Disclaimer: If you are a male, you may not want to read this!
Last week I read this article about breastfeeding that honestly irritated me. Before I ever had real kids, I would have thought that this article was awesome. 😉
I know that feeding your baby can be a very hot topic for new moms, but I still want to share my story. I am not sharing because I have this incredible testimony, rather, I want to be real and if my story helps any new mom out there, I will feel blessed.
When I had my first child, I went through a little course on breastfeeding and there I learned about the myriad of benefits breastfeeding has. (You can read thousands of articles on this, so I am not going to go into these details). As a new mom, I wanted to give my child the “best” so of course I was 200% determined that I was going to breastfeed my baby as soon as he arrived.
Well when he arrived, despite all of the advice I was given, breastfeeding was extremely painful and difficult. According to baby books, you aren’t supposed to have pain when nursing. But once I had my son, I realized that this is assuming that both mom and baby suddenly know how to breastfeed the proper way. This is a HUGE assumption. I know very few friends who were able to breastfeed their first weeks without pain.
But something else that was not quite right was my milk supply. According to books, I know that a mom is also supposed to have enough milk for her baby after a few days, but I didn’t!
This was a big problem with the pediatrician as well as with my baby. My baby was still hungry after feeding for 45 minutes every 1.5-2 hours, he was losing weight, and he had to be re-hospitalized for jaundice.
I continued nursing around the clock while beginning to introduce formula by the Dr.’s STRONG recommendation. I felt like I was ruining my son by feeding him formula (at that point, a lot of breastfeeding advocates in my life were making me feel like formula was practically poison).
But something amazing began to happen, my son was less cranky because he was finally getting enough food to feel full, his jaundice went away, he began gaining weight, and he was thriving! What a relief to a new mom’s heart. I saw two different lactation consultants at that time, and we still could not figure out what was wrong with my milk supply.
Well over time, I learned a new method of feeding my son that worked for him. I nursed him at each feeding for 30-45 minutes and then would top him off with formula. This method worked very well and I was able to nurse him until he was one despite multiple bouts with breast infections throughout that year.
Then my second son came, and although I was very hopeful that I would not have to give him any formula, I realized I was having that same lack of milk problem with him. I only had to supplement this time for one month and then I was able to exclusively nurse.
Then when my third son came along 5 weeks prematurely, a new lactation consultant was able to help me identify my problem. My son was in the NICU for 10 days because his lungs weren’t mature and he was having trouble breathing.
I began pumping right away. Despite pumping around the clock, I would pump 0.25 of an ounce of milk per 30 minutes of pumping! It was ridiculous. I realized how off this was when I would bring my milk in to the NICU for them to feed my son through a tube. One day there was a mom at the NICU who had had twins on the same day I had my son. She was also bringing in bottles of pumped milk. I had a tiny bottle of milk from a whole day of pumping and this lady was was literally bringing in multiple bottlefuls of rich milk! This mom had about 4 times the amount I had, I felt terrible!
I met with the hospital lactation consultant and told her my problems with nursing and finally she said, “I think you have a delayed milk supply…It is a condition that some women have…” Finally, I felt justified instead of condemned by a lactation professional! Her diagnosis was so helpful for my other kids as well.
I have had 4 more kids and for each child, I have nursed them for 30-45 minutes FIRST and then top them off with a bottle for their first month. This method helped my kids not to get confused between breast and bottle. Thankfully with this method I was fortunate to be able to exclusively nurse my last 4 kids beginning their 2nd months.
My overall encouragement I want to give to new moms is if things don’t go quite the way you planned:
You will be okay!
Hang in there!
Don’t give up!
And if you choose to breastfeed…GREAT!
If you choose to bottle feed…GREAT!
If you choose to do both…GREAT!
Don’t let all of the advice and literature out there make you feel plagued with mom guilt. Don’t let comparison to others get you down. May you instead spend your time treasuring that bundle of joy that God has given you all of the days of your life.