*This post may contain graphic information. These are real stories*
Good morning Mommas! We are on to part four of the breastfeeding series. If you missed Part One, read that here; and if you missed Part Two, read that here; and of course if you missed Part Three, read that here!
I want to take a minute and first thank all of you that have been following this series and have given me so much encouragement during it.
It is so awesome to respond to all of you who have reached out and let me know that you are enjoying this series and hearing stories from other mothers.
In closing out this series, I had been thinking of other topics to cover, but honestly, I have three more awesome women that I want to showcase and I just want to share their stories to add additional support for those of you that have been struggling. I know how much I struggled in the first few months of feeding Lily, and I know how important it was for me to find genuine help in order for me not to give up.
However, I should add I know that if I did give up and chose to stop breastfeeding her, I know that wouldn’t make me any less of a mom, but my goal was to breastfeed to 6 months, and then to a year… and I wanted to make those milestones so badly. This was a personal choice I had made for me and my daughter, and as I am typing this I can say we are still successfully exclusively breastfeeding now for 8 months and 4 days, and it has been quite the journey!
Here is Alexandra’s Story
A pro at pumping!
“Leading up to the birth of my first son, few things gave me more anxiety than breastfeeding. Every single dream I had about my baby while pregnant involved breastfeeding. It didn’t help that I had several friends give birth before me and quit breastfeeding within just a few weeks. They all had their own reasons.
“I felt trapped.”
“He had a bad latch.”
“I didn’t think she was getting enough so we started to supplement.”
“My milk never came in.”
“It hurt way too much.”
All of these reasons started to put a lot of self-doubt in my head. Were my dreams of exclusively breastfeeding unrealistic? As it turns out; I’ve been one of the lucky ones. One of those moms that no one wants to hear about because it’s so damned annoying. My 9 pound 12 ounce son was born and latched on almost immediately. When I saw how big he was, I thought there was no way my milk was going to be able to keep up with him. But the days passed, my colostrum turned to milk, and my baby was doing nothing but dirtying diapers and gaining weight. I remember feeling so successful after his one week doctor’s appointment. He had gained back all the weight he lost after birth, and then some. I started to have a little faith in my new-found superpower, but not enough.
I always had this fear hanging over me that my milk would dry up or I just wouldn’t have enough to satisfy my son. I was unbelievably protective over my milk. I remember one morning, my husband let me sleep in and fed the baby a bottle of pumped milk. I about lost my mind. Why would he feed him pumped milk when I was right upstairs? What if we needed that milk in a few months? This was completely irrational, I know, but that’s how I felt at the time. I had a strict pumping schedule and continued to feed my son on demand. I quickly found myself with a freezer full of milk and no place for groceries. My fears of drying up were completely unwarranted and I now had over 1,300 ounces of frozen breast milk, a problem I’m sure so many mothers would love to have. We’ve been able to donate over 500 ounces and will likely make another donation soon.
My anxiety has now gone from milk supply, to weaning. In the end, breastfeeding is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever taken on (and we’ve had a relatively easy experience). It’s time consuming, exhausting, frustrating, and beautiful, all at the same time. We all have different journeys when it comes to how we feed our children. It doesn’t matter if you exclusively breastfeed, supplement, or formula feed, each form of feeding comes with its own anxiety and struggles. But at the end of the day, the only thing that truly matters is that our little ones are happy, healthy, and growing.”
For more of Alexandra’s story, visit her blog here.
Here is Karla’s story
A mother of FOUR!
“I have 4 daughters and out of the 4 I breastfed only 2, not because It was my choice but because 2 of them liked it and the other 2 didn’t. Right now my last baby is almost 11 months old and I’m still breastfeeding
I think that the bond that I have with her is unique when we look at each other in the eye and just connect, I felt that way since the first time I held her in my arms at the hospital. I decided to breastfeed her full-time and not use a bottle at all at least for the first month because I didn’t want her to get used to the bottle and not want the breast later on. Due to the fact that the bottle flow is much faster and babies can get use to it so fast and prefer bottle over
breast, that happened to me with my 3rd daughter. I made the mistake of giving her both the breast and bottle when she was only a week old that I believe that she got so used to the bottle that didn’t want my breast anymore. I would pump daily and alternate in between them both. I thought that I was doing the right thing since I was planning on going back to work after 12 weeks. It was a little devastating for me when she started refusing my breast, it really hurt my feelings I felt as me and her were never going to have that bond.
