Breastfeeding is one of the greatest ways to connect and bond with baby. It’s a natural process, but it doesn’t always happen so naturally. It does for some; others have to work at it and some face other challenges. It can take a toll on a mama – making us feel inadequate, guilty or worse. Thankfully I am in an office with mostly women; it’s awe-inspiring to hear all of their ups and downs with breastfeeding. Today we are sharing 4 different breastfeeding experiences from some of the amazing baby mamas here at BabySteals.com.
I was an anxious new mother. My son arrived overdue, very small and struggling to breathe. After being taken care of and fixed up, he was brought to me and I tried to nurse him. He wanted nothing to do with it. After being intubated, his throat was sore and he made it clear nursing was not something he would be doing without a fight. After a day of trying, with no success, I was provided with two solutions – a bottle, or an IV in his head. Being the anxious mama I was, after many tears, a few more breakdowns and even more tears, the bottle was brought to us, and he ate like a champ! Even though it wasn’t the solution I wanted, I am so glad my little guy was able to eat and grow; no matter the source! He is now a healthy, happy almost-kindergartner, and I wouldn’t change a hair on his head!
Nursing did not come easily for me. In fact, it was downright miserable in the beginning. My nipples bled, I got clogged ducts and my very colicky baby did nothing but cry at me, and my boob. After feeding, burping and changing his diaper, I would countdown to the next hour when I knew he would need to eat again. My toes would literally curl it hurt so bad for the first 2-3 weeks. But what was more disconcerting to me was he didn’t seem comforted by nursing; he was screaming. All the time. I lamented all those unrealized dreams of bonding with my nursing baby. He’d take a gulp of milk, pull away and cry. It was a miracle to me he was even thriving at all. And bottle feeding wasn’t an option because he did the same thing with it.
All I could think was, “What is wrong with me and my milk?!” I was making too much milk. My letdown was too strong. I need to pump first before feeding. Don’t pump first because you’ll overproduce, making the problem worse. I ate tomatoes, wait, no chocolate… or could it be dairy? I’m not nursing him long enough on each side. He’s not getting enough hind milk. Maybe I’m not making enough milk? I went in circles trying to figure this thing out. My google searches were relentless. And then, it slowly and progressively got easier. Little by little it just started to work. I woke up one day at 8 weeks and thought, hey, I can do this! But I fought for it. It wasn’t easy, picture-perfect or what I expected, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sort of like parenting!
I am one of the lucky moms that had an easy time with breastfeeding from the start. With my first baby, the lactation counselor came in to check on how things were going, and I was on the phone, walking around the hospital room, nursing my son. She smiled and said, “it looks like you have everything figured out.” When Andrew, my first baby, was 6 months old, my husband and I went on a week-long trip to the Caribbean. When we planned the trip, I didn’t realize that I would not quite be ready to leave my baby for a week! We went anyway, and I did my best to pump while we were gone, but the ship we were on didn’t convert the voltage on the pump so I had to “wing it” with self-expressing in the shower, etc. Luckily, I was able to resume nursing when we returned home. I nursed my oldest son until he was about a year, when he weaned himself.
With my second son, I had a similar experience, with no problems or issues figuring it all out. I went back to work with both of my boys after a couple of months, and pumped a few times a day while I worked. My boys are in their 20s now, so the pump was a big, bulky machine, but it worked very well! I pumped in a closet in my office, because the office didn’t have a dedicated place to pump. I took a phone in there, hooked everything up, put a do not disturb sign on the door and managed to work while I pumped a couple of times a day. I nursed my younger son until he was about 14 months old, when he weaned himself.
Breastfeeding for me was such a wonderful part of being a mother. I loved this sweet, bonding time spent with my babies and I feel thankful that it came easily and naturally to me.
I’ll be honest… I was nervous about breastfeeding. My mom has 3 kids and the longest she was able to nurse was 3 weeks. Knowing this made me scared and being scared makes me research like crazy. I read everything there was to know about breastfeeding – how to most likely succeed, how to increase your milk supply, what to do when a baby won’t latch, how often to nurse, how to deal with growth spurts and everything in between. I attended breastfeeding classes, met with a lactation consultant and was sure I knew everything possible to help us succeed.
Cut to the day our little girl was born. She had trouble latching from the beginning. Immediately after she was born we worked and worked. We just didn’t have any luck. We met with a lactation consultant for a miserable 45 minutes that ended in a full breakdown for both me and our darling baby. We tried everything. Once we got her to latch, we faced even more trouble. Instead of making enough milk, our little girl was starving. I was pumping to try to increase my milk supply, taking supplements, drinking my weight in water and trying all the tricks I could find. Nothing worked. I was absolutely devastated. This was supposed to be natural, and work. I was supposed to be able to feed my baby… this is what is best for her and I wasn’t able to provide it. I felt like a huge failure.
We started supplementing with formula and doing everything we could to help our little girl grow and be healthy. I was still pumping after each feeding. Every time she ate resulted in being nursed, getting a bottle and then me pumping. It was stressful and hard on her and me. I wasn’t getting any sleep and we were crying a lot. We lasted about 3 months. At that point, we just couldn’t do it any more. I was devastated all over again and felt so sad. We moved to formula full time… and our baby was healthy and strong. She was happy, we slept instead of our hour long eating routine and our lives improved.
Nursing was one of my favorite things… and simultaneously one of the hardest things I have ever done. I loved being able to provide some of what would make my baby the healthiest possible, and I was devastated that I wasn’t able to do it as much as she needed. I loved breastfeeding. LOVED IT. I tried all over again with our second, with the same result. It turns out I truly just don’t make enough milk. I have learned to be softer with myself and do the best I can, and have learned that it will be okay. For that I am truly grateful.
If you are looking to breastfeed or are currently, click here for some great items to make it easier on you. If you need more information on breastfeeding, check out this infographic. Happy #WorldBreastfeedingWeek and #NationalBreastfeedingMonth!