Breastfeeding, oh this is a loaded word. Everyone has an opinion on this topic. I’m going to start by saying it’s alright if you can’t breastfeed or don’t want to. I say this EMPHATICALLY because I had an extremely hard time nursing and struggled with what was the “right” thing to do.
Before I had my first child I thought for sure I would nurse. I knew that my milk was the best nutrition for my baby. I thought nursing is natural, we are designed to feed our babies so it must be easy ( and no one told me differently). Well, I was wrong!
Breastfeeding is portrayed as beautiful (which it is), natural, easy, painless, a time for bonding, and just all around perfect. In reality for me it was hard, painful, and stressful!
This is My Story
Right off the bat I struggled. My first skin to skin session with my daughter did not go well, she would not latch on. A lactation consultant gave me some advise but it was still very difficult. While in the hospital I started pumping. I would give Emily my pumped milk and supplement with formula.
After leaving the hospital I decided to go to the lactation clinic; I was determined to nurse because it’s the “right” thing to do. I was not producing much milk so the lactation nurse ordered me a medical grade pump. Momma, if you can get your hands on one of these do so! They will get your milk production up! I was amazed at how much milk I was getting from this one versus the one I bought. I used the pump for a month, this is how long my insurance allowed. This was a good beginning to my daily pumping.
Everyday I was stressed out and crying because I felt I was a failure and wondered what was wrong with me. That’s not how you should be feeling as a new mom. There is already enough stress with the lack of sleep you get and trying to figure out what the different cries mean. This is supposed to be a precious time to treasure.
My routine was to put Emily on the breast each time in hopes that she would latch and then pump. I did this for every feeding for 6 months, except for when I was out in public or at someone elses home I just gave her a bottle. At 6 months, I finally made the decision to just give her a bottle. She would not latch on each time and it was extremely stressful. So, I gave her a bottle with mommas milk in it.
I finally knew exactly how much milk she was getting and no longer wondered if her cry was a cry of hunger, gas, boredom, hot, cold, etc… and that she was actually getting it. When I went to the lactation clinic they weighed Emily before feeding and after and there were a couple of times where she didn’t get any milk, what??!!
I felt great about my decision and relieved. I tried for 6 months because I was determined to make it work. Well, I got questioned and comments about my decision from strangers, my MOPS group, and even family. This is not what I was expecting! When a comment was made I felt like I had to explain my reason why I wasn’t nursing and that the bottle had breast milk in it. I never should have felt this way.
Second Time Around
When I had my son I tried again. He latched on in the hospital when we had our first skin to skin time and I was ecstatic! Quickly I was deflated because that only happened once. I tried again and again but it just didn’t work. This time I came prepared to the hospital and brought my pump. So I pumped and supplemented with formula. When I asked the nurse for the formula I got a lecture about how breast milk is the best thing for my baby, she made me feel sad and mad. I was shocked, there was no support from the staff on what I was doing. It took a long time for the formula to get to my room.
I made the early decision with my son that I would try to nurse but if I experienced the same thing as I did with Emily I would stop and just pump. I tried with Jamison for about 2 months and had to stop. It was stressful for both of us. I wanted to enjoy feeding time with my baby and not make it a crying session and be upset and anxious each time I had to feed. Since I decided this early on, the second time around was less stressful.
I did have to tell everyone that it was breast milk in the bottle though. I still got the comments and looks but this time I was a more confident mommy and I didn’t let it bother me.
Momma, you need to make a decision that is right for you and not worry what people say or think. You shouldn’t be judged for your decision, only you know your situation. You are not harming your baby, they can still be healthy and you can still bond. I was lucky that I pumped enough milk that I didn’t have to supplement once my milk started coming in. I did have to drink the milk thistle tea and eat foods to help with my production.
As for bonding, well my kids can’t get enough of me. They bonded just fine with me and me with them and we are happy. I still held them when I fed them and rocked them and sang to them.
Make the decision that is right for you, not one that pleases family members and strangers.
Enjoy the feedings, you will miss them when they are over. It may not seem like it now, but you will. The time you have with your little one is precious and you don’t want to spend it with days full of stress.
I hope my story can help with any decision you need to make.