How to Deal with the Choice of Breastfeeding: A Mother’s Journey
Howdy, Kansas City! Bringing a new baby into the world comes with it’s own set of worries and can be overwhelming. The responsibility of another human being is nerve-racking to say the least, particularly figuring out how to keep them fed. There’s plenty of controversy surrounding feeding a newborn, and our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, wanted to share her journey through the overwhelm. Check it out!
How to Deal with the Choice of Breastfeeding:
A Mother’s Journey
Last week my husband and I took our oldest to Kindergarten round-up. I did surprisingly well, but I was told this is the easy part; you go and listen to a presentation and take some paperwork, none of it is real yet. Kind of reminded me when we first got pregnant with her. We tried for what seemed like so long, we prayed, we planned, and we mapped out cycles and when that stick finally showed that plus sign we couldn’t believe it. I know that shock lasted for about 7 months, that is when we started getting the room ready, buying the hundreds of items that you needed in order to bring this 7 pound little person home and when we started buying for me. I was never one to imagine that anything would go differently than what I planned. Labor would go smoothly and perfectly (which it did except for the 22 hours to get her here!) and then we would have a happy and healthy baby that would start breastfeeding right away. Just to be sure, I made a batch of flax seed muffins two weeks before my due date. I still remember the look on my Dad’s face when he tried one at breakfast one day; which was pretty much that same face I made every morning when I ate one. But with all this preparation I got the pump ready and sterilized and cleaned out the freezer for the containers of breast milk that would start flowing the minute little girl hit the ground!
News to all you new moms out there—don’t make plans ahead of time. Sometimes things just don’t go the way you plan and I know now that this is okay. To be clear I am ProChoice—Breastfeeding ProChoice that is, we will leave politics out of this. I believe that every mom has a right to choose whether or not to breastfeed their child and they shouldn’t be judged either way for this. From that first meeting at the hospital I was urged to breastfeed because of the wonderful benefits it offers. I completely agree; all of the benefits to me and my child let alone the bonding that I would get to do with her while feeding her, and even better was the money that we would save in formula, bottles, etc. I was on board—remember the flax seed muffins? Fast forward to labor and birth, we were blessed, all went just fine and I wasn’t too worried when we had issues latching that first time; this happens, we will bring in the lactation consultant just relax and hold her close. When she latched that first time it wasn’t like a huge relief, if anything it was worse.
When the lactation consultant came in the next day things went from bad to worse; we had tried so many times to get anything to come out I was now bleeding and baby girl didn’t want any part of that- and rightly so! The lactation consultant still tried to get her to latch; tried to get something to come out and at the end of the session said I was dehydrated and my milk just hadn’t come in yet; give it a little more time. By day two—I was in tears, baby girl was still doing fantastic trying to latch but she was still not getting anything if very little. Everyone said that it was still important whatever she could get. At this point it was extreme agony for me to have her latch; but as a mom you work through it. I never could have imagined something so easy to be so difficult—NO ONE warned me about this.
At the end of day two, I was in pain, crying all the time and the lactation consultant kept telling me that I needed to try harder, that I needed to maneuver myself and my babies’ head to make sure she was latching. After trying for a few more times, tears welled up in my eyes. I looked up at her face and all I saw was disgust, she told me if I didn’t try harder that little girl could start to become malnourished and sick; bottle feeding was not an option because it would confuse her. After she left, I was inconsolable. How could someone who worked in this line of work be so mean and heartless when it came to a mom that was obviously having trouble? I felt completely worthless, my husband did everything he could to make things better and our little angel wasn’t even complaining, but I knew she must have been so hungry and I (her mother and provider) couldn’t give her what she needed. We went home three days later; little girl was doing fine she had only lost a little weight and whatever she was getting was moving through her. There were several theories that we had; maybe it was the hospital setting that was making me nervous, maybe it was because baby girl hadn’t cried very much signaling my body to produce. Whatever the reason I was so glad to get away from that consultant who I thought was having a bad day which turned into having a bad week and then by the time we left she had completely given up on me.
Once at home, my doctor and pediatrician said to pump and/or feed every hour and let her cry a little bit. On baby girl’s first pediatrician appointment she had lost some weight; now we needed to look at the pump, maybe it wasn’t strong enough, maybe it wasn’t frequent enough. So back up to the room I went with that terrible sounding machine hooked up to me. At this point I wasn’t spending any time with my baby, let alone my husband who I am sure was stressed out as well. Having a crying wife and baby was probably not his idea of a first week at home! My entire life was pumping to get those few drops of precious fluid. You are probably screaming at this point asking why didn’t I stop? Because I am her mom, my one job is to take care of her, provide her with nourishment and I would not be beat by my bodies’ unexplainable problem. In my head, nothing and no one else could do this.
Then I got a call, from a nurse who happened to be my best friend. She “gave me permission” to stop, she told me I wasn’t a bad mom but I would be if I continued. Why did her words echo differently for me? I knew I didn’t have to pretend with her, she knew what I was like and she knew I wouldn’t stop; it was like an addiction, an addiction to be the best and provide because I thought that if I couldn’t do that simple thing then what else was I going to mess up on?
When I say that I am ProChoice to breastfeeding—this is a stance that I took after having my babies. I was all for the benefits and helping my child grow and prosper but my body had different ideas. The second time around I was more firm, when my milk didn’t come in with my second daughter, we had the lactation consultant come in; and I saw the same look in her eyes of disgust that I couldn’t do this one simple task. I cried one more time and then had an amazing nurse who gave me “off the record” samples of formula that we supplemented right away. I told the lactation consultant that I didn’t want to see her again and came to the reality that my milk didn’t come in, so what move on! And you know, my second daughter didn’t mind at all.
This is only my view and my experience. I am sure there are a hundred moms out there that had amazing experiences and there are lactation consultants who are helpful and take pride in their work—bless you for helping those new mommies. But I know there could be just one mom that needs that friend to tell her to stop! What may be best for your baby may be something entirely different than what you are doing. Think big picture instead of just one little room—what is the best for you and what is the best for baby. You are still a great mom and that baby will soon be sitting at the table refusing to eat her dinner and you know what? It’s okay to stop forcing her—its okay to let her eat when she wants—she came out that way, why would it change!
From iFamily to Yours,