Before I begin this post, I want everyone reading this to be aware of 3 things:
1. I am not against breastfeeding. I think it is one of the most beautiful and wonderful things you can do for your child. I also understand it’s many benefits.
2. We women need to support each other despite our differences in opinions and lifestyle. This is not a forum for lecturing or judgement. Please do not use the comment section as such. This post is meant to help those struggling to feel empowered to do what is best for them and their baby.
3. Being a Mom is hard enough and writing this isn’t easy. You don’t have to agree with my decisions, but please respect them.
Before Elia was born, I had major breastfeeding anxiety. It was honestly all I thought about. In hindsight, I’m not exactly sure what scared me about it. I just heard so many horror stories about painful boobs, nipples hurting and the massive time commitment and I just kinda of freaked. I also wasn’t breastfed and grew up in an environment where almost all my friends and family formula-fed their babies. I think the lack of exposure coupled with peoples stories just made it seem very overwhelming.
Then, Elia was born and she latched on right away (in the first few minutes of her birth.) I was shocked and felt really proud of myself. I had done a lot of research and intended on giving it a try. I didn’t think it would be so easy. That ease lasted all of about 12 hours and all of a sudden Elia became very “hangry”, I could barely sit up (my pain meds wore off) and my nipples became very very sore. First off, giving birth is no joke. I had a horrible delivery and suffered two 2nd degree tears (one perennial and one on my urethra) and a bruised tailbone. Sitting up was literally impossible unless I was drugged up on Hydrocodone.
The sore nipples clearly stemmed from a poor latch. I asked the nurses to help teach me how to get her to latch properly and we spent some time going over it. Since I had the reclining automatic hospital bed and help at the hospital, I was able to continue the entire time I was there. I even started to feel confident that after leaving the hospital I would be able to continue for a little while.
Once I got home and the family started piling in, I got even more overwhelmed. I’m not a modest person by any means, but something about breastfeeding made me uncomfortable doing it in front of people. I think it may have been my lack of experience and fear of judgement. I was also still in so much pain. It was more pain than I have ever been in. I couldn’t even sit up and would have to stand up and walk around to feed her. It was the only way.
I was miserable and Elia wouldn’t stop crying. She cried morning, noon and night with her fists in her mouth because she was hungry. I felt like I had her on my boob every few minutes and it was never enough to satisfy her.
After about a week of exclusively breastfeeding, it was time for her 1st doctors appointment. At her weigh-in, the doctor let me know she lost a little over a pound and she couldn’t stand to lose much more. For whatever reason, my milk supply hadn’t fully come in yet and the doctor suggested I supplement her with formula and pump whenever I do that. I felt discouraged, but knew the doctor was right. I could see my little girl just wasn’t happy. I broke down crying and felt defeated but knew what I had to do.
So, I went home, made Elia a bottle of formula. She drank it down so hard and so fast I thought she would explode. After her last sip, she pulled back, let out the biggest burp I’ve ever heard in my entire life and smiled the biggest smile (I now realize it was gas and the fact that she was milk drunk.) Then, she passed out and slept for 3 hours.
It was bliss.
I headed into my room to pump for the first time. The pumping wasn’t painful at all, but again, I couldn’t sit-up and my recovery from birth was going very slow. I pumped for 30 minutes and ended up only getting about 1oz which was frustrating (because Elia had just drank 2oz.) I was determined to keep pumping and build up my supply.
When she woke up from her epic 3 hour nap, I went to go and try to breastfeed her again. She started screaming, turned red in the face and started hitting me over and over. After a 15 minute struggle, I got her to latch but she immediately stopped and started screaming again. I gave up and gave her the 1oz I had just pumped. She drank it down really quick, burped and fell back into a blissful sleep.
In that moment, I felt hurt. I felt like my baby didn’t want or need me anymore. I now realize how silly that is. My baby girl just needed food and for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to provide it to her yet.
I spent the next week trying to get her back on my breast (unsuccessfully) and pumping around the clock trying to build up a supply for her. It was horrible. I felt like a cow, my boobs were like rocks all the time, I was sleep-deprived and in more pain than you can imagine.
Finally, I realized that this just wasn’t worth it for either of us. I was still only pumping about 1-2oz per session and I just started feeling depressed. It was in that moment that my husband and I decided we would formula feed her moving forward. Since that day, our daughter rarely cries. She is the happiest baby I’ve ever seen and started sleeping 7-9 hour stretches at 5 weeks. She was fed and no matter where it comes from, fed is best.
At the end of the day, could I have tried to continued?
Is there ways I could have probably boosted my supply?
Could I have hired a lactation consultant to come over and analyze my daughter and help her latch on again?
Did any of those options make me happy?
I was unhappy and you have to take care of yourself physically and emotionally before you can take care of your baby. My bad energy was impacting her and that’s clear from her behavior shift after I made the decision to stop breastfeeding her.
It’s funny, we as women can’t seem to win. If you make the decision to breastfeed and do so in public, you live in fear of people judging you. If you make the decision to formula feed, you also live in fear of people judging you for not breastfeeding. We are all living in fear no matter what are choices are.
It’s just not fair.