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Friday, 12 October 2007


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I'm sorry this isn't easier for you all. Hoping you find your way to peace very soon.


I'm impressed at the 13.5 ounces. I don't think I could ever pump that much in a day. I'm sure you know that what you pump isn't always indicitive of your supply though. It IS hard. And it makes enjoying the baby so much harder. I don't feel like I bonded with my two for several months. I loved them, yes, but I didn't like them for quite awhile.

You are doing a great job. It's heartbreaking to not have it go as planned.


I really feel for you. I know how hard it is. I had similar problems after Alex was born in Feb 2006. Please know that whatever you decide to do, it will work out all right. The important thing is to do the best thing for your family.

I breastfed to 8 weeks (my goal, of course, was a year) and not one single day was completely unsupplemented. I was so disappointed - I never imagined I wouldn't be able to do this - but I did get over it and I enjoyed my baby so much more after I stopped.


I understand so well. My son would never latch on, so I pumped for 8 months - he got all BM from 3w to 4m. I used herbs for let down and it was the only way I made it. I had to pump for 45 minutes each time to get empty - dense breasts. Then tried to feed a reluctant infant for 45 minutes more. With clean up, it was then time to pump again. You don't know if you're coming or going.

I can't offer any advice, but I can certainly say I understand. I would cringe at those moms saying they had a freezer full of breastmilk. I definitely never had that problem.

Cat, Galloping

When I was in pain and trying to prevent my breast from smothering Gatito and worrying about oversupply (yes! just as problematic as undersupply!), there was no bonding going on. I couldn't even see his face there under my breast. I used to watch TV to distract myself.

But when I fed him from a bottle, well... *Then* we gazed lovingly into each other's eyes and had some of our sweetest times.


You know what, Thalia? I think you'll be able to enjoy that dream of bonding while feeding her more if you can just do what causes the least stress surrounding feeding. You've done a great job for her so far and anything else that you manage in terms of breastmilk at this point is just a bonus. If you need to switch over to more formula so that you can focus on the really important stuff, do it.


Hang on, you pump 400 mls AND she drinks from the boob?! How much is she supposed to have then, it sounds like a lot...
When you're just breast feeding you don't have a clue how much they are getting (unless you weigh them, but please don't go there). If they have wet nappies and are growing they are doing well. Don't worry too much, it sounds like it's all going well. It's like the infertility game all over again indeed. Trust your body a little bit more!


I know its hard for you to let go of that dream and a lovely dream it is but I really agree with Bittermama ;( Sorry!


I really hear you on it being like IF in the sense of "is it worth the perseverence?" and that you just keep going because that seems less painful than letting go.
I got advice all over the place- give it up, why does it matter, formula is fine on the one hand and keep it up, it will get easier, just stick with it on the other. And its so friggin hard. Only you can make the call re: what's right for you. But it also doesn't have to be an either/or thing. I supplemented with my older son and I supplement now with the twins. It gives me the flexibility I need (to leave them with a sitter or a relative) but I nurse enough that the supply doesn't seem to dwindle, just stays at a constant not-quite enough to EBF.
Hang in there. It does get better, no matter what you end up choosing. Right now is just an exercise in living through it and finding joy wherever you can.
Also, I had a major hormone crash (with both pregnancies) when my kids were 3-4 weeks old. The combo of lack of sleep, colic, and nursing challenges made me just crazy. So be kind to yourself and recognize that some of the angst you are feeling may be your hormones messing with you (so that all these issues- pumping, nursing, etc. feel horrible because you feel horrible.)


I always felt that infertility and my failure to breastfeed were very similar - I failed to get pregnant on my own, and I was failing again with breastfeeding, yet another natural thing I was unable to do.

You were so kind to me when I was going through all of this myself, so please let me know if you need me to return the favour. If you want any assvice (even though my outcome was less than desirable from your perspective I should think), let me know.

Christine Choquel

Hi Thalia,
Well, I gave up much quicker with breastfeeding, but I can tell you one thing: I was so relieved when my son first drank a full bottle after trying to breastfeed him and he was starving!
Yes I was disappointed and angry not to be able to feed him, but what a peaceful feeling to know that he was doing fine on the bottles... And that I could leave him with his father for hours without having to rush home.

Well, it's a very personal perception, and we all have our ways to cope with such problems, especially after IVF when you think all the trouble is definitely over.

