We’ve all heard before “Breast is best” but what happens when a new mom cant breastfeed their baby for one of the several reasons out there?
Mom Guilt. That’s what happens.
I had every intention of breastfeeding my daughter. During pregnancy, I had grand plans of nursing and then pumping on occasion to build up a supply for when I went I back to school. I read all these great articles about how women had enough milk pumped that they were able to stop at 8 months! Well I am almost 4 months in and NONE of this has happened!
First off my daughter fell asleep EVERY time we nursed after only about 5 minutes. I tried everything to get her to stay awake and nurse the recommended 15 minutes on the first side. I researched and read countless articles and posts, but nothing would keep that baby awake and NOTHING would wake her back up (except laying her down and walking away of course). This led to countless nights of absolutely no sleep for me, and this just wasn’t going to work. You see my husband can’t help during the week at night and I just simply cannot go 5 days with zero sleep (you can read about why I don’t normally nap when she does here).
Alright, plan B then. I will pump and feed her a bottle of breast milk. I nursed every so often (about twice per day) to keep bonding because again I read so many articles dictating how crucially necessary it is to nurse in order to properly bond. This worked for a little while I will admit. We were moving right along for about 2 months with little problems, and then she started demanding more milk. Nursing just caused frustration for the both of us so I dropped it and went to exclusively pumping. Fine. At least she was still getting breast milk.
And then the 3 month mark hit. She needed at least 5 ounces of milk and would sometimes require 7-8 ounces. I pumped every time she ate plus more frequently in the evening because all of those “breast is best” articles stated thats’s how you build supply. Well slowly over the period of a week I used up my little freezer supply to supplement her appetite with what I was producing. One day the freezer was empty and I had a screaming baby at 9 o’clock at night and my husband looked at me (both of us with terrible bags under our eyes) and he said “Baby, use some of the formula you have. It’s okay.” Honestly I teared up and cried a little as I made the bottle.
I felt like such a failure as a mom. I was giving my baby formula.
You know what? She slept better than she ever had that night 5 hours in a row! I kept diligently pumping and reading to figure out how to build up my supply. Nothing seemed to work and I couldn’t let my baby go hungry. Formula kept becoming more and more of a necessity. Now I am at the point where I am exhausted from trying to pump enough because sometimes I only produce 1 ounce total! I haven’t changed my pumping schedule, but my milk keeps dwindling not increasing. And you guys I feel like I failed her.
I am so worried that now my baby will:
have a weak immune system
not get the nutrients she needs
be behind the breast fed babies.
And the list goes on.
But here’s the thing, I am tired of feeling like this! I tried everything and my body just simply doesn’t produce enough milk for her, and is running out. I don’t know why but I can see it happening. I’m not a bad mom because of it. I read to her daily and we do tummy time, and sing songs, and do all the other recommended enrichment. It’s not fair that the media and other moms have put such a shame on women for not exclusively nursing or breastfeeding.
Well guess what!? Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
If you fought through and exclusively breastfed/nursed that is awesome! You are amazing and a wonderful mother!
If you couldn’t nurse/breastfeed because of any multitude of legitimate reasons that is awesome! You, too are amazing and a wonderful mother!
Mothers need support because this is a tough gig. I don’t want to be ashamed to buy formula at the store anymore or fear that some mom is going to lecture me on my poor or “selfish” decision. I just want to do what’s best for my baby and myself and feel supported.
Please don’t ever feel the dreaded mom guilt when you are doing what works for you and baby.
Love Always ,