Top 5 Reasons to Quit Breastfeeding (And How to Avoid Them)
|September 15, 2013||Posted by Jennifer under Breastfeeding|
First, let me just say that I’ve nursed my son 23 months as of September 2, 2013. He still nurses at night, and before and during his daily nap. Yes, I lie there with him every day. I don’t pump.
You might think I really enjoy breastfeeding.
Au contraire. I loathe it!
It’s the hardest, most time-consuming, most demanding thing I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t believe I didn’t quit breastfeeding a long time ago. I’ve wanted to many, many times. Why, today in fact.
But when I look back, I realize the hardest part is behind me. Way behind me.
The first 3 months or so were sheer torture. From latch issues to breast infections, I had my share of hurdles. But, I didn’t give up! I was determined to push through and now that I’ve come out on the other side, I’m so glad I didn’t quit breastfeeding. I don’t talk about quitting anymore. I talk about weaning… when he’s ready. And to a mom who desperately wanted to breastfeed as long as I could, that’s a huge difference.
I’m sure there are a million reasons why women quit breastfeeding before they’d like to. I’m not here to judge. All I know is that if I had quit in the first few months, it more than likely would have been for one of these 5 reasons:
So without further adieu, here are my
Top 5 Reasons To Quit Breastfeeding (And How to Avoid Them)
1. The Dreaded Bad Latch
If, on the day you give birth, your breasts are swollen to Betsy like mine were and your wee small newborn has a mouth the size of a green pea like most of them do, you might have some difficulty getting him to latch on properly.
The best advice I can give you about proper latch, and breastfeeding in general for that matter, is to learn as much as you can before you give birth. Take a breastfeeding class if you can find one. Go to a La Leche League meeting where you can actually see other women breastfeed their newborns. Or, watch a video on the International Breastfeeding Centre’s website. Read as much of Kelly Mom as you can.
If labor and delivery don’t go the way you plan (they almost never do), you can still be sure you’re armed with knowledge when it comes time for your baby’s first latch-on.
If your planet-sized milk bombs have flat nipples you’d better get ready for some interesting –ranging from mildly uncomfortable to “get this thing off me”– sensations. Trust me, I know.
If it hurts when your baby latches on, ask that nice lactation consultant who comes round to your hospital room to get you some nipple shells to put on before and after your baby nurses. They’ll help “draw out” your nipples.
After you wear those little puppies inside your nursing bra for a while, your nipples should be standing at the ready when little junior decides it’s time for lunch. Trust me, you’ll be much more comfortable.
In the beginning, getting a proper latch is half the battle. You’ll both need some time to get it just right.
Your nipples will probably get sore from the sheer volume of attention they’re getting in the first few days. That’s where lanolin comes in. I used Lansinoh. That’s a brand name, but you can find other brands. Just make sure you find a lanolin cream that is specifically for use by breastfeeding moms. I could have sent my son to college with the small fortune I spent on that stuff, but it was so worth it. Heard of cracked nipples? Yeah, you don’t want those. Lanolin can help prevent and heal cracked nipples.
One of the main things I wish I had known in the first few weeks of breastfeeding my son was not to unlatch and re-latch him over and over when his latch didn’t feel just right. I bet I did this several dozen times a day and my nipples got so sore they felt like they were on fire. Once I learned to reposition his torso, chin, and lips while he was still nursing, life got a lot better.
2. Breastfeeding Hurts Your Back, Neck and Shoulders
So your newborn’s screaming. And screaming. And screaming. Your first response might be like mine was, to gently grab your child as fast as you possibly can and stick your breast in his mouth as quickly as humanly possible. Nursing babies cannot cry. Right?
Please, please resist this temptation. Let him cry another 30 seconds. You need this time to set up. Get your glass of water, the remote control. Whatever you need. Now, get comfortable and I mean comfortable like you could stay in that position all day, because it’s gonna feel like that’s how long you’re in it.
