Problems Breast Feeding --Help!!!

Updated on October 23, 2006
P.F. asks from Romeoville, IL
10 answers

Alrighty moms. My wife is shy on posting, but she has been grappling with the idea of not breast feeding. (we have a 3 week old.) Our families (moreso mine) are really big on natural milk and the Boob Nazis(La Leche League from Palos Hospital) have made her feel like [email protected] whenever she's called saying she's thinking about not feeding and in need of advice. They don't give her solutions, they say 'go buy an easy access tank top so you can feed @ the mall' 'just get over it'... and my favorite 'As a mother who is able to milk, it is your duty to feed your child from your breasts, unless, of course, you are too good for that.'(When my wife is too shy to whip out her boobs in public... or even in a public bathroom. blech, i don't even use them unless emergency calls.)

Breast feeding has been uncomfortable for her and mentally strenuous. She feels like she's chained to the house and can't go out anywhere for more than 2 hours because of the babies feeding schedule. She's having problems seeing her breasts as baby food, when she has been raised thinking they were 'private parts' whom you don't show off or whip out in public.

To add to the issues, our new infant has problems attaching and will eat for 15 minutes, then unattach herself and not want to eat... for another 30 minutes or hour.

She has tried pumping, but only gets an ounce or two at a time... in which the baby drinks right away anyway... so what's the point in pumping if you just give it right to the baby? It just takes more time.

My question is about formula:
We've been thinking and my wife is strongly urging the idea of using only formula. Our baby is 3 weeks old and I am worried she will miss out on much of the immunities she needs in order to live life to the fullest.
Has anyone done formula for one child and breast fed another? What've been the differences? (One child sick more often?)

The colostrum is long gone and that holds the bulk of the immunities, so is it necessary to keep urging my wife to go through this agony because of the happiness of the baby? (despite the growing unhappiness of the wife/mother?)


I need advice!!!

How can we do this breast feeding thing and make it work?

(I sure wish there were still wet nurses... or you could buy breast milk in the store.. jeesh, tha'd be so much easier!)

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So What Happened?

Our baby eventually (after a few weeks) realized boobs were good and began eating more.
My wife started then producing more... it was like one day after being completely frustrated with the breast feeding thing, she was getting 8 ounces instead of 2 each pumping.

We decided to keep w/the breast milk and pump. (Though my wife hates pumping and it's very difficult at her work because there are no private bathrooms or any places someone can go to pump; she found some off times and pumps in the lockerroom.) We are now weaning (it's 6 months later) because we've heard after 6 months it's okay to wean. We've supplimented most of this time with formula (once or twice a week)... it was enough to make the plethora of samples the hospital gave us last a few months before we actually ventured out to buy formula... MUY EXPENSIVO!!!

Abby hasn't been sick yet and we've given her 99% breast milk. It just makes sense.

i'm so glad we're past those first few months.. it WAS hard, but we survived... one day at a time.

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

Hi, P. ~ This sounds EXACTLY what I went through with my daughter. I ultimately ended up breastfeeding for four months, but was absolutely miserable the entire time. I also got clogged ducts twice (which hurt like you know what!) and almost gave up after that. It was an extremely hard decision to stop, but I ended up getting an infection (not in my breasts) and I had to "pump and dump" for a week while I was on antibiotics. I did go back to breastfeeding after that, but at that point I wasn't producing enough milk. I did supplement and breastfeed for about a month and I will admit, it was definitely much better. But I was still not very happy. Like your wife, I felt chained to the house and wasn't very comfortable about breastfeeding in public. Maybe your wife could try supplementing and breastfeeding and see if it works for her, but if not, she shouldn't feel guilty at all about giving the baby formula. My daughter is now almost 2 years old and is extremely healthy. My sister breastfed both her boys for six months and they are ALWAYS sick with ear infections and colds and have been since they were about 3 months old ~ and she is a SAHM. So, I don't really think there is that big of difference in their immunity. The baby has gotten the colostrum, which like you said, has the bulk of the immunities. Whatever she chooses to do, you both should be proud of the fact that she breastfed for this long. Good luck to you both and congratulations on your new bundle of joy! :-) L.

