View Full Version : second thoughts on bf...advice?
11-14-2004, 06:58 AM
I had orignally decided to give breastfeeding a try but now I'm not so sure...I'm only allowed six weeks of maternity leave and had planned on taking another 2 weeks of vacation time after the baby was born to get settled... but is eight weeks really enough?
I keep reading about how it takes at least 3-4 weeks (and sometimes up to 6) to get breastfeeding right, and since I won't be able to bf after I go back to work I'll need to introduce a bottle 2-4 weeks before (returning to work...so I've read). I'm starting to think I'm just setting myself up for a really, really big headache.
My husband thinks I should forgo the whole bf idea and just start of with a bottle since I have such a screwy work schedule (we rotate shifts weekly- days/nights). I'd heard that some babies will adjust to thier mother's schedules and take all (or most) of thier feedings when the mother is home from work...but if I'm jumping shifts wouldn't that keep our baby from developing a good feeding/sleeping schedule?
Also, I'm up for deployment (in the military) after four months post-partum, and I heard between 4-6 months is the heardest to try and wean a baby to a bottle if they decide they prefer the breast...and I wouldn't want to have to go 'cold turkey' on her, ya know?
I have to admit, it's not just work that's making me anxious...hearing about how difficult it is the first few weeks (sore nipples, etc) is starting to make me squirm...I can't help but think I'll be more inclined to quit when things get rough knowing that I can't bf for that long anyway.
Any thoughts or similar experiences?
11-14-2004, 08:05 AM
I don't have a similar situation since I have 5+ months of breastfeeding and my son is only 7 weeks old, so I have limited experience, but I can offer you some of my thoughts about breastfeeding.
It is HARD work if it doesn't get off to a good start. Incredibly time-consuming, exhausting, and maybe more painful than you thought. I had latch problems, and the worry that he's not getting enough combined with sore nipples, hormones going wild, exhaustion, etc. is overwhelming. I supplemented with a little formula at night and it messed up my supply. Then he went through a growth spurt (10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks) so he needed even more...pretty soon I was having serious problems with providing him enough, so I went cold turkey off the formula--this meant he nursed all night long--8 hours straight, just sucking, napping, nursing--sometimes the sucking was without swallowing, just to signal my body that more milk was needed. It was horrible, but after that, things gradually got better--supply good, latch much better. etc. I think the turning point began when he was about 4 weeks with 6 weeks being another time where things improved dramatically.
This probably isn't helpful, but it's just to say that you're right--it might take 6 weeks to get into the swing of things. If you had a good double electric pump, some of the feedings you could give the baby in a bottle, even though all the experts say not to until the breastfeeding is going well, I disagree. In my case anyway, Jasper switched from bottle to breast pretty easily. Though we went a week without a bottle and it's like he forgot how to suck from one...
I guess you have to keep in mind that even 8 weeks of breastmilk is wonderful...but I bet you can go longer if you like, especially if you have a pump.
I wanted to give up dozens of times, but I kept thinking about all the moms who said "I wish I hadn't given up so soon" and I didn't want to have any regrets. And I don't. I am so happy I gave it a try, and that eventually things seem to be coming together. I would say if you know in advance that there are MAJOR challenges ahead, and that you set a deadline for yourself (I gave myself 3 months), that you can give it a try.
Get a lactation consultant or read up on breastfeeding BEFORE the baby comes. THat was my biggest mistake. kellymom.com is a great resource.
Hope this helps
11-14-2004, 08:07 AM
It's not so much that it takes that long to get breastfeeding right, it's just that it gets much easier after that point. It worked right from the beginning for me, but still got much easier after a few weeks. However, bottle feeding with formula would have been NO easier! The first few weeks with a newborn and recivering from childbirth are like that no matter what. You'll be all right. The 6 week mark is meant as encouragement not to give up before that point, not as reason not to try! Eight weeks is definitely enough time to get the hang of things.
As for the inclination to give up, always remember that any breastfeeding is better than none. As long as you breastfeed, you're giving good nutrition, antibodies, and more. Four months is a whole lot better than none.
I'm sure other mothers can give you more advice than I about nursing while working a rotating schedule, but I wanted to speak up and offer you some encouragement. :)
One last thing: go find a book on breastfeeding. Being prepared makes things much, much easier in the early days. Read the parts about how things work when they're going well; don't worry about what might possibly go wrong until you get there. I recommend So That's What They're For!, since it's an amusing read as well as a good introduction to breastfeeding.
