11 May

Breastfeeding T1

Posted by Jenna, Under baby

I think I’ve been avoiding this post a bit, as the words you are about to read below are not what I wanted to be writing. I’ve had lots of questions from very sweet and concerned individuals who wonder how breastfeeding is going, and I apologize to all of those I have blatantly ignored.

You see, I’m a breastfeeding failure, and I only wanted to address it one time, right here in this post. I so badly want to make this work, to be the woman who figured out a way to make breastfeeding happen even after breast reduction surgery (I know there are moms out there who have done so and I applaud them for sticking with it!), but eventually low milk production forced me to choose between my sanity and my desire to provide my baby with the best nutrition possible.

I chose sanity, and in that choice I think I also found a way to have a healthy and happy relationship with my newborn where I might not have otherwise.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a lot of time wondering what if. What if I had tried harder? (Whatever that means.) What if I hadn’t had the breast reduction? What if, what if, what if.

I had planned to write a post on this even before baby came out, so I took notes on the experience for just under two weeks:

Breastfeeding Initial Experience
-Latched on right after I climbed in bed after the birth with help of Sarah
-Breastfed on both sides for a significant amount of time the first time
-After that he only latched for short periods of time
-One wet diaper
-Puts mouth over nipple and sucks once or twice but then stop
-TH is very worried but he is not acting sick or lethargic, just sleeping a lot
-Read through the Jack Newman site and decided to focus on feeding on demand based on his cues
-Doesn’t eat every few hours but latches on well when he is acting hungry
Day 5
Last night we realized something is seriously wrong. Went to pediatrician, gave him a bottle of formula (I resisted strongly but she assured me he really needed to eat), very dehydrated, billirubin levels had to be tested, friend brought over pump for me to borrow, called lactation consultant, loved her, decided to give SNS system a try, bought hands free nursing bra. Two priorities: preserve supply and keep baby fed, try SNS goal of 2 oz of formula every two hours followed by 10 min of pumping. SNS = hell, two person job, P slowly starts to hate it as much as we do, start finger feeding him with tube to keep fluids in him while avoiding bottle, getting 1 oz of formula in at each feeding, the LC sent us home with lots of free formula and explained why this specific brand was her favorite (Enfamil).
Day 6
Morning comes and I lose it emotionally, we give him the formula in a bottle b/c I can’t take another round of SNS, talk to friends throughout day, lots of reassurance that formula isn’t the end of the world, stress about nipple confusion, wondering what other women mean when they say bfeeding is hard. Were they experiencing what I am? Is my experience harder? He gets bottle throughout day, I pump and give him milk as well, pumped almost .5 oz once and it felt like a lot, until his jaundice is reduced the goal is full stomach for him and breatfeeding takes a backseat. Talk to friend and she tells me about the schedule they set up with her baby girl preemie, suddenly the clouds part and I see a new plan that brings a lot of peace and optimism. Plan to nurse him first then finish him off with bottle while I pump, so much stress is removed with this plan, He latches and  stays on for 30 mins and the experience is entirely different, I kiss his head and smell him and stroke his skin and I am in love and breastfeding feels good and when he finishes with me I feed him a bottle in the upright position in an attempt to help him work harder for his food. I pump the next time and my nipple cracks open and the pump container fills with blood. I decide to let my nipples rest and let him have the bottle through the night, good choice also because he is wrapped in the jaundice blanket and we want to keep him in as much as possible before our pediatrician appointment on Monday, I still worry About nipple confusion but we tried to find the best bottle possible for avoiding that. I go to bed feeling less stress and loving being a mom more than I have any day this week, I find that my Twitter and Facebook networks are amazing for asking questions and getting support.
Day 7
Pumped a half oz! Then only pumped a quarter oz the next time :( loving the new system we came up with at friend’s suggestion. Wouldn’t say my milk has “come in” yet.
Day 11
Pumping an average of .75/ pumping session if I don’t breastfeed first.
Still no change in the way breasts feel.

By the 14 day mark I still hadn’t ever felt any difference in my breasts and despite taking some crazy expensive pills recommended by the lactation consultant, mixing nasty Brewer’s Yeast into my protein shake, focusing on drinking over 100 oz of water a day, trying to get as much protein as possible, and feeling like a cow after being hooked up to that dang pump all the time, I still didn’t see an increase in my milk supply. At best, I estimate I was producing 8 oz/day, significantly less than half of what he needs to survive. Eventually I realized that I didn’t want to breastfeed for 30 minutes or more, feed him a bottle, then try to find a way to set him down so I could pump for 30 minutes. Doing so would provide me with something like 20 minutes to myself before he was ready to start feeding again. Maybe, just maybe, if I had a bit more of a guarantee that all of that effort was going to go somewhere, I would have been willing to endure it for a bit longer. But the thought of attempting such a system for weeks on end, with no improvement at all felt like a crushing weight on my shoulders. I wanted to look back on my first few months as a mother and remember his smiles and kicks and all of the different ways he made me laugh, not the endless rounds of attempts at feeding him at the breast combined with attempts at increasing my milk supply.

