5/3/16

REAL TALK // BREASTFEEDING

let me begin with breastfeeding does not come easily to my body.

when i was pregnant with cedar i quickly realized there is a stigma around pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding. there is this big push for everything to be "natural" or "organic", there is this unwritten way that women are supposed to go about everything & if they stray from it, there are a lot of looks & a lot of judgment. the two biggest things i see this happening with are labor & feeding & i have experienced it firsthand.

the thought never crossed my mind that i might not be capable of breastfeeding. while preparing to have a him, i assumed i would breastfeed. i knew that i would need to either pump or ween him once he was four months & i went back to school full-time, but i was going to breastfeed him full-time until then. i never realized how difficult it was to breastfeed or the many struggles mothers face that come with breastfeeding, especially if you aren't able to produce enough milk. we had a rough go from the start. cedar was never able to latch on properly on either side causing me to go through many hours of pain & tears trying to feed him, just to top off each feeding with a bottle of formula because he would be screaming of hunger. it wasn't until a check up right before his one month mark when i was told he wasn't gaining a lot of weight that i realized i truly was not producing enough for him & needed to switch him solely to formula. until that point, i had wondered if i were doing something wrong when trying to feed him, but the doctor informed me that i was not producing enough. it may not sound like a long time, but that month felt so long for me especially being a new, sleep deprived mother who blamed herself for her crying baby & not being able to produce more milk. by the time cedar was a month old i could hardly make 1 ounce of milk.

the decision to switch him to formula came easily for me, i wanted what would benefit cedar most & that was to be on formula 100% so that he would be able to grow, & i saw a difference immediately. luckily i never experienced any "mommy guilt" from not breastfeeding cedar, actually any guilt i had experienced ended once i stopped breastfeeding because of the immediate difference i saw in cedar. as soon as cedar was on formula full-time he was a much happier baby, gone were the hours of frustrated crying from the both of us & in replace were a happy baby & happy mom. it was the best decision for both of us but, that didn't mean i wasn't criticized for the decision. i can't even count the conversations i have had with friends & even strangers where they told me i was doing my child an injustice, or where i have been told that cedar must get sick because i didn't breastfeed him, whatever the argument is, i've most likely heard it. to be honest it was disappointing to hear these things & sometimes it would leave me to wonder if i was ruining my kid or if i should have tried harder to breastfeed, but at the end of the day i still knew i made the best decision & i made the choice based on us, not on others opinions. 

since i didn't have a great one-month experience breastfeeding cedar, i wondered why so many women loved to breastfeed, but i finally understood after milo was born. after i found out i was pregnant with milo, austin & i talked a lot about whether i would try to breastfeed or not & ultimately i decided i would breastfeed as long as my body allowed. once milo was born things were totally different than with cedar. he was born hungry, smacking his lips, ready to be fed & he had no problem latching on. it went so smoothly & i was incredibly happy & grateful for it. i found that i enjoyed being able to feed him, to provide him with what he needed. 

two weeks in milo still wasn't over his jaundice & the pediatrician recommended supplementing with formula after feedings to help wash it out of his system & because his levels had been high, we decided to do it. after we started supplementing milo started needing more at his feedings & giving him an ounce or two bottle became the norm. i also began to feel that my body was not producing more milk as i hoped it would, instead it was slowly producing less milk. little milo has been growing like a weed & my body once again is not producing enough milk. this time around has been more difficult for me to accept my lack of milk-making because it did start out so well that i just thought it was going to be easy this time. when i look back to the first few weeks with cedar as a newborn i really was naive about breastfeeding. i hadn't taken any birthing or parenting classes during my pregnancy, i sort of assumed it would come naturally & while much of it did, breastfeeding did not. i was naive in the fact that i didn't realize there were so many resources to help me in my breastfeeding endeavor, so this time around i have tried put a lot of time & effort into what i can do to help my body make more milk. i have tried a breastfeeding support group to learn more about what i can do to help my milk, i drink mothers milk tea, take a pill version of the tea to help my milk flow, drink more water than i ever have in my life, tried oatmeal in the morning, pumping in-between feeds.. i have tried just about everything.

what it really comes down to is that my body is not a great milk producer & if there is something i can do about it, i don't know what it is. i have loved the time i've had feeding milo & because i have truly loved it, it's been difficult for me to decide what to do, to know what would be best for him, me & our family as a whole. i go back & forth almost everyday trying to figure out which is best & honestly, i don't think one way or another is better, there are pros & cons to switching completely to formula just as there are pros & cons to continuing to breastfeed & then formula feed. sometimes i feel guilty at the thought of not breastfeeding him because of comments i hear & it can be hard to remember that the outsiders opinion is not what is important in this situation, but milo's health & happiness is.


i guess what i am getting at is that there is a lot of judging going on amongst women when someone chooses to have an epidural or when they choose not to, & there is equally a lot of judging when someone formula feeds their baby instead of breastfeeds. i'm here to say that we need to worry less about the people that are judging us, worry less about how someone else feeds their baby or births their baby. we need to build each other up rather than judge, no one should be beating themselves up if they can't have a natural birth for some reason, or if they can't breastfeed their baby. it doesn't make you a failure as a woman or a mama. 

you are doing your best & that is what matters. 

3 comments :

  1. Amen, Kerry! I've struggled with breastfeeding both of my boys and always had the mommy guilt because of it! I was able to breastfeed (with supplementing) Anders for 3mo and just switched him to 100% formula. It was a tough decision to make but I can already see how much happier my family is because of it and because of that I know it was the right decision. You are an awesome momma no matter what!

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  2. literally, i am so happy you wrote this. with my first, Norah, I planned on nursing. until i literally produced maybe 10 drops of milk and then dried up. it was so clear to me that formula was my only option, but it didn't mean it wasn't hard for me. I have experienced everything you talked about concerning why i got an epidural and why i formula fed. and i always have to remember- the point is for the baby to leave my body and to be fed and I did both of those things.

    now, pregnant with my second, I wonder so much about if i will get milk this time around. and if i will want an epidural. it's frustrating that so many moms assume their pregnancy, labor, milk supply, etc is how every other woman's is. we are all different, our experiences are different, our babies are different and that should be celebrated. how boring if it was all the same for every woman.

    thanks again for writing this and being so honest.

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  3. Thank you so much for this. Your first breastfeeding experience is mine to a T! I tried for a month and had to switch to formula feeding. It's the most irritating that people assume we CHOSE to not have our milk come in. I wish more people talked about the possibility that milk doesn't come in for all woman. I did everything you did, I had hormone and thyroid testing done too. Nobody knows why I didn't have any milk. Crazy..

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