Before I get all the pro-breastfeeding lectures, let me start off by saying that I'm pumping and my girls diet is made up purely of breastmilk mixed with a touch of Neosure to increase the calorie content.
It's the actual feeding at the breast that I'm talking about. And I'm not doing it.
At first, it was an issue of the girls mouths just being too small and too weak to properly feed at the breast. Preemies and the complications that creates and all. But as time has gone on, I dunno, I'm just not doing it.
We did try. I got a couple of different sized nipple shields and I have nursed each successfully at least once with it. I even did a naked feeding at some point with one of them. But the whole thing was frustrating.
First, they just didn't want to do it. It's rather insulting to have your baby taste your breast, and then scream as they push it away and turn their head away from you.
Second, when we finally did succeed, we offered a bottle about 15 minutes after what appeared to be a very satisfied milk coma, and they would still take at least half, if not the full bottle. If they need that much to fill their tummies anyway, why waste our time and frustration nursing?
Third, it hurts more than the pump. At least for us it does. Maybe it's because they are still itty bitty mouths and they can pretty much only hang on the nipple rather than get a lot of breast in the mouth.
Fourth, freedom. I'm pretty darned tired, and I can't imagine how exhausted I would be if I had to be the only one to feed both girls. I don't really appreciate being tied to the pump every 3 hours either, but at least if I'm out and about and miss a pumping, the only one punished for it is me (and my boobs DO punish me if I neglect them).
At this point, my girls are 2 days past their due date. In theory, they are standard newborns rather than preemies and I very well could be beginning to breastfeed exclusively. But I'm not gonna. If we were stranded on a desert island, we've figured out nursing enough that my kids wouldn't starve, but since it's not necessary and none of us seem to enjoy it, I'm not going to do it unless a situation arises where I have to.
I did have lovely pictures in my head of that serene scene where everyone is smiling as the baby suckles. That's not the scene in my house. I can bond with my babies just fine holding a bottle instead of wincing at the pain in my boob. And I really don't care that "if you just do it, it gets better. You just have to get over the hump." No I don't. I don't have to do anything. The pumping and bottle feeding is working out pretty well for my family so we're not going to go through the pain of figuring out something different.
And if I'm ever out in public, feeding my girls, and some nosey old biddie gives me a judgmental "the breast is best!" I'm not going to quietly take it and shrink with shame. Nope. I'm going to ask that person as they think they're walking away "excuse me, but what exactly are you hoping I will do now that you've said that? Oh gee, I never knew that, I'll just whip out a boob right now! Thank goodness you told me that and changed our entire lives!"
And just a hint for those of you who are having trouble and do want to get over the hump. Give your baby about 10-20ml from a bottle, burp, and then take the baby to breast. Once that initial starvation feeling goes away, the baby will likely have the patience and desire to nurse successfully. That's what worked for us the few times we got nursing to work.