I will breastfeed
Throughout my pregnancy, I was confident of one thing: I would breastfeed. I did all the research. I read books, took an online breastfeeding class, bought a pump. I researched how to build a freezer stash and the best way to store pumped breast milk. I knew breastfeeding could be challenging, but I was going to make it work. Then I had my baby…
I admit, I wasn’t an expert on infant feeding or breastfeeding. My experience included my mom and my aunts who all breastfed and then a few friends who chose to formula feed. I thought there were three groups of infant mamas.
- Those who choose to breastfeed
- Those who choose to formula feed
- Those who decide to try breastfeeding but are cool with formula if it doesn’t work out
I have no idea there was a fourth group. A group that wants desperately to breastfeed, but cannot. I always thought if a mama didn’t breastfeed, she either didn’t want to, or gave up. She gave into the exhaustion, or pain, or difficulty. She didn’t want it enough. I honestly don’t write that with judgement. I just knew I would do whatever it took to be strong enough to give my baby the very best. I was so passionate about this. After all, “Breast is Best.”
I WILL breastfeed
I literally gave blood, sweat, and tears to breastfeeding. I did everything I could. I took fenugreek. I pumped nonstop. I drank gallons of water. I took brewers yeast, mothers milk tea, lactation cookies. I fed on-demand around the clock. I met with five lactation consultants. I did it all. [Read more about my breastfeeding journey here].
I gave my best to breastfeeding. I lasted three months. During all three months of my son’s life, I also gave him formula. I did this to keep him alive. My son was born with severe jaundice. I nursed all the time. I started pumping in the hospital. At first I got some colostrum, then nothing. I still pumped. I pumped after every feeding to try to get something.
I am so thankful for one lactation consultant, who, on day two suggested we supplement with formula. My baby’s pediatrician adamantly agreed. This saved my baby. He needed to process the red blood cells. He needed to have food. I wasn’t producing for him. Even when my milk came in, it was only half of what he needed. I pushed myself so hard I sank into PPD.
Fed is Best
This is why I love the Fed is Best movement. I still believe breast milk is the natural best choice if possible. However, I see NO problem in combo feeding. If breastfeeding doesn’t work, give that mama a break! Celebrate her for trying. Don’t shame her for stopping.
I still cry thinking about how I failed my son. How I couldn’t give him what is best. “Breast is best.” – See, it’s still ingrained in me. – How I couldn’t do the one thing I felt I should as his mother. I feel this shame because of the Breast is Best pressure. I want to take that away. I don’t want a single mommy to feel bad for trying her hardest.
My son THRIEVED once I stopped forcing breastfeeding. I thrived once I stopped forcing breastfeeding. I could finally breathe. He was finally no longer hungry. He started growing quickly. He became happier. I became happier. He slept better. I slept better. We bonded. Once I embraced formula feeding, we were best.