Breastfeeding: The beginning of the end

I’ve tried. No one can say I haven’t tried. But as I sit here at 5 am having been feeding a baby for the last hour and twenty minutes I think this is the beginning of the end for breastfeeding and me.

In fact, the beginning of the end was probably when I gave Gabe formula when he was just a day old. Or maybe it was when I started using nipple shields on his second feed. Or perhaps when a second or third bottle in the day became the norm rather than the exception about a week ago. Who knows?

I think maybe though that breastfeeding and me are just not meant to be. For me it’s just not the wonderful experience all the breastfeeding literature and baby books tell you it’s going to be. In fact, dare I say it, I simply don’t like it. I don’t feel any special bond with my baby as we sit ‘enjoying’ those breastfeeding cuddles. What I often feel is pain (because yes, even seven weeks on, with nipple shields, it still hurts half the time), and frustration that it takes so long to feed a baby in the way nature intended when I could bottle feed him in a third of the time. I don’t know, maybe cave women didn’t have much to do with their days so they could sit around feeding all day but I have a toddler to look after and a house to run and I just can’t sustain breastfeeding my baby for endless hours of every day.

I know everyone talks about the convenience of breastfeeding; no bottles to wash and sterilise, no formula to prepare, no need to plan ahead because you’ve always got milk on tap, and I suppose it is all those things but when every feed takes over an hour, feeding in public involves trying to get a baby latched on to a nipple shield without showing everyone your entire boob…then suddenly it’s not that convenient after all.

So I don’t really know where we’re going to go from here. I guess I’ll just take it one day at a time. Gabe is already getting half his feeds from a bottle and I reckon by the time he gets to 8 weeks old we won’t be breastfeeding at all.

And yes, it makes me a bit sad. I really hoped that breastfeeding was going to work out for us this time. By Toby’s six week check I wasn’t breastfeeding him at all so we’ve already made it further than that. So Toby was formula fed from about five weeks and he’s turned out OK and I’m sure Gabe will too. There’s still plenty to be proud of; that we made it this far, that I’ve managed to breastfeed in the park, and in the Night Garden(!), that I’ve tried my best to find a balance that works for all of us. I think I just need to accept that breastfeeding and me are not meant to be. But no one can say I didn’t try.

Breastfeeding and me

13 thoughts on “Breastfeeding: The beginning of the end

  1. Aw bless you Sarah, I think you’ve done a great job and shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Whether it’s breast or bottle it doesn’t really matter. You’ve given it a go and shouldn’t force it if it doesn’t really work or feel that great. Gabe will know no different, and be just as happy, healthy etc . Give yourself credit where credit is due. Emily X

  2. I think you’ve done amazingly well to get to 8 weeks. It’s bloomin hard work and we’re already combine feeding with a bottle in the evening just so I can have a couple of hours extra sleep. I’m also not a glamourise discreet breastfeedee. Latching E on looks like we’re having some kind of mum and baby brawl.

  3. Hello lovely, firstly congratulations on feeding for as long as you have. Don’t beat yourself up whatever you decide because at least you’ve tried.
    If you did want to try and continue, can I offer you some help? Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, if it’s hurting then the latch is all wrong. This could be because of an undiagnosed tongue tie or positioning (YouTube the flipple technique) can you speak to your health visiter and ask to be referred to someone who can diagnose any issues. Also if it is a tongue tie, baby won’t be able to get the milk as efficiently which is why he’s feeding so long. Six weeks is also a HUGE growth spurt, I found those weeks super hard. But now at three months I. I’m so glad I stuck at it.

    It’s hardly surprising you’re not enjoying it if it’s hurting 🙁 and remember no matter which direction you chose to go in now, you know you tried your best. Xxx

    1. Thanks for commenting Kelly – I saw a lactation consultant a few weeks ago and she was pretty sure there’s no tongue tie. I’m still using nipple shields as I can’t get a good latch without them. The thing is it didn’t hurt at all for a while and now it does again – I’m wondering if we might have thrush so going to see the GP tomorrow. I don’t want to give up breast feeding completely if I can find a way to make it work for all of us.

      1. It’s really difficult, so many people have problems having these things diagnosed. My friend had to spend out £100 privately in the end and they snipped it there and then. This after being told by two other people there was no problem. I really hope you get to the bottom of the pain, I can’t imagine it would be enjoyable at all if it hurt. Good luck with whatever happens 🙂 x

  4. Well done for getting this far, I managed 4 weeks, for me it was the pain, I think I needed someone to come in and sit with me for days on end to talk me through it all or something. You gave it your best shot.

  5. You don’t need to justify it lovely, you need to do what’s right for you and your family. Having two children is so hard as you have another to look after. I admit that the three of us were pretty much house bound for 6 months. You can breastfeed long term with nipple shields but it isn’t easy. The other comments are right and it shouldn’t still be painful – maybe see a breastfeeding supporter? But from this post it doesn’t sound like you want to carry on – you sound tired and defeated. Sending lots of love, whatever decision you make will be the right one x

    1. Thanks Donna, I don’t want to stop completely if I can manage it but I just need to work out something that works for all of us. As for the pain – I have a feeling we might have thrush, because it didn’t hurt for a while and now it does again. Going to try and see our GP tomorrow.

  6. You’ve done amazingly well! I know you struggled to feed Toby, as I struggled to feed Bea, so both of us have had so much determination (with a f*ck-ton of stubbornness) to feed this time round haven’t we??

    We’re in the process of weaning off now, and although I have started to enjoy breastfeeding, the level that H was feeding was not something I could keep up unless we never EVER wanted to leave the house. Bea is an insanely energetic toddler, and I just can’t keep her cooped up for much longer. It’s just not fair. I was turning into angry mummy every day, out of no fault of Bea – she was just bored.

    I completely understand your decision, and I think you will feel so much better once he’s on the bottle – remember, Toby is a brilliant, clever little chap – bottle feeding didn’t harm him! We beat ourselves up, but when we stand at the school gates in a few years, we will be discussing (or trying to work out) which children were breastfed vs bottle fed? No. In twenty years time when they’re graduating from university and starting their first jobs, will they be penalised because they consumed formula? No. Keep loving your children as you are – Toby and Gabe will both be happier if you are too.

    Lots of love xxxxxx

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