What to do when you want to breastfeed but can’t



Ok so when I was doing my antenatal classes with the NCT (which I highly recommend as a way to make friends) breast feeding was obviously a big subject. Obviously it’s one of the most natural things you can do and the benefit it brings can’t be denied, but it’s not for everyone. We have two options when it comes to feeding our babies. Breast or bottle (formula). I was pretty sure I wanted to breastfeed. I was looking forward to having that bond with my baby thats been around since the beginning of time, but it never really occurred to me what would happen if I could’t breast feed and what my options were.

Our first 48 hours with Arch were pretty intense. I’ve written a post all about it but haven’t yet wanted to publish it..I think i’m still coming to terms with it all. But to give you the jist, due to my gestational diabetes, of which I was borderline, Arch was born with low blood sugar..making him one very lazy baby. Add that to me not having skin to skin for the first hour, I didn’t manage to get that first initial latch.

23 hours later and after having my boobs touched by way over 20 midwives and apparent breast experts, I decided to put Arch’s health first and give him some formula..The next few days had me expressing a few mls of breast milk to give with every formula feed. I did this to keep my milk coming in, so I still had a chance to try and get Arch to latch. In his first day of life I managed to get him to latch briefly..which he did once more, but then never again. Now I really wanted to breastfeed, and I was pretty persistent. Every feed, mid giving him formula so he was a little calmer, i’d try him on the boob.. and as the days went on he became more and more frustrated by this. When he was 6 days old I went to a breast consultant who told me about nipple shields. Now I brought really shit (excuse my language) ones from boots which were really flimsy, and came off everytime I tried to feed with them. So after trying them for a couple of days, it just wasn’t working as Arch would only feed every now and then on them, and only for about 5 minutes before getting too frustrated.

So while I was still hand expressing, I decided to step it up a notch and we got an electric pump. This worked brilliantly for the first two weeks. To the point I managed to feed Arch purely with my milk solidly for about 2 and 1/2 weeks. As his appetite incereased I had to one feed using formula, but this lasted another week and a half. The problem is, to keep up your milk supply while expressing, you need to do it every 2-3 hours..including during the night. Add that to feeding your baby with the bottle too, you spend most the day feeding, then pumping then feeding then pumping. As Arch started to get older, and started to drink more and sleep less..it became harder and harder for me to keep up the regular expressing with the amount he was feeding..at which point more and more formula got added in.

During this time, i’d try Arch using the nipple shield and without a couple of times a day…let’s just say Arch is pretty impatient…which is what the breast consultant said..and it is every mothers best interest not to irritate their baby too much..I mean it’s a lot of extra effort and hassle if you have an unsettled baby. Plus at this point I’m tired, still recovering from labour and getting used to life with a four week old.

I kept up expressing up until last Saturday (10.10.15). Arch had his last bottle of breastmilk that morning. It got to the point I was only expressing 25 mls at a time..which took me about 40 minutes to get…which by the end of the day would only get me one bottle, and I have to say it’s not the best feeling being hooked up to a machine like a cow, and only getting a tiny amount..in fact..it’s pretty heart breaking.

But I thought I’d share some tips that I have found with you, if your thinking of breastfeeding, just incase you find yourself having difficulties.

If you struggle to breastfeed at first, don’t wait til your health visitor comes for her to refer you to a breast consultant. As she comes around the 10 day mark..seek one yourself as most places have a local one.

If you are struggling due to flat nipples, or inverted ones. Look at getting some nipple shields. Go for Medela or MAM ones..I found these to be much sturdier.

Also don’t let the pressure of society get to you…I felt like a failure that I couldn’t breastfeed…because I really wanted to…but also because people don’t really talk about what if you can’t breast feed. It more you want to or you don’t. I wanted to but couldn’t. And a lot of people just assume every one can (or sometimes even should) breastfeed.

