Breastfeeding a Preemie

breastfeeding-preemie

I admit it: I romanticized breastfeeding.  It didn’t matter that three of my best friends complained ruthlessly about it.  The horror stories I’d read—about scabby nipples, fickle mouths, and exhaustion you can taste—were unfortunate tales that happened to strangers but certainly wouldn’t apply to me.  I envisioned peaceful hours in a rocking chair, my infant daughter quietly nursing while I read novels and shed all of the weight I’d gained in my final trimester, when I devoured raspberry chocolate chip muffins as steadily as most people consume water.  The weight would disappear magically, and my daughter and I would bond for life.

A part of me blames the kindly nurse who assured me that I would get used to breastfeeding.  “Nursing is so special,” she said as she placed my daughter at my breast.  “It’s an extraordinary experience, and you’ll have it down in no time.”

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I didn’t.

Isabella was born four weeks premature, and her bite was underdeveloped, the doctors explained.  They also pointed out that she had a weak suck, a term that struck me as derogatory and insulting and yet wildly hilarious, as most things with the intricacies of childbirth and the human body seemed to me.  Weak suck or not, Isabella had no interest in my breasts and what they could offer her.  My breasts—grotesque in size, leaking without my consent, and throbbing with pain—were another story.  They wanted nothing more than to feed her.

Twelve hours after Isabella was born, I was convinced she was going to die of starvation.  She.  Would.  Not. Stop.  Screaming.  Once home from the hospital, I resigned to our king-sized bed and sprawled out like a beached whale with Isabella cradled on top of me, begging her to nurse and sleep.  At long last, she latched on.

And stayed there.

The only problem?  She couldn’t take in much.

Premature babies with underdeveloped bites take twice as long to feed, namely because it requires more effort.  This meant that Isabella was attached to my breast 23/7.  With no family nearby and a husband whose workaholic tendencies did not taper off with the arrival of our child as I’d imagined, I was left with one manic hour to sleep, shower, and clean the house.  I was lucky if I got around to brushing my teeth.

“You two look so beautiful,” my husband said from the doorway of the nursery one evening when he came home from work.  Dishes were stacked in the kitchen sink.  Piles of sweatshirts with spit-up were waiting for me in the laundry room.  I’d put on mascara three days before in a vain attempt to look pretty and feel normal, and hadn’t bothered to wash it off.  I didn’t have time to look pretty, let alone beautiful.  Meanwhile, he appeared freshly scrubbed, well-rested, and handsome.  I could have kicked him.

Isabella might have looked beautiful but her attempts at feeding were growing progressively strained. Delivering proper nutrition to her was my chief if not only concern, but everything I tried to make the process easier and more efficient failed.  She appeared to be shrinking while everything about me, including my anger, seemed to have tripled in size.  I also kept seeing the figures of small, irate children in my periphery vision, and, oddly enough, visions of my mother when she was a teenager.

The hallucinations were terrifying, but not as frightening as the person I became when, three weeks after Isabella was born, we took her to see her pediatrician.

“She’s lost weight,” Dr. Perry said with a disapproving cluck of his tongue and scowling at me over the rims of his glasses as if looking for tangible evidence of my many failures as a mother.

“All I do is breastfeed her,” I yelled.  Yelled was an understatement.  All other noise in the doctor’s busy office ceased.  My husband bent his beet-red face in shame.  When a nurse tipped her head into the room, presumably to make sure everyone was still alive, I realized I was standing over Dr. Perry and shaking a fist in his face.  I’d show him mothering, alright.  He jotted down a note on his prescription pad, handed it over without looking into my eyes, and promptly left the room.

The piece of paper had two words: La Leche.

I called them as soon as we got home.  The woman who answered sounded attractive and refreshed, which only made me madder.  Was everyone competent, good-looking, and raring to go but me?  Then I checked myself and relaxed into her voice at the same moment she detected the hysteria in mine.  She ordered me to buy a plastic bottle, which they sold, fill it with formula, and hang it upside down on my chest.  It would be equipped with tiny tubes that I would then secure to my nipples, enabling Isabella to take in a touch of formula along with good, old-fashioned breast milk.  In other words, why switch to formula altogether when there was such a genial solution?

It felt half-assed in a way, as fraudulent as a part-time vegetarian or a Christian-come-Sunday.  Still, I was determined to have the breastfeeding experience I’d imagined, and hell-bent on giving my daughter not only the best nutrition but the most authentic form of it.  I sent my husband out that night to purchase the supplies we needed for the experiment.  I didn’t have to ask twice—at that point, he would have swam to Alcatraz to retrieve the goods had I asked—and, armed with cautious optimism, I began the supplemental nursing system procedure.

Prepare formula.

Poor liquid into bottle.

(God, this was cake!)

Tape feeding tube to breasts.

Squeeze to make sure formula is coming out at Just the Right Speed.

Set baby on boob.

Easy, yes?

No.

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Struggling with a squirming infant who is perpetually hungry is no small feat.  Her livid screams didn’t help with my frayed nerves.  The tape moved.  I fumbled to get the tube in place while trying to keep Isabella’s mouth open wide enough and long enough to get my sore nipple and the feeder in at the same time.  She was averse to both.  My husband complained about her crying from the other room, his gracious mood gone.  The phone would not stop ringing.  My stomach was growling, my breasts were oozing, snot was gorging from my not-so-beautiful-in-that-moment daughter’s nose, and I couldn’t control the urge to pee. Motherhood wasn’t peach-lit rooms and soft nuzzles.  Motherhood was exactly what my grandmother said: It was goddamn messy.

After a considerable amount of time in which I swore to the Virgin Mary that I would never have sex again, Isabella started suckling, finally at ease with the contraption.  By then, I was too exhausted to appreciate it and wholly convinced that I should have just stuck with my own breasts.  And, of course, by the time I cleaned everything up, Isabella was awake again and I had to restart the entire process.

Dr. Perry checked Isabella’s weight a week later.  She was making progress.  It didn’t matter that I was devolving in every other way.  I had pseudo-breastfed successfully.  And even if I could see the indignation in the eyes of my friends who equated formula with the juice of the devil, I felt victorious.  I was a Capable Mother.

Four weeks after implementing the system, I decided to give myself a break and take a walk.  I packed Isabella into the stroller and parked her on the porch while I unlocked the gate.  A wail that sounded nothing like hunger pierced through the neighborhood.  In the twenty seconds I had turned my back, the stroller had rolled down the steps and tipped over on the brick walkway.  Isabella was buried underneath it.  She went silent.

My scream was louder than any of Isabella’s.  I was convinced her skull was crushed.  A neighbor rushed over and lifted the stroller for me; I couldn’t bear to look, nor could I bear to realize that I’d forgotten to set the brake.   She gathered my daughter in her arms, and Isabella started crying immediately.  It was the most glorious sound I’d ever heard.  Turns out, the feather pillow I’d placed under her head saved her from a fatal fall.  At least I’d done something right.

I thanked the neighbor, the sun, the stars, and the Virgin Mary, and vowed then and there to make a change.  Would I prefer a formula-raised child or a breastfed baby consistently at risk of losing her life because her mother was dangerously fatigued and absentminded as an old bat?  There was no question.

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I didn’t make it far that day.  I walked inside while my neighbor soothed Isabella, and threw away all the paraphernalia La Leche had suggested.  Then I took a hot shower, wrapped my breasts in tight fabric, and relinquished breastfeeding for good.  Two hours later, Isabella took in twice as much formula from a bottle in a quarter of the time she usually spent on my chest, then slept for four hours—the longest stretch of uninterrupted she’d ever had.

And, mercy, I slept too.

The room was peach-lit when we both awoke.  There was a raspberry chocolate chip muffin on the nightstand beside me.  I took a bite, silently thanked my husband for his small gestures of kindness, and smiled at Isabella.  She blinked and smiled back at me.  Our life together was about to begin.

Related post: 10 Reasons I Hated Breastfeeding

About the writer

Lauretta Zucchetti, a former award-winning executive at Apple and Xerox, has a daughter in college, a number of brag-worthy stamps on her passport, and a set of drums in her office.  A regular contributor to Having Time, Thank the Now, Self Growth, Soul Friends, and A Band of Women, her work is forthcoming in Literary MamaNothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions, and Crone: Women Coming of Age. Read more at Lauretta Zucchetti.