Next, bring your baby to your breast. Do not pull your breast out to meet him. Do not hunch over to meet him. No matter what you do, do not lean your shoulders forward. Pull that little bundle of screaming joy up to you and then gently press his head into your bosom. When he opens his mouth wide, guide his top lip to your nipple. Bam! Latch-on.
Nursing Tip: They say that crying is a late sign of hunger. So if you can, always try to get in front it by offering your baby the breast before he gets to that point.
Get a good nursing pillow if you like to nurse sitting up. I like My Brest Friend. It’s got a strap you can put around your waist to keep the pillow from slipping off. It single-handedly made my early breastfeeding career possible. Thank you, My Brest Friend.
If you don’t take the extra few seconds or minutes to set up for nursing, and you have one of those long-lunchers like I do, your neck, shoulders and spine are gonna feel like you spent the night in a North Korean hotel for Christians.
Speaking of torture…
3. Nipple Torture
Once you’ve successfully gotten that squirmy little sleep crasher latched on, and you’ve settled in to watch an episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” watch out for slippage.
Slippage is just what you think it is.
If you’re not careful, he’ll start to slip off your nipple. He won’t stop sucking. No siree! He’ll just suck harder on less flesh, and let me tell you, that will not be a good thing. Think hickey from you know where!
Whatever you do, watch out for slippage.
Keep him pressed up close to you, real close. Don’t relax. Don’t fall asleep. Ha, just kidding. You can relax and you should. If you’re one of those lucky women who can somehow fall asleep while nursing your baby, (I’m not) that’s great! Just don’t drop him!
To help prevent slippage, hold on to a hunk of your breast just behind your nipple while your baby nurses, like you’re holding a sandwich, to make sure more breast stays in his mouth.
Keep him awake. Sleepy babies like to slip. Yeah, I break this rule all the time. My son sleeps at my breast! Now that his mouth is larger though, slippage isn’t really an issue.
Whatever you do… never, never and I mean never PULL that little bank account bandit off your nipple. He won’t want to let go. He’ll fight you. And nipples are not made of rubber. Oh they’ll stretch, but you don’t want that. Seriously. If you want to unlatch him (duh, of course you will), slide the tip of your finger inside the corner of his mouth to break the seal. Ahhh, freedom at last.
4. Clogged Ducts, Breast Infections and Mr. Yeast (No, that’s not the romantic, Mr. Keats.)
Before I had my son, my breasts rarely gave me any trouble. Except for maybe once a month when they became slightly cranky. Nothing a little ibuprofen wouldn’t cure.
If you’re like me, now that you’re a breastfeeder, your breasts have discovered a whole new level of bitchitude. They don’t care that you just gave birth to a helpless little Pandora’s Box full of wants and needs. They demand special care too, and if you want to continue breastfeeding, you’d better get your breasts a nanny of their own!
Ok, I know what you’re thinking… whose breasts get that, right?
For those of us without breast nannies, not to be confused with wet nurses (what I would have given for one of those a few dozen times) here are some tips to keep them pain-free during the duration of your breastfeeding career.
Let yer nipples air dry after feedings. If you put them away wet, as in ‘back in your bra’, Mr. Yeast might come for a long unromantic visit. If he does sneak in and make those little milk duds all red and painful, get thee to a medical professional who can write a prescription. Or, if you’re into more natural solutions like taking acidophilus, get on it. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Yeast on the N’s hurts like nobody’s business and thrush in the baby’s mouth, as yeast is called, can derail you faster than Thomas can say cinders and ashes.
If you start running a fever, feel like the flu is coming on, or one or both of your breasts feels warmer than usual, you might have mastitis. This is an inflammation in your breasts. Don’t stop nursing your baby. Get thee to a medical professional if your symptoms last more than a day or two or get worse quickly.
