Breastfeeding Mama, Go Ahead, Give Up.August 8, 2018 | Leave your thoughts
Breastfeeding. Let’s talk about it. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. Pushing a baby out of my body with no medicine, was not as hard as breastfeeding for me. Maybe not your experience, but surely mine. Although it has turned out to be one of the most fruitful things I have done since becoming a Mama, it’s also made me want to give up so many times.
When my daughter was born, I had this perfect picture in my head. I believed she was going to do that “breast crawl” that I’ve seen circulating Facebook. I thought surely that she would just know exactly what to do, and by default so would I. Well let’s just say, neither of us had any single clue about breastfeeding and all it would entail. I was as naive as she was, and she was only a few hours old. As I sit here and type this, I can still remember the pain. The soreness. The cracked and bleeding nipples. The, “please tell me that’s not a hungry cry again.” I can remember nursing her for an hour and a half just for her to turn around fifteen minutes later and be hungry again. I dreaded each feeding. Those first weeks, even months, were painful. They were emotional. They were downright, brutal. I wanted to give up, I wanted to give in. And don’t even get me started on the biting. But we pushed through. I later found out, when she was four months old that she had a lip tie and a tongue tie, making it difficult for her to suck. I found this out after she didn’t gain weight for two entire weeks. During those two weeks, I pumped. I prayed. I pumped. I ate lactation cookies. I pumped. I took herbal supplements. And then I pumped some more. But by this time it was so late in the game, my body did not want to recover. So I sat in defeat. I sat in failure. I sat with my thoughts, believing I wasn’t good enough. At this point my biggest fear came to be, I had to supplement. My goals, my dreams, my desire to breastfeed my daughter for a full year flew out the window the day I found out she didn’t gain weight those two weeks.
Breastfeeding is hard. It’s not for the weary. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not always as easy and beautiful as it is portrayed. I can remember even my own mom, telling me how much she loved breastfeeding. In my head, I said, “well isn’t that nice, because this, this sucks.” My daughter went on to nurse until she was nine months old and decided she no longer wanted to. We supplemented all the way through. I didn’t reach my goal. But here’s the thing, it was mine, not hers. Breastfeeding my daughter was a journey, one of many emotions, one of much confusion. But it passed. And in a strange turn of events, breastfeeding my son couldn’t be more different. It’s enjoyable. It’s successful. I feel as though I am enough. He was in the 98th percentile and exclusively breastfed.
But look, I’m not any less of a mom because I couldn’t successfully breastfeed my daughter for a year. And neither are you. I’m not any more of a mom because I am successfully breastfeeding my son.
Whether you’re formula feeding or breastfeeding, you’re providing for your baby. But I do want to shout out the breastfeeding Mamas…because it takes a lot of work. It takes sleepless nights. It takes changing your diet if your baby is sensitive to certain foods. It takes patience. It takes grace. It takes so much of your body and changes your body in ways you didn’t anticipate.
So, Mama, I want to leave you with some tips and tricks I have learned along the way to help you navigate this breastfeeding journey:
- Have your midwife or nurse check your baby for a lip tie and/or tongue tie prior to leaving the birth center, your home, or the hospital.
- Attend a lactation class and/or see a lactation consultant. Even if you think you’re doing fine, there is always something you can learn.
- Breastfeeding 101: Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. How much your baby eats is how much your body makes (in a perfect world). If you decide to give a bottle of formula outside of your breastfeeding, in order to keep your supply, you will need to pump to tell your body to continue to make the same amount of milk. Unless you are supplementing or weaning off.
- Feed on demand but watch the clock. Feed your baby when hungry but don’t let them sleep for too long. To keep up your supply wake them up in the middle of the night if your baby has slept six hours or more. If you do not want to wake your baby, pump your milk. This is obviously inconvenient and if you have a great supply it may not be for you. But if you’re worried about your supply this is something to keep in mind.
- Don’t be afraid of the pump. At the beginning of your breastfeeding days, it may be a good idea to incorporate one pumping session each day. For me, I did one every morning before my son woke up to get a stockpile of milk for a vacation or date nights. You can wean off of this once you have the desired amount…just do so little by little. Remember, if you give your baby a bottle of any sort and you want to keep your supply going, you need to pump as well.
- Below are some resources that may help further:
Breastfeeding is hard, Mama. You should be proud you’ve made it as far as you have. If you must give up. If you’ve reached your limit and your frustration is causing you to resent or feel some sort of negativity toward your baby, go ahead. Give in. But give yourself grace. Don’t take it as a loss. Take it as a win. You’ve done it for this long. Your baby has gained nutrients she/he otherwise wouldn’t have received. But, if you feel as though you can continue. Despite it, all, PUSH FORWARD! Get some good nipple cream and walk forward empowered by the miracle that your body truly is, because you’ve got this!