My Journey... In the Land Of Breastfeeding

I've been on the fence about sharing my breastfeeding journey for so long, been so worried that people would judge me... but in honor of World Breastfeeding Week I thought now would be a good time to finally share my journey and my story of how it all began and how it ended and some of the in-between... so here goes...
Before Bella was born I had already decided I was going to breastfeed, well really I decided long before we were even expecting her! And though I hadn't really done a whole lot of research into the subject I knew I wanted to breastfeed because it was the healthier more natural option for our child, and I knew I wanted to go at least 6 months to a year.
And from more research I done while I was pregnant and everything I heard in the breastfeeding class I took a few days before I gave birth I knew it was essential to get her on the breast as soon as possible!
Well, it didn't exactly happen that way... first off, I'm sometimes too nice of a person and always worried about hurting others feelings and being I was a first time mom I was also a bit timid as well... I wanted to breastfeed her as soon as she was born but of course the nurses insisted they had to weigh and measure her, etc, while I got sewn up (which took less than 5 mins) so under the warmer she went, all the while as soon as my stiches were in I was nearly begging them to give her to me and they claimed she needed to stay warm before she ate. I now realize that was completely not the right way to go about things. What she really needed was mommy's wam colostrum in her tummy to warm her up and get her little body working. Can you believe she was almost an hour old before they gave her back to me?! That is one of the first and most major things I would change if I could do over. I would not have asked when I could have her back, I would told them to give her to me!
Once I finally had her back in my arms  to try and feed her I was completely on my own. No lactation consultant,  no nurse trying to help, nothing. I thought breastfeeding would be easy and maybe it would have been easier if I had been able to give it a try as soon as she was born but it was a complete wake up call... I sat there in the hospital bed frustrated and nearly in tears, trying to get her to latch on all the while she wasn't the least bit interested. I felt clumsy and was afraid I was going to smother her, she had a small mouth and I just couldn't seem to get it in her mouth right, or get her to open her mouth.
They had waited just until the window of opportunity for the most successful breastfeeding was closing to give her back to me. Just a little while before she was so alert and awake but when I got her back she was getting so sleepy.
Once my nurse finally came back in the room she suggested the "wonderful" nipple shield. Which helped alot, but in the end it caused nipple confusion and we ended up using it for almost 3 months before she finally would nurse without it!
I struggled with breastfeeding my first few days in the hospital and I thankfully had the guidance of a few wonderful nurses (one who is a lactation consultant was extremely helpful). Up until the night before I went home every feeding turned into tears,  I felt she wasn't getting enough to eat and I was afraid I was going to suffocate her. And on top of all that, she wasn't very interested and just wanted to sleep!
But if you know me at all, you know that I don't give up easily, when I go for something I don't give up. After so much frustration and tears I finally had my whole family pray about it and I myself prayed about it even more than I already had been... And then something wonderful happened!  Something just "clicked" and she got it! That first successful nursing session is something I will never forget! I was so happy and thankful, all my prayers, patience and determination paid off!
And don't get me wrong, it still wasn't easy, once we got home she still had a time or two it seemed she "forgot" how to nurse but we worked through it and I didn't have too many problems for awhile other than the usual cracked/bleeding/sore nipples that occurred in the first week or so...
I LOVED breastfeeding! After she started breastfeeding good and I started reading more and more into the subject and right then and there I decided I wanted and would breastfeed her for as long as she wanted! Even if it was several years!
But a few months into breastfeeding I noticed a significant reduction in my milk supply. I first started drinking alot of water, so much that it made me sick at my stomach but after talking to my lactation consultant I realized I didn't have to make myself sick with my water intake.
So I then started taking fenugreek. That helped some after a few days but then after taking it a couple weeks it toasted off again and didn't do anything anymore.
So then comes the first time I had to supplement, I cried so hard and I felt like a terrible person and an even more awful mother. I was ashamed that my body couldn't provide enough nourishment for my baby. But I couldn't let her go hungry and cry from hunger, so formula it was.
We were fine for awhile, only supplementing usually 1 bottle a day, but then it got worse so I tried pumping. The most I ever got (both sides combined, after her sleeping the whole night and me being completely engorged) was 4 ounces. And if I pumped more than a couple times a week it just made my nipples so sore I could hardly breastfeed!
After realizing that pumping just wasn't for me I then tried mothers milk plus capsules that a friend so sweetly shared with me. But just like the fenugreek, it helped only for a very short time before it didn't anymore. My milk supply just kept going down and down till she didn't even want to nurse but once or twice a day and then as a pacifier to fall asleep. We were pretty much supplementing full time buu then and I was more ashamed than ever, I felt that I was a failure and that if I told people I would be looked down upon. I tried to hide the fact that she drank formula for quite some time and to be honest have only just in the past couple months felt comfortable enough with it to be open about it.
I was able to breastfeed her for almost 6 months and though looking back there are some things I wish could have done differently I am so thankful I was blessed enough to be able to breastfeed for half a year. I wish I wouldn't have felt so ashamed that I had to supplement, and I wish it wouldn't have taken me so long to feel that I wasn't a bad mom or less of a woman just because I wasn't able to breastfeed for as long as I'd have liked. And yes I still get sad once in awhile that I wasn't able to breastfeed as long as I wanted... but I don't feel ashamed anymore. I have all the wonderful memories of the beautiful times we breastfeed, how she always used to fall asleep afterwards, it was our cuddle times throughout the day, we'd fall asleep together after she nursed and I will forever treasure those memories.
It took me awhile to swallow my pride and also to realize not only that I breastfed for as long as my body would allow for that time but also that its really not about whether you breastfeed or whether you formula feed... its about making sure your baby is fed and has the right nutrients and isn't going hungry and that you love your baby and that's really all that matters!
So Happy World Breastfeeding week to anyone who is breastfeeding or has ever breastfed, Happy Formula Feeding week to the formula feeding moms and Happy Feed Our Babies week to us all!

1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing. your a wonderful mama. dont ever feel ashamed for doing the best you can. i also had a bad experience with getting zoey to me after birth.. took 3 hours!!! i was so mad. anyways you did a good job mama keep it up!! <3