This is a sensitive topic to many, so please know that I took all things into consideration.
When we found out Annabelle had reflux, there are a million things out there on how to help it. From holding baby upright after feeding for 30 minutes, to propping up the crib, cutting things out of diet, etc. I tried all of those. I hated seeing Annabelle in pain and knowing she was getting worse and not better was terrible for me. I cried right along with her for many, many nights.
Aaron and I had talked, and he mentioned formula as we didn’t know perhaps what I was eating was effecting her and we just didn’t know what it was. I kept putting it off, mostly for selfish reasons. I didn’t want to give nursing up and fear that I would not only feel guilty, but regret it. Breastfeeding worked so well for us. I had a stash of milk (still do if anyone needs any, haha) and she took to it right away. We were in a rhythm.
Once I started back to work, I felt like I was constantly pumping. I pumped twice when I was at work, nursed an afternoon feeding or two, and then she had a bottle at bed. My supply never got the memo of when I didn’t need milk, and even as I tried stopping pumping at various times, I seemed to produce more milk. With that, I ended up having to stay awake later at night so I could pump, and wake up in the morning to pump one side as she only ate on one side at night. After waking up during the night, having to wake up early was awful. There were times she woke up early and I had to leave her in the crib to pump out milk so I could feed her.
When she was 4 months, she started to get distracted nursing, too, and I wasn’t sure she was getting enough to eat. She would pull off after only a few minutes and though she lasted until the next feeding, I’m not sure she really had that much, and I think that’s why she would eat more at night.
When Aaron left for two weeks, things just became terrible with her reflux, my lack of sleep, and stress. I couldn’t take it anymore, and knew something had to give. Once Aaron came back, we talked in depth about formula, and we thought we would try it out and see if she seemed any better. My worst fear was that she would be worse on formula and then I would have stopped breastfeeding.
I had read up on weaning off the milk, but knew I just couldn’t do that. The thought of still pumping and having to deal with all of that was annoying, and we had a trip to Houston 2 weeks later so I didn’t want to have to worry at that point about bringing a pump with us.
So how did I introduce it?
We introduced formula to Annabelle when she turned 5 months. We did wean her onto it, and put her on a sensitive formula. I stopped on a Wednesday morning and by Wednesday night the pain had set in with veryyyy engorged boobs. I had trouble picking Annabelle up, burping her, and anything touching my chest. Thursday was the same way, but by Friday, the pain had subsided to being tolerable without medicine. Things got better from there. I did have three clogged ducts 1-2 weeks after stopping, but was able to massage them and relieve them.
I thought I’d really miss it and feel guilty. But I don’t because Annabelle has been doing so much better on formula. We did switch her to sensitive and she spits up sometimes, but not in a painful way and just like other babies. She is a happy and smiley girl! I am thrilled she is doing so well on it, as it put my guilt to rest.
I know everyone’s thoughts are different on this topic. However, I always had the mindset that I’d do whatever I could once she was born and not worry. Annabelle is getting fed and feeling better which is all that matters in my life. I’d be lying if I said I missed pumping, always wearing a bra, nursing pads at night, and worrying about eating/drinking enough! I’m not sure how Houston would have been if I was nursing. She ate so often in the car that I can’t imagine it would have been as smooth!
How did I stop cold turkey and survive?
- I made a Tuesday night feeding the last. I fed her on both sides so one wasn’t bigger than the other. After that, I just stopped.
- The first night I pumped out a little bit (an oz on each side) to relieve the pressure so I could sleep
- I wore tight sports bras (which just became tighter as they became engorged!)
- I kept nursing pads in my bra for leakage
- Avoided sleeping on my stomach and having anything touch it for a few days.
- I did use the cabbage leaves a few times, mostly for relief.
- Took some Clairton as it can help with drying out
- Massaged in the shower if I felt lumps
- Drank peppermint tea
I’m not sure if any of those remedies really helped, but I’m glad I went cold turkey. It was easier on both of us! It did take a few weeks to notice the milk had diminished, but a month later, I can say it’s gone.