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Help Me Help A New Mom With Never Ending BFing-Formula debate cycle.

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

Confusing title, sorry.  I was going to put this in the Breastfeeding forum, but it isn't really a breastfeeding question, so move it if you have to! :)

 

My friend had a baby about 2 weeks ago.  She didn't seem to do much online/book research, even though I gave her every natural birth book that I had, and I have a lot.  She asked me lots of questions though, so I gave her every bit of advice and experience that I could. She had a very traumatic induced birth (they wouldn't "allow" her to go past 41 weeks. It kills me thinking about.) I'm sure that comes into play here.

 

I know she was very overwhelmed by the whole thing, she had a extremely rough couple of days with the newborn, she didn't trust herself to hold him/change him/felt incompetent,etc.  Breastfeeding took a back seat and they introduced formula because the baby "cried at night." That was the only reason, that baby latched perfectly!! (I won't lie, a part of me is very disappointed that she gave up so easily.)  Anyway, I have a huge feeling she just doesn't want to breastfeed, but she says she feels guilty and keeps going back and forth between "How do I get the baby to latch?" "Can I just exclusively pump?" and "I am just formula feeding now." It changes every day and I just don't know what to say to her! Do I keep encouraging her to breastfeed? I feel like by now (week 2 of baby's life) he might be preferring the bottle. And then since I know she gives him formula, I don't want to give her breastfeeding guilt. I just want to be helpful. When she does attempt to nurse, he is frustrated.  I remind her of nipple confusion, but she seems to not get it?! She thinks the baby just likes the bottle better, and doesn't connect the dots. I then tell her if she wants to exclusively pump, to go ahead. I did with my first. But she doesn't pump! Then she complains that her milk is going down. I keep reminding her that she needs to stay on top of the pumping routine, but she just doesn't do it and she can't give me a reason why. I feel funny telling her it's okay to formula feed, but sometimes it seems like that is what she wants to do, so I try to stand behind that choice. Again, I am here to support her, not guilt her. BUT THEN! she is disappointed in herself and either we go through the whole breastfeeding-pumping-formula cycle again, or she asks about me donating some of my breast milk. (Which I without question would give her whatever extra I can.) 

 

Ahhh. I don't know how to help her. I feel like she is going in circles and, truthfully, I am feeling irritated and I don't want her to think I am losing patience with her. I want her to know I am here for her, but I am starting to crack.  Any advice anyone?

post #2 of 38

It's hard to be a friend, therapist and a lactation consultant at the same time.  Is there a good lactation consultant in your area that you could help connect with your friend?  Then you can just be a friend (sharing support and experience).  

 

Is it possible your friend is experiencing some post partum depression and having a hard time being clear about what she wants?

 

Just some thoughts.  You are such a kind friend.

post #3 of 38

Let it go. I have a friend just like this. She obviously wanted to formula feed but felt it nescisary to pretend like she was interested in breastfeeding to me. She is obviously going to formula feed the kid and is just trying to either tell you what you want to hear and do the gradual oh so popular "everything went wrong so I could not breast feed route." Its ok for her to feed her baby how ever she wants. I agree for her to find a LC and to just kind of move on from the subject with her. There are a lot of hormones and stress in the first little while its her choice. I would tell her its ok to formula feed and see if she drops it.
 

post #4 of 38

This pattern sounds familiar with me or with my daughter when we feel like we should do something, but don't really want to do it, and I go back and forth between wanting to commit to one side and thinking I am, but then still feeling guilty and unsettled about what I'm not doing and not being able to give up the idea entirely until the option is gone. It also sounds like me when I'm procrastinating with something I really need to do.  I always ask myself what is it I want, what am I trying to accomplish with not doing something.  Is it a control thing?  Sometimes for me it is a control thing, I want to feel like I have more power over my own decisions.

 

If she had a traumatic birth experience, the issues around that might be clouding things.  She may feel that formula feeding is easier at this point, that it gives her more control over the situation than she has with a biological process that can be difficult when all these problems get in the way.  And she might feel like failing at that is going to make her feel even worse. 

 

I think I would ask her why she seems to be straddling the fence, does she know what she'd rather do.  If so, does she lack support, and what does she need to see herself succeeding.  I would also ask her if she tries to lactate/relactate and get a successful nursing relationship and it works, how does she think she will feel 5 years from now?  If she gives it a really solid try and fails, how will she feel 5 years from now?  If she decides it's not worth it and doesn't try, how will she feel 5 years from now?  It's perfectly acceptable for her to decide she doesn't want to breastfeed and to give up on it.  It sounds as if there might be a lot of problems getting it going right, and they just may feel overwhelming and exhausting to her at this point.  Regardless of whether she takes decisive action, or just keeps on as she is, she is making a choice, just doing so ambivalently. How will she parse that experience down the road, will she see it as making a choice, or will she see it as breastfeeding, her body, or medical people failing her?  

