Photo Credit: Raphael Goetter,
When it comes to the great breastfeeding debate, I have stood on both sides. When I became pregnant with my first, I was dead set against using formula or bottles unless they were absolutely necessary. It never occurred to me that I may not be good at breastfeeding or have a low supply. I can’t for the life of me think why I didn’t prepare more for other possibilities because that is at the core of my being. I have a really hard time focusing in on one thing and putting all of my eggs in one basket.
This Is Our Story
When my daughter was born, she wouldn’t latch. I was a new mother and learning the art of nursing just as she was and it seemed like everything that I tried failed. We lasted 3 full days of tears (both hers and mine) and finally I received help from a lactation consultant that knew what she was doing. My insurance company offered the option of a visiting nurse/consultant and I reluctantly took the help, unsure of what she could do for me. By the time she arrived Princess had lost quite a bit of weight and my stress level was through the roof.
The nurse was very helpful. She examined me and the baby and explained what might be wrong. She discussed different ways to go about fixing the situation. She was patient and kind and just what I needed......but 3 days too late. I highly recommend taking any help you are offered even if you think you know it all. I have learned new things with each baby.
I was suffering from Postpartum Depression and the stress of everything was making me a crazy person. I continued exclusively breastfeeding for 3 more weeks (3 torturous, sleepless weeks of screaming and crying...) and then I finally gave into introducing formula. Princess ate like I had never seen. She was still a fussy baby but she finally seemed satisfied after a feeding. Giving her a bottle became a time of peace for me. It was solace when nursing felt like such a struggle. I continued nursing for another 3 months while supplementing 1-2 times each day with formula. Once I went back to work my measly supply dwindled even more and I switched to formula completely at 4 months. At that point I also consulted my doctor about my PPD and was put on medication. Things go a lot better after that.
I have thought back on that time and wondered if the PPD was to blame for my lack of supply. Stress can definitely affect it and I had a very hard time eating and drinking. I know it contributed to the stress and the stress added to the depression. It was a bad cycle. However, I would see the same thing happen with my boys despite my increased efforts.
The idea of nursing my son when he was born stressed me out before we even got to it. He latched well, but he was a ravenous and I never felt like he got enough. Again, I suffered from PPD but sought treatment much earlier. I decided that I would follow the exact same schedule with him as I did with his sister and introduced formula at 3 weeks old. I stopped nursing at 4 months.
Before Nemo was born, I could tell depression was already seeping in. I began a very low dose of medication at 35 weeks in attempt to keep it in check. For the most part, it seemed to work. I still had the "baby blues, " but I was much more functional this time around. Nemo was born trying to find something to put in his mouth. He latched right away and nursed almost non stop. The nurses at the hospital even told me to take it slower. This is my first baby that has done well nursing, but he also lost the most weight of all of them. The doctor had me supplementing at 1 week old and we never looked back. I decided not to put the additional stress of pumping on myself. I learned with my first two that I didn’t have to force myself into anything. My babies are healthy, happy, smart and well adjusted. Formula has helped me meet their needs and I am grateful that science has come so far as to replicate mother’s milk so perfectly. Nemo, just like his siblings, is getting my antibodies and all the benefits that breastfeeding offers. He will continue until my supply gives out, just like with the others.
Despite what you may hear or feel pressure to do, you need to do what is best for you and your family. I wanted to share my experience because there seems to be shame and guilt associated with our choices as mothers and I know that reading the stories of other mothers gives me a feeling of fellowship. I hope it does the same for you.
This was a LONG introduction to a new series on Breastfeeding. I hope you will join me!
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