki - posted on 03/11/2009

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Quoting Aphie:

Aww Nikki, I'm so sorry! :(
I'm a huge breastfeeding advocate, but the way our society is set-up us mums are at such a disadvantage; we're never given the resources to really be able to do well at this activity and some of us really do struggle.
I was so very blessed to find a great online forum full of passionate, informed women, to have inherited a stubborn (some might say recalcitrant) streak a mile wide, and most importantly, to have someone living with me who was at home for the first two months and who was VERY supportive of my breastfeeding.

But I think if I'd ended up not breastfeeding I would have grieved a great deal.
I still grieve over my caesarean section, and feel guilty for not giving my son the best start in life. I wonder if there was something more I could've done, something I did wrong. I'm trying to spin that positively by becoming very very educated in case I ever do have another child, so I'll have a better idea of how to avoid the pitfalls of what has happened with this one.

If you really feel strongly about it, have you considered the possibility of re-lactating? I've seen resources posted online about this; apparently milk will often not come back as much as it first did, but you could possible 'supplement' with breastmilk, to help you deal with your feelings?

Best wishes
xox



I actually did try relactating and for the first time my breasts for full and I could really tell a difference. My daughter would fight me every try - and the one time I actually got her to latch on and she actually got milk, she screamed like someone was hurting her! The only thing I could figure was that the breastmilk was really warm and she takes her bottles at room temp. I tried pumping and for some odd reason I couldn't get anything - even though my breasts were full. I finally just gave up.  I have thought about trying again but am not sure I would be able to - it's been 4 months since I last relactated.



 

Heather - posted on 03/11/2009

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you should not be so hard on yourself!! many women would throw in the towel after a few days. You did the best you could and sometimes things are just out of our control, and it's ok

Naomi - posted on 03/11/2009

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Nikki, don't ever feel like a failure for trying everything. I think you did very well with what you have been dealt with.



I sympathize completely with you. My son screamed and cried for almost 1 week after birth when I tried to breastfeed him. The nurses and docs that tried helping had a hard time getting him to latch on and all of them were very PRO-BREASTFEEDING. So I tried and tried and at the end of the week after my son had lost over 1 pound and had barely gotten anything to drink (except for what I was able to give him through figger feeding), I pumped and gave it to him in a bottle. I was very dissapointed in myself for that. But I told myself that he was getting the best the best way I could give it to him.



And THEN came the real problems.... after 2 weeks of pumping I had my first mastitis. After 4 weeks of pumping I finally tried putting him to the breast and from then on I thought I had conquered the world because he took and refused the botttle. Lucky me right? And then came the 2nd mastitis and then a 3rd mastitis. And all throughout this we both had thrush. After dealing with God knows how many blocked ducts, I was on my way to a 4th mastitis and I just gave up! I found out later from a lactation specialist that I have very narrow ducts and that I would always have these problems.



Somethings are just not ment to be unfortunatly. And breastfeeding for me wasn't it.



I unfortunatly was diagnosed with post-partuum depression and the breastfeeding issues didn't help. Don't let it get to that point for ya, be happy you have this wonderful little person that loves you soooooo much :-)



You gave your child his or her life :-) And you nurture them everyday lovingly. What more could a baby ask for :-)



 



All the best and don't ever feel like a failure



xox

Charmaine - posted on 03/11/2009

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Whilst I am breastfeeding my little one it was very hard in the beginning as it took almost 3mths of persistence before she would latch on and could feed with no problem. I was expressing constantly which is so frustrating because in 20mins all I could express was sometimes 50mls so it would take 3 x expressions just to get one feed. Expressing is hard because you put in all that work and know that if bubs could just feed they would be able to get out so much more than any machine. Whilst I was accumulating enough for a feed I would sometimes have to use formula which actually took the pressure off me a bit because I didn't have to stress over how hard and frustrating it was to express for so little. I too felt like a failure and would get upset which I think gave me the drive to persist but it was so hard. Just hearing her scream when I tried to put her on would make me want to give up trying but then I just made the decision that if I couldn't breastfeed that it would be ok because I was still giving her expressed milk. She never had a problem drinking from the bottle but as I wanted her to develop her sucking I used the cross cut teet as this made her work as if she was on the breast. That was my last resort before I was going to give up and I found this fantastic as she got to be a good sucker and then the transition occurred overnight without any problem, however, it was 3 long months before. Sometimes bubs still cries when latching on but that is normally when she is hungry and the let down isn't as quick as she likes so I just massage the breast to start the flow. The important thing is that you need to do what is best for both yourself and your baby and the more stressed you are the more bubs will be. If formula is less stressful for you and bubs then so be it, bubs is still eating. A happy mum is a good mum and breastfeeding is just one part of the equation it is not what defines you as a mum.

Kelli - posted on 03/11/2009

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Nikki - I completely understand how important breastfeeding is to you.  I felt the same way when I was pregnant.  My baby was born 5 weeks early so I didn't get to breastfeed right away because she was on IV for the first day and then on tube feeding for the next few days.  Breastfeeding was a struggle for us for the first few months.. she would try to feed for long stretches at a time (an hour or so) but never seemed satisfied and would pull away screaming often.  Finally after three months I saw a pediatrician who specializes in breastfeeding issues and found out she was tongue-tied and that she just wasn't able to feed effectively.  I don't know how the other doctors who had already seen her had missed that, but he fixed it on the first visit (a quick little snip) and in the next few months she doubled her weight - she's now almost 5 months and 13 lbs (born at 5 lbs).  So, just something to keep in mind, have your baby's doctor take a look in her mouth and check for that.

