Feeling Selfish

Bethany - posted on 10/03/2010 ( 34 moms have responded )

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My son will be 7 weeks tomorrow and I go back to work in the morning. I'm dealing with issues of feeling selfish and like a 'bad mom' for debating whether or not to stop nursing/pumping.

From day 1, my son was given formula at the hospital. Although I had planned to BF, I was pretty much in a medication coma for 3 days and therefore the hospital took over and fed him. I could never get my son to latch on without the help of a nipple shield. Even with the nipple shield, we had a lot of issues while nursing. There was a mutual frustration and that led to me doing the majority of pumping. When I did nurse it was mostly comfort nursing. My son is supplemented with formula and therefore used to the bottle, so it wouldn't be too traumatic in that sense if I decided to stop.

I have been pumping for the past 7 weeks, but I'm feeling selfish and kinda want my body back. As well as not have to worry about the constant leaking and pain. But when I'm going back and forth about this decision, I feel like if I stop even pumping I'm a bad mother because I'm keeping important nutrients from my son. It's a hard decision and I'm lost. My husband is being supportive either way, but I think he secretly wouldn't mind if I stopped, for his own selfish reasons LOL

So I know 'breast is best'for baby and I guess I just need to figure out what's best for me. Should I just continue to pump, and still not have my body back and have to deal with leaks/pain all while givign my son nutrients, or just stop and feel guilty later?

Oh.... this is hard... but I feel like if I stop, I need to find some other activity to have some special bonding time with him.

Any advice to help me feel better about my decision?

Thanks

Bethany

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Jennifer - posted on 10/09/2010

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You may have already made a decision, but here's what I think, if you are still scrambling for input - I know that feeling!:

I wouldn't belittle the impact and value of "comfort nursing." Usually when I hear people say it, they imply that it is pointless if there is not some huge transferral of nutritional beverage. I don't think that at all. The value of COMFORT is almost infinite!! By 'comfort' I don't mean living in the lap of luxury, I mean the sense of well-being, validation, love, empathy etc. And the studies on the value of actual skin-to-skin contact have been exploding the last few years, from the need of every human for x number of hugs a day, to the thriving of a preemie in the 3rd world who receives skin to skin on momma's belly instead of incubator, this inarticulable impacts on our psyche and bodily health are not to be underestimated. We are only learning now (academically & quantifiably) what has been the instinct of every mother from the beginning of time, ie, to hug a crying child.



I have never understood the 'want my body back' argument. not that it's invalid, I just can't relate at all to that feeling. Why do our bodies have these things hanging off the front of us, but to feed our children? They are not decorations like barrettes... they're not there to make sure our shirt doesn't touch our belly...

:S

I was quite glad when these big squishy sacks had a REAL purpose! It validates their presence on me!



As for leaking, pain, etc., that will be different for everybody. There is no set time when leaking will stop or start and some never leak! Pain is totally subjective, depending on the source. If you are having a candida issue, you can have crazy pain that can be incredibly hard to eliminate. There are treatments if you are, however, and it an be overcome. (I got the most effective help not from my MD, but from naturopathy and Chinese medicine, surprisingly enough!)



7 weeks is awfully young to stop giving at least a little breastmilk. But if you are in a lot of pain, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND if you are just DONE! I stuck it out, but it wasn't easy!!! It was excruciating at times (combo mastitis/candida over and over and over) but I was staying home, and had a stubborn mind set on BF! hehe

It also depends how hard pumping is for you. It took me 3 hrs to get 6 oz. My breasts just would not respond to a pump. Friends of mine have been able to get 10 oz bottles in 10 minutes. If you are one of those dream women, COngrats! and I say pump away!! But if you are more like I was... forget it! Just let him have a night feed, or like Marsha said, when you get home and before bed, maybe squeeze one in the morning depending when he gets up. But even if he only gets ONE BF a day, straight from you, there are studies about the *amazing difference* that even ONE feeding makes a day over exclusive formula, ESP as young as your little guy is. and it can't be truer that he will be running around making farting sounds with his armpits soon enough, so to me, 'milk' any time with them at this stage. It will never return, and it is gone _sooo fast._



Whatever you decide, Hun, he loves you, he knows you love him, and so do we. : )

It will be OK. : )



Will you give us a follow-up comment on what you end up deciding? just fyi? no pressure or anything... : )

[deleted account]

I guess I don't understand what you mean by "getting your body back". What is it that your son is keeping you from doing? I have a 14-mo. old son and I have breastfed him from day 1 - so I know about breastfeeding. My husband can still enjoy my breasts during sex (although I breastfeed or pump before sex, because when I get excited sometimes I leak a little breast milk), and my son doesn't breastfeed all day long. I managed to make it -and I'm nobody special.