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Grace 1 year ago

I had a 25 week preemie. We spent 193 days in the NICU. During this time I provided breast milk as much as possible by pumping. My milk never did come in right, and I resorted to taking medication to help with milk supply. Given the medical problems our son had, breast milk was the best. The hospital was supportive and helpful. They even offered to let me pump at the bedside to help with milk production, but I just could not do that. We started supplementing with formula about 6 weeks before he came home. By this time I was so exhausted from everything we went through that the nurses were telling me to give it a rest and go to straight formula and get some sleep.

Breast feeding is brutally hard, and is not for everyone. I do think it is best if the mother can do it – especially preemies. But with preemies the emotional stress along with the complications, long hours in the hospital at a child’s bedside, etc, its not an easy decision to make one way or the other.

I’m just thankful that I was able to provide breast milk when I could and as long as I did, but I don’t try to make myself out to be a martyr or guilt other mothers into a task that isn’t easy.

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

I love “the breastfeeding Nazis..” Too funny.
Thank you for the comment!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

This is great! Thank you, Janet! This validates all of our struggles…:-)

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Aw, Marion, I am so happy you have your healthy twins when they were born 11 weeks premature (I had one at 26 weeks and he died, unfortunately). Thank you for your kind comments!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thank you, Michele. This is very nice of you to say. I hope things improve and congratulations on having had your 3rd!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Me too. Thank you!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

I am not surprised!
Thank you…

Jenn McKinney Quinn 1 year ago

i tried BF i tried pumping. dust came out. i just said fuck it, he’ll be just fine on formula. stocked up on similac at costco and poured myself a glass of wine. not one ounce of guilt. except over the $200 breast pump that went to waste.

Brandi 1 year ago

Thank you for sharing. My baby was also 4 weeks premature and spend 5 weeks in the NICU. I planned to breastfeed also, but we just could get in sync and I couldn’t handle all the stress. I ended up pumping exclusively. It worked out great for me and I didn’t mind it one bit. I know many women have a hard time with pumping.
So many people take issue with formula. Feeding your baby with breast milk or formula does not make or break the rest of their lives. It’s kind of ridiculous that people think formula is the absolute worst think you can do for your baby. It’s not like a breast fed baby is a guaranteed genius and that formula fed babies are the scourge of the world. People are so judgmental……about everything. Only you as a parent know what is best for you, your baby, and your family.

Hemina 1 year ago

I had a similar experience with my first son. He was 3 1/2 weeks early and same story…glad to hear I’m not the only one. Btw he’s 7 now, and as smart as can be. Turns out it not just magical breast milk, but also how much time and attention you give your children.

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Ditto!! I agree and thank you for saying it.

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thank you, Sandi. I’ll do the same when the time comes for MY daughter, you can rest assured.
All the best!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

So true! Thank you, Casey!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

So happy to be of help, LizW. Love is what matters and we love our children, even if breastfeeding doesn’t work. if it’s any consolation, my mom smoked like a chimney while pregnant with me (I’m from Italy and Italians used to smoke even more than now), and never breastfed me. Yet, I NEVER get sick… Go figure. Take care and thank you for your candid comment.

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Aw, Kimberly, my heart goes out to you! I hope you have help. I couldn’t do it with one, can’t imagine with two. My daughter began sleeping better and we both were so much happier, if this helps even more. Good luck and hang in there; it gets better!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks Amber! So sorry you had to be in the NICU. I know the feeling :-)

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thank you, Heatherjean. It took a while, but eventually I forgave myself and stopped paying attention to those who looked at me sideways (-:)). I appreciate your comments very much.

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks for your comment, Amber!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Bingo! I am sure I would have been able to continue on had I had ANYONE staying behind to help, including, I am sorry to say, my own husband who went back to work two days later. Brava, Alex, for having such a tight-knit family. Your husband must be a phenomenal man, as in our culture work comes first for most men. I would have done the exact same thing: spend however much it is needed to gel the family first!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Wow. This is so heart breaking. I did the same with La Leche and become accountable to them before being accountable to myself and my daughter. They were offended that I questioned the whole bottle with plastic tubes hanging from my neck in the middle of the night. It was a total nightmare and it’s a miracle my daughter is still alive (she fell from the bed one night while I was dealing with the medieval method), and I too. Thank you for sharing.

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

I wish I had your wisdom Jenni! Thanks for sharing,
Lauretta

alex 1 year ago

We spent 15K so we both could stay at home & be with our daughter. She has a serious heart defect & we didn’t think she would pull through. After Nov of that year, she was in the clear so my husband went back to work.

Jennifer Degl 1 year ago

Breastfeeding is difficult for most moms of full-term babies. Having a preemie makes it MUCH worse. Especially when your baby must be tube fed for months while you pump. Great post! My daughter Joy was born at 23 weeks last year. Due to modern medicine and prayers she is doing great today. I hemorrhaged at 17 weeks for the first of 4 times because of 100% placenta previa, which turned into placenta accreta (which I believe was caused by 3 prior c-sections). After she came home from 121 days in the NICU, I wrote a memoir called “From Hope To Joy” about my life-threatening
 pregnancy and my daughter’s 4 months in the NICU (with my 3 young sons at 
home), which is now available on both the Amazon and Barnes&Noble websites. It was quite a roller 
coaster that I am certain some of you have been on or are currently riding on. My mission is to provide hope to women struggling with
 high-risk pregnancies, encourage expectant mothers to educate themselves before 
electing cesarean deliveries, provide families of premature babies a realistic 
look at what lies ahead in their NICU journey, and show that miracles can 
happen, and hope can turn into joy.
 Please see my website http://www.micropreemie.net and http://www.facebook.com/jenniferdegl and watch our amazing video of my daughter’s miracle birth and life at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_hleySg-iU

Thank you.

JR 1 year ago

I’m not dissing what you did, but personally, I wouldn’t spend $15K in order to be able to breastfeed.

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thank YOU, Marianne. Again, more proofs that we are all human and we all share the same stories. Take care,
Lauretta

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing, Kayla. I too had another baby at 26 weeks (he didn’t survive though), and I can’t imagine what you went through. Are you still breastfeeding?
Lauretta

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thank you, Tiffany!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks for your comment, Lola. I really appreciate knowing that I am not alone in this! :-)
Best,
Lauretta

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing, Elisabeth!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks Sammie. I appreciate the support. So happy to share with wonderful moms!
Lauretta

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

I believe it! Things got so much better afterwards.

Thank you!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Oh gosh, Jen, your story gave me goose bumps! I remember one day driving to see my therapist (who was two hours away since we had moved) with my infant daughter with me, screaming because she was hungry. I stopped in the middle of the freeway to breastfeed her and cried like a baby (so now it was the two of us!) between being tired, this baby never feeling full and the absurdity of it all. Thanks you so much for sharing your moving story too,
Lauretta

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thank YOU, Stefanie. I am so glad that there are forums where we can all share our challenges and anguish over this kind of things. I am sorry about your journey too and relate to everything you experienced!

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks Lola. All these affirmations of women sharing similar experiences means SO much to me. I felt like a murderer when I had to stop doing it, but with time i realized it was a blessing! Thanks so much again for your comment,
Lauretta

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks, Mikki. I totally agree and that’s why I made that decision(to give up breastfeeding). I appreciate your kind comment.
Lauretta

Lauretta Zucchetti 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing your story too Amna. My heart goes out to you. It’s amazing what you went through, especially in the throngs of having just given birth and feeling most likely shaky and depressed.
Judging others is only a way to make oneself feel better, but it doesn’t work, especially for those who do it. My doctor became so angry at the hospital for releasing me the day after I gave birth (when nursing was such a problem) that he called the insurance company and yelled at them non-stop.
It’s so true that mommies will always take care of one another! what would we do without women friends, I wonder..!

jengd 1 year ago

Good for you! My son was born more or less when he was supposed to be and we tried the breastfeeding thing. We did. For an hour and a half, I’d try to get him to latch. He wouldn’t do anything. He wouldn’t. Nothing. Then he was a piranha and bit down as hard as he could… and then let go. And fell asleep. Rinse and repeat. After 4 days, the doctor said the same thing you heard- he was losing weight. He suggested renting a pump and meeting with a lactation specialist at the hospital. I pumped for a day, Beast drank the bottle like there’d never be more. The next day, 2hrs with the LS ended in, “He’s a lazy eater. You’re going to have a hard time.” Fast forward a few more days of trying for an hour and a half, pumping for 20min, feeding him for another 20min, spending 20 min. cleaning up, 30min of quiet time, rinse and repeat. It all ended when I was piranhaed yet again, the nth time in 8 days. I almost put him through a wall. I was exhausted. I was in pain and it wasn’t accomplishing a single thing. I was dirty. The dishes were dirty. My mother in law had moved in to “help” and all I wanted was for her to leave me alone. That was the last time I tried to breastfeed. It wasn’t worth it. I pumped for almost a year, Mama la’ Moo’ed if you will. A La Leche f[r]iend sneered at me, “Oh. Decided not to breastfeed, eh?” I never invited her in my house again. In the end, my need for sanity won out over any notions I had of what breastfeeding should be like.