So I set a deadline. If, by the time my sister left, I had seen my output of breastmilk increase to at least half of his daily needs I would keep going. Otherwise I was going to walk away and never look back. Yes, I certainly could try to keep breastfeeding him as long as possible, even without pumping, because the argument can certainly be made that every drop counts. But because I just don’t know how much every drop counts, it wasn’t worth it to me personally. Every single woman out there who dealt with the SNS system, who fought through low milk supply issues and won, who persevered through weeks and months of the emotional and physical pain I was only able to endure for a few days… those women have my deepest respect for making it through.

If you read the intro to this post you know the outcome. I saw no change, and so we bought the bottles and the sterilizer thing for the microwave, and started pumping money into what we decided was the best formula possible for his development. Between the thousands of dollars we paid for my prenatal care, the birth, and now the formula, this parenthood thing is turning into a much more expensive adventure than we bargained for! T1 is officially a formula baby, as were me and my sister, and as were my mom and her siblings. It’s been over a week since I switched but it still leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth to say so.

One benefit of not producing a lot of milk? When you stop breastfeeding you don’t experience any engorgement or pain because there really isn’t a whole lot of milk in there to cause any feelings of discomfort! The biggest benefit of formula is the freedom it affords me to be away from T1 and not have to worry about feeding him or storing pumped milk for the next feeding. I can travel, shoot all-day weddings, sleep through the night if TH is able to take over the childcare duties, and others can indulge in the pleasure that is curling up with a hungry baby and feeding them until they nod off into a milk-drunk stupor.

This doesn’t mean I don’t believe (rather passionately) that breastfeeding is best. Not just breastmilk, but actually putting your baby to your breast and having him or her suckle. Protective antibodies are exchanged, maternal weight loss increases, milk production is higher, babies who are breastfed are on average smarter and healthier later in life, the incidence of SIDS is lower, not to mention the beautiful bonding time you are afforded with your child. Breastfeeding would have been best, breastmilk from a bottle would have been better than formula, and formula is just plain old good. I made an effort for best, but ended up with good and I’m working every day to accept the choices I made that led up to my ultimate outcome of a formula fed baby.

I’ll be giving breastfeeding another go with T2, T3, and beyond if we are blessed with more children. It’s possible that my ducts and brain just need a little bit more time to connect back up again and start communicating with each other. I hope it works out in the future, but for right now I’ve got to focus on being content with the present.

Maybe I’m wrong with this assumption, but I think there might be some out there who will read this post and offer advice on how they think I can start trying again right now and somehow make it work. If you have suggestions for what I can do with my next baby, I’m all ears, but for T1 I’ve decided that formula is the way to go and I hope all will accept that. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many women willing to lend advice and support and I’ve certainly benefited greatly from that in the past!

70 Comments


  1. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jenna,

    Not sure if you were able to receive my google chat early on in your attempts to breastfeed, but as a new mom who struggled myself and now employs a combo of both breast milk and formula, I wanted to provide you with a resource for making your own formula: http://www.westonaprice.org/Recipes-for-Homemade-Baby-Formula.html#rmbf. It can seem a bit daunting at first, but it now takes me less than 15 min to make a batch (lasts 2-3 days) and you can get the majority of the ingredients at radiantlifecatalog.com (they even have a starter kit you can buy). I know it’s important for you to know exactly what your child is consuming and I find that this is the closest thing to the breast. My 6 mo. old is thriving on both my milk and this formula. Just thought I’d share. Best of luck with your handsome little man!

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  2. I didn’t read your whole post but maybe I should before I comment…… Anyways, I always wonder why moms give themselves such a hard time when breast feeding isn’t working. Obviously it would be the best nutrition for the baby and obviously you tried because you want the best for your baby. We all know that so please don’t hit yourself that hard. You are a loving mom, no matter what.

    Valerie Reply:

    I wanted to echo this sentiment. I am so pro-breastfeeding, and I think everyone should at least try, but I’m also very against shaming moms for anything, and I think that, as much as we might be for things like breastfeeding and natural childbirth, the most important thing to do (and as you have always done when writing about birth) is to respect other people’s choices and circumstances.

    Brava for your hard attempts, and also for making the best decision for your family and for having the courage to talk about this. I have a lot of friends who have not been able to bf and I know the stigma that carries.