Just FYI- the first few weeks, my breasts leaked almost every time I thought about breastfeeding. Just put pressure on your nipples and wear good quality breast pads. My breasts don't leak anymore. My body has adjusted to breastfeeding.

After 7 weeks, you still feel nipple pain... I wonder, just an idea, is he latching on correctly? I had pain the first 3 weeks, but that's because I've never had a baby before and my nipples were more "tender". it could be a latch problem. If so, you may want to contact the birthing suites floor at your hospital for some advice. It could be as simple as making sure your nipple points toward the roof of his mouth when he's latching on.

Eventually, breastfeeding truly becomes 2nd nature for you and your baby - my son has been a pro at it since he was about 2-3 months old.

Also, please take some time to educate yourself about WHY breast is best. This doesn't happen to everyone, but I was formula fed and am now 26, and still have allergies. (to tree nuts, pets, dust, pollen... etc.) And I went through about 5 years of weekly-monthly allergy shots in grade school. I may be a rare case (I'm not sure), but breastfeeding does reduce a child's (and later, adult's) chance of getting allergies.

I'm doing it for him. There's a reason why women lactate after having a baby... but the bottom line is that you need to do what you have peace in your heart about doing.

Tiffany - posted on 10/09/2010

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Please, contact your local La Leche League... you'll find a group of moms to talk to in the meetings, and also the leaders who are available one-on-one, and can find out your whole situation and give you the most relevant advice.

The one thing I would like to offer is this... It's really a very, very short time in the grand scheme of things. You will soon enough be wishing your "baby" was little again, as you sit up at night waiting for him to come home from a party...

Nursing is such an important bond, aside from the nutritive value of breastmilk...

Marsha - posted on 10/09/2010

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There are a lot of great posts to this. :)
I have two children, and I nursed them both. Here where I live, in Canada, mothers usually get 1 year off of maternity leave. We get Employment Insurance during that time, so we still have somewhat of an income (very little but better than nothing). My point being that I did not have to go back to work until my daughters had reached a year.
With my first, once I went back to work, she only really nursed sometimes in the morning if she woke up before I left, sometimes when I first got home, and then again before bed. This worked for me, as by the end of the day, I was FULL of milk.
With this pattern, my supply naturally decreased and it wasn't to uncomfortable.
With my second, I nursed - again for a year (exclusivley with both for 6 months) and now that she is 17 months, and I have been back to work for 5 - she really only nurses before bedtime.
I have no more discomfort now, because the demand is so little. But the nice quiet time we have at that time when I nurse her is wonderful.
If you can keep nursing and pumping. Both because as you are aware, mother's milk is the best food ever, and for the nursing, if you can just start doing it before bed, it will give you that bonding time.
They grow up SO fast, these moments will be gone in no time.

Lise - posted on 10/03/2010

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For me, and this is definitely not for everyone, I really enjoy my pumping time at work. I don't enjoy washing the parts and all that, but my pumping time during the day is me time. If I wasn't pumping, I'd be spending that time working and sometimes I feel like it's the only me time I get during the day. I hook up and then I text friends, play around on FB or online, read, etc. for the 15 minutes.

I personally don't understand where you're coming from (I don't have pain from bfing or pumping, and I've never leaked), so I don't really know what to say on that front.

Breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing, either. Some moms breastfeed (even just comfort feed) in the evenings and on weekends and use formula during the weekdays. Maybe that's something to consider?

If you decide to go with formula, then that's your choice. You have to do what you feel is best for you and your baby.

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Kristin - posted on 10/12/2010

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A friend of mine went through something similar. She went back to work and pumped for almost 2 years and never actually got to breastfeed her daughter.

