Something so fulfilling, yet so stressful
When I found out I was pregnant, I had made so many plans on breastfeeding. I had told my family I wanted to breastfeed Andre until he was maybe two or three (haha). A couple months later, my baby is here, and who would've thought breastfeeding would be so hard. Not only is it hard, but it is also stressful, for me at least. With the worry of being a new mom, breastfeeding added anxiety and paranoia- there are so many unexpected ups and so many downs. I would have days where I would just look at my husband and cry thinking that I'm not feeding my baby. I know that not every new mom has this feeling, but the feeling is mutual more than you would think.
When I had Andre, no one warned me about how hard breastfeeding could potentially be. I had my son and the lactation consultant came into my hospital room for maybe 10 minutes. I remember the consultant saying "Wow! Looks like you're doing great!". But, was I? Was this only because I was in the hospital? What do I have to expect for later down the line? Will I still be doing "great" when I get home? The lactation consultant never came back, and I was okay with that. There were no issues at that time, so I didn't have anything to be concerned about nor did I know what potential struggles could be coming my way. I looked around at family and friends and breastfeeding looked so easy for them. Their baby would eat and they would be happy and fulfilled. I honestly thought that you just pull out your breast and your baby will eat until they're full and be satisfied. I never thought of the difficulties that would come along with breastfeeding. I never would've thought that feeding my baby would be so enjoyable, yet so stressful at the same time.
In the beginning of my breast feeding journey, I was doing a great job and I loved it! I even thought I was an over producer at one point! Every time Andre would come off my breast, his mouth would look like a milk shower! It was such a great and fulfilling feeling knowing that I'm nourishing my little baby with the best of the best. I was able to supply my freezer and make a "freezer stash" for days where I just wanted to go have a nice dinner and not worry about having to breastfeed in public. I know, breastfeeding is natural, but I was never comfortable with feeding in public- even with a cover it was difficult. There were so many days where I wanted so bad just to give the bottle, but didn't. No matter how much I was struggling, I just kept on trying. People would ask me how breastfeeding was going and I would put on a happy face and act like everything was amazing! It wasn't, some days were good, some days were bad.
Never once did I think about supplementing with formula until Andre was about 3,5 months old. Recently, because Andre is now 4 months old. I was literally at my breaking point. I started my first menstrual cycle, and my supply literally plummeted... it was as if nothing was there! Andre was not happy at the breast, wouldn't stay on, and would just cry and cry and cry. As a new mom, it was absolutely miserable trying to get my baby at the breast and listen to him cry- it made the experience devastating. I was so confused and tried so hard to bring it back up, but it didn't until I finished my cycle. Even then, it wasn't the same and Andre still wasn't happy like he was previously. Breastfeeding became so stressful to the point where I would just cry and cry. It made me so sad that I was even thinking about supplementing. I would cry to my husband and tell him "I feel like I'm not being a good mom, and I'm not fulfilling my job". I felt like I was a bad mom if I give Andre a bottle of formula. Unfortunately, breastfeeding comes with so much pressure and judgement. You almost feel like you have to breastfeed even when you know deep down you're not being successful with it. You force it, you force yourself to try your hardest, and you make up so many excuses to not give the bottle. Breastfeeding shouldn't be like this, breastfeeding should be a beautiful experience for you and your baby, not something where you feel like you're a bad mom if you don't do it.
I remember being apart of a mom group on Facebook called "Milky Mammas" It was so nice to see how successful other moms were, but it was so depressing at the same time. Moms would post videos and photos of them breastfeeding, and everyone just looked so happy. Moms would take photos of their "freezer stash" and I would look at the their thousands of ounces of milk in envy when I only had 10 ounces in my freezer. To think some moms make so much milk the can end up donating is just amazing. I remember posting on the milky mamas group about how I was thinking about supplementing with formula and being SHAMED. It made me feel horrible. I remember thinking, "Why are they shaming me?" "Isn't fed what is best?" This wasn't the first time I had seen shaming on the group for thinking about not breastfeeding. It was sad, it was sad that other moms out there were shaming you if you gave formula. At that point, I finally gave Andre formula, and I'm so glad I came to terms and was happy with doing this. I knew that my baby needed to eat, and if this is how he will finally be satisfied, then so be it. After giving Andre his first bottle of formula, it was the biggest sign of relief, it felt amazing! I really felt almost free, it was nice to know that I would be able to just relax and not be so stressed, worried, and emotional. Though I'm supplementing by giving 2-3 bottles a day, I'm still breastfeeding in between and it feels great knowing that Andre is getting two of the best! Andre is full, and happy, and that makes this mama feel like she's doing an incredible job.
When I knew I was struggling with breastfeeding:
I felt trapped- My social life quickly became non existent. Because I didn't feel comfortable feeding in public, I would isolate myself to feed Andre. I would go upstairs and feed, I wouldn't go places, and I would sit in my room an never come out.
I wasn't responding to pumps- No matter what pump I used, no milk would come out. Between my two breasts, I would probably get 1-2 ounces combined. Not to mention, I used 4 different types of pumps two of which were hospital grade.
Andre would pop off- I would try to feed Andre, and he would keep popping off crying. I would squeeze my nipple and see so much milk, but why was he crying and why was he not being satisfied. To have my baby CONSTANTLY popping off my breast while feeding, I knew something was wrong.
Andre would cry- After I would feed Andre, he would cry. I was so confused, I literally would've just fed him and he would cry and cry. I knew he was still hungry.
It felt like a chore- Though I LOVE breastfeeding. It sometimes felt like a chore. A chore I didn't want to do. I would do it because I wanted to feed my baby and give him the best he could possibly best. Though I loved the connection, the fear of him popping off and crying because he wasn't full scared me every time I would take out my breast.
I would cry- I would sometimes cry while feeding Andre. I would cry because I felt stressed when I was feeding him. Having to force my breast in his mouth every time he would come off to cry was exhausting.
Writing this blog post wan't to shame breastfeeding and moms who exclusively breastfeed. I love breastfeeding- like I said, I still breastfeed but I supplement with formula. I wrote this blog post because I know there are other new moms out there who also struggle with breastfeeding. I wanted to let other moms know that if you're thinking about giving a bottle, it doesn't make you a "bad" mom like I thought I was if I did. It's important to know that we're NOT alone, and that we have a lot of other mom's out there who support supplementing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing with formula, and fully giving your child formula.. you should never feel guilty for this decision. FED IS BEST, and no one should ever make you think any differently of that.
Thank you for reading!
Pardon my Baby