    You love your baby. You are a great mama. Thank you, as always, for sharing with us.

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  3. I can imagine how difficult it was for you to make this decision to exclusively use formula. I know how much you wanted to breastfeed. But rest assured that being a parent isn’t about doing what is best, but doing what is best for that child. I know you know this. And I’m so proud of you for the decision you made. To choose your sanity, in order to be a better mother, is a gift just as great as the milk you may have provided.
    You’re doing great! Keep that in mind when the light at the end of the tunnel never seems to be getting nearer! Praying for you girl!

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  4. this is just one of many many choices you will have to make as a mother– and in this case as you’ll find in many others, what’s “only” good is what’s best. Stressing yourself out, despairing at your own abilities, growing resentful, engendering conflict between parents, and falling into depression are all underestimated as factors in what is BEST for babies. You are doing a great job. Good for you for trying, being flexible, changing direction and doing what is best for you, your baby and your whole family. Best wishes.

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  5. Please don’t feel discouraged! I went through the same thing…I had planned on breastfeeding my child when they were born, and nothing I tried ever “upped” my milk supply so we had to go to formula. My child is a healthy, happy toddler and was a happy, healthy newborn and infant. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Focus on T1 and his health.

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  6. Don’t beat yourself up. You got the exact birth you wanted, you have a beautiful family. Mothering is all about making decisions for what’s best–no one ever said it would be easy. You’re doing great, and T1 will be a healthy, thriving baby. Actually, he already is!

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  7. As I’m not a parent, I probably shouldn’t be commenting…

    But oh Jenna, I’m so sorry you went through such a rough time. I am 100% sure that you made the absolute best decision you could for yourself and your son. YOU are not a failure in any way.

    Thank you as always for sharing such a personal struggle.

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  8. Jenne, I just wanted to say that you must not beat yourself up over this. You made the best choice for T1, yourself and TH. You are not a failure, you just took a different path. Please don’t be so hard on yourself.

    Hannah Reply:

    P.S. You have gorgeous fingernails! I am amazed at your level of manicuredness post-birth.

    I thought you might appreciate a gratuitously girly comment as well ;)

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  9. It’s as if I wrote this post!

    Though my situation and struggles were different with Kyle, you perfectly expressed my sentiments and what I went through. I wanted to breastfeed – it’s the very best thing of course – but I ultimately learned that just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. And like you perfectly said you had to “choose between my sanity and my desire to provide my baby with the best nutrition possible”. I was so distraught and frustrated I really thought I was turning into a crazy person. At that point, I began setting a time limit…if I can’t do this by this date, I’m stopping.

    I stopped at about 6 months and leading up to that I increasingly gave him more and more formula and just weaned off gradually. I WISH things had turned out differently and it was very hurtful to my pride to admit I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it anymore, but I had to choose between feeling bad all the time-but giving breastmilk OR giving formula and Kyle having a much happier, less stressed out momma.

    So–like I know I’ve said to you a hundred times, you aren’t alone in this feeling. You aren’t anything but a good mommy. You have to put the whole situation in perspective and know yourself well enough to know what and how much you are capable of-no one can tell you that.

    And if anyone tries to tell you did something wrong in anyway or that you should have stuck it out no matter what – watch out! I’ll set them straight! :)

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  10. Natalie says:

    Jenna — I’m not a mom yet either (fingers crossed that we start trying in the next year), but I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your openness and honesty about your pregnancy, T1′s birth and now breastfeeding. I truly admire the fact that you have made informed choices throughout the whole process and are focusing on not only what is best for your baby, but best for you as well. Please know what I keep you in my prayers and I am cheering you on every day.

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  11. my reduction surgery led to low milk production, too. and hudson was jaundiced, so we had to supplement when he was 1 day old. i stopped because it was just too much to pump and feed formula and breastfeed. bleh!

    you are doing a great job. you made the right decision!

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  12. Jessica says:

    I don’t have any children yet, but this article gave me a lot more peace if I decide to have give my child formula:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/7311/
    T1 is a happy healthy baby, and he’ll have a happy healthy SANE mommy. I wouldn’t feel guilty — you’re giving your child what he needs!

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  13. You are not a failure. You need to do what’s right for you and your baby.

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  14. I am a new reader to your blog (came from Molly’s guest post). I had a baby girl 5 months ago. I have flat nipples, and my daughter could not latch. She was not gaining enough weight in the first 5 days, so I had to start pumping and feeding her breastmilk from a bottle. After 3 or 4 weeks, my supply went down (just as her appetite went up) because pumping is not as good for supply as actual breastfeeding. I then did half and half until she was 6 weeks old, and my husband went back to work (I was pumping and he was feeding). My nipples were soar and I didn’t have ANY time to myself while trying to keep up with pumping and feeding. I stopped pumping and went to all formula, and I tell you this baby could NOT tell the difference! she is thriving and beautiful and happy. I have no regrets, and I just wanted to share my story. Many people think that because breastmilk is best, that somehow formula is bad. That is SO not the case…and babies need a happy mother more than they need breastmilk, I think. Good Luck! They change SO much, so fast!