Casey 1 year ago

Thank you for posting this… I had an awful time with my daughter too… We finally got it together but I completely agree that having a Mommy who has gotten some sleep and is a bit more relaxed is far healthier than just breastfeeding.

I, too, called La Leche League. They were not helpful. They made me feel like a failure. I was a formula baby from 7 weeks on, and my daughter did both. Because sometimes the thought of her touching my nipples made me psychotic.

<3 to you and your daughter!

Laura Marianne 1 year ago

Amazing. And respect :)

Rose 1 year ago

I think because they are twins, people are so fascinated at the thought of breastfeeding two at once that all manners fly out the window? I wish I had the fortitude to say something equally inappropriate back to them.

Theresa 1 year ago

I too had trouble breast feeding. I wanted so badly to do it and felt like I failed as a new mother by having to use formula. My hubby works away from home for weeks at a time too and I had no family for help or support. By the 3rd month, I was so beyond tired and stressed that I started having seizures again. I had no choice but to go with formula. Now almost 5yrs later, I’m seizure free, and have the most beautiful, healthy and smart set of twins. I only wish that I hadn’t waited so long and worried so much about what everyone else thought I should and shouldn’t do for the twins.

Heather Nale 1 year ago

BF is not a piece of cake I tried & cried & the bf Nazis at the hospital were no help. turns out having hypothyroidism can effect milk production. i nursed with supplement when needed for 4 months then just formula

Jenny Breaud Stuben 1 year ago

You tried. It’s all that matters.

Anita Stansfield 1 year ago

Second child is a lot easier!

Mariana 1 year ago

In 2011 I gave birth to my daughter, via csection at 41 weeks, a hefty baby girl born with two eyes opened and a huge appetite. She sucked so hard she blistered my nipples. She nursed day and night, perfect latch (or so I was told), yet for the first month she only lost weight. Despite my huge size F boobs, I made almost no milk. I too bought this crazy contraptions of a bottle and tubes to tape to my breast, and I even got the hang of it. I fed her like that day and night, for 6 whole months, waiting for the miracle of enough milk. I don’t know what I was thinking! It was insane, it drove me bonkers with no sleep and all those little parts to clean. I so desperately wanted to breastfeed! Then, the day after she turned 6 months, my birthday, I just couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, I handed her over to my husband, he gave her a bottle, and it slept for peaceful 4 hours straight. That was it. I fed her one last time from my breast, no tubes, and we were done. I felt guilty about it for years… I cryed every time I thought of it. And then I made my peace with it.

Then I had my son last year, another hungry baby, but this time I had milk! The first 6 weeks were hell, he nursed all night long and I got no sleep, at 16 weeks we were pros! He is nearly 8 months and we are going strong, and I love nothing more than to nurse him, at the same time I now see it doesn’t change how we relate, love is love, bottle or breast. I now see that while breastfeeding is wonderful, not breastfeeding does not make me less of a mother, or woman, as I had feared.

I am their mother, making milk or buying formula is a small detail.

DontBlameTheKids 1 year ago

Good lord. STRANGERS ask you if you breastfed?! How does that even come up in conversation?

DontBlameTheKids 1 year ago

Usually I stay far, far away from breastfeeding articles/essays/whatnot, for obvious reasons, but oh my stars, I can’t believe you suffered through that. I want to smack your doctors. My daughter was born 8 weeks early. She couldn’t nurse, or even bottlefeed–she needed a tube. The doctor and LLL (they aren’t all evil, it turned out) suggested that if I wanted to keep the option of nursing open, that I would need to pump, pretty much round the clock, until she reached her due date. I was skeptical as to whether she would suddenly magically learn how to nurse, but willing to try. And…it worked. And I was glad I had done that. It was the right choice for me, not for everyone. But what you went through was just crazy.

Heather 1 year ago

I was induced 6 weeks early due to complications from preeclampsia.  I hemmoraged 2.5 liters of blood during delivery & they put me on magnesium. They told me not to pump for two days until that was out of my system. I barely produced 1/2 an ounce of colostrum to split between them. I pumped religiously after the two days waiting for my supply to come in. I used the platinum pumps in the Nicu every chance I got. I cried sitting in the pumping rooms reading all the benefits of breastfeeding. I hated my breasts for depriving my preemie babies of homemade nutrition. I wanted so badly to give my girls the gift of breastfeeding, but at the high end I only produced 40 ml a day. They were on formula the entire time & have always gained weight well, although both have feeding issues. They are both way ahead of the curve on every other developmental milestone. One rolled onto her tummy days before her 3 month birthday & both have excellent head control and push themselves up onto their elbows a nd straighten their arms during tummy time. I’ve done extensive research & it actually seems formula fed babies have the advantage of balanced nutrition & don’t require iron supplementation. Also, breastfed babies are at a higher risk for asthma. In the end all that matters to me is my girls are happy & healthy (and they are).

Heather Holter 1 year ago

I had twins at 34 weeks, we spent 6 days in the NICU and I nursed them both for almost 2 yrs. I did not sleep and it was very hard, as I had 3 other kids under 6 to care for. I had also nursed those 3. My first would not nurse till day 6 AT ALL and I constantly worried he would die. Then he finally got the hang of it. At the time I was mad, didn’t like him much and just wanted to go back to not being a mom. Little did I know, that experience would be what gave me the confidence to nurse my twins! Without that I would have given up too. Thank God he helped me learn so that when the twins were born early I would know what to do! Nursing is HARD, having a preemie (or 2) is HARDER. I could not even imagine having both at once first! Giving up nursing is not a shameful thing. Mamas have to do whats best for everyone! Thanks for sharing your story!

Kaseylynn 1 year ago

The second I met my daughter, I was totally in love and wanted to do the best thing: breastfeed. I gave it the old college try, I called la leche league but quit after 4 months with some self made story about going back to work never admitting to myself that despite my all consuming love of my baby perhaps *gulp* I didn’t like breastfeeding. After I had my son I had a very difficult time bonding. I had another small child at home and was overwhelmed and everyone kept telling me breastfeeding would help the bonding situation along and so I did. My nipples got sore, he got a rash all over his face, I had to triple feed to get his weight up and I was miserable. Then one day I woke up and a little voice told me that once I bottle-fed, it would be easier for me to adjust and after 3 days of formula I was ENJOYING him. As a nurse I always tell mothers that the best gift they can give a baby is a mother who enjoys them. For me, that meant bottle-feeding. For a lot of other woman that means breastfeeding. A happy mom means a happy baby. Congrats on your daughter by the way, she seems to have a mother who loves her and is willing to do anything for her. What a gift you are giving her!

Trina Keays 1 year ago

This reminds me a lot of my own story, although my biggest problem was lack of milk supply. I eventually switched to formula and everything was so much better after! Feeding your baby should not be so stressful! Do what works for your situation.

Amna 1 year ago

Ah thank you. He did get about 180ml total from me, from pumping 3mo throughout the days and nights. Mainly because one nurse (around 40 nurses were in rotation there) named Angel can you believe it, said any drop even is so valuable and can make all the difference for him. However, the whole system of “formula-free hospitals” or called “baby centered hospitals” though with great ideals & goals I believe, go about it without regard to the mothers’ health and can be a bit insensitive, especially in the stressful time of having any newborn under any circumstances.

Grace Douchette 1 year ago

I think it is good for moms to hear the real reality of it, I wish I knew it before I had my first and it might have helped me emotionally and mentally. It is a real struggle for a lot of moms.

Grace Douchette 1 year ago

With my first he had a tongue tie they found at 6 weeks…6 weeks of crying trying to breastfeed every hour and a half for an hour and a half. Then pumped instead. My second came six weeks early and had the weak suck so I pumped from day one.

Rose 1 year ago

My twin boys were born at 36 weeks and in addition to being early, they are both tongue tied. I found out 3 years after it could have made a difference that that makes latching even harder. Judging by my tears, I still feel guilty about my decision to give up breastfeeding although it was the right thing to do. Reading this brought me right back to the isolation (my husband is AMAZING but he had to get back to work- but I will forever remember the dear man trying to help me nurse) and the overwhelming feeling of drowning as a first time mom at home alone. Thank you for writing this, I want to print it out and give copies to the strangers that STILL ask me if I breastfed.