So with my last baby since I already knew that I was going to be a stay at home mom I decided to breastfeed her exclusively. Yes I did pump because at times I felt that I was producing way to much milk and my breast was hurting. I wanted to eventually start alternating in between bottle and breast just in case I had to go somewhere and she would stay either with my mother or my husband. After she turned a month old I started the alternating and she grasped pretty well to the bottle. I purchased a bottle online that is designed like a breast and makes it easy for the baby to transition from breast to bottle. It worked for a couple of months but then she didn’t want it anymore as she preferred my breast.
I went through a couple of episodes of anxiety because I felt as my mother would pressure me into getting her used to the bottle because if not I wasn’t going to be able to do anything or go anywhere and no one was going to be able to babysit for me if I didn’t get her use to the bottle. I got over that quick. It was my decision to breastfeed and I was going to stick with it no matter what I had to sacrifice.
I had 2 encounters with rude people also that are against breastfeeding in public. I really have no shame on breastfeeding my baby anywhere, I believe that it’s a natural thing and I shouldn’t have to hide. When she’s hungry she has to eat. One time I was sitting inside of my car breastfeeding her and a man passed by my car with his wife, looked at me and said “really?”. I was like “what?” ” if you don’t like what you see no one is forcing you to look, just keep walking” and he went on shaking his head. That was a little hurtful, I still don’t understand why people have to be so rude. Another time I was at Walmart by the shoe aisle and the baby was hungry so I sat down on one of the benches to feed her, I covered my self pretty good but you could still tell that I was breastfeeding. So
this mom and her 3 daughters just kept on staring at me like I was a freak. So I looked at all of them and asked “Can I help you with something?” So the mom walks up and gets a little closer and says ” You are not supposed to do that in public, go to the restroom or something”!!! I had been waiting for someone to say something like that for a long time, so I replied by asking her “when you are hungry do you go eat in the restroom?” and of course she couldn’t answer that and walked away. People can be very rude, so if you decide to breastfeed your baby you have to grow a thicker skin, because you never know when you will hear nasty comments or remarks.
Breastfeeding it’s very beneficial on the financial side also, you save so much money. Just think if you buy a can of formula for 20 to 25 dollars that it’s going to last you a week that’s at least 100 dollars or more that you spend on formula every month. If you breastfeed for at least 1 year that’s 1,200 or more that you save in a year. So I recommend breastfeeding if you can 100%.
For moms that plan on going back to work I recommend the Medela Pump, I used it when I was gonna go back to work after my third baby and loved it. It works pretty fast. Most private insurances will send you one for free once a year, so I was lucky enough to receive 2, they also have many accessories to make your life easier and a good resale value.
Sometimes the breast can get very tender or tends to crack, for that I used lanolin cream from the brand lansinoh and it worked wonders, I would put in my nipples after each feeding if I felt the need to and It was a
Advice for new moms:
Go for it, its hard at first and it will hurt but If you learn how to position the baby right and the baby latches well just give it time the pain goes away and you get used to it. Your body will benefit also if you breast feed because you lose your baby weight faster and you might not get your period for a couple of months. The bond that you develop with
your baby is unique and no one can take that away. Also breast milk is very healthy for the baby, it has all the nutrients that he/she needs, my daughter is almost 11 months and has only had 1 fever through out all this time which is fantastic. She doesn’t get sick and was never suffered from colic. The doctor might recommend you to give the baby vitamin D because that’s the one vitamin that they don’t get from breast milk, but other than that you don’t need to worry about anything. I recommend that before you leave the hospital you get instructions on how to properly position the baby when feeding, because the wrong position will really hurt your breast.”
For more of Karla’s story, visit her blog here.
Here is Kim’s story
An admitted choco-holic!
“In my first pregnancy I knew I wanted to try my best to breastfeed my son. I felt it would have huge benefits to my son’s and my own health, as well as cost-effectiveness with having a new baby. I also knew there would be a learning curve and challenges that came with it. I did my research; I joined Facebook groups, read articles, spoke with other moms, and even attended a free breastfeeding course through our hospital. But what they can’t teach you or totally prepare you for is the emotional challenges that come with breastfeeding or the inability to breastfeed. Here’s my story and my journey of breastfeeding.