11-14-2004, 11:44 AM
ANY breastmilk is better than none for your baby. You can still breastfeed after you return to work. Your employer is required to give you time to pump, but even if you use formula during the day, you can breastfeed whenever you're home.
If the baby's already taking a bottle during the day while you're gone at 6 weeks, she should continue to take it at 4-6 months. Would the military really make a breastfeeding mother leave her infant that young? I am completely ignorant of the military, but that seems so harsh.
There are tons of resources on the internet as to why you should breastfeed. If you want them, try:
If you're jumping shifts and possibly going to be leaving at 4-6 months (when baby's sleep habits go to hell in a handbasket), your baby's feeding and sleeping schedule likely will be screwy anyway, regardless of how you're feeding. Your baby will want to be with you, not just your breasts (although it does feel like that at first!). :)
>I have to admit, it's not just work that's making me
>anxious...hearing about how difficult it is the first few
>weeks (sore nipples, etc) is starting to make me squirm...I
>can't help but think I'll be more inclined to quit when things
>get rough knowing that I can't bf for that long anyway.
To me, being a parent is much, much harder than breastfeeding. To me, being pregnant is much, much harder than breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is best for your baby. If you're not going to do what is best for your baby because it's hard, that's not a very good reason. Your description of your life doesn't sound like you chose it because it was easy.
Good luck. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now.
11-14-2004, 11:51 AM
Anna and everyone else gave great advice and excellent resources to read up on but I just wanted to add to it.
If you are asking for opinions, I think you should do it for as long as you can. You do need to commit to doing it since there could be challenges in the beginning and it is easy to give up when they arise if you have not mentally committed to it. Any amount of breastmilk is better than nothing so I hope you at least give it a shot! :)
Please post here if you have any questions that come up because we would all be glad to help.
11-14-2004, 01:53 PM
It sounds like you've put a lot of thinking into this. But you never know unless you try whether you or your baby will be one of those who get the hang of it from the start. I think we who had problems initially tend to tell our stories more, so you may be hearing a biased sample. For instance, I just gave birth to my second child a week ago, and she has been a great nurser from the start (unlike my first child). Occasional use of pacifiers (and 24 hours with a bottle due to a medical problem) haven't confused her at all.
Aside from all the good-for-baby and good-for-you reasons to breastfeed, there are at least two other benefits. There is a major feeling of accomplishment in learning to breastfeed and knowing that you alone - your body, your skill, your dedication - nourished your child and literally fed all that growth and development. If you like to take on a challenge and see the rewards of your work, you will probably love breastfeeding. The second, more prosiac benefit, is the financial one. You will save a ton of money by breastfeeding even for 6-8 weeks.
There are many moms who felt lukewarm about breastfeeding before baby was born who came to love it. Again, you might be one of them.
You truly will never know how breastfeeding will work for you and your baby unless you try.
Everyone has given great advice. I had one of those babies that was a good nurser from the start. But it was still very hard. Not because I was BFing but because we had a new baby and had no idea what we were doing! I really don't think it would have been any easier with formula. There were many times I wanted to give up but I lasted 13 months during which DD never got sick enough to go to the doctor. That health boost is what made me keep going.
You certainly are in a tough position with your work schedule. I don't envy you. But if you feel like this would be good for your baby and you want to try, give it a try. If it doesn't work out, you can always give formula. It sounds like you given this a great deal of thought. The way I always think about choices like this is whether I would regret not trying later on. Good luck.
11-14-2004, 07:40 PM
Everyone already gave great advice. But I wanted to chime in and encourage you to go for it! Some breastmilk is better than none for your baby.
Try setting small goals. Maybe start with the first six weeks. Then evaluate from there. If you decide to keep going, maybe meet with a lactation consultant and get a pumping plan in place.
Like a PP said, you really do have to make a commitment, but it is SO rewarding. We had a rough start, but we're still going strong at 11 months. My DS gets SO excited when he sees me unlatch my bra and get the boppy pillow. I would be missing that if I had given up at 2 months like I had considered.
Go for it! You won't regret it!
Mommy to my sweet boy
B born 12/03
11-14-2004, 07:42 PM
You've gotten great advice from PPs.
The first thing that entered my mind after reading your post, is that we are entering the cold/flu season. Even *IF* BF does turn out to be work for you, I'm doubting it will be as bad as a sleep deprived new mom trying to care for a sick little babe in the middle of the night. Even if you are deployed in 3-4 months (I hope you aren't!) your child's chances of getting sick in the warmer months seem smaller to me.
