Some of you probably remember my story from other threads—high risk pregnancy which lead to a 35 week preemie who is now 7 1/2 weeks old (2 1/2 weeks adjusted). She has been getting bottles since her first day of life in the NICU and generally gets about 2/3 of her calories from pumped milk and 1/3 directly from me. We’re on our third lactation consultant, who I really like and finally got her latching without a nipple shield about a week ago, and we had one good day where she got everything from me, but other than that she’s never gotten a full feed without a bottle more than once in a day. We keep hearing that we should keep trying and she’ll get there in a couple weeks for sure (heard this as 3, 5, and now 6 weeks) but she screams in hunger 15-30 minutes after coming off the breast nearly every time.
Meanwhile we did a couple days of EPing when I needed a break for mental health reasons, and it worked really well for us. I was able to pump 37 and 42 ounces in the two 24 hour periods. I still had plenty of bonding tome with her, possibly more than when I try to breastfeed because I had a happy baby who wasn’t screaming in hunger. I don’t mind the pump, and have Freemies cups for my spectra, so I’m still able to hold her while I’m pumping and have pumped with them while friends were at the house. The washing is annoying, but is only ~15 minutes twice a day, so not too bad.
I’m trying to make a decision now about whether or not it’s worth it to keep trying to breastfeed vs. just exclusively pumping. I don’t want to totally miss out on something so elemental, but I also don’t know that I can spend the last few weeks of my mat leave listening to her scream in hunger rather than enjoying my otherwise happy baby.
pomelo / 5257 posts
If EPing would work for you, I'd do that! I'm a firm believer in the idea that feeding needs to work for both parties. All types are valid choices, so whatever works for mom and baby best--formula, EP, breastfeeding or a combo--is great! (I EBF my first, and am doing a combo of BFing and formula with my second).
kiwi / 544 posts
I would exclusively pump, or, honestly do formula. I had a situation where my LO had reflux and cried while at the breast and I had low supply so had to supplement and pump in addition to BFing. The whole thing was so stressful and got in the way of bonding. Once I switched to formula, we were both soooo much happier. I wish I had never breastfed and truly believe I wasn’t able to properly bond with her until I stopped. She is the happiest, healthiest toddler now and I have no regrets. Fed is best! Please do what brings you the most peace and time with your baby.
persimmon / 1390 posts
I had a really hard time nursing and pumping with DD2 and when I finally introduced formula and shifted to mostly bottle feeding my world became so much better, and our entire family dynamic improved. By pumping you will still be providing breast milk which is even better! I think you will feel a huge weight taken off your chest if you decide to do what seems to make you and baby happier and less stressed (pumping).
coconut / 8483 posts
I BFd all three of mine for a year. My advice is.. pump! You need to be happy. You can take breaks and definitely will still be bonded. I didn’t feel like BFing was a super bonding time for me.
pear / 1718 posts
I EP'd until 13 weeks because of a similar situation. I'd try to latch every 2 weeks or so with no success. Finally, around 13 weeks it CLICKED and we began BF. EPing was the best decision I made at the time. After 13 weeks I only pumped at work and BF at home.
pear / 1697 posts
If it were me I'd try breastfeeding directly 1-2x/day just so baby didn't lose skills and had the opportunity to improve them so there was reasonable chance of being able to give up EPing. All the washing gets old...and it is so much harder to get up overnight for the pump than for a baby. But if pumping is feeling easier right now, I wouldn't try direct feeding for more than a couple times a day. There are so many other things to worry about!
nectarine / 2461 posts
I like @lilyofthewest: ‘s advice, but with the caveat that if you read it and there’s any little part of you that’s like, “ehh that’s not what I wanted to hear, just want to hear it’s okay to ep”, then I’d ep and never look back and just enjoy the girl. Also if you do decide to EP, I’d take the pressure off by not making a goal or rule on how long you’ll pump for (x months)— I’d do it until you don’t want to anymore. Congratulations on the baby
apricot / 286 posts
I EPed my two girls (and supplemented with formula) and don’t regret it for a second. It was a great experience.
grapefruit / 4291 posts
Could you nurse for recreational purposes and pump for nutrition? I still feel like the non-nutritive benefits of bf’ing are worth persisting for but if you know that baby is getting her calories from bottles then hopefully that will take the pressure off and allow you to just enjoy nursing.
