Our Unique Breastfeeding Journeys
In a society where women are shamed for breast feeding In public, but are judged because they are bottle feeding— it is tough.
When you try and try to get your milk supply up and go to pump or feed and nothing comes out —it is tough.
When you are given so much information about breastfeeding and it’s all different and now you’re confused —it is tough.
When you’re up all night feeding your baby and are so exhausted you have no idea how you’re going to make it—it is tough.
Breastfeeding is another full-time job and no one tells you that!. Yes, we know it is “best”, but truly, breastfeeding is not easy and It’s not for everyone.
That is why I love the saying— “Fed is best”. Truly, whether you are feeding your baby breastmilk or formula, from the breast or a bottle. fed is best.
For me, I was able to breastfeed both my kids— But it had its ups and downs and bumps along the way.
I am honored to have 4 Mom’s, including myself, sharing their own unique journeys navigating motherhood and breastfeeding.
I hope this helps moms-to-be know that as long as you try your best, that’s all you can do and if it reaches a mom currently struggling with feedings or a mom who may still feel some guilt about your breastfeeding journey, I hope that you remember that you did your best and that that’s all the matters.
I am honored to introduce Katherine, Dena and Yalitza—who have so kindly agreed to share their stories and I am so proud and honored to know them!
”Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, formula feeding. This topic brings out the most judgmental of moms, friends and family members. My baby was born prematurely and didn't have the strength or stamina to breastfeed. He was expending more energy and calories breastfeeding that he was not gaining weight. He was jaundiced and lethargic. His weight fell below the danger zone where his pediatrician was contemplating hospitalizing him. She recommended we supplement breast milk with premie formula to help him gain weight.
I had some friends, family members and lactation consultants tell me to continue breastfeeding and not use the supplement because that is what's best for him. I decided to listen to his pediatrician and my husband and I fed him every 2 hours for 24 hours on formula only. At his weight check appointment, he had gained 5 ounces and we were given the "OK" to stop supplementing if he was able to breastfeed consistently. Well, he didn't and still hasn't. It has been so frustrating and infuriating. But, we practice and then he gets pumped breastmilk from the bottle. Breastfeeding has been the most challenging part of new motherhood and it really tests the limits of your sanity. I have shed too many tears feeling inadequate.
Postpartum, your hormones are still leveling out and "baby blues" are a real thing. So while you are battling how to take care of a human being, taking care of yourself and trying to understand your mood swings, you also have people giving you unsolicited advice and pressuring you to continue to exclusively breastfeed when it really isn't working out for you, your baby or your mental health. Years from now, no one will remember if you breast fed, bottle fed or formula fed as long as your child is happy, heathy and loved.
Once I accepted that I wouldn't be able to solely breastfeed my baby, a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I got a rush of relief. My husband finally felt like he could be there for me and the baby by taking that pressure off of me and also taking night shifts to feed so I could recharge. Everything always works out the way it is supposed to in the end. I wish I would have known how difficult and unnatural breastfeeding is. Mom shaming needs to stop because while breastfeeding does have its benefits fed is best regardless of how.
life has been so much easier now that I have accepted and decided to be an ALMOST exclusive pumping Momma. Theo gets some time at the breast but really for a snack and/or comfort and so I can get that stimulation... but he's still bad at breastfeeding lol We're all a lot happier now that we've learned how to function together <3 And he's happy and thriving!
Here's our happily bottle fed baby! He has no complaints and that's all the matters. You're doing the best you can, mama!
“No amount of reading, pinning or classes could have prepared me for pretty much my entire pregnancy and post pregnancy journey. During my pregnancy I innocently thought I would nurse (because what other option is there!) and things would just fall into place. My expectation: I would produce endless amount of milk, perhaps I would invest in freezer or sneak in some milk at my parent’s freezer. Reality: My milk supply was bleak.
I can blame the minuscule amount of milk that came in, on a series of unfortunate events; but the reality was/is that I had a hungry baby and not enough milk. Shortly after birth my son was taken to the NICU. The nurses had started feeding him formula but highly encourage me to breastfeed and pump to help establish my milk supply. I had read somewhere that my milk supply would not fully come in until the 6th or 7th day, well that day came and nothing changed. I felt a little pressure from my aunts and cousins, which had all breastfeed their children, to stop supplementing and strictly nurse. They believed that my body would eventually catch up. I did not feel comfortable with the thought of hearing my baby cry while my body decided to catch up to my expectations.
The nights were long to say the least, by the time I nursed, gave a bottle of breast milk, supplemented with formula, changed diaper… an hour had passed and it was repeat all over again. It was discouraging to keep trying to establish my milk supply, but I desperately yearned to solely give breast milk and not supplement.
I grew tired of the long nights and decided early on that I would stop nursing/pumping. I felt I was doing double the amount of work with out the full benefit (that being an abundant milk supply).
“The best day of my life was the day my son Knox was born. He came into the world via c section so they told me my milk would take a little longer to come in. I remember the nurse post delivery helped me with my first breast-feeding experience. Knox had a little trouble latching. (Which I now know is pretty common.)
We spent the next 5 days recovering in the hospital, with a new lactation consultant every 12 hours -each giving us different information and each disagreed with the one on the prior shift.
Lactation consultants can have a great influence on a new mother.