Lisa Kleiman Drake 1 year ago

That’s reality at its best

Jessica Lackey Keiser 1 year ago

I cried when I read this. Even 5 1/2 years later, I am still not over those awful first 6 weeks courtesy of the nipple nazis and my own romantic desire to breast feed.

Lisa Marie Garman 1 year ago

I can completely relate to this. There comes a time when you have to come to terms with the fact that it isn’t failure, it is making the best decision for your child. Not easy to accept and felt like failure, but we both were better off for it.

Amanda-jayne Bradbury 1 year ago

I had a 26 weeker, expressed for him. Started hand expressing then on day 4 moved to hospital pump, I expressed every 2 hrs to begin with for 20 mins a side to build up my supply. Many prem mums panic about not producing enough but we forget that tiny babies don’t need much so our bodies don’t produce it. After pumping for a few weeks I went to every 3 hrs much like a newborn baby would nurse and kept my supply up for the 14 weeks he was in the nicu. I 1st latched him at 33 weeks and slowly introduced it, yes it was hard but being a mum is not easy. I bf him for a while year before he self weaned, best thing ever. Stick with it x

Audrey Moore 1 year ago

This is a great article. Mothers should be more honest about their breastfeeding experiences. Its not easy for everyone…

Nic Ponsford 1 year ago

I applaud you for sharing your story. Absolutely brilliant – the bitter truth that only a mummy with the same issues can really comprehend. I hope you two are very happy, with this behind you and lots of cookies in front of you x

Hazel Thompson 1 year ago

I expressed for my first baby, she was on BM for 2 weeks but I couldn’t keep my supply up due to stress (she was 10 weeks early). I didn’t attempt BF my son, personally I hate the feeling of it x

Sarah Julia Herrmann 1 year ago

I have 2 kids, neither of which I was able to breast feed. The first had a temporary overbite and was unable to latch, even with the help of a plastic cover. The other was a preemie and was too small to breast feed. I pumped and tortured myself and my family for 6 months. Met several times with lactation consultants to no avail. We were all much happier when I decided to abandon the pump and all the paraphernalia.

Heidi Mangus 1 year ago

This couldn’t come at a better time. I’m struggling through the first few days of a pre/early term dd and I trying to figure each other out. It is so much harder than I expected.

Vanessa Bellden 1 year ago

Absolute tears. My twins now 5, were born 11 weeks premature. The anguish, guilt and demand I placed on myself to pump my breasts 24/7 to ensure they had all the nutrition I could give them was a stress in hindsight I didn’t need to place on myself. To all the premmie mums, hats off to you whether you breast or bottle feed :-)

Monica Davey 1 year ago

I remember the exact moment I decided that I was not going to be able to BF. There just comes a point where you have to give up the painful fight and enjoy the time with your child. Nobody wins when you’re both just sitting there crying.

David Barneby 1 year ago

Breast feeding is fine for mothers who can do it and have plenty of milk .
The current medical profession is very wrong to force it on mothers , to make them feel guilty if it doesn’t work . So many young mothers struggle to breast feed their baby , who isn’t getting enough milk or milk of sufficient quality . No Messing , they should be advised to go straight onto formula milk . Formula has to be fed at precise regular intervals , which helps young mothers to have a routine that should give them a chance to have a rest in the middle of the day . Happy mother and Happy Baby !!!

Chantal Granger 1 year ago

first daughter was born at 28weeks. I pumped for the first 8 weeks while she was in the hospital. We didn’t even get to try to bf until she was 6weeks. She did great and we were able to bf for 17months however it was uncomfortable for me the whole time. We also supplemented with formula to help her gain weight. it was worse with my second and we quit just under a year also supplemented the whole time. I may have bf for a long time but wont lie to anyone its not easy and its not for everyone. feeding and doing what is best for you and baby is the most important!

Jennifer Brenton, MD 1 year ago

The United Arab Emirates is considering a law, pending final approval at this time, making it mandatory for women to breastfeed for two years following the birth of their child.
After having experienced four months of my own adventures (and misadventures) with breastfeeding, my breasts suddenly and without warning simply stopped producing milk, I would not wish a mandatory law on any women in the world concerning breastfeeding. Thanks to Lauretta Zucchetti for the frank prose, and thanks to all who shared their stories in the comments. It is wonderful to see such a supportive community of women on this topic!
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/04/uae-mothers-divided-over-breastfeeding-law-2014414103843773674.html

ouindi 1 year ago

I exclusively fed my baby pumped breast milk for the first 5 months of his life but i was miserable. He latched ok but the pain was too much. I’m a FTSAHM and my mom was able to live with me for 3 weeks and my DH exteneded his parternity leave 3 weeks after she left. Having them there with me was both good and bad. good because i was able to rest a little but bad because i got used to their help and once DH returned to work I really struggled with pumping and I barely was bonding with my son. I stopped pumping and when he turned 5 months i started feeding him formula and it’s the best decision i ever made.

Tracy Motz 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing, just goes to show that there is more than one way for mother and child to bond.

Brooklyn Lewis 1 year ago

This brought tears to my eyes. So glad she shared her story.

LadyPasta Brown 1 year ago

I breast fed all three of my children until they were a year old, and I had milk to donate, back in the day, that’s just what you did. I was so proud that one of my babies, Jody, was a lactation consultant for new moms, so their experience was a positive one, no pressure.

Terri Agy 1 year ago

My nurse was a bitch and had me in tears. I got so upset with it I gave up.

Lucinda Honeycutt 1 year ago

Breastfeeding is not for everyone. In the first month or two it can be miserable. However, if you are able to get through those first few weeks, it is definitely worthwhile. I breastfed both my children for a year, and I would not trade it for anything. I would say at least give it a try, but if it doesn’t seem right for you don’t feel guilty for formula feeding. The most important thing is that the baby is fed, and that both Mom and baby are healthy. I would also say to Mom’s who really want to breastfeed, don’t give up in the first couple of weeks unless baby is not getting enough nourishment. It takes at LEAST 2 weeks to get nursing well established.

Patricia Gabe 1 year ago

I got shingles 3 days after giving birth, and was told to “pump & dump” by the doctor. Screwed up my supply big-time. I was lucky and found a great lactation consultant, and it was covered by insurance because the issues were illness-induced. It took 2 months of training and a breastfeeding-formula “IV” kind of thing, and I was able to breastfeed exclusively for quite a while. But it was WORK. Natural does NOT mean easy!

Katie Pottichen 1 year ago

GREAT ARTICLE!!!!

Nom DePlume 1 year ago

With my son, I was cracked and starting to bleed in the hospital! My mom asked a nurse if there was creme I could use, and the nurse showed me I wasn’t getting the nipple in his mouth far enough, and that fixed everything (I was lucky) – I feel badly for any mom who was in my position, but didn’t have the right nurse at the right time. I don’t know how much longer I could have gone with that pain!

Stephanie Azen 1 year ago

Thank u for sharing this!

Stephanie Azen 1 year ago

Oh the pressures of breast feeding are terrible! The day I have up and switched to formula was the best day of my beginning mommy hood days!

Heather Fishburn-Belisle 1 year ago

I’ve always frowned upon people for feeding their babies formula, and not “trying hard enough” to breastfeed. After reading this, I feel extremely guilty for that and I will never pass judgment again. Sometimes you have to do what is best for you AND baby, which is exactly what you did. I’m so sorry you were unable to, because it really is a great experience, but only if it works out well for the both of you. Maybe with your next child you’ll be able to experience it. I hope you and baby are doing well.

Lauren Roats Liguori 1 year ago

Thank you! I tried to breastfeed my son, but he wouldn’t latch on and I always felt guilty. My daughter had a great latch but I wasn’t producing enough milk and she lost a lot of weight. I breastfed and gave formula for 7 months. I wish I could have kept going, but I hardly had any milk and it was extremely time consuming to breastfeed and bottle feed at every meal. It’s really frustrating how many books and classes make it seem like everyone can breastfeed and everyone will be successful!

Maggie Poling 1 year ago

My first two kiddos were premies, 29 wks and 34 wks, but I tried with both to BF. All I could do was pump, they never successfully latched, and I got tired of the guilt/lack of sleep/loss of their weight. My third was the only one I BF until 2, but she is still tiny! Go figure!