Try and be indulgent with yourself. The most important thing is that your baby grows and gets stronger, whatever the feeding method.


Totally agree with the analogy to IF. For me it was similar in that I was determined to WIN, DAMMIT! and I just refused to believe that it wouldn't work. If I could just try hard enough, if I could just push hard enough...

Well, I was a lot more successful at "winning" IF than I was at "winning" breastfeeding. I don't regret how long I stuck with it, because by the time I finally quit I really did feel like I gave it my all (and I think had I quit sooner, I might not have felt that way...how long before getting to that point varies for everyone, of course). But I think about those first four months of BG's life and all the small joys, and I wonder if I would have had even more joy if I had stopped sooner. I don't know.

You are the only one who can decide how much struggle is worth it. But know that WHATEVER you decide, whether to keep going, to quit, to do something halfway, it WILL be the right choice, because it is YOUR choice.

(And the invitation to call anytime still stands. Really.)


Okay, first off I'm envious of the 13.5 oz! Wow! The most I ever pumped was 12 oz. So, yeah, I completely hear you on the envy of moms with massive supply.

From what I understand, the baby is far more efficient at getting milk out of the breast than the pump is. But then, it's impossible to know how much they are getting. I was told they get all they need in the first 10 minutes of nursing, and after that it's just a comfort for them. I didn't mind keeping the Bee on because it thought it would help the supply.

BF can really be brutal. You're doing spectacularly, even though it feels far from it. Go with your instinct, even if your instinct is telling you to stop. The gut is always right. Sending you lots of positive milk producing energy. :)


i wish i had some useful advice, but just wanted to say how much i appreciate you sharing it with us. a lot of women seem to go through feeding problems feeling alone and like a total failure, not realizing how hard this is for so many women. just one other way it's unfortunately like infertility: it helps to share your story. thank you.

Lut C.

I suppose the disappointment in your body is a sentiment that's only too familiar.
Even though the breastfeeding is proving challenging, you're not failing as a mother. You're doing a great job, and making sure your little girl gets all the nourishment she needs.

Hang in there!


Sigh. I really, really wish this wasn't happening. It's so unfair. I completely understand why you have been pushing yourself to try to make it work. I have no assvice for you, only warm thoughts and hopes that it gets better soon.


You're not a heel at all for wanting happily-ever-after once Pob arrived. I take it, since you mention formula, that there aren't breastmilk banks in your area? I know it's still a concession, though.

Other than that, I'm all out of ideas, so I will send you big big hugs instead, sweetie. Hang in there. xx

Lettuce Lover

heavens, it's hard

my friend had a baby (her second - she didn't bf the first) two weeks before you and she is having a hard time too (in fact, i sent her over here so she would see she's not alone)

personally, the number of friends who had a hard time bf-ing outweighed the number who breezed through

i can *totally* understand that it feels like the infertility thing but i feel sad for you that you're not able to fully enjoy your beautiful baby because of all this

that said, i hold back from giving advice because i know/remember that you need to own any decision you come to



I'm so sorry, sweetie. Seems like nothing is coming easy for you. *hugs*


I really liked what Bittermama said but I loved what Flicka said too.

Be kind to yourself.


Thalia - I totally understand what you are saying and feel your pain. While I'm able to pump more than you are I fear there will come a day when I can't. This stuff is hard... and I wish it came as easily as pregnancy does to fertiles... seriously it would be nice to catch a break. Hang in there and ultimately do what you feel is best for you and for POB. She knows you love her and that is the part that matters most. Sometimes we have to change our expectations and that stinks when you've already changed them so much already just to get to this point.


Hoping it gets easier for you.



Just a thought ...

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the trouble IFer's have with breast feeding? So many new mom's are blogging about it.

I had two pregnancies that were conceived in the conventional way and nursed both babies (now teens) for 4 and 8 months without any supply issues or need to suppliment. I was one of 'those mom's' with bags and bags of frozen breast milk in my freezer. I am now struggling with supply for my 10 week old who was conceived after IF treatment (MF and secondary IF) and I am sure some of the struggle has to do with it.