 

Humans are pretty resilient, and babies who are completely formula fed will grow up and be happy, healthy, smart, etc. Just like we can eat a super healthy diet that promotes great gut health and has all the enzymes and things we need, or we can eat easy, convenient, tasty but not so healthy things that provide macronutrients and added vitamins--we'll still get to the end of our life both ways. That said, the truth of it is that breastmilk is superior to formula in most cases; the act of nursing offers biological & psychosocial benefits for nursing pairs that are generally not found with bottle-feeding. This is true whether or not she chooses to give it another try. But it is like so many benefits and risk ratio things, we have only a nebulous sense of this, we know because we can read about studies, but we don't know absolutely how things are or how they will be if we choose a different path.  So if she wants to breastfeed a subsequent child, she can still do it.  She can most likely still achieve some level of breastfeeding success this time around as long as she sees that her problems aren't insurmountable and she has some small goals to achieve.

I have felt in the past that people have wanted me to agree that they couldn't breastfeed, because somehow if I, a breastfeeding mother, approved of their not breastfeeding and acknowledged that they couldn't, then they could be at peace about the whole thing.  For some reason, I just don't want to do that because I don't want promote the general societal attitude that it is too hard and doesn't really offer any benefits; I think this attitude is what keeps the policies in place in hospitals and in society at large that make it harder for babies to be breast fed. I'm fine with mothers saying that it just wasn't worth it to them. I believe they should do what works for them.  I'm not fine with saying, "Oh well, it's not that important and you couldn't really do it anyway" when I don't believe that to be the case, and I feel like it might make things harder for other mothers.

So basically I just offer support if they want it, and then change the topic if they don't.

post #5 of 38

Personally? It's her baby, and she should be allowed to choose what she feels is right for the both of them, w/o guilt or recriminations. 

post #6 of 38

She feels guilty because she knows you disapprove of formula.  I have two breastfed kids and the last one is formula fed.  Amazingly he's perfect, he didn't lose any sparkles by being formula fed and it made it easier for my husband to take over his care while I work.  I did try and then I felt like I didn't want to go through all the problems I had had before again.  Respect her decision, it's her baby.  The baby will not be less awesome because of formula and the mother will not be less of a mother for forumla feeding. 

post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBombMama View Post

 

Ahhh. I don't know how to help her. I feel like she is going in circles and, truthfully, I am feeling irritated and I don't want her to think I am losing patience with her. I want her to know I am here for her, but I am starting to crack.  Any advice anyone?

 

If you are feeling this way, I can only imagine how she is feeling. Probably 100 times closer to cracking. 

 

Since it's so frustrating for everyone, I tend to agree with the advice to continue to offer lots of sympathy but back away from being her lactation consultant. You've given her the information. She can use it or not.

 

Whatever decision she makes, it doesn't sound like the baby is in any danger of nutritional neglect, starvation, failing to thrive etc. etc.  

post #8 of 38
She isn't going to breastfeed. She just feels bad because she knows it is important to you. I'd back off at this point. If she hadn't had such a traumatic birth, maybe she would have focused on breastfeeding, but she had to focus on recovery from the birth.

It sounds like you're a good friend. smile.gif I'd just be there for her as she needs you.
post #9 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

Personally? It's her baby, and she should be allowed to choose what she feels is right for the both of them, w/o guilt or recriminations. 

Well obviously. I want her to do what she wants, but she keeps changing her mind and I don't know how to support her! I feel funny agreeing with one thing, and then another, and then another, and then doing it all over again. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

She feels guilty because she knows you disapprove of formula.  I have two breastfed kids and the last one is formula fed.  Amazingly he's perfect, he didn't lose any sparkles by being formula fed and it made it easier for my husband to take over his care while I work.  I did try and then I felt like I didn't want to go through all the problems I had had before again.  Respect her decision, it's her baby.  The baby will not be less awesome because of formula and the mother will not be less of a mother for forumla feeding. 

I really don't disapprove of formula. I was formula fed, my first son had some. We are all healthy. I eventually EPed my son, so I don't have that mindset of "you have to be on the breast to get all those bonding moments, eye contact, blah blah." Her boyfriend is very supportive of breastfeeding as well, not just me. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

She isn't going to breastfeed. She just feels bad because she knows it is important to you. I'd back off at this point. If she hadn't had such a traumatic birth, maybe she would have focused on breastfeeding, but she had to focus on recovery from the birth.

