When I was pregnant with my son, I had every intention to breastfeed. In fact, I didn’t give formula feed a thought. Why wouldn’t I breastfeed? My mom did and so did my aunts, what could possibly stop me? After delivering my son, the nurse immediately put him to my breast and I attempted to breastfeed. But he wouldn’t latch on. She said that happens sometimes so don’t worry about it and we’ll try again.
The next morning, the same thing happened. My stress and anxiety began to increase as the day went by. Each visitor caused more anxiety because I wanted to try but I didn’t want anyone in the room. My husband pulled the curtain around but that just wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get the hang of it and we were both getting frustrated. Frustration was making it harder on both of us to relax and let things happen naturally. By the time we left the hospital, things weren’t any better. We even met with the lactation nurse a few times, but still nothing.
On the second sleepless night with a screaming newborn by husband finally ran to the store and purchased formula. We didn’t know what else to do. Although my son didn’t sleep great that night, he slept better than he had since he was born. The poor little guy was hungry and I wasn’t able to give him what he needed.
At his first check-up with the pediatrician, he had lost over a pound since we left the hospital. Although it is normal for newborns to lose weight when they leave the hospital, this was too much weight. We met with the lactation specialist and she was wonderful! Very understanding, helpful, and not judgmental at all. She spoke with us about purchasing a breast pump and gave me instructions on how often to pump and feed.
After that appointment, we drove to the store and purchased a breast pump. The first night of pumping was miserable. I was so sore, I sat in the bathroom crying. It was the most miserable experience.
For the first few weeks of Noah’s life, we were going back and forth to the pediatrician for weight checks. I was trying to breastfeed, formula feed, and pump. It was an awful schedule and not easy to keep up with while I was home alone with the baby. By 3 months I finally threw in the towel and said I’m done. I needed to feel like me again and I needed the stress and pressure of breastfeeding gone.
I’m a perfectionist and constantly failing at something is like a punch in the gut. The pediatrician was as wonderful as the lactation specialist because he agreed that as long as the baby is eating, that’s all that matters. In this case, I did what was best for me and my baby. We weren’t bonding at all and I needed the added stress of failure to be gone. So, I stopped. And just like that, I could feel my anxiety lift and I slowly began to be happy again.
You see, I believe society puts too much pressure on moms to do what they all feel is the “right” thing. During my journey with breastfeeding I shared a post one day on Facebook. It was about mom shaming and how breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone, so we all find a way that works for us. I was proud to post it because I got it, I knew the feeling they were talking about. Of course, I received a comment on how bad supplementing with formula is because then you won’t produce as much milk. Supply and demand, I was told. I get it. But if my child isn’t receiving enough nutrients because he’s barely getting any breastmilk, his health comes before anything.
Why is it that when women have a baby we suddenly become this punching bag for other moms? Why in the world do women feel it’s ok to give their opinion to other mothers? Just because you did things one way, doesn’t necessarily mean that its right for the other woman’s family.
Now I know this topic comes with very strong opinions, but I’d like to hear anyone else’s stories about their journey with breastfeeding! Was it easy for you? Did you face any hurdles? Did you give up like I did? This is a no judgement zone, just moms talking to other moms!