Breastfeeding was always my plan for my children. "Breast is Best" is always toted around and I couldn't fathom why moms would want to pay so much for formula when they have free milk already enstilled. I loved the idea of having that bond with my baby, giving her the valuable nutrients she needed, and I've heard from other moms how amazing it was.
Well, things didn't exactly go as planned.
Shortly after giving birth, we moved up to our room and I was helped by my nurse to have our first feeding. This was it, my time to finally have my mom moment. And, she couldn't latch right. I was in so much pain and I felt frustrated but I wasn't ready to throw in the towel. A lactation consultant came in several times and she was a saint. She showed me how to cup my breast, how Savvy was supposed to be angled, and also different positions to hold her in.
But still we just couldn't get it right. We discovered she had a shallow latch and at this point I was so raw and was bleeding a bit, it was not the special and magical moment I had envisioned.
At 3 am during my hospital stay, she was hungry. I followed each step how I was showed, and even then she was screaming and just hungry. I didn't know what to do. I was alone (husband was passed out on the couch bed ha ha) and sleep deprived. My angel of a nurse came in and tried helping, and ultimately she suggested she warm up some donor breast milk so she could eat. I lost it. I couldn't provide for my baby and I was the biggest failure of a mom. The ONE thing I thought would just happen and be a long with the postpartum process was stripped from me. I felt inadequate and like I failed her. We fed her donor milk the rest of the stay while I filled syringes and table spoons with colostrum.
When it was time to go home, I accepted that we would just formula feed her and I would continue pumping while my milk came in. In the very least, when my milk was to come she would be getting that so it wasn't all bad. But, still I felt like I had failed and looking back now this caused me a lot of postpartum stress and anxiety. I would cry at night as I held her and offered her bottles, and saw how intently she would guzzle them down and enter a milk coma. I was a pumping machine, literally. I wanted to give her the best and was pumping every two hours and now I have an oversupply stored away.
I wasn't ready to give up. I spoke to my mom about waiting too long and how she may not want to latch at all, so a few days later I decided it was now or never. I picked up my nipple shield, got situated with some support pillows, and was handed my baby. Immediately on the first attempt, she latched perfectly.
Now, don't think it was some fairytale ending from there. She still has a short latch and sometimes it feels like she is intentionally wanting them to rip off ha ha. I wince through the pain and continue to try again until it's comfortable. I believe those days of bottle feeding truly helped her with using the nipple shield so in a way I'm thankful for our struggle.
Sharing this bond together is the best blessing, because this is what I wanted. It's still pain and I have come to terms that I will never be like those super crunchy moms that can just nurse wherever they are, not having to look down to make sure baby latches right.
My point of this post is breastfeeding is hard and it doesn't always work out for every mom. You may get the latch perfectly from your first try, you may find you're a pumping goddess, or you may even find you're the best mom for keeping your baby fed and full with formula. Whatever you find works best for you and your baby, own it. We do all three still and when she's laying there with milk dribbling down her cheek after passing out, I know that she is getting exactly what she needs from parents that love her.
Find ways to bond and make each feeding special. Do skin to skin time, hold your baby close, and know that no matter what is in that bottle: you are providing for your little one.
Throw away the mom guilt and shame others, or you, may bring on. I suck at Breastfeeding but I know I'm giving it my all. It took a lot of self pep talk to return her to the boob. I lived in fear of that pain again and then I felt even more guilt for fearing every time she got hungry. What kind of monster mom was I to not look forward to my baby needing food? I felt stripped down and like I got cheated out of being a natural of a mom.
Now I look forward to feeding because whether it's from my breast or a bottle, that's are special time for me to sit there, hold her, and meet her needs. And mamas, that's all your baby is really going to care about in the end. Feeding your baby is what's most important and no mom should feel guilty for not feeding their babe a certain way. I had to learn to take myself out of it and not be so caught up on my wants for motherhood were, and focus more on what my baby's wants and needs are. Most importantly, having support around you is crucial. Below are some resources you can check out for some support locally, or virtually! I suck at breastfeeding, but I am feeling less and less guilty about it.
Find a lactation consultant near you.
Join a Breastfeeding group.
Join a Pumping group.
Join a Formula group.