when breastfeeding costs more than formula


I have tried not to harp on too much about the breastfeeding saga at our house. Nevertheless our battles continue and take up such a large part of my energy, thoughts and emotional space it is hard not to mention it here. It would be untruthful to say that a minute goes by without me thinking about it. Mainly in a stressed out kind of way which, of course, is pretty counter-productive when you are struggling to keep up your milk supply.

Last post on this topic I think I had just begun a formula top up post breastfeed with the hope of this being temporary. Things improved for a while and overall the Pixie is much happier than she was when I was trying to feed her, express, then top her up with expressed milk.

She feeds overnight, usually three times (yep, I’m tired) with minimal fussing. Her day time feeds built *up* (yes, up) to three-four minutes in length with a lot of chiro sessions. To an outsider this sounds like nothing, but for us, three-four minutes of relatively fuss-free breastfeeding was like a miracle.

Six days ago, the Pixie decided she would not have a bar of either of my breasts during her waking hours, thank you very much. I offered her the breast at every feed for four days to have her scream, yell, arch her back and push me away with both hands. At one feed she made a half-hearted attempt at sucking for about 40 seconds. This is what Birdie did when she weaned herself – at 15 months of age… the Pixie is six months old now and my motherly instincts tell me that we are not ready for weaning just yet, thank you very much. You can see the battle of wills we have going here… I can only hope this does not continue into her teenage years, yikes.

I have been trying to separate my disappointment and sorrow at this breastfeeding relationship from what my baby needs now on a practical level. I have had to let go of my expectations and in particular I am trying ever so hard to stop reminiscing about breastfeeding Birdie – which was joyous and peaceful and lovely. Six months of breastfeeding dramas and I am still battling internally with this. I visited a friend and her newborn baby yesterday and felt tugs at my heart watching her feed him – wishing I could go back and try again, wondering if I did something wrong, questioning myself over and over again. I am ashamed to say I felt jealous and had to nip that in the bud.

A very sensible and lovely friend came over to check on me on Monday, when I was ready to throw in the towel with the whole thing, feeling like the stress of trying to breastfeed is causing nothing but heartache and distress to our entire family. She helped me formulate a plan, something that is so very hard to do when you are exhausted and fed up and can’t see beyond the next hour.

On Tuesday I headed out to the chemist and hired a hospital grade breast pump. I have let go of trying to feed her from the breast and yesterday began expressing at every feed and feeding her from a bottle. My supply has dropped so drastically I can’t get enough to cover all the feeds of the day so am still supplementing with formula.

I’m giving this one more go. I’ve set myself a time limit: four weeks. I’ll re-evaluate then.


20 thoughts on “when breastfeeding costs more than formula

  1. So hard!! I feel for you I really do. You are a beautiful mumma to Pixie, no mattering you are. Breastfeeding or not. Xxxxx

    • Thanks Cath, it has come at such a shock… never in my wildest dreams did I think breastfeeding would be hard the second time around after doing it right the first time… thanks for your comment, means a lot xxx

  2. Is there any chance she has a milk protein allergy? It may not be anything like this but the screaming and refusal you described reminded me of the problems we had with our youngest. If you want send me an email and I can go through all the signs and symptoms we experienced to see if they sound familiar to you. (Rather than me prattling on here when it’s potentially no help to you).
    For something that’s a natural function breastfeeding can be really hard. Hope things start to work out for you.

  3. Lucy,

    I have been reading motherwho and your struggles with breastfeeding Saffie. That recent photo of you and Saffie is enough to reduce anyone to tears, let alone a loving Nanny.

    I can feel your desperation and sadness about the difficulties you have had and I want you to know how much I admire your continuing strength and never-ending patience.

    If it doesn’t come together after the hospital pump it won’t be for lack of trying.

    Your girls are lucky to have such a wonderful and dedicated mother.

    So proud of you.

    Love Mum xxx

  4. Hang in there beautiful girl. You seem to have a great support network helping you through this but remember I’m here if you need an extra ear. Mum was asking after you and I had to guiltily admit I didn’t know how things were going. I’m sorry your blog and instagram are the only ways I’m finding out. Pjs, tears, in bed- I’ll love you however I have to see you!!!! Xxxxxx

  5. Hi, I was put onto ur blog by a friend of mine after telling her my breast feeding issues. My little boy is 7 weeks and after 2 weeks I was told he was not putting on enough weight, was hungry and I was told to top him up with formula. I can recall countless times of crying and feeling like I had failed because I didn’t have enough milk for my baby. I have been expressing after each feed to try to build up my supply, I’ve tried taking herbal supplements, eating oats, making ‘lactation cookies’, drinking sweet tea, lots of water and milk. To very little avail. Whilst my supply has increased, I’m playing catch up as my baby is demanding more, so I only still have half of what he needs. I always offer him the breast first, and he can drink for up to 40 mins (both breasts) and still not be satisfied.
    It was so lovely to read your blog and to find someone who is going through the same breastfeeding problems that I am. This is my first bub and I have wondered countless times what I did wrong, or what I could have done differently. I too have friends who have an abundance of milk, and I understand the feeling of being just a tad jealous :). Good luck with your journey, I’ll keep slogging at mine and hope it slowly improves.

    • Oh hi Belinda, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. My heart really went out to you when I read your post. Please do email me if you would like to chat a bit more about all the things I did at the beginning (and would do if I had the time again). It’s such early days for you yet, you are doing a fantastic job and that little babe is lucky to have you as a mum. I have had a hard time this time around – I can’t imagine having these troubles with my first baby. The most important thing is for you to have a good support circle. Do you? If you read this, I would be more than happy for you to email me, please, do! If you would like. Best, best, best wishes and a most heartfelt dose of good luck heading your way. Lucy x

      • Hi Lucy,
        Thanks for your reply. I’m very lucky to have lots of support, my mother and mother in law have been fantastic and so supportive. I’m getting there slowly with building up my supply. Just persisting with the little one feeding regularly on me and expressing where I can or when I use formula to top up. The aim is to slowly decrease the amount of formula he needs topping up and over the last few weeks it is decreasing with more reliance on breast milk both ( breast and expressed top up). I found i needed to remind myself that he was still getting all the goodness from my milk that I had to give him, he just needed a but extra, and he’s so happy and healthy so that’s what matters most to me so I’ve come to accept using formula in the interim to keep him full. Thanks for your support, it’s lovely to have someone who understands and to just feel like I’m not alone with my problems.

      • You are most definitely not alone Belinda! Glad you commented here 🙂 The only bit of advice I would have is if you have any doubts (at all, ever) get a good lactation consultant straight away. I regret not doing that sooner, and is the one thing I would definitely change if I could go back 6 months. Wishing you all the very very best and it sounds to me like things are improving for you – you are doing a great job and your little guy is very lucky to have a mum as dedicated as you. Feel free to comment or touch base whenever you like! xxx

  6. It was lovely to hug you today! I would like to think that if I ever was faced with the struggles you have that I would have even the tiniest bit of your strength and courage. You’re amazing and it was lovely to see two very happy little girls today xxx

  7. I feel for you. I hope you find a way to make it work, but if you don’t you will know that you have done all you can. Breastfeeding is such an emotional thing too. I remember weaning my first when I really wasn’t ready, to many bouts of mastitis and now trying (unsuccessfully) to wean. I wish I had some better words of advice, but you are a wonderful mum doing the best you can. ps- what a beautiful little face! xo

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