So most people know about the benefits of breastfeeding..health benefits for both you and the baby, the special bond between the mother and baby and its pretty good finance wise too. But i’m here to tell you the benefits about formula..because sometimes people just need to give their babies formula, and I felt guilty for it..like I shouldn’t..but it was my saviour.


Formula fed babies..

They have a bond with both parents pretty quickly. This is because they associate the mother and the father with food..It’s recommended that you stick to just you and your other half to feeding the baby. As this creates a bond, and the baby gets comfortable knowing it’s you that feeds them in a certain way.

Formula babies sometimes (not always) sleep more…this is because formula takes longer to digest. Breastmilk is completely natural so there is hardly anyway waste and it’s digested very quickly. Hence cluster feeds and feeding regularly for random amount of times occur.

Instant formula is a life saver for when your out and about..It stays at room temperature until opened then lasts 24 hours in the fridge.

You can see exactly how much your baby is getting..this is pretty handy.

There’s no time suggestion on when you can give your baby a dummy and theres no worry of nipple confusion…this came in handy due to Arch crying everytime he had his nappy changed when he was just a few weeks old…now he giggles..thankfully.

But there are some negatives…I felt it took me a while to get a bond with Arch..because I was so set on breastfeeding. It took me a while to get over the thought in my head that I failed..it’s still hard..But i’m not a failure and neither is anyone else who either chooses or has to use formula. Your feeding your baby and giving him/her the strength they need to grow..add love to that equation and your the perfect parent.

Making up formula can be a nightmare..especially if Arch suddenly decides he’s stupidly hungry just after he ate an hour ago..once agin this is where instant formula comes in handy..

What I would do differently next time if I have another baby?

I’d hand express at 37 weeks up until I give birth..this means if I have trouble again I can at least give my baby some milk to wake them up a bit before trying to get them to latch. I’d hope the aftermath not to be so dramatic so I have that chance for skin to skin contact.

I’d bring nipple shields with me just incase…I was given some advice from a mum who had flat nipples that she tried latching on naturally first for a few hours which wasn’t happening, but then tried with the nipple shield which worked. She did this for two weeks feeding on demand using the nipples shield. As the baby got bigger she would start off with the shield for five minutes,then take it off and continue feeding. ( the shield in a way made her nipple more prominent). She did this and lowered the time more and more until the bay got use to her nipples..then she breast fed naturally for the next 6 months…I think i’d try this if the next time the baby had difficulties latching.

My thought’s on expressing is that it was hard. I was pretty adamant on expressing..to the point it kind of made me miserable. But it was a double edge sword. I hated doing…but couldn’t not do it because I didn’t want to stop thinking that maybe just maybe Arch might someday latch on.

If you really want to breastfeed and the above ideas don’t work..expressing is an option. But I warn you it’s hard work.

You need to do it every 2-3 hours to keep your milk supply growing. And do it for about 5 minutes after the milk stops running to get another let down to give your boobs the signal to produce more milk.

It’s pretty hard to do it out and about..so unless you want carry a lot of equipment or get a hand pump…you might be housebound for most of the day.

You feel like a cow..there’s no getting away from it. But I reccomend to try to do while being near your baby or having a picture…to try and get some good hormones going…and yes you need to0 do it during the night too..so add that to feeding and changing your baby…I would have loved to lasted 6 months..hell even make 3 months..but alas..I finished at 10 weeks…and i’m still getting over it. But there’s nothing wrong with formula. And some mums need to mix feed..and some mums just choose to go formula..whatever you choose..it’s your choice..and either way is right.

lots of boob talk…sorry guys!! i’ll do a post on Archer’s first 48 hours of life soon.. I did included some cute pictures though!!

baby boy

How cute is he? Looking all angelic during bath time!


We all know our love of Star Wars! How awesome is this vest? We got this for Finley and Arch got it as a hand-me-down.

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  1. Pingback: Tips to making the most of having a newborn | Wooden Flamingo

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