I guess my suggestion would be to try it for a bit and continue to think about it. Once you stop, it is really hard to start up again. I would talk to a specialist or LLL leader about the discomfort. You shouldn't be dealing with pain... ever.

But, if it's just too much, it is okay to stop. The best thing you can do for your son is to be the best you. That means you need to take care of yourself too.

My advice is definitely to take your time with this and try out all of your options. When you do decide, it is about more than just food. It is about you too. Embrace the decision and move on. There is no guilt or shame to be had in stopping. Especially if it's causing you unnecessary stress.

Good luck.

Sharana - posted on 10/12/2010

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BTW, in addition to my book above, lol... breastfeeding is also the best thing for you! It burns sometimes 500 to 600 calories everytime you pump or feed! Your milk is produced using your already stored fats, so it's a medically proven fact that women who breastfeed lose their after birth weight faster than women who dont... or even women trying to lose weight without having a baby! And it can reduce your chances of breast cancer and cervical cancer. Just some food for thought!

Sharana - posted on 10/12/2010

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Bethany, I had the exact same problem with the meds coma, and then the same problem with the latching as well. For a week after the hospital because of the latch problem, I was feeling rejected by my son, and getting all "wah wah, poor me..." with my feelings hurt. But your son needs you, and I know you want to do whats best for him, so just give it another try. My son lost too much weight, and his doc made me supplement with formula, so i was only pumping but feeding him mostly formula until one day he was constipated, I guess this was at about three weeks... we had family over and I was trying to get some peace and quiet so I took the baby in the bedroom, said "Im feeding the baby" and layed down with him and tried again. Low and behold he just figured it out, and it worked :) You will welcome the sore nipples and leaking when he lets go while feeding and smiles up at you, it is soooooo worth it. I tried the nipple sheild thing too, and in my opinion it makes it harder. And I have teeny tiny nipples! Oh and also I think that the pump makes them more sore than he does, even with an improper latch. it rubs them raw from fricction so I have to use the lanisoh cream before and after pumping. My baby boy did the same with getting frustrated since he couldnt latch, but maybe try this: feed him some expressed milk until he is not so hungry, and when he sucks slower try to get him to latch at that point. Pretty soon it will be his favorite place to be. What probably happened is he got nipple confusion in the hospital and now only wants the bottle. Also get the slow flow bottle more natural nipples for when you have to feed from the bottle. I did all this, and now I exclusively breastfeed, and hopefully I can do this til at least 6 mos. :) Good luck!

April - posted on 10/11/2010

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Yes, breast is best...that is, when it's best for mom and baby. There are certainly advantages to breastfeeding but if you and your son are both frustrated by the whole thing, let it go and know that you did the best you could do by your little boy. As for bonding, every minute you spend with him is bonding time, you giving him a bottle rather than your breast won't change that. However if you need some "bonding" routine perhaps infant massage would fill that gap for the two of you. Good luck with whatever decision you make.

Rebecca - posted on 10/11/2010

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What a terrible way to feel! I wish there were some magical words of wisdom for you from me to help. All I can think of is nursing does not have to be all or nothing but you have obviously already realized that. Is there any way you could just nurse him at night & when he wants on the weekends. Pump at work if you want to. Breastmilk can be added to a bottle of formula to keep him from constipation. The leaking will subside soon so don't let that stop you from continuing to give your little man your best. Do you qualify for WIC? Our WIC office loans out really good hospital grade double electric pumps so you can be done pumping in 5 minutes after you get use to using it. Let the bad feelings go & do what will be best for your family.

Kristi - posted on 10/10/2010

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I would say that if you can do it, pump for your son. It's great for his health and better for your health too. I went back to work for awhile when my daughter was 4 months, and that was parttime for a month and then at 5 months fulltime. It was really hard. What saved me was a good double pump and my La Leche League group. Had I not had their support, I don't think I would have made it, but my daughter was in daycare for a full 8 months after that before I was laid off and had nothing but breastmilk until she was ready for solids, which for her turned out to be much later. www.LLLI.org can help you find a local group. It isn't easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is, right? I also wanted to mention that one of the bonuses of continuing to nurse, was that when I finally did get to come home and snuggle with her, I was so glad to be able to breastfeed her. I brought her to bed with me at night and just loved it. It was the best catch up time I could have asked for, and it helped keep my milk supply up. Oh, and the leaking? Just use nursing pads. Nothing helped me get my post-pregnancy figure back like nursing. Hang in there and do the best you can for your little one. Good luck!

