Confession: I’m Scared To Breastfeed Again

breastfeeding
Image via Flickr/ myllissa

OK, before I begin, allow me to offer up this disclaimer:

I am a breastfeeding advocate. I am not, as one mother tried to accuse me of when I casually mentioned I might let my fourth baby have a pacifier (for the first time ever), trying to coerce all women into bottle feeding. 

Goodness, no. 

I've worked as an OB nurse for almost three years, and I have breastfed all three of my babies exclusively (as in not a drop of formula) for the first year of their lives. 

I am fully and completely aware the “breast is best,” and I do believe that. I believe in making breastfeeding normal and in supporting all women who choose to breastfeed with resources and support such as lactation consultants.

MORE: How Lactation Consultants Help with Breastfeeding }

So, with that cleared up, allow me to now offer up a confession:

I am scared to breastfeed again. 

I'm currently pregnant with baby #4, and it's T minus almost six months and counting until baby time. I admit that I wasn't fully prepared to take on a baby at this exact time in my life (again), but hey, it happens. My husband and I have a strong marriage, good-enough-for-now incomes, a happy home, and the honest desire for a “large” family, so we are happy to welcome another baby into our lives. 

But I'm still scared of the feeding part. 

I share this with you, not to scare you off the breastfeeding path, but simply to offer up, mom-to-mom, the advice that sometimes not every part of motherhood comes easily to us. Breastfeeding, for me, doesn't come easily. I haven't, thankfully, had a problem with inadequate supply or a baby's latch yet, but I have struggled with vicious bouts of mastitis. The first one I had happened because I had just been released from the hospital after some postpartum complications, and it went undetected for a really long time, as I was pretty out of it and miserable anyways, so I didn't notice the raging pain and burning fever at first.

It took another admission to the hospital and almost two whole days in the hospital before a doctor finally figured out what was going on. The combination of the antibiotics I had received from my first stay and my accompanying delirium from the 105-degree fever I was running meant it was a particularly nasty infection. So bad, in fact, that it damaged my milk ducts in the affected breast … for good.

{ MORE: 8 Tips For Dealing With Mastitis }

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Although I went on to successfully nurse all of my kids, with them thriving and garnering praise from their pediatrician, nursing them out of the affected side was always extremely painful, especially for the first month or so of the newborn phase. I cried almost every time I fed them on that side, and it wasn't uncommon for me to notice blood mixed in with their milk. Because the ducts are damaged, that side produces less, so they have to work extra hard to get the milk out, leading to blisters and fun stuff like that. 

I know, I know, it's a little gross. But again, I'm sure I'm not the only mom to struggle with this.

So now facing feeding baby #4, I am really struggling. Part of me just wants to be thankful that I can nurse and embrace bonding with the baby in such a unique and special way. Another part of me just wants to be OK with letting the baby have formula now and then. But would I feel like a failure? It seems like such a selfish thing to do if I have the capacity to nurse and a supportive partner who wants 100% for me to nurse. 

I guess it's a lesson that never gets easier, no matter how many babies we might have—the lesson that motherhood takes sacrifice. But sometimes, we need to do what is best for us, too. 

What do you think? Did you ever have trouble with breastfeeding? 

What do you think?

Confession: I’m Scared To Breastfeed Again

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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14 comments

  1. mrkahler says:

    Hard to believe that my size g boobs dried up a week after having Lucy but it happened nonetheless. It was very painful to breastfeed because she didn’t latch well and it took one very long stressful night to realize that she wasn’t getting anything from me. Thanks God we decided to have some formula just in case but I, as a new mom, was so upset that I couldn’t provide for my baby. Of course, Lucy thrived and it made me feel better but now, expecting my 2nd in 3 months, I hope that breastfeeding goes quite a bit smoother.