Lucia 1 year ago

Thank you sharing this. I pumped and supplemented with formula with both of mine. My son (who is now a happy, healthy 3 year old) just would not latch. I tried and tried to get him to breastfeed to no avail. We practically lived at the breastfeeding clinic the first month of his life. My breasts were so engorged those first 3-4 days because he was just not getting anything out. I ended doing the process of trying to breast feed him, then pumping and feeding him the breast milk and feeding him formula if he was still hungry (which most of time he was). This look such a long time that by the time I was finished it was time to start the process all over again. I managed to do this for about 5 months until finally I was so exhausted that I bit the bullet and just formula fed him. He was happier and I managed to get some sleep finally. With my daughter, I had the exact same issue but this time I didn’t have the luxury of just having one baby to take care of. Again, I tried to breast feed and ended up at the lactation consultants’ office numerous times. I pumped and supplemented for about 3 months with her and then switched her to formula. They are both happy, well-adjusted and healthy today. I completely agree that BF is best for the baby but sometimes it is just not to be and formula is a perfectly good alternative. My advice to new moms: do your best to try to establish breast feeding but don’t kill yourself and DO NOT let anyone guilt or pressure you. You know what is the best for you and your baby.

Sarah Horne Kay 1 year ago

16 weeks premature and I pumped religiously every 2 hours for 3 months straight I knew my baby would need supplemental feedings so after talking to the amazing nurses decided to just bottle feed so she could come home on time

Jamie Mantovani 1 year ago

7.5 weeks early and the ped convinced me formula was necessary to track amount and nutrients. I’ve asked (blamed) myself for every sickness she’s ever had since obviously I didn’t provide her every antibody possible.
Truth being sometimes things happen and the love is all the same. Thank goodness for breast milk and thank goodness for formula. Thank goodness babies that can eat- eat. It’s hard either way. Adding whether you’re a “valuable” boob or not to being a mom is a lot. Let’s just not judge the mom with a bottle or a boob and be glad the baby can eat. :)

Brittany Smith 1 year ago

a happy baby is a fed baby, breast milk or formula… breast isent always best for everyone

Andrea Barrows 1 year ago

Wow! Your story is much like mine with my third child who was four weeks early! Crazy

Jessica DeFilippis 1 year ago

I pump fed my 1 pound preemie long enough to get to the point where I could hold her “kangaroo” there was no option for us. Nervous breakdown = meds = no breast feeding. O drove myself nuts for months. In the end suped up preemie medicated formula saved her life. She’s almost 4 and 30 something pounds…. 30 somemthing…obviously the right people never said it would be ok. Formula saved my daughters life. Long live choice. But longer live medicine!

Beth Rabin Akkaway 1 year ago

I think as a new Mom we put so much pressure on ourselves to breast feed and do what we think us the “right” thing but at the end of the day what’s “right” is all very personal. If you decide to breast feed or formula feed what it comes down to is what’s best for you and your baby. As the child gets older it will be similar for all situations. It’s not what’s right in society’s eyes, but what’s “right” for you, your child and family.

Melissa Mathison 1 year ago

I pumped with my oldest. He was 9 weeks premature ssh there was no way he could breastfeed. I did it for 6 months and finally gave it up because it was killing my boobs. I did it once again with my youngest who was 6 weeks premature. He eventually caught on, but stopped once I went to work. Luckily with my daughter, who was only 4 weeks early, I was able to exclusively breastfeed. As long as my babies were getting what they needed I was happy.

Milinda Baxley Darnell 1 year ago

I loved how the story ended!!

Jennifer Willett 1 year ago

I can relate for sure! I was so set on breast feeding my son. He was latching well, but my flow would stop after a few minutes. He’d fuss and cry. I’d cry. We’d be up for hours on end with small breaks in between. He was never happy. My husband kept telling me to give him a bottle, but I just couldn’t. One night I was awake 5 hours and he still wasn’t happy, so I gave him a bottle. He chugged it, and fell asleep for hours. I cried for days thinking I was a failure. But I learned over time I wasn’t. Continuing to try to breast feed and thus starving my son would make me a failure as a mother. I did what he needed, and what I needed to stay sane and healthy. There is nothing wrong with formula feeding and mothers need to be told that way more often!

Tanagra Schuele 1 year ago

Had 4, including twins.. I tried so very hard…we all ended up crying and covered in milk. Not easy for some. And I had many , many tries at it. I even had a coach. I wanted so bad to breast feed my children and have that wonderful bond with them. For some reason none of them would have it.

Meagan 1 year ago

I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story!! I had my daughter in May (7 days past my DD)& had planned on breastfeeding during the entire pregnancy. Once, she arrived, I realized quickly that breastfeeding was going to be the hardest thing I’d ever attempted. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get her to latch on. It was horrible. Turns out I have what the lactation consultants call “inverted nipples”. Every shift change, the lactation consultant would come in with some new piece of advice (usually contradicting what the others had told me) & some new contraption. Still nothing. My poor girl wouldn’t stop crying and sleeping was out of the question. She was hungry, starving actually. I basically kept her on my breast for hours at a time. Finally, one of the night shift nurses brought in some formula and reassured me that I was not a failure. Once we went home, I kept trying to BF. She was on my breast(s) for about an hour at a time, every thirty minutes. However, she still never seemed satisfied. I sought help from every direction and still had no luck. At this point, I felt like a complete failure as a new mother. I tried to pump hoping that would work better. I pumped for about an hour and a half on one breast and had a whopping 1.5 oz in the bottle. By her first doctor’s appointment, she was rapidly losing weight. That was it. We were both beyond exhausted. I couldn’t enjoy this new life I had been waiting 41 (long) weeks to meet. I was so consumed with breastfeeding because I was made to believe that breastfeeding was the only feasible option. Her doctor reassured me that formula was perfectly fine. I finally put the pump, nipple shields, and cream away. I was done. She started on formula and within a couple days, she started gaining weight and SLEEPING! Not only did she start to sleep, she would take long naps during the day and sleep all night by two months. Everything was falling into place, finally. I wish that more people would share their story so women didn’t feel so alone in one of the most challenging times in their life.

Alexia Johnstone 1 year ago

Breastfeeding a preemie is awfully tough. I personally did not make it very far.

Christina Bulger Cameron 1 year ago

It took my daughter and I a month to get the swing of bf’ing – she was a preemie too. We supplemented with formula, I pulled, etc, etc. we were really luck and got some great help; but it’s not for everyone, and that’s ok!!

Susan Schissel Weerakkody 1 year ago

I can so relate with you and all these other supportive mommies! I was soo relieved when my husband found me hysterical holding and trying to feed our first daughter and said, in such an understanding, supportive, and encouraging way “honey, I’ll get a bottle”. I was trying so hard to do the “right thing” for him and all our family/friends, forgetting about me and my baby!! The most important thing is for the baby to be fed!! Too many woman are concerned about THEIR “delivery and feeding plans” they forget about the baby and his/her immediate needs.

Shari Wippert 1 year ago

I had an extreme case of mastitis with my oldest daughter. No matter what the Dr’s gave me, it would start to go away, then come right back. I spent five weeks trying my best to breastfeed her before I finally gave up. I felt so ashamed that I vowed I would breastfeed all my other babies for at least a year. The longest I went was three miserable months with my second, and I barely made it a month with my third. Breastfeeding just didn’t work for me, and having so much pressure from Dr’s and nurses just made me feel like the worst mom in the world. I had very little support even when I lived closer to my family, and when you’re exhausted, trying to take care of an infant, especially with older siblings demanding attention, is impossible! I am very relieved that I will never have to deal with that kind of pressure again, since I can no longer have children!

Ricci Marie Fuentes 1 year ago

It’s so important to do what’s best for YOU. If mama is not happy, baby won’t be happy. Bottom line.

Sue Pierce 1 year ago

Thank you for sharing your story.

Joy Valley Werner 1 year ago

This made me cry, I tried everything to get my daughter to latch. I ended up pumping and giving my daughter my breast milk in bottles, after the doctor told me I needed to give her formula. She had lost so much weight and after being so upset and hungry for so long she became the happiest baby. Next baby perhaps will be easier. Thank you for sharing this story.

Carolyn S. Smith 1 year ago

Second time around WAS a piece of cake for me!!!

Jen Roman 1 year ago

Yes! That made me cry…definite similarities to my experience.

Meri Lowry 1 year ago

oh wow. I give you kudo points

Jennifer Bruns 1 year ago

This is exactly what happened to me with both my boys. I had low milk supply as well. You have to care for yourself to care for your baby!