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answers from Chicago on

my family has walked a mile in your shoes. It is horrible that you are both feeling that bad. There is nothing wrong with formula. Most of us in out thirties were formula fed and are still alive. I have three daughters. The first two I tried to breast feed and failed. Yes, breastfeeding is not for every mother or child. I too am shy and felt like I was stuck in my house in my room.I really enjoyed motherhood once I gave up the idea of breast feeding. With my third child I went into it with the idea of I'll give it a try( like the first two) but if it didn't wrk I already had the formula ready. For me it worked with the third child but truthfully I give her a bottle of formula when I need to. If she really feels that she wats to then she needs to get support from people who are there but if she feels like she is done then together you and your wife need to make the change and tell everyone else to mind their own business. This will be he first of many times you will have to tell well meaning family members to mind their own business and that you are the parents. Let your wife know my email if she feelsthat she needs to talk with a person who has also cried the entire time I was feeding my first daughter until I gave her a bottle.



answers from Chicago on

We have all had similar problems. I am deeply disturbed about the lack of support your wife is getting from places that are supposed to help. She needs to do what is best for the mothers mental health. Yes it is better to give baby breast milk, supplementing may be your best route. Then she can nurse at the times she is comfortable and give a bottle so the baby is not hungry!

I am on child no 3 I nursed the first two for 6 months and supplemented the whole time.... I too had issues in public. It was horrible to go into a bathroom and try and latch on and lean against a wall UGH!! With baby no 3 I will go somewhere private to latch and throw an enormous blanket over me. IT is hard to walk holidng a newborn after about 8 weeks it actually is easier to carry them in the "football hold". We only recently introduced formula to her and we will continue to supplement until one year.

I would encourage her to continue breastfeeding at night and first thing in the morning... (when she is at home and comfortable and the supply is at its peak) and then try and pump sometime midday to relieve your wife and give baby a little stocked milk for you to feed her. Her supply will get lower and formula can be used when you are in public. Formula will not hurt your baby and it is better then having the baby be hungry and your wife stressed. If you do both then you will still get the benefits of nursing and the baby wont be hungry and hopefully your life as a family will get a little bit better!

Your wifes supply will also be lowered if she is stressed and feeling down. Please keep us posted and know that whatever you decide will be jsut fine!!

LaLeache Leagues whole purpose is to support only breastfeeding. So use them to help but use your parenting instincts to know what is best for your wife and the baby. IF your wife is stressed and has anxiety your baby will know it and frankly, I feel that it is worse for baby and family to deal with that stress then to just give a little formula here and there!

Please keep me posted I wish you all the best!

F. J.



answers from Chicago on

I feel terrible for both of you. It makes my blood boil to think anyone has said those things to you. As if being a new parent isn't challenging enough! I know how your wife feels about being chained to your baby and the house. It sounds like your baby takes a bottle which is wonderful! Neither of my girls would take a bottle at all! This is what I did to get out of the house with the baby. Breastfeed right before you leave. I mean have everything ready to go and keep your drive time short. For your wife she can pack a bottle (with formula or breastmilk) if your trip is longer than a couple of hours. The two of you should not feel bad about giving your baby formula. Is breastmilk better, absolutely, but breastfeeding is not for everyone. My sister didn't breastfeed her two boys and they are just as healthy as my breastfed newphews and my girls.
Give up the guilt, because it is just the beginning. You will both second guess yourselves for the rest of your lives. No one ever tells you about the guilt!
Good luck with everything. It sounds like the two of you are doing a great job. As the husband you are really going to have to stand up and tell everyone with negative, unsupportive words to take a hike, even if it is your own parents. My husband and I had a lot of problems with his family when our first child was born. My husband did a great job keeping it away from me. Just don't forget your family (you, your wife and child) are your main priority, no one else matters.



answers from Chicago on

Speaking as a someone who could not breastfeed (worked at it for about 6 weeks), but I mostly pumped my milk and fed it directly to my daughter in a bottle, I can tell you that compromising your wife's mental health is NOT the solution here. Hearing the "advice" from the hospital makes me want to scream. How awful!

