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Letting my daughter down

Sorry this is so long but I need to get this out as it is making me so depressed. All the way through my pregnancy I was set on breastfeeding and didn't even consider using formula. My daugther was born 8 days ago and for the first couple of days we struggled with breastfeeding - she would latch on but take herself off after a couple of mins max. The midwives at the hospital helped us and after a couple of days of successful feeds they were happy for us to come home.

Since being home we have had only one half-way decent feed and when the community midwife visited she worked with me to try and get her feeding. Nothing the midwife did helped (my breasts were apparently so engorged that there was no 'give' when my daughter tried to latch on) and she said that as my daughter had lost weight (10% of her birth weight) we had to get something in her or she would be readmitted to hospital. The plan was to use formula for a couple of feeds to ensure that she got something, whilst at the same time I expressed to soften my breasts and enable us to try breastfeeding again.

Three days on and we are still stuck using the formula as we still can't get the breastfeeding to work and I am expressing only minimal amounts each time (I express every time she feeds which is 3-4 hours). I try her at the breast before every feed but she still won't stay latched on (despite me doing everything the midwives have suggested).

I am so relieved that she has started to gain weight now and that she is definately getting something to eat, however, I also feel like a complete failure. I can't breastfeed her and I can't even express enough milk to give her via a bottle. I feel like I am really letting her down. Is there anything I can do to boost my milk supply so that her feeds can at least be EBM? I am trying to make sure I eat and drink plenty, I have tried hand massage and compression, using hot flannels but nothing has worked. Any suggestions really would be gratefully accepted.


  • Have a look at the feeding support thread further down the page. Lots of useful tips.

    Don't worry, you are not alone on the not being able to breastfeed issue.

    H xx
  • You are not letting your daughter down by giving her formula. You've tried to give her the best start in life by breastfeeding but unfortunately it doesn't work for everyone.

    I felt like I'd let down DS1 when I had to switch to formula due to not producing enough milk. However, he was so much happier & more settled once we made the change.

    At the end of the day you need to do what is best for your daughter & by BF even a small amount you will have helped boost her immune system.

  • ps, I also wanted to say in no way are you letting your daughter down! At the end of the day as long as she is being fed, you are doing a great job. I really wanted to bf, but had latching issues.

    Take care and keep coming on here for support xxx
  • I know exactly how you feel. Blake had jaundace which meant he had know interest in feeding, so when we were in hospital, we had to top up with formular, and the more we topped up, the less interested in the breast Blake became, tothe point that when I offered him the breast he would become histerical. So we made the desicion to FF. And I have hated myself for it ever since. It feels like I have totally failed him. I feel like I can't do what a mummy is supposed to do, so therefore I must not be very good at it. That topped with the fact that I had a very traumatic birth, resulting inan emergency c section, has made me feel a bit useless. Like my body can not do what it is supposed to do. And what doesnt help is everyone seems to think they have the right to ask me why I am not BF, so I feel like I have to justify myself.

    Thats the first time I have told anyone how I feel, and I feel better for it.

    Kitkat, I'm sure if you stick with it, it will all work out. But you are doing what is right for your little one and that is what counts. Mean while, we are all here to support one another.
  • First of all please don't think you are letting your daughter down.
    You absolutely are not. We are all led to beleive that BF is natural and therefor easy and it absolutely is not easy and sometimes things don't go as smoothly as we would like.

    Just a thought but is there a chance she could be tongue tied. Fin was and even though he had his mouth checked my numerous people nobody spotted it. It was actually me that thought it didn't look right and when i mentioned it to my health visitor she agreed that yes he was. He had it released and is now feeding much better and gaining weight much easier (he also lost more than10% of his birth weight and we were having to syringe feed expressed milk because at this point nobody had spotted the tongue tie)

    From what you have said it sounds like she is latching on but struggling to stay there and that is one of the classic signs of tongue tie.

    I in no way want this to panick you. Like I said Fin had it and it really is nothing to worry about at all but it worth asking about and getting somebody to check.

    I hope things sort themselves out soon.

  • Kitkat you are not letting your daughter down. Bfing is really really hard and doesn't work out for everyone and the priority is a well fed happy baby which your dd will be on either breast or formula milk. Def read the feeding thread for tips about increasing supply and expressing its really useful. Xxx
  • G/C from BIJ, and being nosy!

    You are not letting your lo down at all. I've had a google, there might be a bf support group close to you. It'll help to know others may have struggled with the same thing.

    Have put in a few, in case one doesn't have your area. HTH, and you are back bf soon. xx
  • Kitkat, you're absolutely not letting your LO down - this is I think, one of the downsides to the governments determination to push BFing (don't get me wrong, I'm an advocate but not to the detriment of mums sanity) is that it makes you feel like a failure when you can't manage for some reason.

    Thought I might offer a little suggestion that might help. My LO was doing exactly what yours did, and pulling off and not latching, and various mw's kept getting him latched, but he would come off again etc. I wasn't able to get him to latch on my own at all, and the hospital mw's were only really interested in manhandling me into a position where he would feed for that time so that he could go home. What helped was that on my last day I had a mw who actually looked at me and pointed out that I was holding him wrong (I had been putting him into the crook of my arm to feed him and using the free hand to hold his head to the breast) and what I should do is lie him along my arm with his head in my hand and his crotch in the crook of my elbow, then turn him tummy to tummy and use my free hand to manipulate my boob to get it into the best position to get him to latch (with the nipple pointing up to the roof of his mouth) - that way he can't keep pulling off as my hand is behind his head holding him in place (obviously if he really wants off I let him off) and the other hand holds the boob away from his nose a little bit as my boobs were covering his face!

    I'd second mithical tho, try and get to a BF support group or see if there is someone near you who will watch you feed and help you out (not just manhandle you!) Might be worth contacting organisations like la leche league too...
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