    Katy Reply:

    Sounds a lot like my issue. I used a shield the entire time I did nurse. Not only that, but my lacatation consultant finally just determined that I must have more nerve endings too because it ALWAYS hurt. Even when they knew he was latched on correctly. Using the shield not only helped latching on, but it gave me a little barrier from the pain.

    Even though the flatter nipple issue will stick around, perhaps the next baby will work better with me on that. I hear all the time that a mom will have such trouble nursing with one child, then another will work out with absolutely no issue. So I’ll cross my fingers next time, but thankfully I’ve gotten over my guilt issues, so if I can’t, it will be that much easier to make the transistion without crying myself to sleep!

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  15. I know I mentioned it before as a comment on one of your pregnancy posts, but I thought I would go ahead and put out there again.

    My brother-in-law and his wife had a really hard time with their daughter, who was a premie, had difficult time with breastmilk. They moved on to a formula, but that wasn’t doing the trick either. Through my mother-in-law they decided to try Goat’s milk. Here’s the link to her post about it.

    http://babiesaresimple.blogspot.com/2010/03/dear-goats.html

    (The blog title is meant to be ironic. ;) )
    I thought it might be a good alternative, if it maybe something you would like to try either with T1 or in the future. Or if nothing else, you can ask her questions and even find comfort in knowing others also struggle with breastfeeding.

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  16. Congratulations on coming up with a system that works for you and the baby, even if it wasn’t your original plan. I imagine it’s incredibly frustrating to not be able to feed the baby in the way that you wanted, but it sounds like you’re handling it well.

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  17. Oh, you did so good, Jenna! You tried so hard and now you’re doing what’s best for you and T1.
    I don’t even have the excuse of breast reduction surgery for not being able to breastfeed. There are still times when I feel guilty and wonder if I would have tried a little harder, maybe it would have worked out. Maybe my milk would have finally come in. But then I think back to those times of frustration over my lack of milk, the tears because my baby was crying from hunger and I couldn’t feed him. Then I remember why the choice we made was the best for us. I was able to enjoy my baby rather than be stressing out over whether he was starving or not.
    I know you’re all settled into the formula routine now, but I’m wondering, if you’re not ok with all the junk in formula and aren’t aware of other options, if you’d be interested in the idea of goats milk. I have no idea if you’ve thought about it already or not, so I’m just throwing it out there.
    Goats milk, while also being natural and everything, is molecularly the closest thing to breast milk. It is much easier for humans, particularly babies, to digest.
    Not that I’m trying to advertise for goats milk- I personally don’t like it (just give me my whole, raw cows milk, thankyouverymuch) and refuse to own and take care of a goat (because they stink, lol).
    I just thought I’d throw it out there for you to think about. G was on goats milk until he was 6 months old (we moved away from our source at that point) and did great. I felt good knowing that, while I wasn’t able to give him the goodness of my milk, we were able to dodge the bullet of all the chemicals in formula, for the first 6 months anyways.

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  18. Tasha Poulsen says:

    Don’t worry Jenna, despite the frustrations of not being able to 100% nurse my little boy, he’s turned out to be very intelligent and one of the happiest little boys I’ve seen. I had the same dilemma in that I wasn’t able to nurse very well, but we found out within 3 days of birth. We had to supplement with formula, and I was only able to actually nurse him for four months, but the bottle was always by the chair when he ate during the short nursing period. Just know that despite the fact that you’re unable to nurse DOES NOT make you a failure, or poor, unloving mother. You have made the best decision for him, he is eating and getting the nutrition he needs to grow healthy and strong.

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  19. Oh Jenna, I’m so sorry things didn’t work out the way you had hoped. I know all about the “what ifs” and I know that while I don’t think they’ll ever go away, it does get better. A month out from Claire’s birth I was still crying every day, but it sounds like you are doing a lot better than me! Don’t let people tell you that you don’t have a right to grieve, it’s your experience and you can get through it however you darn well please! But it sure makes it easier when you see a sweet, happy, fed, smiling baby looking at you huh?

    Oh, and since you have to deal with a new kind of poo, I really like the flushable liners. They don’t always catch everything, but I still love them.