  2. Lauren says:

    I went through mastitis and have damaged ducts, so much so that my supply tanked and I wasn’t able to breastfeed my daughter past 5 months. I want to breastfeeding next one but I’m terrified of going through that sense of failure and pain

  3. Andrea says:

    Like Stephanie, I’m on my first child but my issue has been latching. Unfortunately the only help i had while in the hospital with breastfeeding was from a delivery nurse. The lactation consultant that visited an hour prior to our release said she was doing fine, however once we got home she started giving me cracked nipples. A day & a half after my milk came in, my daughter was admitted into the NICU for jaundice. It was there that we got the help we needed, however I have found that it is easier on my brain & conscience to pump & use Enfamil. By doing so, I can SEE how much she is eating & am not getting woken up every hour because she didn’t get enough from my breast. The added bonus is, of course, that my husband can feed her from the bottle as well so that I can get some rest when he’s home from work after I’ve taken care of her all day 😀

    • Stephanie says:

      My husband definitely misses the binding he got when he bottle fed out little girl. I’m sorry you had trouble with cracked nipples, it’s painful. My daughter had jaundice when she was born, but thankfully it wasn’t severe enough for her to have to go to the NICU. and don’t those troublesome babies always seen to nurse better when the consultant is watching? Lol

  4. Stephanie says:

    I’m on my first child right now and I had a lot of difficulty in the beginning due to damage on my nipples. When I hurt so bad I was crying every time I breastfed my husband called a lactation consultant and made an appointment for the very next day.and when she saw the damage I was dealing with she was surprised I was even still breastfeeding. At her recommendation I breastfed on the less damaged side, and then pumped and supplemented with formula for the rest of the feeding. I did this for two days and then went back for a checkup. Finally I was healed enough to exclusively breastfeed, even though it was still a little painful. Getting baby to take a smaller amount of liquid was a challenge though, as she had to adjust from getting a bottle that filled her up to more frequent feedings of a smaller amount from the breast. I had to use a pacifier for a couple of times to get her back to sleep after feeding. While I now exclusively breastfeed, and I agree that breast is best, I also don’t think that bottle feeding our pacifiers are evil and they help out a lot of new moms when we feel like things are hopeless. I think we need to STOP STOP STOP shaming moms who can’t exclusively breastfeed our need a pacifier or bottle to make things a little easier sometimes.

  5. BONNIE says:

    I have 2 kids my own. My 1st was only able to feed and pump up to 5months but was enough supply for another month. My work gave me a lot of trouble because I had to pump at work. I even was sent to HR because of this, so I had to give up pumping. I was then got laid off a year later.

    My 2nd child is 2months old, and I have more time to pump and feed my baby now but he doesn’t like me breastfeeding him. He has a latching problem and loves to sleep. Every time I tried too breastfeeding him, he would scream and push me away. I now only rely on pumping and milk supply is not too good. He has to use mostly on formula. I feel upset myself and on the other hand I have to worry about his spitting up problem.

    No matter how much we do, we as mother’s would always want to give the best to our kids. It’s mother nature.

  6. Mommy of 3 says:

    I have 3 young children. I was unable to breastfeed and i was also unsuccessful at pumping. I tried everything I could. There were many times I felt like a failure as a mother. It caused many tears. After every child I did feel less guilty but it was still quite upsetting. But I would never say I bonded any less with my children because I couldn’t BF. I know I did the best I could and I know I’m a great mother. All I can say to mothers is that it doesn’t matter if you BF or not, just do what you’re capable of and don’t feel guilty. My children have not suffered any from being formula fed. They are healthy, intelligent, and very attached to their mother 🙂

  7. Moira says:

    You’re a great mom because you ensure your child is fed and loved.

    I only have one child but had such difficulty with breastfeeding and am still having trouble with production. I balled my eyes out in the beginning when i had to supplement. I strictly pump now and still have to supplement almost once a day. It still breaks my heart but i have come to terms with it because when all is said and done my daughter is fed. That’s the most important thing.

  8. Abby says:

    I ended up formula feeding my girls for a variety of reasons and while judgmental people are always around and were very annoying My girls are still smart and healthy and I still got the chance to bond with them at every feeding. Don’t let judgement people influence you, do what works best for you, your baby and your family.

