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Our Breastfeeding Battle

My son isn’t breastfeeding. He’s two weeks old today and to date he has successfully breastfed exactly 4 times.

My son isn’t breastfeeding. I cannot tell you how much this frustrates me.

I sort of never saw this coming, which has made it a bit more of a challenge to cope with. The hormones have helped a lot too. I have known people who have had issues with supply, who have come down with mastitis early and various other issues, but my son is the first child I’ve known who first couldn’t, and now just won’t, breastfeed.

When Eli was first born, he wouldn’t open his mouth to breastfeed. The nurse reassured me that it was fine, he had 24 hours to get it and so we waited and tried often. And he eventually voluntarily opened his mouth at my breast, but then he wouldn’t latch or suck. The nurse tried to stimulate his sucking reflex with her finger and she got nothing. She tried to stimulate a rooting reflex and again, nothing. He just wasn’t equipped to breastfeed, it seemed.

But we continued to try during the 24 hours we were in the hospital. He would periodically give a little half hearted suck, but did not eat. The lactation consultant came in and agreed that there was just something wrong with his suck and we were going to have to do some work. She got him to take formula through a tubing/finger sucking set up that was supposed to help him learn to suck properly. She sent us home with a rented hospital grade pump, the tubing, a set of 10 different things to do and an appointment with her in a few days.

Within a few days, he went from unable to breastfeed to seemingly unwilling. All attempts at breastfeeding were met with horrible screaming. We eventually began feeding him pumped milk with the bottle the LC recommended. My child was getting breast milk, he just wasn’t getting it from me because he had developed a nipple aversion.

I know it’s silly, but it’s incredibly hard to not take this whole thing personally. I know my son loves me, but it feels terrible to have him scream every time I try to breastfeed him, every time I try to do something that should be so natural for both of us. There have been hundreds of tears shed in the past 2 weeks over this situation and absolutely no resolution.

I never thought this would be so difficult, never thought I’d be spending hours each day with a pump while someone else held my son. I never dreamed that my husband going back to work would present such a big challenge because I can either pump or hold my fussy baby, I have not yet mastered both. I never imagined I’d have to plan all my outings around bottle feeding and pumping instead of learning how to discretely feed my son in public.

I never imagined that we could do everything right and that we’d still fail at breastfeeding.

We’re in the process of switching lactation consultants because ours is slightly crazy and is not set up for long term care, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t mostly given up hope that he will ever breastfeed. I hate pumping fiercely, but for my baby, I’ll keep going as long as I can.

I imagined that parenting would be a struggle, but somehow this was one battle I did not adequately prepare myself for.

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