I stopped because nothing was working.
We kept going back and forth to the lactation clinic 2 or 3 times a week to get Baby Doc weighed and to do a before-and-after feeding weight. He was gaining great (once we got over that initial big loss). But I still had no more than 1/2 ounce of milk for him at any one time. (By this point, he was taking 2+ ounces of formula at every feeding.)
Finally, I tried a medication called domperidone. (I can hear all my veterinarian readers laughing right now!) We use this medication in horses all the time to increase milk production. In people it can have some side effects (its main use is to help with digestion issues), so they didn’t want to start me on it right away. It works great in horses, so I was all for trying this option!
I was on domperidone for 4 weeks. No. Luck.
When Baby Doc was 5 weeks old, I gave up on the teeny tube. It was making me crazy more than it was helping. I would still let him nurse for 10-15 minutes, and then we gave him a bottle of formula for his “real” feeding.
We were warned against starting with bottle feeding too soon. It can be hard for some babies to go back and forth between breast feeding and bottle feeding. (It’s the same in horses, actually.) Not so with Baby Doc. He didn’t care where the food came from, as long as he got some.
Two weeks later I stopped trying to breast feed. We had tried – really hard – for 7 weeks. I tried just about every trick in the book. We had gotten my thyroid levels regulated. Nothing had worked.
And I was not enjoying feeding times. In fact, they were so stressful I didn’t look forward to them at all. Something that was supposed to be a wonderful bonding experience with my new baby had turned into one more chore to do.
Baby Doc has been exclusively formula fed since early in December. And he is doing spectacular. Feeding times are enjoyable for us now (well, most of the time anyway). Farmer Doc can help feed him (which is extra-nice in the middle of the night). The stress level in this house just magically lifted when I finally made the decision to go to only formula.
I know the choices I made won’t be right for everyone. I might not even make these same choices if we go through this again. (No, I have not decided to have another baby.)
It was important to me that we try to breastfeed, and it was important to me that we try every option we could.
It was also important to me that Baby Doc get the nutrition he needs.
And it was important to me that I enjoyed the special time I got to spend with him.
When breastfeeding turned from bonding time into a chore, I knew that it was time to stop and to do something else.
Baby Doc is doing great and growing like a weed. He is happy and healthy, and so is his mom. And that is what is most important to our family.