Elizabeth Moses 1 year ago

Let me qualify: we should not pretend it’s easy and all roses. (I have nursed three kiddos for a sum total of 4.5 years from start to finish. First one was tough, second one easier, and my last babe–nursing her was like breathing.). But just as we should warn women it takes effort, it *all* takes effort, it’s six one way, a half dozen the other really. So every time we scoff at the claims that it’s easy (to start… fortunately I was lucky enough to continue nursing for at least a year with each baby, and after two months it was down to a science and wonderful. On the other hand, one of my dearest friends cried daily and I watched her struggle to produce and ultimately opt for formula out of necessity. She was heartbroken and I for her.)
What is disappointing is the idea that we would deter women so they aren’t as inclined to see if it’s for them. You can go from breast to bottle if you decide that’s best, but it’s somewhat harder deciding that you’d like to nurse after a period of formula feeding!
Back to the point: for every warning we feel compelled to give about the type of work attached to either feeding method, we should encourage any mom with even a hint of interest in nursing… before depicting it like an inevitably miserable experience and encouraging her to stop before she ever gets started.

Michelle Banks 1 year ago

So so true! Love this article!

Raina Lynette Marsee 1 year ago

Lol so true! I always worried the poor thing would suffocate in there!

Alison Sutton 1 year ago

I had a very ill 9 week premature baby. He was sent to NICU 2 hours away. I was still in hospital after an emergency c-section. I pumped for him every 2 hours, even through the night. He was given my milk and special formula was added. He had his first real breast feed from me at 11 weeks. I remember one of the nurses telling me I was wasting my time as he would be on formula before he leaves the NICU. I persevered, he was breast fed for more than 12 months, but it wasn’t easy.

Sam Bellamy 1 year ago

I spent 8 weeks trying to establish breastfeeding my twins – 8 weeks of mastitis and motillium and nipple shields and block feeding and cluster feeding and expressing and tears and finally after all that, we had success. I went on to feed them for 16 months – would I do it all again. I doubt it. Should I have tortured myself for 8 solid weeks of hard work. I doubt it. Do I regret it -Not for a minute.

Roxanne MacLean 1 year ago

I swore my daughter was jaws! But we learned as we went.

Paula Christine 1 year ago

I pumped for a month. Then gave up and I honestly didn’t care or understand the whole controversy

Tiffany Sideroff-Page 1 year ago

It is hard to breast feed a premie! Took my daughter over a week to learn

Brittany Morris Brown 1 year ago

I appreciate the honesty in this article… Many women struggle with BF and it truly is about just having a happy, healthy baby!

Kimberly Eastman Mora 1 year ago

4 kids and handled them all differently, because remember: you do what works for you (at the time). #1 BF and I was miserable. He had colic SO bad. #2 formula fed because I just couldn’t do it again (only 22 months after #1). #3 BF (7.5 years after #2). So hard, horrible latch, so I pumped as well. Finally had his frenulum clipped to help… horrible experience! #4 (23 months later) BF. Horrible latch and colicky? Seriously? Turns out it was milk intolerance, which I learned after trying formula. So I modified my diet and solely pumped for 10 months because I refused to do surgery again after experience with #3. All 4 kids survived. BTW, the 3 BF kids were ALWAYS sick. Ear infections and colds, all the time :( So don’t let anyone’s experience dictate your own.

Morgan Stephenson McClelland 1 year ago

Hardest thing I have ever done.

Rachelle Rose 1 year ago

I’m confused why she didn’t just pump and offer her the breast when she was older?

Elizabeth Moses 1 year ago

I embrace the healthy feeding of babies that meets a family’s needs, whether the circumstances mean that it’s breastmilk or formula. But we should still encourage mom’s to give it a solid try, not for the ‘mommy war’ or ‘mommy guilt’ reasons, but because if it works for a mother it can be seamless and simple… No bottles to wash, nothing to heat, or mix, or measure, no running out to the store and spending seventy bajillion dollars when for *most* a tata will do the trick… It is always the right temperature and the right balance of nutrition. I am all for formula feeding if it is in the best interest of mom&babe, but we should be responsible about *not making it seem prohibitively difficult.*
We are mammals designed for nursing our infants and most women who even consider trying shouldn’t be scared away by those who had (albeit valid) hurdles that made it difficult/impossible for them. (This is more in response to the status intro and not at all regarding the piece regarding preemie nursing… If I was a young mom reading even that single sentence I might be dissuaded from trying, and that’s a pretty lame stance to take.)

Lauren Kuhbander Thomas 1 year ago

And in the end, you can’t look around a Kindergarten classroom and tell who was breastfed and who was formula fed. It all works out.

Amy Lianna 1 year ago

Breastfeeding is damn hard even if by all definitions it’s going great. For me after an initial hiccup when my milk came in slowly, bf took off. But I was also feeding hourly for 8 weeks, day and night. Falling asleep with her standing up. Then dragging her into the bed with me. I didn’t plan to co sleep, I had to.
Even now six months down the track, baby has gone from the 50th percentile to the 97th. My milk made a fat healthy baby and with my spectacular immune system that’s she’s benefiting from.
But I also can’t wait until its over in a way. I see everyone around me with their baby bottles.
Someone lied about how easy it was, there’s not mountains of prep, it’s easy and quick. My friends can go out, can go back to work, go to the gym or simply pass the baby to dad on weekends and get more then a two hour nap in.
I almost wish I had failed to start with.

Lauren Kuhbander Thomas 1 year ago

That’s the one piece of advice I tell all my pregnant friends. It ain’t easy. And in fact it’s exhausting. Worth it, but exhausting.

Sarah Day 1 year ago

Ha fucking ha is right.

Clare OBrien 1 year ago

Refreshing reality check. Been there… “failure to thrive” no mother wants that diagnosis.

Melissa Franklin 1 year ago

I had no trouble at all breastfeeding

Erin Leanne Cummins 1 year ago

Love this!

Lydia Quinones 1 year ago

I tried breastfeeding my first for her first two weeks of life. And I went right to formula because she was jaundiced and I was bleeding, vowing to do better with the second. I breastfed my second for two days and went right to formula, again because he was jaundiced (more than his sister had been) and screaming out of starvation. Formula is not evil and breastfeeding is good too. We all need to be supportive of each other, because we don’t know what the other woman has gone through.

Amy Glover Giusto 1 year ago

Great article. My drs advice was to not worry about it and let other people help me feed my twins. I’m so glad I just let it go, so to speak and it really wasn’t hard for me. My husband really bonded with our boys by holding them and feeding them and our parents did too. Cheers to women who breast feed and cheers to those of us who don’t! We all have our own path.

JD Katsonis 1 year ago

Absolutely agree. I had the same issues. I nursed my 1st daughter for 3months thru bleeding & cracked nipples, no sleep, no support. I really felt like shit. Mentally and physically.

Maria Gloria 1 year ago

My lactation consultant completely inhibited my milk production by telling me everything that was wrong in the whole picture of me and the birth of my twins…

Laura Freeman Myers 1 year ago

Thank you! I tried. I had that crazy tube taped to my breast. And nothing. Switched to formula 2 weeks later when I was so sleepy that I fell asleep standing up with my baby in my arms. Thankfully I didn’t drop him. It’s not for everyone.

Argie Kripotos Cilmi 1 year ago

Thank you for sharing your story!! Very well-written, honest words.

Kitty Bachmann 1 year ago

Even at full term my baby had a hard time latching. They tell you it’s natural they don’t tell you it doesn’t work for everyone. I had to train my dd how to latch with the help of a lactation consultant and my husband. I couldn’t do it alone, I would have had a breakdown. I felt like such a failure. I applaud those women who struggle for weeks and months. Its okay to use formula, its okay to give up. I would have quit after 2 wks but the baby started latching.

Jessica Salazar 1 year ago

Beautigul. Well written and absolutely loved reading it!

Charlotte 1 year ago

Thank you so much for this article. There are so many like it, but yours is succinct and beautiful and charming all at once. I have a three year old son who was born with a rare (i.e. 1 in 60,000) genetic metabolic condition called “Galactosemia”, for which the treatment is strict- no breastfeeding. None, ever. No matter your diet.

When they told me this when he fell mysteriously ill at 8 days old (which we would later learn was owing solely to the breastfeeding I’d been doing, every drop of milk forcing his liver to systematically shut down and fail) I thought they were insane. I whispered “This is a children’s hospital, for God’s sake…..they’re telling me to feed him formula??” It was the strangest, most ass-backwards, opposite of everything holy thing to ever happen to me.