Lisa - posted on 10/10/2010

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Thinking you will never have your body back is what keep some moms from taking care of their bodies. But you can have your body back after a baby.You can clean up after your baby and still look and feel good. Motherhood is beautiful and should make you glow and feel good about your body even with the constant changes. Re- Baby will learn from you soon.......

Casey - posted on 10/10/2010

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Your baby needs you & your milk now. He'll grow up fast & you can "get your body back". Right now he needs you. Try to change your perspective & don't think of nursing as something negative. It's all how you think of it, really.

Catherine - posted on 10/10/2010

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my son is 16 mo and our nursing relationship was certainly stressed in the beginning. i almost gave up a dozen times but was encouraged by my husband to stick with it. as my son got older i feel we both got the hang of nursing. we both enjoy it now in the morning before work/daycare and before bed. i stopped pumping at work over the summer but still do it a couple times during the day. i get enough to give him a glass of b/m with dinner or before daycare a day. it's not an all or nothing thing. i read somewhere recently that just one oz of b/m a day can be beneficial for a baby. the leaking and the pain will probably stop eventually. the breasts seem to finally regulate themselves based on demand.

it's a tough call for sure...i guess to sum up my advice is just that it does get easier...but if it's too difficult for you to continue then feel good about having done what you have to give him the best start :)

Aleah - posted on 10/10/2010

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This is the first of many decisions you will have to make in reference to doing the right thing for your child or doing what you want to do. Parenthood is not for the selfish or the faint of heart. Who comes first now: you or your child? Keep pumping for as long as you can since you do know that breastmilk is best for babies. Give it a few more months and then if you still want to stop, you can do so knowing you gave it your all. This window of opportunity to bf will fly by in the whole scheme of things. You will be comforted later knowing you did everything possible to give your child a healthy start in life.

Noreen - posted on 10/10/2010

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I honestly think that even if you stoped nursing/pumping, you're not going to have your body back. Once we become Mom's our bodies are never ours anymore. It is our childrens to be used for holding them, wiping away tears, snot wipes, nutrients, comfort, etc. I am not trying to be mean, I just don't understand why someone would have a baby if they weren't willing to give their baby the best they possibly could. Maybe I'm different. I just don't understand why people take the easy way out.

Janice - posted on 10/10/2010

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It is completely ok for you to feel frustrated. I do think you should keep pumping. Although my daughter always nursed (I didn't pump a lot) that feeling like your body isn't yours does go away. If you keep going over the next few months your body will adjust and you wont leak and breastfeeding will seem so normal. I had similar feelings of "how long can I do this" when my daughter was little. Now at 11 mo. it is so normal I think it will be wierd to stop which I slowly plan to do by 18 mo. I love my 3x per day cuddle with my daughter.

Summer - posted on 10/10/2010

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Good for you for deciding to keep BFing...I know how hard it is in the beginning! My son and I had a He** of a time the first two months, nipple shield, pumping every two hours for a month, but TRULY, it gets better and it was amazing how by six months I loved it! I really hated it at first, it was amazing how we worked it out and it came to be wonderful.

Becky - posted on 10/09/2010

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for me, the most important thing I think of when making a decision like this is- will I look back and regret it? will you wish you would have kept breastfeeding?? maybe you wouldnt ...maybe you would though. That is something to think about...

I also use a shield. My son is 11 weeks old and still uses it a majority of the time. For I while I really beat myself up over it, I felt guilty ....and ive realized that that's just stupid! breastfeeding is breastfeeding! and my lactation consultant also assured me that as babies get older they do get better at nursing, sometimes their mouthsare just too small and the shield helps with that. Dont let you using a shield factor into quitting breastfeeding, that's just silly...your baby is still young, and seriously...you do what you have to do to be successful at breastfeeding, that's my motto..