Maybe you can have one special moment once a day to breast feed instead of trying to do it all day long? Perhaps at night or early morning when it can be just you and her together...you can both be relaxed and take your time. Just a suggestion to make the most out of a difficult situation. I hope you find a solution that works for you - I would hate for you to look back on this time as stressful and unpleasant. Good luck.

Carla Hinkle

Starfish just said what I was going to say.

BF DOESN'T have to be all or nothing. If you enjoy nursing Pob, then nurse her. If you also have to give her 1 (or 2 or 3 or ... you get the picture) supplemental bottles, by all means do it. If you hate the pump, quit pumping and just do a combo nursing and formula.

One other thing to remember ... despite what the commercials say, those early weeks with a newborn are not particularly pleasant. If it wasn't the BF being difficult, it would be something else -- colic, reflux, not a great sleeper, etc etc etc. (Have you read about Barren Mare's star breast-feeder who was also a non-stop cryer for the first month???) The baby is new at this, you are also new at this, plus your hormones are all over the place. So just do what feels right and give yourself permission to feel tired, cranky and depressed -- knowing that most of us do when our babies are teeny-tiny.

We are thinking of you every day!


Keep doing what you need to, and follow your gut. And please try to be gentle with yourself. I wish it could be easier for you.


Thalia, the reason Pob is not taking much in at the breast is because nursing is hard work for babies and she knows that if she just waits around, she will get a bottle. And bottles are easy. She is as smart as her mother, and already is learning!

She is full weight, and can latch no problem. She has nipple confusion, a nice way of saying that she doesn't feel like working for what an adult will pour down her throat.

The solution is to take her off of the bottle COMPLETELY, and only use the supplemental nursing system and your own breasts, no nipple shield. She will cry and fuss and be angry at first, but eventually she will eat. No baby will starve herself. And your supply will increase dramatically. Her mouth is far more effective at sucking milk than any pump will ever be.

I've nursed two kids for 18 months each, through thrush, blisters, oversupply, undersupply, mastitis 3 times, the crappiest latch on earth, and biting. I was a breastfeeding coach for ages for lots of other moms. I wouldn't give this advice for a preemie or an underweight baby, but she is neither.

If you eventually decide it's not worth it, fine, you know I'll love and admire you anyway, but please TRY stopping the bottle and just nurse and use the SNS for a week or so.

As for enjoying your baby? The dirty little secret of first time motherhood is that the first 6 weeks are always utter and total hell, whether you breastfeed or bottlefeed or adopt or give birth in a rice paddy surrounded by choirs of angels. I was a madwoman. I'm impressed you are posting at all! And leave the house? I only left it for doctor's appointments, baby chained to my side. If I got out of my bathrobe and ate 3 meals a day, it was a victory.

Give yourself a break. Stop being so hard on yourself. You are doing the best you can.


The best advice anyone gave me, Thalia, was to enjoy my babies.
I had to supplement as my left breast wasn't producing enough. I agonised about it for about a month.
But, you know what - since I accepted that the baby on the left (which meant three feeds a day per baby) got a supplement, it's been so much easier and pleasurable and I've never thought about it again.
It makes not a whit of difference to any of us. We all get the breastfeeding experience, and then they get a bottle. It matters not at all. And now that they are beginning to wean and need less milk I'm dropping the bottle and relying only on my breasts (and we are still feeding after six and a half months this way).
Please do not agonise. In the long term it really isn't worth it. It isn't about failure. Or success.
Your baby will only be young for a very short time. Just try and enjoy her and cuddle her. And if that means she gets a whacking great bottle after a breast feed.. so what? Really.
(PS I agree with the last poster. Breastfeeding is tough, tough, tough at the start. SOme of my antenatal class had bleeding nipples, bitten half-destroyed nipples, blocked ducts. I remember shouting in pain one night from the burning hot blocked duct of my left breast. But somewhere around two and a half to three months it all sorted itself out. Now, if pushed..., I could breastfeed standing on my head (If i could stand on my head). It gets easier.)
Please please do not agonise.


Sorry to hear it's not going as hoped. I wish I had something more useful to add, but unfortunately I don't. Hang in there!


I'm so sorry that it's been so hard. I don't have any advice, but just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you and pob. I hope that you can find a solution soon.


I'm so sorry that it's been so hard. I don't have any advice, but just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you and pob. I hope that you can find a solution soon.