OH MY GOD, I HAVE A LUMP IN MY BREAST! Don’t worry… it’s probably just a plugged duct. They feel like little, or not so little, hard lumps. And they can hurt. This might seem strange at first, but you need to massage your breast. Work from your arm pit toward your N. Apply light circular pressure around the lump. Do this several times a day. You can also take a warm shower or use a warm compress on your breast. Having your baby nurse might be the best solution of all, so wake that little bikini blaster up. Or don’t. But offer up a feeding as soon as you can and don’t stop nursing all together. Pumping can help too.
Whatever you do, keep the milk flowing.
5. Am I The Only One On The Planet Who Can Feed This Baby?
Yes, you are. I’m sorry. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s downright maddening.
When you get one of those babies like I did whose first name is, “I’d Be A Lot Happier If I Could Nurse Every 30 Minutes AROUND THE CLOCK Please,” and you HATE pumping more than you hate nursing, but are hell-bent on not giving up, yeah, you are going to be in for one heck of a sleep-deprived, hormone-super-charged challenge! That’s code for ‘this close’ to a mental breakdown and possible divorce.
I don’t mean to make light of a very serious situation, but I sort of can now that I’m past it. I lived through it. Those early days…and especially those first marathon nights…of breastfeeding can make you feel very alone and overwhelmed. If you look over and see your husband sleeping peacefully, it’s ok to want to place your breastfeeding pillow over his face and press down hard, yes. I did.
It must be a cosmic test of fortitude. Or a cruel joke. Either way, I’d like to think that having endured more consecutive days of sleep deprivation than I ever thought possible has somehow helped prepare me for when my son’s 16 and driving. Something tells me that my future self will be happy to trade those sleepless nights I’m gonna have for the sleepless nights I’ve already had breastfeeding him. I have no doubt that at some point in my life I’ll wish he was back in my arms at 2a.m.! Oh, the cruel, cruel irony of mommyhooddom.
You may be the only one who can nurse your baby, but someone else can bring you an apple. Ok, a donut. Someone else can clean the bathroom. Someone else can feed the cat. And if there’s no one else there to do those things, the cat will hunt for mice and probably drink out of the toilet anyway. Try not to worry yourself sick about “all the stuff that just isn’t getting done around the house.” I know, easier said, easier said.
If you’re like I was in the beginning and you don’t abso-freakin’lootly love breastfeeding like you hoped you would, just try to set short-term goals. For me, at first it was “one more minute.” Then “five more minutes.” I’m not kidding. Then it was “today.” Then it was “just until he’s 6-months-old.”
Whoa, look at the calendar, he’s turning two in a month, and I’m still breastfeeding him! I bet the Breastfeeding Prize Patrol is already on its way to my house!
My best, boiled-down advice is to go into breastfeeding prepared. Expect some, ok potentially a lot of pain (mostly just in the very beginning), and get help if you need it. Find a lactation consultant, join a support group, and make friends online.
Bonus Breastfeeding Tip:
Tell your friends and family that breastfeeding your baby is important to you and that if they want to come visit in the days and weeks after your baby is born, they need to be prepared to see your breasts because you are going to have them out a lot and you won’t want to be worried about learning how to cover them up at the same time you’re learning how to help your baby get a proper latch.
Plus, you have to let your nipples air dry anyway.
Tell them you do not want to hide in the bedroom every time your baby wants to nurse (which will be often). Tell them that you want to sit in your favorite chair in the living room where the TV is and watch your husband while he’s in the kitchen
making your favorite gourmet Italian pastaheating up a can of Chef Boyardee. Tell them they are welcome to come for a very short visit when it’s convenient for you or just have them wait 3 weeks.
Demand respect for your choice. I did. They got over it.
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment of time, tears, tenderness and sheer gut-determination not to give up. At least it was/still is some days for me.
Before you know it, your toddler is gonna be saying, “Have some boobie, Mama?” And oh my goodness if that’s not just the sweetest thing ever!!
What are some challenges you’ve had breastfeeding? Were you able to overcome them or did you say, “You know what, I gave it my best shot.”?
Disclaimer: Please consult a medical professional for medical advice. Neither this post nor this website offer medical advice of any kind.