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  20. My son was 10 weeks early and my body did not produce the milk he needed. While he was in the NICU he had doner milk mixed with a bit of mine. When we got home I was still pumping and trying to breastfeed but he was so use to the bottle that he was just too frustrated to nurse. We went almost 8 weeks with me pumping and supplimenting with formula. I “stopped” 3 times. Everytime I decided I would quit I would get this horrible guilty feeling and start pumping again. I know he will turn out just fine, but the guilt was the worst part of stopping.
    T1 will be just fine. I hope with your future children you are able to nurse like you want.

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  21. Hi Beautiful Mama,

    I know you read my own breastfeeding story here: http://www.otherpiecesofme.com/2009/07/best-decision.html because you commented on that post. At the time, you and TH were still trying to conceive. However, I am assuming you don’t remember the comments other women left and I wanted to quote one of them here because it is so true and so relevant:

    The best choice for your child is what keeps you a happy and stable parent– what keeps your marriage happy and supportive– and what maintains your confidence to keep trying, keep weighing the options and keep choosing what’s best for YOU, as a family, on the long road of choices ahead. You are doing a great job.

    Ten months out from that horrible week of everyone crying, I can tell you that Little G is a happy, thriving, lovely, joyous, healthy baby. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t think about my own breastfeeding disappointment from time to time. But when I see him suck down an 8oz bottle in less than 4 minutes, my boobs literally breathe a sigh of relief!

    Making the choice that isn’t perfect or even ideal and yet allows you to be a better parent is the number one lesson of parenthood in my humble opinion. From the decision to stop breastfeeding to the decision to put your baby in his crib and walk away when you are so drained and raw and angry at his crying that you can barely keep it together; THOSE choices, the ones that protect our sanity and therefore our children, THOSE are the right and good choices to make and are the choices that define us as loving parents.

    Katherine (a.k.a. Sparkles) Reply:

    I concur! Perfectly put!

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  22. I always wonder why we as mothers feel the need to justify our choices for our baby so long as they are not harmful and done with the best intentions. I formula fed my daughter (she’ll be 2 months on the 18th) from the moment they put her in my arm and have no qualms about it and say it proudly to anyone who asks and don’t explain the decision my family has made.
    I think as long as you are at peace with your choice (and it seems like you are) then that’s what really matters.
    I love the freedom formula offers me and believe that without it I may have suffered even more from bouts of depression in the early days.
    Formula isn’t the enemy and although it isn’t as good as breast milk it does have benefits that breast milk cannot offer.

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  23. All I can say is, there is NOTHING more humbling (and empowering too) than motherhood.
    And all we can do is our best.
    I could breastfeed like a champ, but when it came to pushing that baby out she was stuck stuck stuck. The best laid plans of mice and men, eh?
    I think it’s fabulous you had such a support team around you! And I think it’s fabulous you’ll try again next time. (One of my best friends had a breast reduction and couldn’t BF #1, but #2 was fine, so who knows? And to this day she’s glad she had the breast reduction- she was in so much pain every day before it.) And I think it’s fabulous you and your baby are getting exactly what you both need:)

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  24. Thank you for writing such an honest post. You’re awesome!

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  25. I just wanted to say thanks for being so honest, and try not to beat yourself up about it. You’re NOT a failure! I don’t like that word. Just because you weren’t able to produce enough milk doesn’t make you a failure. If you couldn’t use your legs to walk down the aisle at your wedding, would you think you were a failed bride?

    T1 is happy and healthy! That’s it. All you need. :-)

    Kelly | Glamour This! Reply:

    I agree 200% Kat… well said!!! You aren’t a failure Jenna, but I have to admit that if I can’t breastfeed my lil guy, I can’t guarantee I won’t have the same sentiments. I think its only natural… but you are a GREAT MOM :)

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  26. I was almost in tears as you shared this story…thank you for being open about your successes and ‘failures’ as a new mom (although i certainly wouldn’t call doing what’s best for t1 a failure)
    I really admire you!

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  27. I asked a friend of mine about the little-to-no breastmilk supply (she’s a labour & delivery nurse) and she said that, when breast reductions are done, they cut the milk ducts. She wasn’t surprised at all that you weren’t getting much milk for that reason. I know it has to be frustrating, but you know what? You’re doing what is best for your child. And if formula is what is best for him, then you’re doing the right thing. Don’t be discouraged! And be proud of yourself for trying.

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  28. Ashley Smith says:

    Breastfeeding is hard and ugly at times. When I got home with my son I was cracked, bleeding and bruised. My Mom would make me nurse for 5 minutes on each side and I would bawl and bawl as he would nurse and I would crack and bleed again.

    Formula has made a great many advances. The smartest 2 year old I know lives up the street and he was formula fed.

    You did what was best for your you and your baby and that is what matters most.