I have no idea if this will help or not (or if you're already doing it), but I found that if I squeezed my breast while pumping the milk would come out much faster. I don't think it would help get any more out, but it might make the pumping take less time? You might also get more in your 10 min sessions once an hour, and that might help build up your supply?

It sucks that you are not having the breastfeeding experience you had imagined. But I agree with one/some of the previous posters - it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Letting yourself be okay with a combo might be just the ticket.

Hugs, T.


Hey, you are doing a great job. I mean it. I promise that you're going to look back at these days and marvel at how hard you tried, how much effort you put into breastfeeding, how you gave it your all.

In my experience it always took my breasts several days of stimulation (or reduction in stimulation, for that matter) to respond and increase/decrease supply. Also, my supply didn't really stabilize until about twelve weeks or so.

Hang in there. You're doing the best you can do and that's all you can do.


I wish you were having a better time. I am sorry it still feels like the same kind of issues have followed you to here. I hope you can find a way that will allow you to really relax and enjoy your baby, whatever that is.


As others have said - what you're pumping isn't indicative of supply...

How is Pob doing? Gaining weight? Enough wet diapers? I remember panicking constantly as I was never able to pump more than a couple of ounces at a time - but if only I'd been able to step back and see that Josh was doing fine. He was better at it than the pump was.

I know it's hard. And it's entirely impossible to imagine how those first weeks will be. We all underestimate the exhaustion, the difficulty with something or other...

No-one gets off scot free...

I'm so sorry this is proving to be such a bugger. Hoping you turn a corner soon.


OK - having read the comments... Amen AMEN AMEN!!!! to what Aurelia said.

Get your shirt off, and get into bed with that baby, and don't get out. have a 36 hour babymoon, as my midwives called it. She'll figure it out. But the bottles and the nipple shields do allow her to get lazy...

Let's face it, human nature to take the easy way out, right?


I have enjoyed watching your journey--and am sorry bf has been soo hard. I pump some for work and I must say I always get less than I think--my babe needs--- but when I feed him it is always enough--- so she always is getting more from you than you can get from the pump--

i am sure you know what to do-- I hope you can get outside help for everything else-- I didn't do anything but breastfeed, sleep and eat for the first two weeks-- no diaper changing, dressing baby, putting him down to sleep, cooking, etc. -- I let my husband/mom/friends do it all. etc-- and I think that helps---

every tenth

BF is really hard. You are doing a great job, and it sounds like you have great support. The one thing I wonder is what POB's doctor says. Now I am most certainly not a doctor, but if POB's doctor is not concerned with her weight gain and she is thriving, then maybe you're doing ok with the system you have in place.

fisher queen

Just chiming in to tell you to give yourself a break. "Perfect" goes out the window the moment they get into our arms. Part of the fun (tough fun, yes) is finding the routine that works for both of you. If you do formula and breastmilk, great! However you handle it, it will be fine. Just knowing you've hit on the thing that keeps you both happy is so rewarding. It's not about the idea you had beforehand. You know?

fisher queen

Oh and another thing- I will defend the nipple shield to the bitter end. The Bear still uses one, feeds more when he does, and we are both happier. My supply would have been diminished without it since it allowed him to nurse more.


Yes to the frustration of IF and difficulty BFing after.

Without meaning to be unkind (I know that my feelings do not cause your difficulties), I am in some weird way relieved to have found another IFer who shares the difficulties I have had. Not that I would wish this on you or anyone, but it is good to know I am not alone and that it isn't just about "trying harder." I do still wonder.

That said, I was *never* able to BF exclusively. While that still bugs me as a matter of principle, I enjoy BFing DS (now 7 months) as much as I am able, and am grateful to have the option of also using formula, something women in an earlier era, or in parts of the globe without access to safe water, would not have.

FWIW, the differences between kids that were BF *exclusively* and those that were formula-fed are small, and may be due to underlying differences between BFing moms and non-BFing moms (who chooses to, and who chooses not to -- it's not random). Personally I like to think that by continuing to BF I am conferring many of whatever advantages it may offer (antibodies), even if it is not his only source of nutrition. In case that helps.


I totally hear you on the anger and frustration. The most I EVER pumped in one day was 80 ml. I was so sure when I was preggo that I would be a real prize milkproducer and have no problems -- and there it was, as you point out, IF all over again, not being able to do what so many other women seem to do effortlessly. Bah. I felt very useless and angry over the whole thing.

