Friday, August 19, 2011

Failed experiment

We've been trying to wean the baby off the formula and go with natural milk, but it's been a struggle. We weren't sure if it was on the production end or the consumption end, so after seeing our doctor today we decided to do a test and cut him off from the formula entirely, let him feed only on breastmilk for a few days and then weigh him to see whether there are signs he is getting enough.

So we started that Friday afternoon. It lasted about 10 hours.

He did OK with it early on because he's been eating so well, but 10 p.m. our little guy was just miserable. Crying inconsolably, which he doesn't do, and so worked up that he wouldn't feed at all. It turns out that by trying to make him go entirely on breastmilk we were starving him, which I feel terrible about.

So we ditched the experiment and fed him formula through a bottle. We've been avoiding bottles so far for a few developmental and bonding reasons, but he had to eat (even when he was getting formula before it was being supplemented through a tube with his regular feeding). And he put down more than 2 oz of formula in 5 minutes, which tells me he was super hungry and wasn't getting much through breastfeeding. He went to sleep after that for the first time in hours.

This was a hard-yet-easy call. We want him to breastfeed because there are a lot of health benefits to getting that kind of food compared to formula, but he had to eat. The ideal world goes out the window when you have your child screaming because he's so hungry that he can't be soothed.

I feel awful though. We tried to do the right thing and follow the plan the doctor set out for us, which included trying to let him go 3 hours and then pump to see what production was like. But it wasn't realistic. Every bit of my scant dad instincts told me that scrapping the plan was the right call, so we did it. Even when talking to the doctor I was uneasy about it because I suspected the problem was on the production end, not his ability to feed. I should have spoken up; I hate making that kind of mistake. I want him to feel safe with us, not starved.

I know my wife wrestles with it too. Some people seem to be able to breastfeed really easily so I wouldn't blame her if the lack of production makes her feel bad, but she shouldn't feel bad. It takes time and this is her first baby. And we're still learning all the ins and outs of feeding and production. I'm trying my best to support her in this but I don't want her to feel like this is a burden. He's eating, and when he's eating he's happy. That's about all I can ask for here.

This post might make me seem like a neglectful parent. It's not. I hope these are common trial-and-error things in raising children. We really do want the best for him.


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1 comment:

  1. Every kid is different. Our oldest COMPLETELY refused to nurse, the others took to it without any trouble. You can also try the compromise of pumping and using a bottle with breast milk. That will tell you if he specifically wants the bottle, or if he specifically wants the formula.