Sep 1, 2009

When is it time to give up?

I have been breastfeeding my son for almost 9 months. When he was two months old I had to return to work and pumped when I was able. I was a teacher - not exactly easy to take a 15 min break to pump! I was only able to pump during my off period and after school. Not the best arrangement, but I managed to keep up with most of his demand.

After a few months he needed to be supplemented with formula more and more. I now feed him as often as I can during the day, but I still have to supplement him with one or two 6 oz bottles of formula. To add insult to injury my body is not responding to the pump very well anymore. Sites like La Leche League or Kellymom suggest pumping in between feedings to increase supply and gradually reducing the supplement (by ~1 oz every few days). I tried this tactic for a few days but found it too difficult with the two boys getting into trouble while I was attached to the pump for 10-15 min.

I love breastfeeding but I wonder when its time to stop. It's hard for me emotionally when Logan pulls off the breast and cries because he's still hungry. I feel like I'm failing him - my body is failing him. When does the stress of trying to maintain my supply (or increase it) negate the benefits?

I know that some would say (including myself on "up" days) that every drop of breast milk helps and counts for something. I wonder if all of my stress and challenge of trying to increase it is actually working against me. I want to, in my heart, continue breastfeeding until he is 1 year old. If it was a perfect world, I would also have him off the formula for that time.

What's your take on the subject? Is it worth the challenge or should I just give up? Should I be happy where I am with giving him 2 bottles a day? When is the "right" time to stop breastfeeding? I'd love to hear what you have to say!


Eileen said...

It is always a personal choice, and being frustrated sounds hard. When the baby is young he increases the frequency of feeding on a regular basis - a biofeedback mechanism to tell mom's body to make thicker milk. That happens on days, weeks & months divisible by 3 or thereabouts. He is 9 months. Then the frequency decreases as the milk becomes more densely caloric. . . .I know 2 really good lactation consultants & worked for one of them. A call to either one's breast pump store/consult might help.

Mesina said...

such a passionate subject!

I have always struggled to breastfeed, no matter what I did I was never able to fully breastfeed my first child. My second I became more determined and did part breast feed him for a year.
My third, I was even more determined and finally fully breast fed her until she was 1. Now, I work at home so this was manageable. I also don't respond well to pumping, but used it to stimulate supply rather than get much out. I have to say, it is personal, but you might also struggle more as you see you are not fulfilling your babies needs 100% making the feed stressful.
Perhaps you should simply try using the breastfeeding as your bonding time. Let go of how much is he getting, how many bottles are we up to, this is stressing me, and just make yourself a point to relax and enjoy whatever time he's on there to it's full extent. No Mom should struggle feeding if it's becoming stressful. There is no right time or wrong time to stop, you and your baby will decide that. So what if he's only getting a bit of breastmilk, so long as you two enjoy that feeding time that is the most important. Bet your milk supply will increase too in the process.
Chin up, you sound like a fantastic Mom! xx

Simplistic Mom said...

Thank you ladies for your support! I don't think I'm ready to stop seeing how Logan is still interested in nursing. I just need to figure out how to work with my supply.
Eileen, could you email me the info for the lactation consultants to

Mom said...

What about the lactation specialist at the hospital. She seemed to know her stuff.