  9. Felicia says:

    i am also pregnant with baby #4 and i had so much trouble with my 3kids that i couldnt go the whole year with them. i goaled myself into 6months. and tried so hard. with number 3 i was only able to make it to about 4months bc of the pain. noone ever told me about this mastitis. but i know it hurt like heck when i would try and feed on one side and so my boys (all 3) favored the right side. so now with my current pregnancy i am finding out that i possibly had this issue that started with my first son and continued into my other pregnancies. im prepared this time, willing to try the left but if its unbareable then i will not allow myself to suffer bc it does affect the baby also when mama is stressed. so i dont think you should blame yourself. you know your body, you know what you can and cant do. it does not make you a failure but a great mom bc you are preparing yourself for this new baby and wanting to be prepared for any obsticle and provide the best for your baby at the babies time of need. i feel like too much pressure is being placed on moms to breastfeed. yes i understand breast is best, but i dont feel when it is excruciating bc of an infection, locked ducts, damaged ducts then that is beyond your control. even tho i am a breastfeeding mommy i do believe it is a womans choice to feed their child as they feel fit and more support should be offered to mommies deciding to bottle feed. mommy who bottle feeds usually beat themselves up mentally enough and need to understand that they are able to make the choice they want and should never feel guilty for that. there are wonderful bottles out there if you decide to bottle feed and infant formula in my opinion (due to current research) that is just as good. so dont beat yourself up. dont feel guilty you also have to look out for you as well as your baby. if your not happy baby will not be happy and i believe bottle feeding can be just as bonding bc your holding your baby, your looking into their eyes, your talking to them, singing to them. its still bonding. and i dad gets to help!!! judgemental people will always exsist, just one ear and out the other….its your baby….its your body….its your choice…

  10. Jenny says:

    I am currently pregnant with baby # 4 also. Baby # 2 is my rainbow baby so I never got to nurse her. Baby # 1, I had trouble with production. I had to nurse and then give him formula anyway. My milk never came in so It was very frustrating for both of us. After 6 weeks I switched to just formula and suddenly there were a lot less tears at feeding time. With baby # 3 I was terrified, I even took a lactation class before delivery. My supply was better than the first time but still not great. I was on supplements to try to increase my supply and had to pump regularly for the same reason. After 4 months my son got his first strep throat/ sinus infection/double ear infection trifecta and wouldn’t nurse for 3 weeks. By the end I was completely dry. I felt a bit like a failure but mostly was relieved it was over. Now with baby #4 there is a lot of apprehension again. I have learned that we do the best we can, If it’s incredibly stressful for mommy the baby feels that, and that’s not good either. You have to make the decision that’s best for both of you. Society tells us that we’re bad mothers if we don’t nurse but I don’t believe that. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that make formula the better choice. Whatever your decision you are not a failure.

  11. Nicole says:

    I never went through the amount of stress and trauma you did with breastfeeding, so I can’t say I fully understand. However, while I had great success with breastfeeding all of my children, when it came time for #4, 8 years after #3, there was definitely some stress and fear involved. And, of course, the stress, was definitely felt by my son, and added to the process. But we got past it and successfully got through it. I wish you luck with whatever decision you make regarding breast or bottle.

    You are not a failure, no matter what you decide.

  12. Sherry says:

    I think you are an awesome mom 🙂 I hope that I can be as strong as you when I start the breastfeeding journey. I was the youngest of 6 girls, and my mom ended up breastdeeding me for only three months before switching to formula because I am lactose intolerant, and she had some issues of her own with her breasts. I am very close with my mom and I believe that you will be just fine if you go to formula. No one will blame you, I’d say you have a pretty good reason. It does not matter what other women think because it is YOUR decision! 🙂

  13. mommy nhoj says:

    I appreciate your honesty. And you’re feally doing great having breastfed and taking care of the three little ones. I have only managed to breastfeed my daughter for almost 6 weeks. Doctors said, it is best that I discontinue breastfeeding and carry on with my medication. But during the short time the difficulty that I had experienced was sore nipples and baby doesn’t want nipple guard. There were blood at times but a week after that I’m good. I used nipple cream. I still miss those precious moments but accepted the fact that what we do was for baby’s best. I can still nurture her even if bottlefeed!

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