It sounds like you're a good friend. smile.gif I'd just be there for her as she needs you.

I do want to back off, but I am not there making sure she is doing this and that. She is calling me.

post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LLQ1011 View Post

Let it go. I have a friend just like this. She obviously wanted to formula feed but felt it nescisary to pretend like she was interested in breastfeeding to me. She is obviously going to formula feed the kid and is just trying to either tell you what you want to hear and do the gradual oh so popular "everything went wrong so I could not breast feed route." Its ok for her to feed her baby how ever she wants. I agree for her to find a LC and to just kind of move on from the subject with her. There are a lot of hormones and stress in the first little while its her choice. I would tell her its ok to formula feed and see if she drops it.
 

I have told her this and she has not dropped it. She formula feeds for a day and then says it gives the baby tummy troubles, and then feels guilty because she knows her breast milk doesn't give him tummy troubles. So then we go on the cycle again. 

post #11 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola View Post

This pattern sounds familiar with me or with my daughter when we feel like we should do something, but don't really want to do it, and I go back and forth between wanting to commit to one side and thinking I am, but then still feeling guilty and unsettled about what I'm not doing and not being able to give up the idea entirely until the option is gone. It also sounds like me when I'm procrastinating with something I really need to do.  I always ask myself what is it I want, what am I trying to accomplish with not doing something.  Is it a control thing?  Sometimes for me it is a control thing, I want to feel like I have more power over my own decisions.

 

If she had a traumatic birth experience, the issues around that might be clouding things.  She may feel that formula feeding is easier at this point, that it gives her more control over the situation than she has with a biological process that can be difficult when all these problems get in the way.  And she might feel like failing at that is going to make her feel even worse

 

I think I would ask her why she seems to be straddling the fence, does she know what she'd rather do.  If so, does she lack support, and what does she need to see herself succeeding.  I would also ask her if she tries to lactate/relactate and get a successful nursing relationship and it works, how does she think she will feel 5 years from now?  If she gives it a really solid try and fails, how will she feel 5 years from now?  If she decides it's not worth it and doesn't try, how will she feel 5 years from now?  It's perfectly acceptable for her to decide she doesn't want to breastfeed and to give up on it.  It sounds as if there might be a lot of problems getting it going right, and they just may feel overwhelming and exhausting to her at this point.  Regardless of whether she takes decisive action, or just keeps on as she is, she is making a choice, just doing so ambivalently. How will she parse that experience down the road, will she see it as making a choice, or will she see it as breastfeeding, her body, or medical people failing her?  

 

Humans are pretty resilient, and babies who are completely formula fed will grow up and be happy, healthy, smart, etc. Just like we can eat a super healthy diet that promotes great gut health and has all the enzymes and things we need, or we can eat easy, convenient, tasty but not so healthy things that provide macronutrients and added vitamins--we'll still get to the end of our life both ways. That said, the truth of it is that breastmilk is superior to formula in most cases; the act of nursing offers biological & psychosocial benefits for nursing pairs that are generally not found with bottle-feeding. This is true whether or not she chooses to give it another try. But it is like so many benefits and risk ratio things, we have only a nebulous sense of this, we know because we can read about studies, but we don't know absolutely how things are or how they will be if we choose a different path.  So if she wants to breastfeed a subsequent child, she can still do it.  She can most likely still achieve some level of breastfeeding success this time around as long as she sees that her problems aren't insurmountable and she has some small goals to achieve.

I have felt in the past that people have wanted me to agree that they couldn't breastfeed, because somehow if I, a breastfeeding mother, approved of their not breastfeeding and acknowledged that they couldn't, then they could be at peace about the whole thing.  For some reason, I just don't want to do that because I don't want promote the general societal attitude that it is too hard and doesn't really offer any benefits; I think this attitude is what keeps the policies in place in hospitals and in society at large that make it harder for babies to be breast fed. I'm fine with mothers saying that it just wasn't worth it to them. I believe they should do what works for them.  I'm not fine with saying, "Oh well, it's not that important and you couldn't really do it anyway" when I don't believe that to be the case, and I feel like it might make things harder for other mothers.

So basically I just offer support if they want it, and then change the topic if they don't.