I NEVER thought I'd BF past a year but since DS doesn't show any interest in stopping, and because he has yet to get a cold, I'm waiting until spring to try and wean! I contrast that to a friend who didn't BF and her kids/babes are always sick.
Oh ya, DS switched between breast, bottle and paci from the beginning w/out any problem. The hassle came at about 3 months when we went several weeks w/out giving a bottle. (BTW, the hassle wasn't really that bad.)
11-14-2004, 08:34 PM
Please give it a try. Don't let sore nipples, etc scare you away. I was one of those who had big problems, I won't go into any detail but I never did manage to get DS latched on, I pumped for 6 weeks and then had to stop due to my own strange phsyical problem. I really really wish I had had the strength to keep trying to get him latched on but I was starting to go over the edge and decided it was better for DS that I was sane.
I would give anything to go back and try it again. I know I did the best that I could at the time but I really wish I had had the strength to keep at it. Make sure your DH can be supportive though, it will be harder if he isn't on board. And find a good LC before you deliver since you know you need to get it going as quickly as possible. (My hospital had 3 LC's and only one of them was worth anything, if she had been the first one I saw I might still be BF today.)
mommy to James
11-15-2004, 10:59 AM
First I'd like to thank you all for your advice and support...the reason I had decided to try breastfeeding is because of all the benefits...I need to stop second guessing myself!
I guess my appoaching due date is just making me nervous about everything...I started doubting my choice in car seats yesterday too! (I have a snugride)
I'm definitely going to try and bf for as long as possible...and if I -do- get deployed at least I'll know that I did what was best for my daughter and never have to wonder 'what if...'
11-15-2004, 11:11 AM
Just for another part of your question. I rotated shifts and was still able to breast feed. I worked two 12-12 shifts a week and 2 8 hour day shifts a week. It is hard but not impossible. I went back to work after 3 months. He adjusted very well.
I, too, had a difficult time bfing at first. The first 6 weeks were a nightmare. My original goal was 6 months. Then it became 6 weeks and then 4 months and then all of a sudden I realized it was really easy and really convenient. So much so that we kept it up until almost 16 months-we only stopped so that we could TTC #2.
With the support of these boards....Anything is possible.
Good luck to you with your delivery. I hope you and baby will let us know as soon as possible how you are doing.
Barbara-mom to Jack 3/27/03, a Red Sox fan
expecting #2, a Yankee fan, around 5/9/05!
Edited to chang a @ to a 2.
I missed adding my support yesterday. Don't feel bad about second guessing yourself. It's called mommy-hood, and comes with the territory. You should see me trying to pick out an outfit for my DS to wear, let alone making a huge decision like how to feed him or what restraint to use in the car :)
I hope you have a BF'ing relationship like my siblings and I had with my mom. No problems with latch or supply, and she weaned us when she was ready (between 9 & 13 months) without a lot of complaint on our ends. Of course, that's been nearly 30 years, so I'm sure her memory of it is absolutely perfect ;) I use the example to tell you that it can work well, and hopefully with the education you're giving yourself, it will!
11-15-2004, 06:30 PM
Please try it!
I want to tell you about the best possible outcome. My DS has been a breastfeeding pro! He latched on from the very beginning. He knew what to do before I did, and better than I did! I never experienced sore nipples or any discomfort. We had a small problem because I thought he wasn't eating for as long as he should, but I learned that some babies are speed-eaters! He also has never been sick, which I attribute to breastfeeding.
It has been a wonderful experience for us. I can't begin to describe the closeness I feel to him. We both love it! I guess it can be a little intimidating at the beginning, but you become a pro in no time.
That being said, you need to do what you feel is right for you. If it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out. Good luck with whatever you decide, and congrats on the baby!
11-15-2004, 06:53 PM
I'm replying without reading the other replies, so I can't say for sure--but I'm guessing that they all told you to give it a go, that any breastmilk is better than none, that there are tremendous benefits of breastmilk vs. bottle--which is true. What I wanted to say is that you do what you feel you need to do. Breastfeeding was, at least for me, tremendously difficult at first. Things didn't even out until my baby was 2 or 3 months old. He had no trouble taking a bottle, but we started early--like weeks after he was born--and he went back and forth no problem, but I have a niece, nephew, and numerous friends had much difficulty in weaning their older babies to the bottle--so I guess what I'm saying is if you do breastfeed, get hum used to the bottle early.