Also- I had a LOT of nipple pain up until recently. They were so painful, cracked and bleeding for many weeks. People always said ' it will get better' and I never believed it, but ya know what? It totally did! One day a couple weeks ago I realized they didnt hurt anymore. Dont let that be reason you stop either, it REALLY will get better, I promise!

like I said at the begining of this- think whether you would regret it in the long run..I think that is the best way you can make the decision you truly want.

Angy - posted on 10/09/2010

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Truthfully you will know when you have reached your limit but I would recommend trying to get through the winter. My kids didn't get as sick or didn't get certain things b/c of b/fing. but I can understand the need to be yourself again. pumping is not the bonding experience that breastfeeding is. but it does get better soon. if you don't have thrush rub a bit of breast milk on the nipple and it will help heal or a bit of pure lanolin. if the pump is hurting you then put a warm wash rag on your nipples before pumping. It will soften the skin. some people use cabbage leaves at night in the bra.

Lisa - posted on 10/09/2010

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Continue to pump the milk.........Can't say how you'll do it at work..........but it would be great if you could......that way you'll not be in much pain and have great supply.......Good luck

Sofia - posted on 10/09/2010

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I was in the same position as you, medicated in the hospital and they gave her formula without my consent. i also pumped and used the breast shield, but when i got home i exclusively breastfed using the shield for about 8 weeks before giving up and going to formula. my breasts were leaking, and i really wanted my body back. i started working and though it made me happy at the moment, i regretted it later. their digestive system is not ready for formula, so they tend to have more constipation. I couldn't forgive myself. i am making up for it now by making sure i continue to BF my son (now 4 months) and i remind myself every day, not to give up. (although i do pump once in a while to go on a date with my husband). i guess what im saying is don't give up. you should try a breastfeeding support group or lactation consultant before making your decision. unfortunately formula is easy to find, breastfeeding support needs to be sought. as far as bonding, babywearing is also skin to skin or at least heartbeat to heartbeat and mades a HUGE diff. good luck hun

Jessie - posted on 10/09/2010

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you won't leak forever and the engorgement/pain does go away I promise. I would seek the help of a good lactation consultant about help with the latch problem. a lot of babies take a LONG time to learn to latch well without a nipple shield (or at all). I frankly found pumping to be annoying because I was just never good at getting much out, LOL. You could do as others suggest and wean yourself down slowly (pump less over a period of time) and only nurse from the breast when you are at home. in the end you have to do what is right for your situation however. it is totally normal to still feel overwhelmed at this point, god knows I was and I didnt return to work until 3 months. it DOES get better and easier. as for the up every 2 hours. thats pretty standard too at this point. my son didnt sleep throught the night until 9 months old that probably doesnt make you feel better, but it WILL happen someday! best of luck with whatever you decide, you are a good mommy no matter what.

Diane - posted on 10/09/2010

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I would try to stick it out as long as possible because if you're feeling guilty for just thinking about it you may fall into depression if you do it and regret it and it's still very early and your hormones are still adjusting. Also, many women go through a time when it's very difficult but then they are glad they stuck with it because it got better. You could go see a lactation consultant and see if you can find a way to nurse without the nipple shields and that may make things easier and more comfortable and I would also suggest getting a copy of 'the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding' it is full of all sorts of information and tips on solving problems and you may find it helpful. Good luck.

HEIDI - posted on 10/09/2010

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If you breast feed he will get your immune system and be less likely to get sick..... Just food for thought....

Aunt_gina98 - posted on 10/09/2010

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My son is 3 months old now and I went back to work a couple of weeks ago. My production has decreased somewhat, but there is still enough to keep him nourished. One thing that really helped me was to get him to not nurse so much at night. At his 2 month checkup his doctor said that he should be having at least one 5-6 hour stretch of sleep per night. Well, I was lucky if he would go 3-4! A friend of mine suggested that I go back to swaddling him like I did when he was first born. The first night I tried it, he slept through the entire night! He will still occasionally wake up once a night to feed, but that's it. It has been so much easier on me now that I can sleep more at night.



Hope this helps!