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  29. My sister had her baby 2 weeks before you, and the level of “hard” for her was nothing like this – painful at first, difficult to get used to, hard to know what baby wants, all muddled together with sleep deprivation and recovery and all that. But two weeks out it was working for them and she’s continued breastfeeding. Whereas for you, two weeks out was NOT working for you or for T1. So you made the best decision possible, because you’re a good mom and the needs of your child trump some ideal of perfect mothering.

    You’ll never know if it was because of the breast reduction surgery or because this is just how it is – there was no guarantee you’d be equipped to breastfeed beforehand, it just doesn’t work well for some women, right? You made the choice of breast reduction for your health and well-being, and you’ve made this choice for the health and well-being of yourself and your son.

    I hope people don’t get all “mommy wars” on you about this, because you tried valiantly. And you’re providing for your son, who is now thriving.

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  30. I think that the best thing about you as a parent is that you are decisive, active in your choices, and educated. Even with out breastfeeding, your son is miles ahead of a large number of other children because he has you. And your sanity is DEFINITELY important.

    Don’t get down on yourself for doing you best.

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  31. Jenna, I can totally relate as I went through a similar ordeal with my son but I hadn’t had a breast reduction. I just could not produce enough for him, and it was a painfully hard decision to walk away. Even though not producing was taking an emotional tolI, I also still wonder, what if I tried harder?

    Just know you’re doing good for your child – there is nothing wrong with formula feeding and he WILL thrive and be healthy.

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  32. Once again thank you for your honesty. I’ve read several stories on breastfeeding and it seems to me that we tend to believe it’s something that comes so naturally but in reality it’s hard, something that both baby and mom have to learn.
    My mom told me about having really painful crevices (sp?) when she bf me. So while it’s great when it can be achieved, it’s not always feasable. What matters is that the baby is nourished.
    For the rest, you have a story (surgery) and history (family who couldn’t bf either), and whether or not it’s connected to your issues with it or not, you tried, and you choose the well being of your child and yourself and that’s the most important thing.

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  33. I love and appreciate your courage, honesty & openness as you address this really sensitive (especially for you!) topic.

    Sometimes we have to choose what is better or what is good rather than what is best. There are always factors involved that are different for each person which necessitate such a personal decision. It seems to me that if you had chosen to breastfeed and do all the steps required, you felt you would have also been choosing to be a “better” or “good” mom because of how taxing the whole process was. You made an earnest effort, and chose what you felt was the “good” option and are now able to be the “best” mom you can be. There’s no failure in that. You’re being the best mom you can be, and T1 will love you all the same!!! =)

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  34. Jessica says:

    I had the same experience with breastfeeding, I tried SO hard with the twins, I constantly had one attached or the pump attached for 8 weeks, still couldn’t produce enough on my own for both of them, so we did 8 weeks and that was it, the twins did great with the gentle ease formula. I don’t buy into the whole “breastfed children are generally smarter” thing… I think development strictly comes from the amount of nutrients you get in your first years, but that’s just me. You did an amazing job and you may get milk in with the next one, but I know my mom never did with any of us 4 and neither did Stef, Kira was a great breastfeeder, so there is hope! :) Good luck hun and lastly, yes, babies are expensive!

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  35. Oh Jenna, I’m sorry that breastfeeding didn’t work out for you and T1. If it means anything, I think that the love and concern you’re putting into caring for your son counts just as much!

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  36. I have struggled with this immensely. And have had to pump and breastfeed since she was 5 days old. I hate my pump and am finally down to pumping once a day instead of 3-5. It was so freeing when I finally came to terms with the fact that I wont be able to produce enough for her and formula is just fine. I’m still able to give her maybe 6-8 ounces a day of Breast milk so I am pretty proud that I’ve made it to 7 months.
    I commend you for trying so hard. It is so taxing emotionally and physically. And it is so stressful and where T1 can sense the moods you are in it’s best to keep yourself stress free. Enjoy motherhood! Feeding is only a part of it and something I like better about bottle feeding is I can kiss her face and nuzzle and snuggle. Where while breastfeeding I can’t bend like that! :)

    Anyway, I haven’t read all of your comments but anyone who has anything negative to say or who tells you you should keep trying for T1 can shove it. They obviously have no idea. I’m glad your friends were so supportive.

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  37. Before I had my son I thought “mom has boob, baby has mouth… easy!” HA.

    My son was born early and had minor complications- low blood sugar and a weak suck. Not a winning combo for a good start at breastfeeding. We did nipple shields, SNS, finger-feeding, formula supplements, pumping, pumping, pumping… we finally leveled out at a combo of breastfeeding first, then bottle, then pumping. Every three hours. It took at least 60-90 minutes. All I did for about 3 months was feed the baby. It was crazy and I’m not sure why I kept going. I did have a moderate supply though (about half of what he needed per day) so maybe that’s why. I hated nursing and was in tears about the pain (thrush) and feeling totally inadequate as a mother, which really isn’t true, but in the moment, it feels true.

