No more nursing

Well, Daniel is done nursing.

When Kalena was born, nursing didn’t go so well. Not that she didn’t want to, on the contrary, she nursed all the time. A couple weeks in I started worrying that I wasn’t making enough milk because she wanted to nurse SO much. She would spend 30 or 40 minutes nursing and then be hungry again 30 minutes after she had finished. (And she also took a pacifier, so no, she wasn’t just nursing to soothe.) But do you know what you find when you google “low milk supply”? Reassurance that you probably make enough milk. Encouragement to feed on demand. Statements that babies want to eat often. Every pro-breastfeeding site I read made it clear that *true* low supply is REALLY RARE and this was all in my head! Okay, no site came out and said that, but it was certainly the impression I got. The implication was, if breastfeeding wasn’t working, it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough.

Every site encouraged nursing more often, and discouraged bottles and pacifiers. A few sites recommended pumping after feedings to increase supply but all warned that how much milk you get when you pump doesn’t indicate how much milk you’re making. Well. I nursed constantly. I pumped after every feeding (and got essentially nothing, by the way.) I gave her no formula. That went on for 6 weeks and then I had to go back to work. At that point we had to start on formula because I had no pumped milk to leave at home. But I still pumped at work, every 2 hours for 20 minutes. And you know what I discovered? In all that pumping I made enough milk for ONE feeding. Still, I continued to nurse when I was at home. I co-slept with her and let her nurse all night. It didn’t take long before she preferred a bottle though, and I got less and less when I pumped at work. I gave it up altogether around 4 months.

When Will came along I was ready. I started pumping right away instead of waiting until my milk supply was “established.” I bought fenugreek. And when he was still obviously hungry after several feedings in a row? I supplemented with either pumped milk or formula. And I didn’t feel bad about it. Every time he had a growth spurt I had to take fenugreek and add pumping sessions and supplement. It would take my body a few days to catch up, but it was working. He nursed for 13 months and then weaned himself.

Then Daniel was born. He couldn’t latch, so for the first 24 hours he got formula and I thought I might not get to nurse him at all. Based on my experience pumping for Kalena I knew I wouldn’t be able to pump exclusively for him. Fortunately, a good lactation consultant and nipple shields got him nursing on day two. He was in the NICU which meant supplementing after every feeding. Once he was home I switched to only supplementing when he still seemed hungry. Unfortunately, he didn’t gain weight on that plan. Back to supplementing every time.

I pumped, and took fenugreek and milk rich, and drank lots of water, and nursed on demand. But his low muscle tone means a weaker suck and tiring more quickly. By 8 weeks I knew nursing wouldn’t last much longer, and by about a week ago he developed an obvious preference for bottles. I’d spend several minutes trying to get him to latch only to have him quit after a minute or so. So we’re done. I’ve successfully nursed a child for more than a year and I made every effort and more this time around. It just wasn’t going to happen. I did my best, and I’m glad he got to nurse at all.

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10 thoughts on “No more nursing

  1. I'm impressed! Go you! I got nothing for a long time and I'm proud of the effort I made with all three. It's too bad so many people make you feel guilty for not nursing. It really can damage us, you know?

  2. I'm glad you're not killing yourself to try and make it work. You clearly did your best.If it makes you feel any better it's 2:10 am and I'm pumping as we speak. Or rather, I type and you probably sleep. Because I have a plugged duct that won't clear. I half fixed the problem by popping a visible plug on my nipple with a needle, but went a little overboard and now also have what looks like a tiny blood blister. I got 3 hours of broken up sleep last night because my boob hurt so bad, and it still KILLS to nurse. I've lost count of all the plugged ducts I've had in 3.5 months.So there's a least one pro for no breastfeeding.

  3. I think you have the best attitude about this. You put in a good nursing effort and got great results for the situation you are working with. And you are absolutely making all the right choices for your family and all that. The whole nursing/bottlefeeding debate makes me insane. People get SO stressed about it.

  4. I feel like all the breast feeding literature is so aggressive. Good for you for doing what you could and recognizing how to make a graceful exit.

  5. With Anna I fed 20 minutes on each side, pumped 20 minutes, started over 2 hours later around the clock. Took fenugreek, blessed thistle, and goat's rue, didn't sleep, cried a lot, she still didn't gain any weight. Rented a nursing scale, she never ever got more than about 1.5 oz. from me and that was first thing in the morning if I'd had a break. The other feedings were more like .3 oz. I'm still nursing Ivy, but she is very heavily supplemented and as it turns out, guilt doesn't actually do anything to increase my supply. Which is a long-winded way of saying I feeeeeel you.

  6. What is up with those big boobs of yours not producing any milk?! Good for you for trying so long, I think I would've thrown in the towel earlier. Nursing is hard and emotional enough without troubles! You definitely gave it all you had and that's what counts! Now more pictures please! :)Laura- OUCH!

  7. I loved reading this and seeing not only how different the experience was with each child but also for you, as you evolved.As always, I'm impressed by you and all that you do.

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