I remember my first introduction to breastfeeding. I had a supportive hospital and lactation consultant. Even with the support, it is still scary to go home on your own with this little being that you are now responsible for. I had no problems with my son latching on. We did encounter some bathroom issues with him not pooping which later impacted my ability to exclusively breastfeed. I put extra pressure on myself as I waited and waited for my milk to come in. I had hopes and dreams in the image of breastfeeding my son and when that dream was challenged my go to thoughts were: What if I can’t produce enough? What if I can’t breastfeed? Am I a bad mom? Oh my God that’s an extra expense we weren’t counting on. My milk did eventually come in, phew. It was one less thing to worry about but many more were to come.
I distinctly remember our interactions with our first pediatrician. He made me cry. He was not personable. He didn’t explain and give reason for things. No suggestions – nothing. We felt he pushed supplementing on us with no full explanation, not one that an emotional, hormonal mom was understanding. I left those first two doctor appointments feeling as if I was being judged or I wasn’t able to provide enough for my son. We ended up having to supplement with formula while I also continued to breastfeed. Going into my breastfeeding journey I had this image of what it would look like but what I learned is that you can’t control everything. It took some time for me to accept that I wouldn’t be able to exclusively breastfeed my son. In the end I came to accept it and roll with the punches, that it was OK and I was providing as much as I could for him through the amount of milk that I could provide. It wasn’t my picture perfect image going into motherhood but I was left with the mentality that some is better than none.
Let’s go back to the pediatrician that we “fired”. We came home and immediately started researching a different pediatrician and I’m so glad we did. At the first consultation to meet our new pediatrician, Dr. Berg, I was emotional but he provided validation and education. He made me feel comfortable and automatically was praising me for being a good mom. I’m so thankful to have found him as our family’s pediatrician. If I were a beer drinker I would’ve loved him even more. He recommended I drink a Guinness to help with milk supply. I hate beer! I gave it a shot but I couldn’t stomach it. For you beer lovers give it a go. I chose Fenugreek instead in my attempt to increase my milk supply.
The next challenge I faced was milk production and going back to work. I am in that same phase now with my three-month old. This time around my journey is a little bit of a different experience, which I’ll get into later. I have returned to work which means pumping in order to feed my child. Pumping was and still is not my most favorite thing. It adds a stress level that ups the ante. What if I don’t produce enough? When am I finding time in my schedule at work to pump? Is the nursing room free? I’m on the road during the day or in the community for meetings, what do I do? With my son I stuck it out and pumped for as long as I felt I could, and at that point I was comfortable enough and accepted the fact that my son was supplementing with formula. I did my part. I did my best. I was OK with that. I still got his snuggles in the morning, night, and on the weekends to bond with him while breastfeeding. I am so fortunate to be able to have that experience for 22 months. My son never self weaned. Deciding to wean him was my choice and emotionally it’s a hard one. It was our special bonding time together. A few months before his second birthday I went down to breastfeeding him just morning and night, and eventually just in the morning. Gradually we phased breastfeeding out. He probably handled it better than me haha.
Going into the birth of my daughter in May I knew I had a goal of breastfeeding her, exclusively if I could. My goal with my son was to reach at least one year of breastfeeding, which I exceeded. With my daughter I feel as if I am more relaxed and just going with the flow, rolling with the punches. I am in my “back to work and pumping” phase – again it is not my favorite but I’m sticking it out the best that I can. This time around I am trying not to put as much pressure on myself since I am exclusively breastfeeding. I’m starting to research other ways to increase my supply because my fear is that I’m not going to produce enough to continue exclusively breastfeeding.
My advice for new moms or moms who are trying to breastfeed for the first time is to be the best self advocate that you can, do your research, find your supports such as a breastfeeding support group or fellow moms. Give yourself a break – this mom thing is not easy and breastfeeding is not easy. It takes such a commitment! Try not to put as much pressure on yourself. Your ability to be a good mom shouldn’t be defined by some of the silly things other people might be stating or putting pressure on. Your ability to be a good mom doesn’t depend on if you choose to formula feed or breastfeed, but I’m going to tell you if you’re choosing to breastfeed give yourself the break because you are a good mom and you’re doing the best you can. “
For more of Kim’s story, visit her blog here.
I want to genuinely thank each of the mothers who contributed toward this series. It was so much fun getting to know each of you and sharing your story.
Thank you to all of the women who have been following along and reaching out to me! It means so much!
If you have a comment, do not hesitate to leave one below or send me an email.
Be sure to check out my recent post, Mom VS. Mom: The Great Debate!