Breastfeeding Is No Joke
In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I felt it was important to open up about my struggle.
Little did I know Breastfeeding was going to be one of my biggest challenges postpartum. During my pregnancy, my husband and I took a Breastfeeding class where we learned the importance of breastmilk. I sat there digesting all of this unfamiliar information thinking it sounds like a lot of work however it’s natural so it can’t be that tough, right? I remember leaving class with intentions of exclusively breastfeeding for the first 4 weeks. After the 4 weeks were up, I’d start pumping and freezing all of my extra breastmilk I was going to be producing. Formula wasn’t even really a thought in my mind. It wasn’t until she came into the world that all of my plans suddenly changed.
I remember the moment she latched for the first time. Or maybe should I say, latched incorrectly for the first time. I was expecting discomfort but never imagined what was going to come along next. I had no idea what it was supposed to feel like. I thought, well she’s hungry so maybe she’s sucking harder than normal. Needless to say after many incorrect latches, I had severely cracked, bloody, sore, blistered nipples. I’ll be honest, I wanted to quit early on. I was in awful pain. I found myself crying multiple times out of sheer frustration.
Another issue? My milk wasn’t coming in the way I was told it was going to come. I remember by day 7 I was questioning why I didn’t feel engourged. Many times I would try to self express in the shower and barely anything would come out. Thats when I decided I would try pumping. Just as I thought, no matter what the setting, I’d get a half an ounce if I was lucky.
It was then when I realized Brooke wasn’t getting enough. She would cry, get frustrated, and scream all because she was still hungry. Do you know what kind of guilt I felt? I hated that this was my fault. I questioned myself daily thinking what was wrong with me? Why wouldn’t my body produce milk like it should be producing?
After many tears, I decided that it was time to start supplementing with formula. Of course my dreams of only breastfeeding were coming to an end, however I knew in that moment I needed to do what was best for her.
In the meantime, I had a dear friend send over a Lactation Consultant to teach me the proper way of nursing her. (Side Note: To my Soon to be First Time Moms! Make sure you meet with one after you have your baby, this will you save you A LOT of blood, sweat, and tears!) After my appointment, I learned what a correct latch felt like and that a nipple shield was going to be my new best friend! I also did a weighted feed where we confirmed that she indeed wasn’t getting enough.
Fast forward to now. Almost 8 weeks later and I’m still struggling. Thankfully I don’t have to continuously depend on the shield anymore however my milk production is still not enough. I can pump 2oz a day.. if I’m lucky. I’ve tried supplements, lactation boosting foods, excessive amounts of water, “power pumping”, skin to skin, you name it. I’ve heard so many times, it’s coming, just be patient. Unfortunately for some reason my body just isn’t producing milk like I was expecting it to.
My “mom guilt” has fully set in. I’m not and never have been anti-formula but I had these expectations that I clearly can’t live up to. It’s hard to hear how important exclusively breastfeeding is when you don’t have a significant supply. Truthfully, I get somewhat jealous when I hear other moms say they nurse with no issues.
Fortunately during these hard times, I’ve had a ton of support around me. Another close friend who has been the most encouraging has even gone to the extent of donating some her extra breastmilk just so that Brooke has enough. Thankfully this has allowed me to freeze some of my own.
I’m 1 week shy of 2 months postpartum. If I could make it til then, I would be happy. I know the tone of this sounds like it’s the end of my journey. I’m not giving up, however I can see my supply already dropping. I will continue to try my hardest until that day comes. One thing I’ve learned during this experience is the importance of acceptance. The shame and guilt I still struggle with will one day pass. After all, I know I’ve done and continue to do everything I can to provide nourishment to Brooke whether it’s breastmilk or formula.
Thank you all for listening.
If there are others out there that find themselves in a similar situation, I hope I can provide some comfort for you knowing you are not alone.