To all the about to be new moms, this post is especially for you. As a current new mom, I’m realizing that there are certain things that a lot of moms just don’t talk openly about. It is a mom’s right to keep her personal experiences private but I am a pretty open person and feel that by sharing, I just might help somebody.
Before giving birth, I went to a free class on breastfeeding provided by my insurance which was very informative. Did you know that the benefits of breastfeeding can be passed down 5 generations? I somehow felt a little jilted that my mother didn’t breastfeed me which perhaps caused me to not be living up to my full potential. If “breast is best,” then why wouldn’t a mother want to give her child the best? Surely, I would breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months and continue for at least the first year and even possibly two years like a lot of moms in other parts of the world. After all, I have my great-great-great grandchildren to think about and who knows what types of things I may need to help protect them from with my precious breast milk.
Fast forward to what is quite an oxymoron of a day as the day my daughter was born, it was physically painful yet emotionally beautiful at the same time. I knew I didn’t want visitors for the first hour so that we could do skin to skin and breastfeed. I dare not leave the hospital without having established breastfeeding.
The first day of exclusive breastfeeding was so magical. Apparently, it’s common for babies to sleep a lot on day one so you have to wake them up every 2-3 hours to feed them since their tiny stomachs are about the size of a marble. Then came day 2. What on God’s green earth was going on? Did somebody mix my baby up with somebody else’s? My milk still hadn’t come in but apparently my baby was getting colostrum although I couldn’t see it. My daughter is just like her mother in that we get hangry pretty quick. The only difference is that she screams as loud as she did right after she was born…every…single…time…she’s hungry. Of course, she does her feeding cues but you have about 3 seconds to get her some food. In all honesty, I missed my placenta. All I had to do was eat and I was nourishing my baby at the same time. How convenient! I was so exhausted after the second night that I gave in and gave her a pacifier although it is ideal to have breastfeeding well established before doing that. I did not care. I just needed a break. Day 3 came and she was getting pretty close to having lost almost 10% of her birth weight. It’s normal for all babies to lose weight at first but 10% is the threshold when it becomes concerning.
The Ugly Truth
So, here’s the ugly truth. You may see other women who appear to effortlessly breastfeed their children. However, for many women, it is quite difficult and doesn’t necessarily come natural for both mother and baby like I had wrongfully assumed. I had been visited by the lactation consultant 3 times while I was in the hospital and I was encouraged to keep at it since I was doing everything right. We left the hospital on Day 3 and I think it was on Day 4 when I felt like I had sold my soul because I gave my daughter some of the samples of formula that I had received from Enfamil and Similac. My dreams of exclusively breastfeeding were quickly fading away.
Now, I’m actually glad that I had a hard time breastfeeding. Below, are a few solutions I have to overcome this ugly truth.
- Breast Fed is best! When you’re out and look at other people, we can’t tell who was breastfed and who was given formula. The most important thing is that your baby’s basic need for food is met. It doesn’t matter whether it’s formula or breast milk. As long as it is safe is what matters.
- Know your options. Some moms breastfeed exclusively. Some moms pump exclusively. Some moms formula feed exclusively. And some moms, such as myself, do a combination of breastfeeding, pumping, and/or formula.
- Seek Help from a Lactation Specialist or Consultant. If you really want to breastfeed which is how I felt, seek help. I ended up seeing a lactation consultant 7 times within the first month including my 6th appointment which fell on Christmas Day! This is when we had a breakthrough and I was able to finally breastfeed successfully at the appointment and at home.
- Stop the pressure and the judgment. Although I never verbally expressed to my mother how I felt about not being breastfed, I still judged her and I am so very sorry for doing so. She had to go back to work and formula is what allowed her the peace of mind to feed me while also being able to work. Some parents physically are unable to breastfeed or pump. And some just don’t want to. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, no parent should be judged negatively or made to feel like their choice was wrong.
I would love to know your thoughts so please share them in the comments below.