Sally - posted on 10/09/2010

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Not only does breastmilk have more nutrients than formula, but they are better absorbed. It also has antibodies to any germ you or he have been exposed to. It will lessen his risk of all baby illnesses especially ear infections, allergies, and asthma in the short term and diabetes, obesity, and cholesterol issues in the long term. It may raise his IQ. In the short term, it will help you lose the baby weight and will stimulate your mothering and loving hormones. In the long term it decreases your risk of all the female cancers.
It can take 2-3 months to get good at nursing even with a good start. Nursing your baby being pleasant could be right around the corner and you'll completely miss it.
If you really think formula is 'good enough', please read a can of it and look up the ingredients and the processing Personally, I wouldn't put that stuff in me--never mind a little baby.
Pumping at work can be hard. Not all pumps are created equal and what works for one mommy may not work for another. If you can afford it (some insurances will cover part of rental and in some states WIC will loan one) get one of the hospital grade pumps in a little backpack. If not, practice with what you can get. Due to a combination of lack of money and not knowing my rights, I could get 6-8 ounces in a 10 minute break with a manual pump. I wouldn't wish that on any other woman, but I did it for a year and lived to nurse my second baby. :)
Good luck

Ania - posted on 10/09/2010

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it's not about bonding only it is about his future health, BF is not only for now, but it is good for the rest of his life. I would never stop because i could not live with myself if in 20 or 40 years he would become obese, or diabetic or developed allergies...if I know I can give him the best nutrition I will do it no matter what. And your body will adjust and in about 2-3 weeks you will stop leaking and it will not be painful....I know you have had a bad experience right from the beginning, but it will pass very soon.

Bethany - posted on 10/09/2010

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After going about 36 without nursing or pumping, looks like I did more damage than good... in the end I know he needs the bm & I want to give it to him. So I am still pumping. Whereas I was getting about 4 oz per pumping now I'm lucky to get 1 oz =( I also will try comfort nursing and that still sems to work.
So I want my son to have the best start and I will do all I can to give that to him.

I wonder now if I wouldn't have stopped if he wouldn't have gotten this ear infection he currently has. I hear bm helps prevent those =(

But I'm back to trying to give him all I can

Thanks for all the encouraging post and for nobody critizing me. Thanks helps more than you know

[deleted account]

I know how hard it is with the shield I used it until my daughter was 5 months. Her pediatrician finally said that we needed to see the lactation consultant again to get her off the shield. It took one visit, after that I was able to ween her off.

I wore nursing pads all day and night until my daughter was almost 6 months, then just at night. It wasn't until recently that I stopped leaking at night and could go without the pads. Although now I've started leaking during her morning feeding and have had to go back to the pads.

Don't feel guilty if you end up going to just the bottle. Many of us were raised on only the bottle and did just fine.

Try to get in to see a lactation consultant and see if you can get him off the shield. It makes breastfeeding a lot easier and more intimate and calming.

[deleted account]

You need to do what you think will work best with your son, work schedule etc and don't let the lactavist give you a hard time about it. Your son is not going to feel rejected just cause you hold him to give him a bottle. However just so you know if you do decide to keep breast feeding the pain does go away after about two-two and half months. Also the leaking does stop around 3 months or so!! Your milk will let down and it won't be so traumatic. Another thing, if you decide to only BF once a day and not pump at all your milk will be ready daily at the time you choose (providing you stay hydrated and don't go on a diet). For instance you give your son formula during the day, get home at 5 or 6pm and ready to BF once just before he goes to sleep.. your milk would be ready at night only. As far as getting your body back (if its the baby weight concern) BF does help you loose the baby weight faster. Just so you know every mom at some time or another feels some kind of guilt or concern that she's not a good mom. The vey fact that your concerned shows your a good mom!!

Bethany - posted on 10/03/2010

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I have a good pump here. I think a lot of this is I just am tired (he still is up every 2 hours at night) and I just feel overwhelmed with going back to work. But I know what is best for HIM... just need to make it the best thing for ME

Amy - posted on 10/03/2010

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With my first son I stopped bf'ing between 3 and 4 months. I had returned to work, we didn't have the $ for a really good pump (if I'd only known the true cost of formula) and my son and I started passing thrush back and forth to each other. Now my daughter is 6 months old, I've been back to work for over 2 months and I bought a great double pump. Looking back I really wish that I had done that with my son. I pump while at work and bf at home I'm so glad that I have made it so far! I'm hoping I make it a year, only you can decide I can only speak to how looking back I wish I had with my son.

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