Breast Feeding Doesn’t Work For Everyone

Bottle or breast, fed is best. I repeat fed is best.

Moms face A LOT of pressure. In my short time as a mom (4 months!!) I’ve faced some pressures..mostly ones that I’ve placed on myself.

 

Before delivery, I was so optimistic that I would exclusively breast feed. I’m a dietetics student, a profession where breast feeding is promoted for all it’s wonder benefits, so I was dead set on it working for us. But it didn’t. And that’s totally okay!

In the hospital after our sweet girl was born and it just wasn’t working out, a nurse said the most important thing is that our newborn eats. Well, duh…That statement obviously struck a cord because HELLO baby’s gotta eat! But it took a little for that to click..

I wanted to share my breastfeeding story with any other moms who are struggling to feel at peace with themselves regarding their decisions on how to nourish their babies. The most important thing is there should be no judgement on moms for how they choose to feed their children, because bottom line is they’re getting fed. They’re happy and healthy and that’s the most important thing. I’ll be the first to admit that this took me a little while to fully appreciate, so that’s why I wanted to get it off my chest and share it. 

 

I haven’t shared our birth story here..let me know if you wanna hear it..I do love telling it 🙈 but my labor was induced on Friday, December 9th. The two hard issues I didn’t want to budge on in the birth plan were skin to skin contact right away and to initiate breast feeding immediately.

Everything went as according to plan as birth and afterwards can go. I was thrilled to have skin to skin with our new little bundle just moments after she was born.

We also tried breast feeding right away too…it’s important for newborns to eat pretty much right after they’re born, Honestly, I do not remember the first session because after birth was quite a bit of a blur, but I’m told it happened lol

We were moved to the mother and baby room where we’d call home for the next few days, working with nurses, lactation consultants, and doctors. The hospital we chose had a big breast feeding program, so it was completely staffed for support.

Once we were settled in our room, we were given instruction to try to get feeding started. The lactation consultants weren’t there since baby was born at night/on a Friday, so we had the nurses helping.

We were instructed to feed her no more than every three hours. So we’d feed her, change her, burp, pump, and then by the time that was through, we’d have to start the entire routine again. Holy shit talk about exhaustion.

In that first overnight, we exclusively breast fed. I was instructed to pump to maintain supply, but it was becoming clear that she wasn’t latching properly..so next morning we met with the hospital LC. 

She helped with positioning and we kept plugging away with MUCH struggle. With the whole routine that they instructed us with and the latch issues, no one was sleeping and we were beyond frustrated. Then a cluster feed hit us and then it was Sunday and we thought we’d be going home for some much deserved peace and rest!

Unfortunately no, we didn’t go home, but that did give us opportunity to work with the LCs again. Somewhere in between it all, after baby dropped from her birth weight (totally normal after birth, up to a certain percentage) it was advised that we supplement with formula.

I was so devastated.

But HELLO. Baby’s gotta eat!! That’s what the nurse said and again DUH. I say duh because when you’re exhausted and sleep deprived and in pain you forget these types of things so they don’t seem as obvious as they do now.

So we started supplementing and giving her the formula with an oral syringe to avoid nipple confusion. After three exhausting days in the hospital we were going home! And baby started gaining the right amount of weight!! I was also still super determined to figure out breastfeeding at home.

A day later we had her first appointment with her pediatrician, who also happens to be a lactation consultant. Thank GOD for this woman. We walked in (me still SORE, all three of us exhausted) and she said words that were music to our ears. She was going to make all this easier. We were still following the strict hospital regime of wake her to feed every 2-3 hours (and the whole damn routine nearly took two hours after I finished pumping! So we slept like 30 mins every couple hours omg I’m tired again just reliving it!)

She helped with latch issues and we had our new routine which allowed for us to get more sleep in between feedings. We were still supplementing with formula. We still had latch issues mostly because she was so tiny so she couldn’t figure out how to get up on there.

But one of the keys to breast feeding is to stay positive (extremely difficult) and to preserve (which I totally did).

Then the day before Christmas Eve I was hit with some clogged ducts which turned into mastitis and then I was SO SICK. Mastitis is NO JOKE. We had an on call doctor call in meds for me and thankfully it cleared up in time to holiday celebrations but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! 

In between all this, we couldn’t figure out the latching and I was so sick, so we kind of made the decision to stop trying to physically try to put her to the breast. But I kept pumping. Me and my breast pump are BFFs.

One of the best things to do during clogged ducts and mastitis is to keep feeding/pumping.

I was on antibiotics for a week and then by New Years found that my supply was basically no more. Wtf. 

I called all the lactation consultants for help. I was told to power pump which isn’t as fun as it sounds, lol, to try to get my supply back. I tried the herbal supplements which totally messed up my stomach, which I also learned that if it messes with me, then it’s probably messing with baby. Then I tried to get a prescription for a drug that helps with milk production, but my OB wouldn’t prescribe it for me.

This was probably the lowest low for me. I was unrealistically hard on myself, because I was trying to TRY everything and it just was not working for us. I felt like a failure and I was letting her down. I was crying all the time over it. And that’s when Brian said that my sanity 100% mattered and that at the end of the day it just wasn’t meant to be.

During this time we saw my daughter’s pediatrician for her one month well baby checkup (holy shit a month already!?) and I was so nervous that she would be discouraging and judgmental since she was an LC who obviously wanted breast feeding to be successful.

That couldn’t have been farther from what happened. I was met with so much support and she gave me some encouraging words: that my sanity matters and to be the best mother I can be, I need to not be so hard on myself. She told me I did EVERYTHING I could to make this work and it just doesn’t work for everyone.

After a week my supply was so diminished I decided to say fuck it whatever happens happens it’s just not meant to be. My body was calling the shots and I had to just accept it. I kept pumping though since I was still getting some milk.

Then maybe a week or so later once I stopped stressing so much about it, one pumping session, I collected a ton of milk. 

And then just like that my supply came back. And I’ve still been pumping every day (which TBH is really draining, literally and figuratively, lol) but my sweet baby is still getting some breast milk (!!) and I’m not stressed, we’ve hit our groove, and I haven’t put unnecessary pressure on myself. I feel like that’s important.

Here’s the take aways from my little story.

  • Fed is best. 
  • Stress affects your supply.
  • Stop the judgement of others, you don’t know what they’ve gone through.
  • Enjoy your sweet little babies and stop being hard on yourself. 

happy, healthy, and gaining tons of weight!

 

Breastfeeding is important. But so is your health. If it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t. So don’t beat yourself up because we’re all just doing our best!

So that’s my story. Later this week, I’ll be sharing some tips about supply and breast feeding from my RD and blogger friend Kaitlyn!

Bottom line: It’s hard enough being a parent. Let’s support one another and everyone’s decision is their own decision. Let’s stop the judgement. Here are some breast feeding resources that really helped us and remember:

 

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. Labor and delivery nurse here … and mom of 3. Fed is best. Doesn’t matter how, just make sure that baby eats. 🙂 I wasn’t able to nurse my first. My second I nursed like a champ to 13 months and she self-weaned. My third, I struggled with supply from day one and we eventually supplemented at 7 months with some formula then she weaned herself at 12 months. Do what works for you and your baby. Don’t stress. Sounds like you have the perfect attitude!

    1. Thank you so much Jen!! :))

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