Bottom line though--sounds like you have some major obstacles to breastfeeding. If you do end up doing it, great. But I'm here to tell you that if you formula feed, that's ok too. Sometimes you need to do what you as a mother need to do.
In any case, good luck!
11-15-2004, 08:34 PM
I only skimmed the other responses and I just wanted to say that give BF a try, if that's what you want to do. Give it your best shot, but don't beat yourself up if you decide to formula feed. We moms give ourselves enough grief and guilt over so many things. If you're happy, your baby will be happy.
Good luck to you!
11-15-2004, 08:38 PM
Just chiming in really late to add my support, too! We also had a rough start and I felt very nervous about the whole idea of breastfeeding, but it has turned out to be far more pivotal and amazing an experience than I could have possibly fathomed. It's SO worth it.
One thing you WILL need is a lot of support. If your DH is thinking you should just formula feed, I can promise that's not going to feel supportive to you as you and your baby learn to nurse-- even if his intentions are totally pure. You need to surround yourself with people who think that what you're doing is a good idea. Please come back to the boards when you're able, and if you need help finding a good LC, let us know. I'm of the opinion that breastfeeding kind of takes a village, especially at first. We were never meant to be on our own with our newborns trying to tough it out. A community of women who have been there and can cheer you on will be an invaluable resource.
Mom to Abigail Rose
"When you know better, you do better."
http://www.gynosaur.com/assets/ribbons/ribbon_sapphire_24m.gif Two years and counting!
11-16-2004, 04:39 AM
Do it if you can but don't beat yourself up or worry if you can't or choose not to. Amazingly enough, you can have a healthy baby raised on formula.
I wanted to BF but unfortunatly, my DD was born 7 weeks early, emergency c-section, on 2 respirators, pretty much ever machine the NICU had, and after trying to pump for 1 1/2-2 weeks (she was on a feeding tube) with maybe a total of a tablespoon of milk coming out each pumping session and trying every technique the LC could advise me on, short of taking a prescription that MAY help me lactate but could have possible side effects such as depression, I decided that I would go the formula route. As little as I could pump, she got it in the NICU and I tried breastfeeding in the NICU but it just didn't work out.
And may I add, she just turned a year old, you couldn't tell she was a preemie if you had to pick her out of a line up and she has had one minor ear infection in this past year so she's been extremely healthy, considering her rough start in life.
11-16-2004, 12:01 PM
I've been lurking for some time now, and just came across your post and decided that it was time to come out of lurkdom...
I am active duty also, so I was unsure how the whole BFing would work with TDY's and trips that I had to make due to my job, in addition to different shifts at work and trying to fit in pumping on my "breaktime". Two years earlier, I had had a lumpectomy on one of my breasts, so I did not even know if it was possible to BF my son, but I decided that I would just try it and see how it worked out. If it did, great, I would save money on formula. If it did not, oh well, at least I tried.
Well, in the beginning we had some serious problems...even ended up back at the hospital (for me - not my son)!! I did not want to quit, so I just put everything I had into it. The first 2.5 months were awful!! I would nurse at home and pump at work. When I nursed, I was in constant tears. My DH was very supportive the entire time and was the main reason why we were able to get through the rough times (he's the greatest!!).
To make a long story short, I nursed my son for 15 months. I was amazed that I was able to do this even though I had problems and doubts (a lot of doubts) in the begining.
Well, here comes #2 and geuss what...yep, I will be going TDY without my family when the baby is not quite 6 months old. So, I plan on pumping while I am gone and overnighting it back (dry ice/newspaper, etc)for my baby. That way, I will still have a supply when I get back. If the overnighting thing does not work out, then I'll be doing what I did on past TDY's...pump and dump. Sure, it stinks knowing that the "more precious than gold" milk you are pumping is going down the drain (literally), but at least I know that when I am back with my family, I'll still have the abillity to give my child the best.
I am not saying that you have to go through such extreme measures, but I would say to at least try. Take it day by day. One day is better than nothing and you might just surprise yourself. Good luck in your decision and I hope that things will work out for you either way you go.
Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll be more than happy to help.
11-16-2004, 01:29 PM
Maraih I just want to say how wonderful it is that you are working so hard to breastfeed your children. You deserve a medal for working out the logistics of pumping and sending the milk back home! You are awesome!
And thank you for serving our country. My brother is in the army, and I know the sacrifices that military parents make.