What is wrong with her pumping milk? Yeah it sucks as it's very time consuming, but you need to focus on the end result. I pumped (the very little I had) because of latching problems and then supplemented with formula--but even getting to that point was really hard for me. I didn't have the "shyness" factor that your wife seems to have, but I did feel immense guilt and shame for not being able to feed my daughter soley on my breast milk--the way nature intended!

I was so stessed out over the situation and my husband was too. I began having severe migraines (which I hadn't had in years) and did not want to eat. I was depressed. My husband could not stand watching me beat myself up over the situation and gently encourged me that no matter how we feed our infant, our daugter will be loved and healthy. I began to realize that he was right. I stopped feeling so guilty and used formula full time after 6 weeks.

Now, let me say, that my daughter (age 3) is very healthy. Maybe two colds per year. She is very bright--was the first to acheive major milestones among other kids in our playgroup. She does not have a single allergy. She's happy and independant. All of my friends breastfed their babies at least until age 1, and when comparing my child with them, there is NO difference. Also, people say that bottle fed babies have more ear infections, but my daughter has only had one her entire life thus far.

It angers me that there is such a heated debate about this subject. Your wife is doing the best she can--for her. We can't compare ourselves all the time to others. There has to be a compromise here. She can continue to breastfeed at home in privacy and/or pump milk for bottles and supplement with formula. Please consider the bigger picture here. Your wife's mental health and the fact that feeding is only a small percentage of your child's life needs to be considered. There are going to be many more challenges...this is only the start.

My breastfeeding challenges negatively colored my first few precious weeks with my daughter. I could have been bonding with my daughter during that time, but instead I was in my bedroom crying most days because I felt so badly about bottlefeeding/formula. I look back and think how ridiculous that was. Your child needs her mother--regardless of the way she's fed.

Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

Let your wife know that formula is fine!!! I too tried to breast feed and gave up at the hospital. With the stress of a baby in the NICU I decided to give up--pumping is terrible and I just didn't need the added stress. My sister and I were raised on formula and so is my niece. Also, my child has not gotten as sick as some of the breast fed babies I know!

I think society puts too much pressure on women to breast feed. I simply told the nurses I had decided against it and didn't want to hear another word about it. Decide what is best for your family and then don't stress yourselves out about your decision and don't let anyone else change your mind!

Now that I have used formula I would never breastfeed. Our child slept well and my husband was able to equally share in the work! We have used Enfamil powder and have a formula dispenser to make bottle wherever we are!

Good luck with your decision!



answers from Raleigh on

Hi P.,
First, I would like to say that it seems your wife has a very supporting and loving husband! It is so good to see a man that is willing to ask for help for his wife if she's too shy to ask herself!

Now, on to the heart of the matter. I'm going to share my experience. Your wife is not alone with the breastfeeding difficulty.
I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, and tried in vain until my son was 6 weeks old. We had latching problems, and I felt very stressed out and like a failure because I couldn't breastfeed properly. I began to resent having to breastfeed- being chained to the house. After the third to fourth week, I pumped the breastmilk frequently throughout the day and fed my son the breastmilk in the bottles -- but then a couple weeks after that I was so aggravated because I spent so much time pumping, just to turn around and give him a bottle - it was so time consuming. I'd just break down crying because I felt like a failure as a new mother. During my pregnancy, I had considered giving my son up for adoption because I was going to be a single mom - so I started second guessing myself ("I can't even feed my own baby right, maybe I should have given him up"). When I realized I felt resentful towards my son for not being able to latch... I decided right then and there I needed to do something different.

I chose to stop breastfeeding and give my son formula. We tried a few different kinds, and ended up using Similac plus Iron. I bought powder because the ready-to-use liquid was so expensive. He never had an issue with spitting it up, but some of the other brands made him gassy.