One told me my nipples were too flat to nurse. I thought to myself I have failed, God made me with flat nipples LOL and now I cannot nurse! What’s funny is I don’t really have flat nipples… I just took their word for it (how sad!) They even worked with my husband teaching him to feed him with a tube and his pinky finger. Instead of working with Knox on latching. In retrospect it’s comical!
Being foggy post surgery I assumed I was just unable to breastfeed. So i share my breast-feeding journey that maybe somebody else could relate to.
They suggested formula or donor milk while in the hospital to get him started. We were so worried as brand new parents, that he needed to eat right away so we began Knox on my colostrum and donor milk. Yes, donor milk. Through a bottle.
They sent us home with bottles and tubes and a couple jars of donor milk and nipple shields. These stupid pieces of plastic that collapse when he began to suckle. Maybe they worked for someone. The shields didn’t work for us.
By the time I got home my milk came in full and strong. I was a milk pumping machine!
We had so many people stopping by to see our new bundle of joy. We were surrounded by so much love! But they would stay for sometimes half a day holding Knox that I never had alone time to practice nursing. When he cried I warmed a bottle of breast milk and then the visitor fed him.
We had houseguests after houseguest, weeks went by and Knox had been fed bottles by everyone. I was juggling my roll of hostess and being a dairy cow, running upstairs to pump in private. I didn’t even take care of myself or rest after surgery.
But he was well fed, was enjoying breast milk and was very healthy!
On occasion I would have a little time alone with Knox to try breastfeeding and would have some success and it was amazing!
For the next seven months I was attached to my pump. I pumped every 2 hours, in between I washed the bottles and accessories, refrigerated the milk, then reheated & fed him a bottle.
I had to come to terms with I was an “EP” exclusively pumping mother. Not a failure just not as I planned. I cried about it for sure. I treasured alone time with him to feed him a bottle of breastmilk I made for him!
I couldn’t go anywhere without the pump, bottles, accessories and a cooler and warm water to reheat milk. God forbid I forgot one of those items!!
My baby was well fed and getting chunky!!
But it was tiring to say the least.... once Knox reached seven months old I began to transition him to formula.
For me, when I stopped, I lost my baby weight because I wasn’t so stressed, had the freedom to get out of the house, I replenished my energy & had more time to enjoy life again!
If I’m blessed to have a second child I will definitely try everything I can to make my breast-feeding work! I will trust my inner wisdom. I will find a lactation consultant that will help. And trust my my body. ..and create a bubble for alone time, for its precious and sacred for bonding. In the end whatever feeding journey we take, it will be a decision based on what is best for my child.
Props to all moms out there on their path! You rock!! Thank you for letting me share my journey, sharing is therapeutic!”
Taylor (aka SweatyasaMother):
I had no idea that breastfeeding was so demanding. In my head, I just thought, you feed the baby milk from your boobs and that was that. Little did I know, your nipples would literally feel like they were going to fall off for the first few weeks, your milk literally leaks everywhere (thank goodness for breast pads) and it is literally another full-time job (I guess I just assumed it all would magically come out when I needed it hah)
I am thankful that both my kiddos latched immediately and were great eaters. My body made enough milk (and then some) and I never took that for granted. I am laughing in my head trying to think about all of the sleepless nights and being up all night feeding every few hours, but your mind really does try to block it all out. I know with Marlie, I was up a lot more and with Jax, he ended up sleeping 10+ hours once he was 2.5 months (that has since changed…#teamnosleep).
There were always highs and lows—pure exhaustion sets in and I would wish that I could have someone else feed the baby, but even if they did, I had to pump. I felt for a while like I couldn’t leave or go anywhere for more than a certain amount of time because I needed to breastfeed or pump. This is normal.
But then, we found a rhythm and it worked. You just make it work! The only major difference breastfeeding my daughter and my son, is that my vision went to shit with my son. This most recent breastfeeding experience, really took a toll on me. You can read more about that here. I can’t believe that my body was allowing this to happen. How could breastfeeding change my vision?
I always enjoyed nursing my kids. It was our special time together. It was my gift to them — and theirs to me. With Marlie, she turned 7 months and began to lose interest. She would rather hold her bottle and selfeed (she is still miss. independent). I questioned if this was because I worked full-time so she had a lot of bottles. I cried a lot. When I ran out of breast milk, we gave her formula till she was 12 months.
But then here we are Jax is (almost) 7 months and he has done the same things Marlie did. Super distracted and not so much into nursing anymore. It was still difficult to make the decision yesterday to stop nursing Jax, but my eyes are not improving—if not getting worse—and it is getting to me. I am constantly thinking about how blurry my world is and it is exhausting.
I currently have cabbage leaves on my boobs—they hurt like hell and are the size of giant cantaloupes (I’m not kidding)— all I can do is laugh. Is this real life? Haha They do not tell you this shit in any of the books…nor does anyone remember to talk about it. Maybe it is because your mind has a funny way of blocking out the hard times. But here it is for you to read about, because I always keep it 100.
It is a whirlwind of emotions and nothing can prepare you for this journey. Motherhood is the hardest, yet most rewarding thing and at the end of the day, no matter how it is done, as long as our babies are fed, that is what’s best. Breastfeeding was such an amazing thing for us and I am thankful that I was able to do it, but it is not for everyone nor can everyone do it and each mom has their own unique journey that is just right for them. :)
Thank you again to my beautiful Mamas for sharing their incredible stories and insights. I hope other Mom’s out there can learn and connect to their journeys and know that you are doing AMAZING and do not let anyone else make you feel different.