DS Jake Feb 91, DD Logan Mar 03
11-16-2004, 04:58 PM
I haven't read the other responses and am chiming in late, so forgive any repetition, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't forgo the whole idea just because of your maternity leave schedule! You will be giving your baby so much better nutrition, not to mention the immunities she'll get from you, even if you only stick it out for 6 weeks! Pumping at work is not really hard. Admitedly I did have 3 mos off, but when I returned I pumped 3 times a day and continued until DS was 15 months old (and he's still BFing at 20 mos!). DS has NEVER been on antibiotics, never had an ear infection, and is much healthier than any of the other kids in his sitter's house, because of the breast milk he gets! Plus, I liked the fact that I was the only one who could provide him with his food - especially since I HATED having to return to work and leave him. THe bonding time when I got home was awesome, too :) Not to mention how much money I've saved! $300 on a pump, an LC visit and a few bottles, vs a minimum of $1500 on formula and bottles, plus sick time, plus doctor visits, etc. BFing has been the best experience for me and I do hope you'll give it a try!
As for the initial difficulties, if you line up help from the start (a LLL leader for free, or a lactation consultant for a fee) you are less likely to experience any real difficulties. SOre nipples can be easily remedied with lanolin or hydrogel pads such as these
or soothies, which are usually available at Walgreens
You can avoid a lot of difficulties by ensuring that you start nursing as soon as possible after the birth and avoiding ALL articificial nipples/pacifiers for the first 2-3 weeks. Feeding your baby whenever she shows hunger signs (rooting, chewing on hands, etc.) and not trying to put her on a schedule right away will get you off to a good start with a strong milk supply, too. It IS possible, you CAN nurse after returning to work, and if you do end up deployed (we'll pray not!) it is not impossible to wean to a bottle then. DS switched back and forth between breast and bottle just fine, and he is one breast-addicted kiddo ;) DH gave him one bottle before I went back to work, and he took a bottle fine as long as it wasn't me giving it to him. For every horror story you read, there are hundreds of success stories - they just don't get published since they aren't as interesting to read :)
I recently started training to work towards becoming a LC and was disgusted and amazed by the terrible practices of the forula industry - recalls are often covered up (there are at least 3-4 per year on average, yet when was the last time you actually heard about one?), the contaminants common in formula (just like the jar of peanut butter on your shelf, the FDA says it's OK for formula to have a certain amount of bug parts, etc. per can!), the chemicals they put in formula, the "ingredients" they use to get the additives they put in (lets just say that DHA is a major component of eye tissue - nuff said!), and how they over charge parents! A can of DHA/ARA formula costs the mfr less than 50 cents to make, yet they charge a fortune for it! Sorry, that got a little soapboxy, but I honestly think that if most new parents knew the truth about formula very few people would choose to let a drop of it touch their babies lips if at all possible!
I do hope you'll at least try BFing. This board is also a wonderful support and there are lots of experienced moms who can help!
Mommy to Caleb 3/3/03
Oh my!! #2 5/05
11-17-2004, 02:39 AM
I second that! Maraih, you are an inspiration! I am so impressed with how hard you have worked to give your baby breastmilk!
11-17-2004, 10:08 PM
Let me add two thoughts.
1) You need to get your DH on this board to read why BF is so good/important. It really, really helps those first weeks where BFing is the hardest when you have someone cheering you on and also feeling sorry for you (because it is hard).
2) After you are gone for a long day of work and you come home and are able to virtually instantly reconnect through BFing, it is so rewarding. It makes up for the pain of pumping, transporting the milk, looking for a private area, pumping in the bathroom or as I did on one recent trip, lose my pump tubes so I had to hand express 4 times over a 10 hour period!
I am so amazed and impressed and awestruck -- you are my HERO!
PREGNANT! EDD 6/9/03
mama to Jack 6/6/03
Breastfeeding 17 months and counting
11-19-2004, 10:37 AM
You ladies are too kind! I really was not trying to make myself out to be a hero or anything, I just want to let people know that they can do ANYTHING they want if they have the desire. Logistics can always be worked out if you want to put in the effort to make things happen. I just happen to be a very stubborn person that will not give up if it is something that I want to achieve (drives my husband crazy sometimes!!).
I just wanted Tinkbaby to know that if she really wants to BF her baby, even if it is for 4 months, that it is up to her and that she should not let a few little things stand in her way of what she wants to do.
I hope that whatever she decided to do, she makes that decidion based on what HER needs and wants are and NOT on what others are wanting her to do.
Hopefully others will see that no matter what life throws you, we create our future based on the way we react and adjust to what is handed down to each one of us.
Good luck Tinkbaby!
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