The Great Boobie Debate

As a new mom one of the hardest things you are going to deal with (other than the actual labor part) is Breastfeeding. If you are like me, breastfeeding was not a walk in the park. I was so looking forward to being able to bond with my child, to give them all the great nourishing benefits of breast-milk, and not have to pay for formula. Ya, none of that happened.

For all you moms that are awesome breast feeders, good for you. If your kid is 6months, 10months, a year or more and you’re still going. That’s awesome. I seriously envy you. No really, if you have a stash of milk that was “extra” in your freezer, I am jealous.  My story is for all those who don’t have a stash built up because they can’t make enough milk the way it is. It’s for those losing sleep because your baby power nurses for hours at a time but is still hungry. For those who feel like you are fighting a losing battle with your body because it isn’t feeding their kids. This is for you mamma’s that hate breastfeeding.

With my first child breastfeeding was a nightmare. It started right after delivery because I was rushed off for emergency surgery so I didn’t get to hold him and feed him right away. I was so weak that I had trouble holding him and getting him to latch on. At two weeks I had a screaming baby, frantically flailing around with my husband trying to hold his hands to I could get his head still enough to latch on. I was crying and upset, the baby was upset and my husband was starting to get there too. I felt like such a failure.  I couldn’t do the one thing that nature intended me to do as a mother, feed my child. It was like a dagger to the heart and now, almost 4 years later, it still hurts. I still carry around that guilt. I was fortunately able to pump exclusively till he was about 4 months old but it was hard. Being hooked up to a machine 6-7hours a day wasn’t exactly an easy thing to deal with.

With my second thankfully there were no complications and I was able to feed him right away. He had a great latch and I was so happy. But he was also 10lbs when he was born. Within two weeks I had to start supplementing because his 4-6hour feeding sessions were leaving us both exhausted and he was still hungry.  I made it to about 3 months with him, until his 10lbs turned into 18 and he was already eating rice cereal to keep him full.

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You would think that with the third baby I would have had it figured out after trying to feed two. I tried making lactation cookies, taking supplements, drinking my weight in water, but nothing helped. After one and a half months of eating every hour (45min on the boob, 15min off) and very little weight gain, fighting jaundice, and basically not giving any attention to my other two children because I had a baby stuck to me, I threw in the towel on breastfeeding and went exclusively to formula.

After each baby, when I needed to switch to formula, it really sucked. I cried, still do, that I couldn’t feed my kids. But there is a little reconciliation for those who are still struggling with this, your baby will be fine. All 3 of my boys are smart, hardly ever sick, and are in the 80% for growth and up. But other than that, when I stopped breastfeeding, I became more than a milk machine. I actually got to enjoy time with my kids. I didn’t have the stress of worrying if they got enough to eat, if I could get a pumping session in to boost production, had time to make lactation cookies or the million other things that you think about while breastfeeding. My youngest is almost 4 months old and we are both so much happier than we were two months ago. Plus the older two boys love trying to help feed him, and they will fight about who gets to put the bottle in the sink when he is done.

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So for you struggling mammas, know that it’s ok. Yes, breast is best, but knows that you are doing your best right now. And whether your baby gets a day of breastmilk or a year, you are doing all you can to keep them happy, healthy and fed, and that’s all that matters.

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