Breastfeeding had been shoved down my throat for so long and then, just like that, it was taken away from me. I was warned of the DANGERS of breastfeeding my sick kid. And then he and I embarked on a journey through the world together, where everyone and their cousin would see me bottle-feeding a newborn and add their two cents, without knowing, without considering, even, that there was a reason why.

If I knew then what I knew now, my goodness. Neeedless to say, my ideals all fell by the wayside. My only objective was to keep my kid alive and healthy. Now, I am breastfeeding my 8 month old who does not have the same condition as my older son (though he could have, with the odds being 1 in 4) and it is not so much different. I am bonded with both of them, and I find neither experience more convenient or easier than the other. Just feed your baby. The rest will fall into place so much easier.

Amanda Ayers Campbell 1 year ago

After a week of barely producing any milk and trying my hardest to pump and get a baby to latch on, I gave up on breastfeeding. Formula-fed babies are just as happy and healthy. Love the honesty in this article! Too many breastfeeding articles make moms feel like failures if they use formula.

Olivia Stipe Manke 1 year ago

I wanted to hug this woman so tightly! It seemed so familiar to me with my first.

Kelly O’Keefe Metras 1 year ago

I find it ironic that in this society your honesty makes you a “scary” mommy. My motto: happy mommy equals happy baby. If breastfeeding is your thing, great! If not, great! The fact that we care about our babies enough to sacrifice sleep and sanity proves that we are not scary, just scared

Megan Cook 1 year ago

Thank god for this post!

Britt Champness 1 year ago

I wish someone had FORCED me to swap to formula. I persevered with BFing for 12….long….weeks before it finally all clicked for my twins. It was hellish, and while everyone was really supportive, I regret pushing (& punishing?) myself to the absolute brink. Next time I won’t be so concerned with it all. Thanks for posting!! x

Millie Giegler 1 year ago

My oldest child was severely tough-tied that made breast feeding almost impossible. He wasn’t thriving & I my nipples were SO cracked & bleeding I gave up, with my other three things went better. My lactation consultant told that breastfeeding is natural but it doesn’t come naturally. There is a learning curve.

Alison Berryman 1 year ago

Everything was easier when I stopped breast feeding. It works well for some, but did not for me! I feel guilty sometimes but it is also nice for my husband and daughter to participate more.

Angi Treash 1 year ago

My oldest was two weeks early and I had a similar experience with breastfeeding. It was a nightmare and the pressure from others just made it worse. With my second baby, I went into it thinking, “If it works, it works, and no one is going to make me feel bad if it doesn’t”. I wouldn’t even let the breastfeeding Nazis in my hospital room the second time around. Much better experience. And it actually worked, but I still supplemented. There are benefits of both, in my opinion.

Janet Sroka Boughton 1 year ago

As a labor and delivery nurse for 21 years , I can say this to all of you , nursing and non nursing moms …NEVER EVER FEEL GUILTY ABOUT HOW YOU CHOOSE TO FEED YOUR BABY ! Your baby will THRIVE regardless of what method you choose ! Your baby will be just as healthy , just as nourished , just as bonded with you , no matter what. LOVE, HOLD , TALK TO , SNUGGLE , PROTECT YOUR PRICELESS PRECIOUS BUNDLE , and they will be so secure with a loving mom like you. The way YOU feel is as important as how baby feels , especially in dealing with everything ELSE new mother hood has in store for you ….. MOST OF ALL TREASURE YOUR TINY BABIES — they will never need or want you more BELIEVE IT OR NOT , you WILL MISS THESE TIMES WHEN YOUR BABES WERE TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON YOU .,,,you are a phenomenal MOM … Be proud of yourself ! Look at this precious love you created !!!! You go girl !

Marion Brannan 1 year ago

I love this. Love this so much. I was so afraid this was going to be another “against all odds I succeeded!” My twins were 11 weeks early, and I was bound and effing determined to make it work. At every effing turn I failed. They’re 3 and a half now, and likely my only children (I’m 37) and really, I succeeded. Because I fed them, and against all odds, they’re here, and they’re healthy. With only 9 months of begrudgingly expressed breast milk.

Laura Frost Morse 1 year ago

It is eerie how a story can feel like its a page straight out your own book. From the tiny tube contraption to a relatively similar infant injury, I was wiping my tears. Thank you.

Michele Liberton 1 year ago

This should new printed out & given to every new mom. I just had my 3rd & I am still struggling with the whole breast vs bottle thing. :/

Jennifer Amsbaugh 1 year ago

I’ve breastfed 4 kids and it is not easy and very time consuming. I completely understand what a challenge it is. I could only imagine if one of mine was a preemie. Always worth trying. : )

Amy O’Hara Flavin 1 year ago

I can so emphasize with you! I have told myself if it is that hard the next time around I will gladly enjoy my time with my babies and give formula. Breast feeding is not always easy.

Brian P. Kurtz 1 year ago

My wife tried so hard.. Harder than I ever tried at something, ever. It broke my heart to see how bothered she was when she simply did not produce much milk… either time. Like everything else, breastfeeding has risks and benefits… Including the risk of making a mom feel like she is a failure when it doesn’t work out. When it just won’t happen, how is it useful when mommy conventional wisdom looks down its nose at a formula-feeding mom? Thanks for the essay.

Jenn 1 year ago

Bless you for sharing your story. Thank you too. I was in your situation with my son and felt your pain but nobody understood or was there. Thank you.

Kim Toepper-Cousins 1 year ago

Totally agree my son was a preemie too!

Jamie Allison 1 year ago

Thank you for writing this! My oldest daughter survived on an amped caloric mix of amino acid formula on account of failure to thrive. My youngest, I realized my breastfeeding adventures were over when we both smelled like fenugreek and power pumping was my next step.

Jenny Holmes 1 year ago

Basically what happened with my first daughter. After weeks of struggling to breastfeed, I gave in and fed her a bottle of formula. She slept for 3 hours straight. Bottle fed from that point on!

Lindsey 1 year ago

Thank you so much for this post! My daughter was five weeks early, and on preemie formula from day one. We struggled with breast feeding as I think her mouth was too tiny for my giant boobs. The hospital lactation consultant made me feel like a failure, and kept preaching about nipple confusion, which is total crap to me. It’s so much easier to suck from a bottle than a boob, of course that’s what she’s going to do! I exclusively pumped for 4 months, at that point my milk production dropped. This was a shorter amount of time than I had hoped, but she got the best for as long as I could give it to her.

Kirsty Gardner 1 year ago

Now at 17 months it’s a piece of cake first 3 months were hell on earth so glad I added in a couple of formula feeds a day it’s what has kept us going

JoAnne Dietrich 1 year ago

It is extremely stressful. Some people are very judgmental.

Alana Williams 1 year ago

I had 34weeker twins and managed to exclusively bf them till 18months old. Yes it was hard at first as I’m large chested and they were tiny but we used nipple shields for ages till they could latch. I’m so glad I was able to bf them but I don’t hold it against any other mum if they chose not to or can’t for what ever reason. As long as mum and bub are happy it doesn’t matter how they get their milk.

Stephanie Lynn Scates 1 year ago

Breastfeeding was so hard wasn’t prepared how much time and effort it takes. As I gave up too easily :/

Terry Fryburger Graybeal 1 year ago

my nipples cracked and bleed i was also inexperienced and fogot to alternate which made my tits become bricks i finally got the hang of it and loved it

Kathleen Ibanez Arnold 1 year ago

My preemie born at 31 wks got 8 wks worth of pumped breastmilk, then his sweet pediatrician took one look into my sunken in, exhausted eyes and said you’ve done great, take a rest, and do formula. He’ll be fine. And he was. I can totally relate to this.

Courtenay Vink 1 year ago

Thank you for this!! It’s exactly what I went through with my daughter who was 4 weeks early. I used to get so upset with moms, doctors, nurses and every one telling me to breast feed when that’s all I did and she never got enough food. We went to formula and have a healthy and happy now 18 month old. If you can’t breast feed, it’s okay!!! Don’t let others make you feel shame.

Sandi Browning Graser 1 year ago

I tried to breastfeed my daughter the first week or so. This was 24 years ago so I’m sure things have changed. But I was a very young, first-time mother & knew nothing about it. I didn’t know it was difficult for all moms & that babies do not just magically know how to nurse! I was left to my own devices & finally gave up. It was a terrible experience, & I felt like a failure. I didn’t even try with my second daughter. I’m glad things have changed! My granddaughter was nursed for the first 2 months. Its ok that it wasn’t longer, she’s doing great on formula. I’m thankful that my daughter had someone to help her & to tell her “It’s not you”!