nectarine / 2433 posts
I hate that you feel pressure to bond only by breastfeeding. When you give a baby nourishment and look in her eyes, you bond! Doesn't matter if it's a skin nipple or a silicone nipple, she sees you and smells you and you are feeding her! And more importantly you and her are happy and she's not hungry A wonderful bonus is she gets mama milk, full of all those antibodies and other goodies. (I exclusively BFed for a year with DS1, had to stop at 9.5 months with DS2, and I would say we bonded better after I went to formula- we snuggled bc he was drinking so easily and he was soooo happy to not have to work so hard.)
clementine / 828 posts
I voted EP. To be honest with you I think I have bonded with my babies way better after we stopped bfing because it was so wrapped up in pain and guilt over low supply, etc.
cantaloupe / 6171 posts
There’s another option— combo feeding. Lo1 wasn’t getting enough from bf’ing and I tried to pump after feeds to boost my supply but also topped her off w formula (like 1-3oz per feed). Pumping and nursing was insane but combo feeding worked so so well for us. I could enjoy the bfing relationship and nursing for comfort, but she was able to grow and thrive too. She ended up nursing for 21 months (she’s 5.5 now...)
persimmon / 1409 posts
Thanks, ladies. Giving up on breastfeeding makes me sad and feels a little selfish, but at the end of the day I think we’ll all (including DH who gets really stressed when we’re both crying during/after a feed) be happier for it. I like @lilyofthewest: and @kemma’’s idea to just practice a little every day with no expectations.
@JJ2626: I have nothing against formula, it’s more that I have a really good supply and milk is essentially free. I’m sure eventually we’ll wind up supplementing with formula, but for now I get an excess of about 15oz. per day.
@SweetCaroline: Good to know that it can suddenly click. She has a good, or at least not painful latch, she’s just not getting milk.
@LCTBQE: Not putting pressure on myself is definitely good advice, but probably easier said than done. I’ve been pumping most of her milk for almost 2 months, I’d really like to get at least another 2 because as a preemie she’s at higher risk of SIDS, and most SIDS deaths occur by 4 months. I feel like it’s totally doable, and then we’ll go from there.
@pachamama: I don’t think I feel pressure only to bond by breastfeeding, but as a FTM who’s never successfully done it I didn’t really know if BFing were some sort of transcendental experience (some people def think it is).
nectarine / 2461 posts
@karenbme: yeah, def easier said than done. In your situation I’d probably also try to get through 4 months or even 4 months adjusted, and since you don’t mind pumping (I didn’t either) and your supply is great I’m sure it’ll be fine. I just know pumping can wear on and on and wouldn’t feel bad if you need/want to stop or slow down at any point after she’s not so teeny tiny. DEF wouldn’t feel bad if you need to supplement a little or a lot, as well. Just wanted to encourage you to feel proud of whatever you can do and not guilty over whatever you can’t. Speaking from experience as a 4-5x/day pumper here who went through some needless guilt bullshit when I quit/weaned my daughter at 9 months
pomelo / 5628 posts
Just wanted to chime in since I had such a similar story. My preemie was born at 25 weeks and feeding was always an issue. I wanted to bf so bad but in the end it wasn’t the right thing for him. I still did pump for 11 months, but mixing milk with formula (fortified for extra calories) worked best for him. It’s hard not having things be your ideal but whatever gets calories to baby is best! Also I produced waaaaay more milk than my LO took. But I still had to mix it with formula for it to be best for him. The positive is that I was able to drop my number of pumps per day rather quickly and still easily meet his need.
persimmon / 1409 posts
@LCTBQE: Yeah, 4 months is my minimum, 4 adjusted is better, but really I feel like I could go with this for a while. My freezer stash is almost a month of extra milk already, so that will definitely help to extend once I feel like I’m over it.
@Mrs Green Grass: Thanks for chiming in. I can’t imagine how tough it was with such a tiny preemie. Glad to hear you were able to pump for 11 months, though, gives me hope I can make this work.
pomelo / 5257 posts
Whoops, just posted in the wrong thread! I blame the holiday craziness...