Our boys are nearly 7 mos now and have had probably 90% formula and 10% breast milk during their lives. I was sure they would grow two heads or something from a lack of enough breast milk (since that's what many of the lactation nazis at the hospital implied) but actually, they have been quite healthy, with the exception of the one nasty case of thrush they endured. Our ped said simply to give them as much breast milk as I could produce and then not worry about it, since even a little breast milk has antibodies in it, which is the most important thing. It seems to be true. But it was very hard to let go of my own expectations.


Thalia, congrats on the arrival! I completely lost track with all the blogs. Well done on perservering with the breastfeeding. Don't let the NCT/health workers make you feel bad if you can't do it every feed. They are good at doing that. I witnessed it in my local areas at the breastfeeding drop-in cafes.

Ms. Planner

I admire your perseverance, Thalia. I wish this wasn't so stressful for you. I don't have one iota of breastfeeding advice. But just wanted to let you know that I am proud of how hard you are working on this issue.

Betty M

I would like to echo Aurelia's advice. I know that exactly what she recommends has worked for people I know. I think you are being amazingly strong on this - I would have abandoned the pumping days ago.


It's so hard to know what to do, but at some point you'll have to decide whether the agony is worth it or not. You can think well, at least she's getting some of my breastmilk and then when you supplement with a bottle/formula just think that she is content and feeding and you are still having quality mother/daughter time with her because she is right next to your heart and you are bonding. If the main issue is just the idea of "breast milk" versus "formula" that is really at the heart of your angst, then consider whether it absolutely HAS to be your breastmilk or if you could supplement with donated breast milk. I'm not sure if the UK has this option, but I know that there are organizations that collect breastmilk and distribute it to mother's in need. And if the idea of giving your daughter someone else's breastmilk just totally icks you out think about whether you want to continue the struggle between breast and formula or just embrace the formula and enjoy all the other things you will do with your daughter, like teach her to walk, talk, appreciate nature, etc as she gets older. Just try to remember that you worked so hard to get to this place and to have her, that you should try to enjoy her babyhood while you can. It's so hard and it is all your decision in the long run, but whatever you do, I speak for myself and hopefully a lot of other infertile women out here by saying "we will support you" no matter what you decide.

Fellow breastfeeder

I also found breastfeeding hard, but it sounds to me as if you are doing really well. For what it's worth, when I had my DD in November I was unable to express anything much for the first six weeks, and had to resort to a small formula supplement every couple of nights. But my supply improved with time and after the six weeks I was able express between each feed to increase flow. Although I was only ever able to produce enough for that day, never enough for the freezer, I was able to give up formula and rely exclusively on breastmilk at six weeks. And am still happily breastfeeding at 10months despite a very difficult start.
When I tried 4 hourly feeds my baby didn't gain weight, but I was advised by my health visitor to try feeding on alternate breasts every two hours ie on one side and then the other two hours later, which meant the baby didn't have to wait so long and was more satisfied - this also meant I could express on the other side and allow time for the supply to build up. Consequently I had enough breastmilk at give a bottle at night when my supply was less - and the bottle meant the baby slept a bit longer.
One way I increased my milk supply was through massage - there is a good site which details how to massage to increase milk supply for expressing - I'm afraid I can't remember the name, but if you search on Google, I'm sure it won't be hard to find.
If you are finding the process physical painful, I would also keep on getting advice on positioning and latching until you get what you need- I was told by one midwife that breastfeeding was painful and to accept that, only to be shown how to latch on painlessly by another midwife the following day and thereafter, found it much easier.
You may also find eating lots of "homous" helps - women in the Middle East swear by chick peas to increase milk production - and I think it made a difference to me. I've also been told fennel and fenugreek teas make a difference. GOOD LUCK.


I'm sorry things are so tough for you right now. I can only imagine what a great disappointment this must be. I really like Starfish's suggestion. Sending love and light to you across the ocean...


13.5 oz is GREAT! Especially for a baby as young as yours!

The only time I ever pumped that much was when my son was around 7 months. For the first 6 months, I was very excited every time I passed 10 oz, and an average day was closer to 8.

And my son is a healthy, thriving 20 month old now.


Hope the breast feedings get better and I'm sorry things are tuff right now.

Thinking of you.

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