I have gone back and forth on whether I should share my feeding story on here for some time now. I tend to not get too heavy in my posts as I want this to be an overall happy space, a space to look back on and see the good. At the same time, I always love when the blogs I follow share something meaningful, a struggle they overcame or a tough life moment and how they surpassed it, so why wouldn’t I want to do the same here? While I am all for living la vie en rose, I think it is also just as important to show the raw, honest moments. Inspired by The Honest Company’s no judgment feeding stories, I’ve decided to share mine because after all, those are the posts others will relate to most, the ones that will speak to them most, and I hope comfort them most.
In my experience, feeding stories always seem to be about how someone overcame their breastfeeding struggles. Time and time again I’ll read about a mom or baby who struggled with a latch or lack of supply and how they miraculously overcame that little road bump and now mama and child are happy as can be, nursing for months. These are wonderful stories don’t get me wrong. I am all for encouraging and supporting breastfeeding! Unfortunately though, that was not the case for me.
When I got pregnant with my first, I was constantly asked if I planned to breastfeed. This seemed like such an odd question to me at the time because I thought it was the obvious choice (here was my first mistake- thinking it would always be a choice). I had read tons of baby books and gone on all sorts of sites where all signs pointed to “breast is best”. It never occurred to me that this could be a struggle.
When my first was born I started breast feeding. In the hospital everything seemed to be going well. The nurses said she was latching well, she was eating often and it seemed like we were off to a good start. After we got home however, she started to drop in weight. I was feeding her every 2 hours and trying to pump after that to see if I could get my supply up. With each feeding taking around 40 mins and then having to pump right after I felt like all I was doing was feeding! But I was determined to “work through it”. I visited a lactation consultant multiple times, tried making the lactation cookies on pinterest, used a shield, but no matter what I did I just could not seem to feed her enough for her to gain weight. I remember feeling like a bad mom. Like I wasn’t as good as the other moms that were able to supply food for their baby naturally. Feeding can really take a toll on a new mom, emotionally and physically. You already feel like your body is not your own, and not at all like the person you knew before having children, and now after putting your all into this new role, you feel like you’re not enough. Not good enough. Cue the first pangs of “mom guilt” .
There finally came a day when we came back in to check her weight (we had to keep coming in and weighing her to see if she was gaining), and our Dr. suggested we start to supplement. She assured me that my baby would be just as healthy and strong and had already gotten all those precious nutrients from the colostrum and breast milk I had been giving her for the first 3 months. She made me rest a little easier with that, and mentioning that happy mamas make happy babies, and the best thing I could do as her mama was make sure she was getting the nutrients she needs no matter what form they come in. I think that was the most important part. Her reminding me it wasn’t so much about me and my struggle with supply, as it was about her and her growing to be healthy.
When we had our son I had a similar experience. He fed better than her, where I could actually feel the letdown I had heard so much about, but still at around 3 months I needed to start supplementing with him as well. I took it just as hard, that feeling is never a good one, but I snapped out of it more quickly the second time around, this time with the knowledge that things turned out just fine with Mia. Now I have an almost 5 year old and a 2 1/2 year old and they are happy, healthy and growing like weeds! Sure there was/is still some of that lingering mom guilt. With the way society makes you feel about feeding these days there may always be a bit of that; but I hope in sharing my story I can help other mamas that had the same struggle feel a little comfort. Let them know they are not alone and they are just as amazing mothers as the ones that were able to breastfeed for a whole year or longer. When all is said and done, all that matters is your child is healthy and loved and that they know you would give them the moon and stars if you could. So if you’re a mama that struggles with breastfeeding, that had to supplement or for whatever reason breastfeeding was not right for you and your child, I hope you know you are wonderful, you are powerful, you are strong and I am amazed by you. ❤