Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Breastfeeding Diaries: To Pump, or Formula feed - that is the question! (UPDATED)


8 weeks ago I shared with you all my breastfeeding story, and told you I would check back in with you in two months for an update...The long and the short of it? It never worked.

For 5 weeks we followed the directions of the lactation consultants, but Marlo and I just never clicked, which in turn got me frustrated and led me to the decision to give up trying and strictly pump milk and bottle feed. I will be the first to admit that I didn't give it 100 percent effort. Since I had to use a nipple shield to get her to latch at all it took me too long to get the shield in place, and try over and over to get a good latch. She would get frustrated that she wasn't fed quickly enough and paw at the shield until it came off. Even if I had her little arms pinned down she would put the shield in her mouth and pull it off. So I began trying less and less frequently until I threw in the towel.

I continue to pump 6-7 times a day, so she is still getting breast milk, but mama is starting to feel like a cow. I call it "going to work" when I pump, because right now my job is to feed this little baby. With all this pumping has come 3 yeast infections (thrush) which thankfully I haven't passed to her as she isn't officially breastfeeding. The APNO I originally claimed to be a lifesaver stopped working for me, and I was put on Nystasin, which is also a topical ointment, but one typically given to the infant with thrush. It seems to clear up in the redness and burning, but I am sure it is just a matter of time before it comes back. And on top of that I now am getting these tiny blisters on my left nipple - righty has been in the clear thus far. Apparently it is skin that is growing over the milk ducts and clogging them. I discovered them after lefty produced about half of what righty did one night. I now have the lovely task of popping them by forcefully squeezing my boob between my hands...I do get some sick satisfaction out of it - like popping a zit.

I am also getting severe pain in my boobs when my milk comes back in after pumping. I was told by my doctor and lactation consultant that this is because I produce such a large quantity of milk (I actually pumped 6 ounces out of each boob the other night). Good times.

Lately though, everyone keeps asking me how long I plan to pump and bottle feed Marlo, which has gotten me thinking about what my options are. Really there is only one - start her on formula. For some reason, with that choice comes a whole slew of guilt. Why should I sacrifice my babies well being for my selfish reasons? I have had to cut broccoli and citrus out of my diet because it was making her uncomfortable when I gave her my milk after eating it myself...is that such a big loss? What are a few hours a day of being uncomfortable if I am doing what is best for my baby?

But then I get selfish and think about the freedom that comes with giving her formula. No more changing tops and bras due to leaky boobs, no more nipple pain, no more of being a slave to the pump and having to wake up in the middle of the night to get relief. I wouldn't have to worry about drinking too much wine or what I was eating...sounds glorious!

But then I think about the cost of formula, and how we have saved so much money the past 8 weeks by feeding her breast milk. Her spit up doesn't smell, and neither do her diapers - and that would all go to shit (ha). And the 5 additional Weight Watchers points for breastfeeding are an added bonus...BLERG!!

How does one make this decision? How did you make the decision as to when to switch your baby to formula? Was anyone else pumping and bottle feeding? I would love to hear your stories/comments below...I need help Mamas!!!

I was given this link to a great article about weaning from pumping, and wanted to share: http://www.exclusivelypumping.com/2010/01/02/weaning-from-the-pump/


29 comments:

  1. Hey Mama J! Angie here :-) I decided to give up breastfeeding at 3 months because I was EXHAUSTED! It is a decision fraught w guilt and huge feelings of shame and confusion. If you are not sure of your decision, put it off for awhile. Wait another two weeks and think on it again!

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  2. Are you miserable? If not, stick it out a few weeks then check back. The potential guilt, shame, confusion isn't worth it if you quit because you just don't feel like pumping anymore.

    If you are miserable, stop. If you are unhappy and stressed and uncomfortable and feel like you never ever ever want to pump again give yourself permission to quit. Formula is food. It's not perfect, it's not ideal, but you're not doing her a disservice by formula feeding. If your sanity is at sake, it's more important for you to be happy than it is for her to eat breastmilk.

    I don't know if this is what you want to hear, but here are plenty of people who exclusively pump for a year or more. I don't know if all of the archives are online, but the Lactivist (for some reason I can't paste the link) exclusively pumped for one child and nursed the next.

    BTW, I am an overproducer. It all evens out after a while. I can't remember how long it took to even out, but it was a huge relief when it did.

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  3. Hey-
    Listen, no need to feel guilty!! You are doing what is best for little Marlo, and if that means giving formula to keep your sanity then by all means! I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago if I was exclusively pumping. Pumping is SUCH a pain! You have to clean your accessores, take time away from the baby when your pumping, focus on your baby so you can "pump effectively" so let-down will happen. Uggh, I dread the thought. It is a real pain. It sounds like though that your dreading it more because of all of the pain associated with it. If you're having pain after the breast is emptied, that sounds like a really bad case of thrush. Have you tried diflucan? I had to take a 3 week dose plus nystatin, plus APNO to get rid of it. If you start with a low dose, sometimes it'll just build up resistance to it. Maybe try to reduce your pumping sessions to just five a day and mix with formula. Then later if you want to try to feed her (once the thrush is gone) without the nipple sheild, then you'll still have a supply. Good luck! ((HUGS))