I felt guilty at first for not breastfeeding -- every parenting organization seems to push it on you - like it's the only right thing to do. After a couple of days, I realized the stress over trying to breastfeed was gone and I wasn't resenting myself for my inability - and I wasn't resenting my son at all. I was much happier, and since I had been shy about feeding in public, too, it relieved so much anxiety (which I think had led to the latching problems and to much of the stress). I travelled with bottles full of sterile water, and pre-measured the powder formula into little tupperware containers. I could warm the water a bit in the microwave, then add the powder, or warm the bottle in a pan, bowl, or sinkful of hot water. My five year old son only occasionally gets colds, has had only one or two ear infections (and he has short eustachian tubes so is more prone to them!). He just started Kindergarten and is far ahead of his peers - most of who can't even recognize the letters of the alphabet muchless write them -- my son has been writing his letters for a year or so. He can already add (though hasnt memorized the addition facts yet), and is reading simple sentences. ("Jane see spot run. Spot runs down the hill"). He frequently uses words such as "dangerous", "disappointed", "competition", and "forcefully" in everyday conversation -- and uses them correctly and can tell me what they mean. Breastfed or Formula fed doesn't make a child better or smarter -- I've been working with my son since he was a few months old and I believe that is why he knows so much! He's just as healthy as other children his age - and honestly getting sick once in awhile is a good thing as it gives the immune system a chance to test itself -- and once a child is exposed to something, s/he will make her/his own antibodies against it.

The bottom line is this: it is not going to do your wife any good or your child any good if your wife is stressed out about feeding. This time with your child only comes once. If your extended families harass her about it -- then both of you need to stand firm on whatever your decision is -- and tell them that you appreciate their concern, but you feel you are doing what's right for your child and your family (wife/you/baby) - and politely deflect futher comments or advice. I hope you and your wife find the solution that works best for you -- whether it's breastfeeding at home and bottlefeeding in public, exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively formula feeding, or something else.



answers from Chicago on

it is so nice to hear of a dad who wants to know!!! i was able to breastfeed my daughter for 5 months but then it was not enough for her. i had my son and was only able to nurse for 4 weeks and then got stressed out and ended up with an infection in my milk ducts. i used similac ( the regular) and he was just fine. he was not sicker that her and he out weighed her for a time too. this is all about how comfy your wife is. yes there are heathly benefits but if she doesn't want to than she does not have to. i truely believe that her happiness is the key to a jhappy home right now. good luck.



answers from Chicago on

It is so nice to see you supporting your wife. I was in the exact same situation as your wife. I had a lot of problems producing the milk and had to set up this awful time consuming contraption to help stimulate the milk and both my baby and I were very frustrated with the whole situation. I also am a very private person and was uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. I was also yelled at by the hospital lactation nurse and told the same thing as your wife by the Le Lache group and certain family members.

I would end up crying almost every time trying to feed the baby and by 3 weeks we were both so miserable it wasn't worth it. I switched to formula Enfamil Lipil and she did great on the formula. I get angry when hear people put formula down and discourage this as I truly believe it has saved countless lives and made for much happier families.

My daughter is now 3 year old and only occassionaly has a cold (She is in daycare, not even breastfeed babies are completely healthy). She has never had an ear infection and is not a sickly child by any means.

I would encourage you and your wife to do what is best for you and what will make you happy as a family. While I will try and breastfeed in the future, I know it is not the end of the world if I have to give her formula.



answers from Chicago on

Tell your wife that the great thing about the internet is anonymity (sp) one really has to know it is her :-)

Anyways, I'm still breastfeeding twins at 14, I enjoy the cuddles and giggles that it brings but there have been bad times.

Let me just say that she is not alone in her problems. Pumping is not an accurate indicator of your supply as your body realizes that you are using a pump. There are ways of boosting supply (which is probably what the baby is trying to do). Has she thought about switching sides about 7.5 minutes through. Sometimes the baby just needs more of the hind milk to feel full.

Ok, now that I've said that I will say this. She's done great so far giving the baby milk and if she REALLY wants to go to formula, it is doable and she shouldn't feel ashamed for doing she has given a good effort in breastfeeding and there are many women who don't even try. I think she should make the decision when she isn't going through the tough parts during the day and when she is calm about it...maybe give it another month and see how she feels. Things will get better soon.

Also, has she tried nursing in bed? It helps with the exhaustion factor, cause you really don't have to move a whole lot and you can sleep when they do :-)

If you want more information, let me know.
If you want more nursing resources, try these websites (go to the breastfeeding forum)...(I know you don't have twins but the info there may be quite useful)

edited to add...that you might want to get a baby sling and a big sheet. That would help with the public nursing issue.

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