    Finally about 3 weeks ago, when my son was 8 months old, he decided to self-wean, so we now only nurse first thing in the morning and sometimes last thing before bed.

    Not sure why I went into all that other than to say that I empathize so much, and don’t be under any guilt about not breastfeeding. T1 will grow up into a strong and healthy kiddo. Just love on him and raise him to the very best of your ability!

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  38. I just want to offer my empathy to you and anyone who responds who has also had trouble producing milk. Sometimes it just happens and that’s why we’re lucky to live in the 21st century with such a vast array of formula/feeding options. My mother-in-law’s grandmother buried 4 babies during WWI because she couldn’t produce milk and she was living in war torn europe, with no other options for feeding. so sad. Thank goodness we have developed solutions!

    Lydia Reply:

    this comment really brings it home to what matters for me… We forget just that point that Emily makes – thank goodness for formula and all our options; that we don’t have to go through what that poor woman did with her 4 war-time babies.

    thank you Jenna, for the post. I haven’t been through this yet – 3 months to go before first baby is due, but it’s really important to read these stories, and to realise that – similarly to childbirth – it’s different for everyone, and there are limitations that we will come against and have to accept and that all you can do is the best with what you have.

    I’m so sorry for your trials – it sounds like a really terrible time, but good on you for finding something that works, and hope you settle to feel happy and proud of your decision.

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  39. Jenna I had a breast reduction at age 22, and I think it’s the best thing i’ve ever done for myself (I’m not familiar with your story). I had it at age 22 instead of 19 because for those years I thought it was super important to breast feed, then a friend of mine asked me which was more important: self acceptance of my body, and the self confidence that goes with it for the next 10 years, or breast feeding for one year two or three times in my life. I chose the self confidence, and haven’t looked back.

    I wonder what will happen when I have kids. I suspect I won’t be able to breast feed, but I’m okay with that. I’d be interested to find out how your boobs did during pregnancy (I seriously can’t believe I just typed that to a complete stranger!), and afterwards.

    That said, I think everyone has to do what is best for them and their baby. T1 is much better off with a sane mamma and a full belly than a 3/4 full belly and a mamma who is so emotionally exhausted she can’t keep it together!

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  40. Motherhood does amazing things to our opinions of things doesn’t it? I had an epi after planning a med free birth in the hospital. I didn’t plan on having back labor or stalling out at 5cms. The second I got that epidural, my labor started to progress again and I never looked back or felt guilty. I tried, I really did, but I also knew that I would be in danger of getting a c-section if I didn’t start progressing, especially with ruptured membranes). I never felt bad about it, never looked back and felt like less of a woman because I didn’t get to do it without meds. I embraced the 13 hours of labor that I endured pre-epi and I will definitely try again with Baby #2 (although I had a complication while delivering the placenta that has me a bit scared about not getting an epi again).

    Luckily, after some initial complications, which were resolved by the simple use of nipple shield for a few weeks, I am still exclusively breastfeeding my sweet Baby K and she is thriving. She was 2.5 weeks early and jaundiced and had trouble latching on as well. Those first 24 hours where my baby didn’t eat had me feeling completely helpless. I had read books and watched countless videos on breastfeeding, but it didn’t matter. It was the real deal now and it wasn’t working. When the Ped visited in the morning and saw her bili levels and found out she hadn’t latched, he had a lactation consultant in there lickety split. They made us syringe feed her formula after I breastfed her on each side for 15 min and then pumped for 10 after. I remember being overwhelmed and feeling like it was awfuly, but my milk came in very quickly and I was able to phase out the nipple shield and things got better and easier. Throw in the bili-lights and then having her on the home version and you had one overwhelmed momma. My point is that we can plan all we want, but babies tend to throw a wrench in things some times. This is the first of many compromises that you’ll make as a mommy.

    I hate, hate, hate all the judgement and nastiness that surrounds these types of things. Good for you for choosing what is best for you and T1. You tried, you did more than most would have and that says something, Jenna. Mommies should really learn to be more supportive of each other because it is a tough job. I don’t think any mommy should have to justify her decisions (as long as they aren’t harmful). Happy Mom = Happy Baby. T1 is a gorgeous baby, and he has a mommy and daddy who love him so much – that’s what truly matters.

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  41. it drives me bonkers when people judge a formula fed baby, seriously, formula babies are just as good! You are NOT a failure, seriously some days I wish my babe would take formula!!! I am glad you chose sanity over breastfeeding! Don’t feel guilty one bit, EVER!