Casey Zeigler 1 year ago

No one talks about how difficult it is! It’s not all “peach colored rooms and nuzzles”

LizW 1 year ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My son was in NICU after birth and I wasn’t allowed to nurse right away. My milk never really came in. I’m currently losing what little I had, and he has been rejecting my breast lately. I just admitted it to my husband 30 min ago. Thank you for posting this just as I’m trying to come to terms with not being able to BF like I wanted to.

Kimberly Eversman 1 year ago

I am trying to pump/breast feed/bottle feed twins who were born at 36 weeks. It’s so draining and I feel so guilty for being so crabby and resentful for not being able to breast feed easily. Thanks for making me feel less awful about the moments I want to throw in the towel!

Amber Long 1 year ago

My preemie had a bad latch/weak suck plus I barely produced anything. I pumped what few ozs I could the 40 days we were in the nicu

alex 1 year ago

Such a touching story. My daughter was born 5 weeks premature & couldn’t latch. We tried for a few days until the pediatrician told us that she’s losing weight. Then I pumped for 9 weeks & then she finally latched on. By 11 weeks she was fully breastfeeding. I went through 3 lactation consultants & my husband quit his job for a few months & we ate through our savings but it was the best 15K we ever spent. If it wasn’t for the 24/7 support from my husband, I couldn’t have done a fraction of what I was able to do.

Tinisha Mitchell Cotta 1 year ago

It was difficult but very rewarding.

Jo 1 year ago

So well said. I hope this helps a new mom in the middle of her exhaustion and frustration. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.
Thanks for the laugh and the tears!

Rene Ries Langley 1 year ago

I never even tried. I had no interest in it and both my sons grew up healthy and fine

Heatherjean Horgan 1 year ago

Love the honesty and someone putting down in writing that sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work and you are not a bad mom because of it. I finally enjoyed feedings with my daughter once I switched to the bottle.

Angi in KC 1 year ago

This sounds too familiar. My son was born at 30 weeks thanks to pre-eclampsia (being hospitalized for 3 weeks prior was too much fun), and he was transported to a different NICU after 24 hours or so. I remember going in there – in pain from the c-section, dizzy from the anti-seizure drugs and just exhausted. They had me express milk at home and bring it to them.

And I did. I tried. I got up every 2-3 hours to use a hospital-grade pump to express virtually no milk. When I brought in my first CC of milk just a day after giving birth, I remember the lactation specialist gasping in horror. She sat me down and explain that my son would DIE if I didn’t express more milk. I went home sobbing.

I kept trying and kept failing at it. The stress from having to meet the needs of this woman took priority over the health of my four-pound newborn. It was a torturous month, but as soon as I got him home, I just turned to formula. It took a few weeks to learn he needed the gentle soy-based formula to get us our of a colicky nightmare, but we survived. And oddly enough, so did he.

Jenni Hamilton 1 year ago

I could only manage to bf in the hospital. Once I got home neither child would latch. I only pumped exclusively for about a month afterwards. Too time consuming and I felt I was stuck to the pump and couldn’t go anywhere.

Marianne DeMille Cynar 1 year ago

Love this. Breast feeding moms always mad me feel bad that I formula fed. My daughter was also premature and would not latch. I bought a hospital pump and spent the first few months pulling double duty – pumping and feeding from a bottle. It was exhausting. A few months later, I switched to formula and she (and her brothers) are no worse for the wear. Thank you for this article.

Kayla Gallivan 1 year ago

I had a daughter born at 30wks and pumped as long as I could. Once she came home to actually bf it was tough.

Tiffany Chester 1 year ago

I had a horrible time with breast feeding even pumping so much I had to stop.

Laura Hohm 1 year ago

Love this. I had a skewed opinion of bfing going in and it was only confirmed for me. It was awful. I switched to exclusive pumping which is much more work but worth my sanity and thankfully I will be done soon. There need to be more honest articles like this instead of the shame and fear out there for moms who dont bf. bfing doesn’t make anyone special and it is by no means easy or glorious.

Mary 1 year ago

Oh my word… that makes me just want to shake all the idiots who pressured you… When your baby is in the NICU the last thing you need is some moron shaming you if your milk doesn’t come in. It’s not something you have control of. There’s nothing wrong with formula. Millions of happy, healthy, intelligent babies have been raised without ever having Mama’s milk, and they’re just fine.

(hugs) Mama. You deserve a medal for hanging in there.

Elisabeth McWilliams 1 year ago

Was too hard to get him to latch, so I pumped.

sammie 1 year ago

Thank you SO much for sharing your story!! My first daughter was not a preemie, but our breastfeeding experience was much the same. I totally understand your sentiments and your emotions AND finally giving it up so you could truly enjoy your child.

Kristine 1 year ago

I was one of the babies who refused to breastfeed….I was a small baby and lacked the sucking motion needed to feed. Let me assure you, that I survived formula and I had a wonderful relationship with my mother. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t know what is best for your baby!!

Jen 1 year ago

Thank you for posting this. My daughter, though not a premie, could not latch. I spent weeks trying to make it work and eventually pumped because everyone kept telling me how evil formula was. I ended up having to supplement because I had such low supply. I too never slept. Between my baby never sleeping (seriously she did not sleep), pumping every two hours, trying to breast feed (still) and a dh that worked away from home for months at a time I had no break. Like you I realized one day when I fell asleep while driving (no one hurt, just scared me horribly) that nothing I was doing was worth it! I dumped the pump, embraced formula, slept, and at four months old finally found the relationship I had been seeking with my baby girl. Your story brought me to tears as I remember the misery and guilt of trying to do what society said was right over what was best for me and my baby. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for reminding me in this “perfect” world of moms and motherhood that perfect is subjective and individual.

Stefanie 1 year ago

I am both sad and relieved someone has gone through a similar experience as mine. My son was not a premie, but struggled to breastfeed due to laryngomalacia. I also had hallucinations, bottomless anger, and no sleep. I wish I could take back the needless guilt of eventually transitioning to formula. It just made me depressed and delayed the bonding with my son. I understand why breastfeeding is advocated, but when things are going dangerously wrong, there need to be more people to help a new mother make the best choice for her and her child. Thanks for sharing.

Lola 1 year ago

I am sorry you had to go through this difficult time! But even moms with a “normal” baby can have those issues. There just more common with preemies.
I never breastfed…just didn’t want to do it out of personal reasons. Of course you can’t say it out loud but there are also benefits for the mother (more sleep, husband, grandma etc can help with feedings, you always know exactly how much your baby drinks etc.).

So I think you made a smart choice after all you went through!

I am a huge believer in Happy Mother = Happy Child.

Breastfeeding is great if it works for both of you. If not formula is a very good alternative.

Mikki 1 year ago

I can feel the fear and anguish in your writing, thank you so much for sharing this story! While everyone will tell you that breastfeeding is the best option, it isn’t the only option, and having a well rested, happy mother, is much better than sticking to something that’s making you miserable. I hope others read this story and realize that they aren’t alone, and that sometimes plans don’t work out and that’s okay! You are an awesome mama!

Amna 1 year ago

My eyes welled with tears just from the title. My son was born at 26 weeks due to full on eclampsia. I was in the ICU for 3 days before being moved to a regular room and only then got to go meet him for the 1st time. He was un touchable for about a week, and was on only IV for a month until they tried giving just a tiny bit of my milk. It barely came in anyway. I had bf my daughter for 2.5 yrs and yet could barely get anything out for this little sweetie which needed it more than a normal baby even! The doctors and nurses were so pushy, as was the bf consultant. One day a nurse actually said as I walked in…and walking into a level 3 NICU is the scariest daily adventure, “where s your milk? Your son can not tolerate the special formula for preemies and the other pre-digested formula is not currently avail! MAKE MILK!” Then the neonatologist came over and said, “The head of the hospital wants a report on why you are failing to make milk before the special formula is ordered.” I just whispered over the heart that was beating in my throat, “then it seems you will let him die, as I don’t have any more than what I am making.” then walked in his isolated room, closed the door and cried over the sink. Then I got on the phone, made some calls from amongst the monitors – a huge no-no, and the formula he needed was on its way by courier. Ahhhhh my eyes are full of tears lool. The NICU is a difficult place and the pressure to bf is even beyond that difficulty while your baby is between plastic and you, the machines aren’t the same as a suckling baby…but I commend any mom able to do it, its so good for those little ones, but for those that cant, and are told my everyone in there and even later on after your graduate is home with you to “just go try, maybe it will come…” you are not alone! However, mommies will somehow always take care of whats needed however that may be 😉