Today we will talk about breastfeeding. This is something I was very determined to do...I mean, they do say "Breast is Best." I told myseld that if I failed it was because I didn't try hard enough or what not. Our hospital is great that they offer free lactation consulting during the hospital stay and even afterward. Everytime the lactation consultant (LC) came in to our room, I had just finished feeding Joshua, so I didn't get to take advantage of their services. The regular nurses were pretty helpful so I felt confident that everything was going well. We got home from the hospital late Monday night. By that Wednesday I was having some pretty bad pain everytime he ate. At first I thought a little pain is normal, but by this point, it did not seem normal. We decided to call the LC at the hospital. Luckily, they had an opening that afternoon. After our meeting I still felt confident that everything was going well and that the pain was normal. By that Friday I couldn't handle it anymore. We had a sample can of formula that was mailed to us, so I broke down and had Phil make a bottle. (I had a pump but hadn't opened or sterelized it yet) Boy did I feel horrible for giving him formula! The next week, we had a check up for Joshua at our Dr. office. She asked if I was nursing and I told her the problems I'd been having. She took a look at both Joshua and I and determined I had thrush. A simple topical treatment would clear it up in a week for me and an oral treatment would clear up Joshua. In the meantime I would pump or feed formula. We scheduled a follow up appt. for the next week...I was not healed yet. More of the same treatment and a follow up for the next week. To avoid repetition, let's fast forward 6 weeks. I was STILL not healed. She finally did a culture test and found that I had a staph infection. Some antibiotics and the same topical treatment and I was FINALLY healed! Joshua is about 8 weeks old by now, so I figured he wouldn't go back to nursing after that long of having a bottle. But I wasn't going to give up, so I tried it and he did it! We were doing good (part time nursing only) for about 2 months, and he started to seem not interested. We figured I just didn't have a great supply from pretty much having to pump from the beginning. After four months of trying so hard, I decided it was time to end this journey.
That was all the medical/physical part of the whole ordeal. What was going on in my mind? Pure agony...rollercoasters of emotions...guilt...shame...sadness...relief...I could go on. One day I would want to just quit pumping because it took up so much time, but then Phil would encourage me to keep going. The next day I would feel awful for giving my baby formula.
What did I learn? Breast is best, but formula is not the worst thing in the world. Joshua is happy, healthy, smart, etc. Formula did not ruin him. I did not fail...and my problems did not come from lack of trying. I was making sure he was fed, so I think that makes me a great mom, not the horrible mom I was making myself out to be. A lot of friends of mine had problems nursing as well, and had I reached out to anyone for support I would have realized that and may not have beat myself up so much.
What would I say to anyone having problems nursing?
1. Keep trying, but only as long as you want to. Don't let breastfeeding "snobs" pressure you into going beyond your limits.
2. Seek support. Reach out to friends. Even those that succeeded in nursing could be a great support, and you might learn that those you thought were BFing "Snobs" really aren't...that's just something you made up in your mind.
3. Enjoy time with your baby. I agonized so much that I feel I missed out on some possible happy moments in his first couple months.
4. Althought breast is best, formula is not bad. It will not kill your baby...it will not make your baby dumb...it will not make your baby overweight...it won't lead them to a lifetime of failure...etc.
5. You did not fail. It simply didn't work this time. You will know so much more for the next baby.
And I'll end with another picture of my little man...I thought this one was appropriate for the subject of this post...