Bolding mine, and I pretty much bolded your whole reply lol. This was all very helpful. I feel like she just doesn't want to do it, but I don't want her thinking that she "couldn't do it." Actually, that is exactly my problem. I want her to know that she is *choosing* to not breastfeed and I want her to be confident in her choice. Tall order, I know.

post #12 of 38

I would help her research other formulas.  My breastmilk gave my oldest "tummy troubles", I was able to find a good formula for my last LO that causes no issues whatsoever. 

post #13 of 38
It sounds like maybe her boyfriend wants her to breastfeed, but she wants to bottle feed with someone else's breastmilk. So she's flip-flopping on the issue. Can she buy donated breastmilk? I've heard some areas are starting breastmilk banks. I have no idea where, or how to find one. Or how expensive it is.
post #14 of 38
If she waffles on it and really would like breastfeeding advice it may help her to go to a Le Leche League meeting. We live in a society that does not normalize breastfeeding but being around other mothers nursing their babies really helped me as a new mom feel normal. I felt uplifted being around others actually nursing their children.
Edited by Asiago - 6/7/13 at 12:21pm
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBombMama View Post

 I want her to know that she is *choosing* to not breastfeed and I want her to be confident in her choice. Tall order, I know.

she actually may be very confident with it and simply not know how "others"(including you) will her view her choice - there are many mothering groups (she may want to join) where you are judged (like it or not - it's real and does happen) and the choice for her may be best but the looks she may get for doing so can greatly effect her

 

the bombardment of "breast is best" certainly does not help everyone - FF has many misconceptions that really add to guilt and pressure

post #16 of 38
Formula feeding has been mainstream for so long, I find it hard to believe that this is a response to social pressure, of any kind. It would take someone important to her to get her to consider something she's not really open to doing. That is most likely the boyfriend.
post #17 of 38

How about saying something like this to your friend:

 

It seems to me that you are struggling with something.  I hear some indecision about how you want to feed (insert baby's name here).  I would love to help if there is something you want help with, but I wonder if you just need a friend to vent to.  I know how hard it is when you are first getting to know your little one and they can't tell you what they want or need.  I remember feeling at a loss when I could find no comfort for my little one in the middle of the night.  Sometimes babies just cry and just need to be held.  It can break your heart . . . but know that you are doing your best and babies will fuss and cry even when you are doing everything "right".

 

Sometimes (actually, often) new moms can get swayed by what they think others want them to do.  Please know that I totally support you no matter how you choose to feed your baby.  I've offered some ideas/advice around breast feeding, but I don't want you to feel pressured to breast feed.  If you are undecided I'm happy to talk with you and maybe come up with questions that might help you make this decision.  I just want you to feel supported for how you want to parent.  Every mother deserves unconditional love and support.

 

-okay - too wordy, but maybe something along those lines might help move past the circular conversations?

post #18 of 38
Whoa! How did this end up being about babies crying in the middle of the night?

I agree that if you can pinpoint the problem, the actual problem, then you will have a better sense of how to help. A lactation consultant or LLL leader might have more training in doing that, though also may unintentionally make her feel pressure to breastfeed. It's a toss up, in my opinion, if she'll be comfortable opening up to a breastfeeding 'expert'.

You know, it's a shame that a home session by a good visiting nurse isn't covered by insurance. I had interactions with two different visiting nurses, and they were so helpful, about more than just what they were sent to do (light therapy blanket and blood draw). They talked with me, and we discussed my all my new baby concerns.
post #19 of 38
If the main problem with breastfeeding is nipple confusion, a shield might work. I hate suggesting it, but if she really wants to breastfeed, and can't work out the nipple confusion problem, the shield might be the answer. She'll need a lactation consultant to get some, though. At least, it used to be that way.

So, I'm changing my position on this subject. Suggest she talk with a lactation consultant. They do home consultations but you have to ask for one.
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by LLQ1011 View Post

Let it go. I have a friend just like this. She obviously wanted to formula feed but felt it nescisary to pretend like she was interested in breastfeeding to me. She is obviously going to formula feed the kid and is just trying to either tell you what you want to hear and do the gradual oh so popular "everything went wrong so I could not breast feed route." Its ok for her to feed her baby how ever she wants. I agree for her to find a LC and to just kind of move on from the subject with her. There are a lot of hormones and stress in the first little while its her choice. I would tell her its ok to formula feed and see if she drops it.

 
agree with this. My sister did this to me with both of her kids she kept calling me for advice on bf but didn't listen to a word I said. For your own peace of mind, yoj should change the subject each time she engages you in a discussion about bf. She's not going to bf, she's just trying to convince herself she tried, and you're not letting her.
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