Lori - posted on 03/11/2009

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Hi Nikki,
So sorry breastfeeding didn't work out for you! There are so many mothers who won't even consider trying it, that you should be comforted that you made such an effort!

If you have another baby, one thing I would highly recommend is to work with an expert lactation consultant right from the start. I'd taken a breastfeeding class before hand, and the hlep I got from the nurses in the hospital was "ok", but nothing really "clicked" until I went to a breastfeeding support group where the lactation consultant was so AMAZING that she was able to take one look and tell me how to improve the latch. Even though my baby was getting enough milk and thriving, he wasn't actually quite latched properly, and one hands on lesson with her made all the difference (and helped some very sore nipples as well!).

In the meantime, give yourself a big hug - and best of luck to you next time!

Andrea - posted on 03/11/2009

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Nikki- I know exactly how you feel. My first had terrible reflux & went on a never-ending nursing strike around 4 months. I felt like I was stalking him. I would hold him or watch him while he slept & the moment he stirred I would stick my boob in his mouth, hoping that he would nurse. He would & then would pull off & scream when he fully woke up. It was terrible & I was pretty crazy about it.

Around 5 months we moved him exclusively to formula. I cried about it for weeks. I'm a stay at home mom & the only thing I HAD to do was care for my son & I felt like I failed at that.

But, that being said, even though breast milk is the best food for your baby, my son thrived & is now a very healthy 3 1/2 year old. I know now that I didn't have the support I needed to deal with the nursing issues we were having.

I just had baby #2 11 weeks ago & she is EBF. She has reflux too & struggles to nurse, but I'm much better equipped to deal with it now & have people I can go to for help.

You obviously tried & tried, but it didn't work. You can't keep beating yourself up for it- just know that now you will be even more prepared to breastfeed if you have another child.

Alison - posted on 03/11/2009

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Aww...I totally sympathize with you. I dreamed of breastfeeding my son exclusively until six months and was all geared up for it...I told everyone it was what I planned to do, got my husband involved, read everything, took a class, looked at the websites, etc. After a tiny struggle at the hospital with my son being sleepy, he was finally eating great. But all of a sudden, now at 4 months, he's refusing to nurse. And I've tried EVERYTHING and exhausted EVERY source that people suggest.
Luckily, I can still pump which is what I've been doing, and giving two bottles of formula (just to give my nipples a rest because after pumping like that, they hurt!). Even so, I feel guilty, and I feel worse every time someone tells me babies cannot wean themselves at 4 months or wants to tell me I'm taking the easy way out. Grieving is exactly the way I feel. My parents and husband insist though that I should be happy because my son is so healthy and my son is happy and cheerful...it doesn't seem to bother him that he's now eating from a bottle.
On the up-side I've heard from other mothers that every baby is different and some nurse perfectly without any issues and others are just a little finicky. Keep in mind that you're not a failure...you did all that you could for as long as you could and it sounds like you are blessed with a cheerful, pretty little girl who is healthy!

Michelle - posted on 03/11/2009

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I cant imagine how you feel, it usually winds me up to hear peoples excuses for not bf there babies but it really sounds like you tried everything you possibly could. It must be hard with very little support, i had my mum who had bf all her children till they were at least 2 so she basically trained me how to do it. I dread to think how i would of gone on without her as you get no or very little support from medical staff, im sure your a fantastic mother and you say yourself that your girl is thrieving so just enjoy it.

Aphie - posted on 03/11/2009

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Aww Nikki, I'm so sorry! :(
I'm a huge breastfeeding advocate, but the way our society is set-up us mums are at such a disadvantage; we're never given the resources to really be able to do well at this activity and some of us really do struggle.
I was so very blessed to find a great online forum full of passionate, informed women, to have inherited a stubborn (some might say recalcitrant) streak a mile wide, and most importantly, to have someone living with me who was at home for the first two months and who was VERY supportive of my breastfeeding.

But I think if I'd ended up not breastfeeding I would have grieved a great deal.
I still grieve over my caesarean section, and feel guilty for not giving my son the best start in life. I wonder if there was something more I could've done, something I did wrong. I'm trying to spin that positively by becoming very very educated in case I ever do have another child, so I'll have a better idea of how to avoid the pitfalls of what has happened with this one.

If you really feel strongly about it, have you considered the possibility of re-lactating? I've seen resources posted online about this; apparently milk will often not come back as much as it first did, but you could possible 'supplement' with breastmilk, to help you deal with your feelings?

Best wishes
xox

Joanne - posted on 03/10/2009

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Hi Nikki, I feel for you, I was in a similar position. Riley is now 5.5 months and stopped BF at approx 4 months, he would scream and refuse the breast. I was in tears nearly every feed. But in the end i had to realise it wasn't working and he has not looked back since being on formula full time. He was very small at birth and was slow to gain weight, We have been supplement feeding since approx 6 weeks of age. It took me a very long time to get me head around not BF and I had all the support i needed. I simply did not produce sufficient milk for him despite taking numerous natural remedies and drinking loads of water and resting. Its hard I know, but you will start to feel better about your decision. I too am hoping to BF # 2 when it happens. Lets hope it is a better experience for us both. Take care. Jo

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