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  4. Hey Jess! It's Deb from class! Love this blog btw! I am so struggling with the same thing. I love that I am giving him breastmilk and all the immunities that go along with that. It just gets so hard dealing with everything else - being engorged, wondering if I'm producing enough milk, and just having my days and nights revolve around feedings. Like you, I would feel incredibly guilty to simply switch to formula for my own selfish reasons. But, like everyone says, a happy mom=a happy baby. I guess for the time being I plan to continue on with b-fing and possibly introduce one bottle of formula a day, just to see how he takes to it. I have a few overnight trips coming up in the next few months and the thought of pumping enough to leave for him for a weekend is overwhelming. My thinking is that if he can have both formula and breastmilk then he is getting the best of both worlds, right?! Maybe this is a discussion to have on Friday! :)

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  5. Hi Jess, It's Rachel, fellow classmate, and fellow pumper. Going through the same thing over here. I made a goal of pumping till 12 weeks. Baring any unforeseen circumstances I'm going to try to stick to that goal. Maybe come up with a time frame you feel like you can comfortably stick to and then feel like you've accomplished what you wanted to? I wanted to stop exactly at the point of diminishing marginal returns...i.e. we could be breastfeeding a 4 yr old, so there has to be an end point when we've decided they've gotten the most benefit. 6 mos to a year is irrational for pumping (or for anyone struggling with b'feeding).

    I keep remembering what a nurse said to me in the hospital..."just enjoy your baby". Simpler that way.

    I know you produce so much (amazing)...but can you slowly start pumping less and less? That has made the whole thing more manageable for me. I was strictly doing it every 2.5-3 hrs for first 4 weeks. Now I do it every 4 - 5 hrs and supplement formula bottles at night. I feel less pressured to be by the machine, less pressured to produce a complete full days worth of meals. I haven't had all your side effects, but the ones I did have are much better having cut down...

    Whatever you decide is going to be the right decision for you and Marlo. I'm sure of it.

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  6. Hi. It is Becca - I have a friend, Linda, who solely pumped for her son's first year of life. She never had him latch on once (if you are interested in speaking to her, I'll give you more details privately). It worked for them, I know it can work for you. I agree with the previous posters that you might be pumping too much which leads to an increase of production. You should be able to pump every four hours or so and not more and not have any of the residual affects of clogged ducts, etc. Having gone through an unplanned c-section and then right away mastitis, I know the pain (physical and psychological) which comes with breast feeding and deciding to go for it or giving up. It is a hard, personal decision. Whatever you chose to do will have to be what's right for you and your daughter. If you are looking for support, please consider La Leche League - they were really helpful with me and really made me feel good about my decisions.
    Becca (breastfed Helena for 20 months)

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  7. I was going to suggest what everyone else seems to think and that is try pumping less and supplement a feed. The night time one is the best to supplement because formula actually helps them be fuller, which helps them sleep longer. I wish someone had told me this earlier than at 6 months when I got mastitis and had to quit.... Good luck, you are doing a great job. Just remember it get's easier every day!

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  8. Ladies thank you so much for all of the advice!! I am definitely going to set a goal and try to stick to it. The past two days I have tried to space out the pumping sessions, and last night I actually made it from 10:30 until 5:30 AM with no discomfort! I was amazed...

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  9. What no one mentioned to me was that no matter what you do there is going to be guilt as a mother somewhere some how. Did you breastfeed, did you breastfeed long enough? Did you make your own food? Do you work out of the home? Do you play enough when you are home? Do you have enough patience? Are you present enough? The list goes on and on.

    From pumping to formula feeding there is going to be guilt, but there shouldn't be. Your #1 priority is making sure Marlo is happy and healthy. If she is, and you can enjoy her more giving her a bottle of formula, then go that route.

    I was lucky enough to have an easy time nursing, but I did have a day or two where it was stressful and had that continued for weeks--I'd have gone over the deep end.

    Enjoy her little self and everything about her being the tiny person she is, and screw the pump. Marlo will know you tried your hardest and she would never want her mommy to be in pain like you are suffering.

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  10. Hey there - I just wanted to tell you that I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND. Seriously, this sounds like it could have been me just a few months ago. I ended up doing what you're doing for on ten week, and then threw in the towel and went to formula. I felt guilty at first, but then got over it just knowing that I gave her the best thing she could have for the first ten weeks of her life. Plus, I honestly think she was happier with the formula because she got fuller (I really didn't produce that much milk at all...in fact I'm really jealous of those 6 oz you got from each boob!). Anyway, just wanted you to know that I totally know where you'er coming from. Major props to you for being such a good mommy :)

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  11. Hi
    You're doing great no need to feel guilty(Hard to do). I have 4 kids who all various amounts of breastfeeding/formula. I did find the antibodies from breastfeeding did help them potentially get sick less. However my one who did the most breastfeeding is the one who got asthma, ear infections, severe food allergies etc. I have spoken with many moms who had similar experiences. SO do what's right for you. Happy mom Happy baby
    Good luck

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  12. hello! I found your blog after googling pumping/formula. I am currently pumping and very exhausted. If you don't mind me asking, what did you decide to do? I appreciated all of the advice you received, as I am trying to decide what to do.

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