My little one is approaching TWO in less than thirty days (I know! She is growing up too fast!). As I sit and reminisce over the last year, I can’t help but to think back to this time last year. My child was almost one. Eating solid foods. Saying her first words. Running around. She was reaching all these milestones and I was plotting my breastfeeding escape. It was bitter sweet. On the one hand I couldn’t wait to not be attached to a breast pump! On the other, I knew I would miss the special bond breastfeeding gave me and my little one. However, out of all the many things I had faced as a new mother I believe that breastfeeding was one of the hardest. From the beginning I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed. It seemed like a no brainer to me. You have the chance to share this special experience with your little one that only you can provide. Plus, IT’S FREE! Formula is expensive! Breastfeeding gives you one less thing to worry about (So, I thought). No one tells you that it will probably be a challenge.
The first days of breastfeeding were the most painful. I couldn’t quite figure out how to get my little one to latch correctly. I was in excruciating pain! It was as if she knew what to do but I couldn’t get enough nipple in her mouth fast enough before she started to eat. That alone made me want to give up but I was determined to breastfeed my child. Then there was the waking up what seemed like every hour to feed this little person. I had so many questions. Am I doing this right? Is she getting enough? Am I supposed to be this sore? Do I wake her up if she falls asleep while eating? I was delusional!
Now throw in the madness of pumping. I know some moms never pump but I was crazy and decided to continue my grad school classes during my maternity leave from work. I thought I had a lot of questions before but now I can actually measure my milk production. Why did the right boob always produce less? Am I producing enough? When do I find time to pump? How much is to much and how much is not enough? Then you learn about the possibility of nipple confusion when you introduce a bottle (It was kind of nice having other people feed her).
I became so obsessed with my milk supply. I tracked the number of ounces and the time I pumped on an app. I worked to stock pile my freezer. I was on every Facebook group for breastfeeding mothers. I looked up every natural supplement possible thing that could help increase my milk supply. I made lactation cookies (The reason I couldn’t lose my baby weight right away). Drank lots of water (Probably the most important). Tried supplements like Fenugreek (I don’t think it made much difference). Ate oatmeal. I even drank Ovaltine (Not sure if it really worked or if I just think it did because it’s yummy!).
Overall, there are so many factors to consider when breastfeeding. Some women choose not to breastfeed at all and others have challenges that prevent them from breastfeeding all together. However, the important thing is to not forget what really matters- a happy healthy, fed baby! For those who do breastfeed I think the most important thing to remember is not to stress! I wish I wasn’t so consumed with my milk supply obsession and was able to let nature takes it course.
Do you have any tips for mom’s struggling to breast feed their little ones? Please share!
Breastfeeding. Well, where exactly do I start here? There is so much I could say. Let’s start from the beginning.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful, wonderful, natural thing. It is free. It is nutritious. It is our evolutionary food source. But, breastfeeding is not the only way to feed your child. Of course breastfeeding provides immeasurable benefits to your baby, but not every baby (or mother) is able to breastfeed. And for that reason, we are so so lucky to have formula available for our babies. While there may be very many benefits to breastfeeding including: immune support, optimal nutrition, and bonding with mom, formula is not a failure!!! [Remember that. FED IS BEST.]
Now with that out of my system, let’s get into my story. My sweet baby was born at 37 weeks via c-section. So as you can imagine, my milk supply was not ready to make its grand appearance into this world. That didn’t slow down my baby, he tried and tried to latch. Unfortunately due to my gestational diabetes, my little baby ended up in the NICU and my dreams of exclusively breastfeeding were gone in a flash. Within 24 hours, we had to begin supplementing with formula for hypoglycemia. And just like that, I felt I failed. [At this time I did not know about donor milk, and I was just happy that he didn’t require IV fluids to keep his blood sugar stable.] So I began pumping with the help of the lactation consultant. [Honestly, they are angels on earth. Utilize them.] I pumped and pumped and pumped….and…PUMPED. And suddenly I had a little itty bitty syringe full of liquid gold. My husband wheeled me to the NICU and I presented the 0.5 mL vial of gold to the nurse. This began my journey with exclusive pumping….. for 11 months [It still makes my stomach hurt thinking about pumping for that long].
After we all made it home, I tried over and over again to get my baby to latch. He knew what to do. He tried. I tried. He cried. I cried. It was hell. All for one reason: inverted nipples. [I know what you’re thinking….Annie, I really don’t care about your nipples. I get it. Me either. But keep reading.] My nipple contractures wouldn’t break. No. Matter. What. I used nipple shells, plastic cups, shields, basically all the things. No luck. So I pumped. And I pumped. And I pumped. And it sucked. I never got that bond with my child that everyone talks about. I pumped. He took a bottle. I felt like a failure.
My supply was great. I was pumping plenty. I was lucky. But for some reason I could not see the great things I was accomplishing. Breastfeeding made me crazy! I counted every drop. I focused on a schedule. I froze so much milk. I recorded every session in the Medela app. And don’t even get me started about the few times I pumped and accidentally knocked over my bottle of milk. [OH MY GOSH. IT STILL MAKES ME SO MAD.] Now, before I get all worked up, I could go on for days about how much I hated pumping. Instead I will skip that part and fast forward a bit. Because honestly – you get it.
I stopped pumping at 11 months. [I have no idea how I made it that long.] I combined my freezer stash with formula until my baby turned 12 months, and now we take cow’s milk. [Another controversial topic.] And we made it! I did it! He did it! And everyone survived – even the pump. [Which quite frankly I have wanted to beat into a million pieces on more than one occasion.] The moral of this story is: no matter what path you take: breastfed, exclusive pumping, formula – YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT! Your baby is going to be healthy and happy and FED. And for that reason alone – YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. You are a fantastic mother. Remember that. Be that. And you will raise one fantastic kid!
Do you want to know more about pumping supplies, tips, tricks, or products we used while breastfeeding? Give us a like so we know!