Happy Breastfeeding Week!
This year the focus is on “sustaining breastfeeding together” which highlights the importance of supporting every mother in their journey with breastfeeding. Let the conversation be open about discussing not only the wonderful moments that come with breastfeeding but the not so pleasant ones. This will ultimately give mothers the support needed in knowing that they are not alone and to not feel ashamed with struggles they might be facing. Cause breastfeeding can suck. It can be painful, difficult, and so unpleasant. Mastitis, clogged ducts, low milk supply, cracked and bloody nipples, poor latch are just a few things mothers can experience during breastfeeding.
For me I have experienced both the good and the bad. Breastfeeding both of the girls was a breeze. It was such a pleasant experience and we were able to go until 13 and 14 months old! However this time around with my son, it has been the worst. I have experienced mastitis, clogged ducts, sore and cracked nipples, and extremely bloody nipples. When your baby’s spit up is completely red you begin to freak out. There have been many tears shed.There have been many sleepless nights. There have been countless thoughts running through my head of what am I doing wrong. I have seen a number of lactation consultants and they have concluded that he is just aggressive. Plain and simple.
But through all of the pain and struggles I continue on. I fight everyday with breastfeeding because I know I am giving him the best there is. (I am going to add right here that I understand that FED is best and this in no means is a post about putting down those that formula feed!) I truly believe because of the support from family and friends and from hearing other mothers stories, I am able to continue on and persevere!
So since this week is all about supporting mothers, I gathered some stories of moms that had difficulties with breastfeeding but continued on. I want other moms to know that they are not alone in their struggles. Many do not have an easy breastfeeding experience but with talking about it it will give the support needed to push forward and build a community of supporters!
“I still remember the moment I burst out into tears. Three days freshly into motherhood, hearing the words ‘you’ll need to supplement with formula,’ felt like daggers piercing into my heart. I felt like a failure. I’ve learned after three babies that the guilt I put on myself for having a not-so natural transition into something “so natural,” was completely unnecessary. The different struggles and challenges I faced during the beginning weeks of my breastfeeding journey with each of my babies has given me the confidence to be their mama and to trust my instincts in my parenting choices. Delayed Milk Production / Weight Loss with the first baby, Jaundice / Tongue Tie / Oversupply (Forceful Letdown) / Infant Reflux with the second, and Shallow Latch / Nipple Confusion with the third. So without a doubt, between all three boys, I’ve experienced numerous challenges with breastfeeding. But, it’s also been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. You’ll face different challenges and learn different things along the way. And that is not only okay, but perfectly and absolutely normal.”
-JeeYoung from Simply Every.
“I know I definitely felt the pressure when I was pregnant. I think the worst comment I received when telling someone I was having problems was ‘What kind of troubles can there be? You put the baby to your breast and you’re done.’ I felt awful – like a failure. If it’s supposed to be that easy, what the heck was wrong with me? Within a couple days, I wanted to cry everytime I fed A – which was every two to three hours. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. I relied heavily on Lansinoh and Medela lanolin. I had a lactation consultant come to the house to work on my low milk supply. I ended up spending the next few weeks pumping after every feed and supplementing with a lactation aid and expressed milk. I guess the overarching message to new moms and moms-to-be is that breastfeeding is not always easy. There is no shame in asking for help to make sure you succeed. It can take a lot of hard work, but for me personally, it was worth it. I successfully breastfed Andrew past a year and loved every minute of it.”
-Stephanie from Bawlers & Crawlers
“Just a few hours old, Izzy and I are finally settled in our room and it’s time to give this breast feeding thing a try. The first 24 hours I felt frustrated more than once so I just expressed milk into a spoon and dripped it into Izzy’s mouth. I pull out my sore and cracked nipple and wince as she latches poorly to my breast. Tears stream down my face, I feel so alone and I just hope she’ll be fast asleep soon. 3 Months old, WHY DOES THIS STILL HURT 80% of the time? 4 1/2 Months, I think I have this down and my supply drops! 6 Months old why is she still eating every 2 hours? 10 Months old, Izzy looks at me and smiles while nursing. She grabs for my finger and holds me closely and tight. What an amazing journey these 10 months have been. I’m glad I keep pushing on through all the struggles of pain, milk supply drops and a lazy latcher. As challenging as it has been it has also been one of the most beautiful experiences I could share with my child.”
-Eryka from Busy Little Izzy.
“When I was pregnant I had this glowing idea that I would have baby November and that she would immediately attach to my boob and breastfeeding would naturally come to us. Well it didn’t.. it was 3 weeks of trying to get her to latch with her screaming for twenty minutes until she finally would latch then immediately fell asleep on the boob. Due to a few health problems at her birth like “sleepy baby”, jaundice, losing weight at a fast rate, and low blood sugar, she got the bottle and she liked the bottle. So now I’m an exclusive pumping mom. Top 10 reasons why breastfeeding sucks: 1. Start up is a bitch: can we say pain! And not just any type of pain but the pain you have to endure 10 times a day for 20 minute sessions for weeks and weeks on end. Often nipples crack, bruise, and bleed and then crack, bruise, and bleed again. Congratulations.. you are now a human pacifier. Then your milk comes in and it feels like you have ridiculous, uncomfortable, implants that are about to explode and an alien will pop out. 2. The guilt from being frustrated with your baby. 3. Your baby won’t take a bottle. 4. Public breastfeeding is stressful. 5. Biting: with or without teeth.. enough said. 6. The Alternatives: I have chosen to exclusively pump because my baby would not take to the boob. 7. MASTITIS: any woman who has had this knows it’s horrible. 8. Thrush. 9. The formula guilt. 10. It is so great and beautiful: okay this may sound like a positive but it’s a mix of both. Nursing is a beautiful bonding experience. It’s knowing that you are giving you baby the best you can while also all of those precious baby snuggles in. What makes it so special is what prevents women from throwing in the towel. Women are willing to endure all of the above because it is just that beautiful, perfect, and worth it.”
-Gwendolyn from Gwendolyn Fiola.
“It was something I’d always pictured doing when dreaming about being a mom. He latched on right away and seemed to be eating. We worked and worked and worked at breastfeeding while we were at the hospital. We had 5 consultations with 3 different lactation consultants that first week. But my milk never fully came in. The most I ever made was an ounce total each time I fed Graham or pumped. I tried eating tons of oatmeal, which is supposed to increase your milk supply. I took fenugreek and blessed thistle and drank mother’s milk tea. We also tried an Supplemental Nursing System for about a week, which is basically a bottle with a tube that you tape to your nipple. I continued to breastfeed him each time he was ready to eat. Then, right after, I supplemented with a bottle of formula. And I LOVED breastfeeding. That bonding time that we shared was so special to me. I loved looking down at Graham while he ate. Especially once he got a bit older and started to look back up at me. And those sleepy smiles while nursing – so sweet!”
-Holly from Sunshine and Holly.
These are just a handful of stories I came across that have been open and honest about their journey with breastfeeding. Each one shows strength and determination in wanting to provide breast milk to their babies. Let us continue to support each other and keep the conversation going about the struggles with breastfeeding. No mother is alone or lost in this journey!