    And for when you try the next time, my only little advice would be lanolin and lots of it, for no cracked nippels! But maybe you used that too!

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  42. Thanks for sharing. As a woman who wants to have a baby in the next few years I love hearing the honesty and ALL the info you share about every detail. I have no idea what I will be in for personally so I watch other new mom’s and I feel like I get a “sneak peak” from seeing what is happening to them. I think that I should remind myself that as much as I want to breastfeed….many woman can’t and I may be one of them.

    As for you…..I don’t see any reason for you to ever doubt or blame yourself. Not having the reduction was not an option. It may ‘technically” be elective but you really needed to do that. It was not a choice. There is nothing that you can be “blamed” for as the reason why your cannot breast feed. I guess you can always wonder if you tried harder…..but cut yourself a little slack. We can’t be perfect. I know you like to try to be :-) but it’s not possible. Cut yourself some slack. There is nothing you could have done to change your low production. It’s not your fault and MANY MANY MANY babies grow up on formula and are just as happy, healthy and well adjusted as a breast fed baby.

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  43. Aww Jenna, I can truly feel your disappointment through your words. First of all, a big huge thank you for not only sharing your birth story, but sharing with us your very personal experience with this too. Everyone benefits from sharing experiences. It’s a coincidence that I posted my “pre-birth” thoughts about breastfeeding today as I still have 2.5 months until I get to find out how it’s going to work for me and I already feel this huge “guilt” feeling for the “what if” it doesn’t work.

    There’s absolutely nothing you can do about your circumstances. That is out of your control. Let’s not forget that you birthed your baby completely naturally and that was such an amazing thing!! That you had control over and this you really don’t! Don’t sell yourself short, you’re already a fantastic mother and that’s a fact. Your baby is healthy and that is ALL the truly matters in the end, right? Being blessed with a healthy baby is the ultimate importance.

    Thanks again for being so open and honest about everything. You are not alone!

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  44. Jenna –

    Like many before have said, I don’t think you should beat yourself up over this decision. It is what is right for your family and that is all that is important! T1 will be an amazing baby not because of what food he gets, but because he has two parents who love him and will move heaven and earth for him.

    Keep letting us know how everything is going, and I wish you well!

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  45. bettter to have breastfed and lost than to never had breastfed at all….

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  46. Hayley Marie says:

    My aunt breastfed each of her first few kids and was a firm supporter of it. I know it was very hard for her when after a couple weeks of trying she realized she just could not do it with her next child. It was really hard on her but it was just the way it works out. It is interesting to see how our bodies work. I think there is something very humbling about facing situations where we work so hard to try and do what we feel is right, but can’t do it and I know she certainly felt that way. She was lucky and was able to breast feed when she had another child a few years later. I know what all the statistics say and I certainly plan on breast feeding my children (hopefully) someday, but I have to say I think her little boy who was formula fed is just as adorable, smart and sweet as the rest of her kids :) I think half of it is how you go about feeding them and how you try and keep that connection. It certainly sounds like you are trying to make the most of what life has given you! You are such an inspiration to so many people and so kind to share all this :)

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  47. I think you made the right choice. I cannot imagine how hard it was for you to make that decision – but any decision that will help you relax and enjoy these moments with your growing family is a good decision. Peace.

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  48. Crystal says:

    I think it’s amazing you tried so hard. Even just those first few days of breast milk are going to give a lifetime of benefits. I also think it’s pretty darn awesome you’re going to try again with any subsequent kids. Go you for doing as much as you could!!

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  49. Vanessa says:

    Oh, how I can sympathize with this post. I, too, was planning on breastfeeding, but it just didn’t work! That first week was so distressing and I thought maybe I was a terrible mother. On her 7th day, I decided that maybe breastfeeding just wasn’t the best for me and my daughter.

    I had a complete turning point on that day. I was suddenly so happy about being a Mommy! I didn’t fear/dread every feeding anymore! It was freeing!

    But then, of course, I let guilt creep in. I told myself that my beautiful daughter was going to probably have horrible allergies and have to be on antibiotics every other month, since she had missed all the important antibodies from me.

    But guess what! That didn’t happen at all! In fact, she’s been one of the healthiest, smartest children in our group of friends, and all our friends breastfed their babies!

    I know it was hard making this choice. But I also know that a happy Mommy and a happy Daddy make for a happy Baby.

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  50. I’m glad you found a system that works for you and that you are willing to give it another go in the future. Like many other commenters, I am not a mother, but I’ve been “exposed” enough recently to know that good intentions fall to the wayside when reality hits. And everyone wants the best for their baby so judging has no place…we’ve all been thinking of you. Good luck!

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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