Where do I even begin with this topic?! This topic is SO controversial. Everyone(mom or not) seems to have an opinion about how you are supposed to feed YOUR baby. These opinions may be formed from personal experience or just how they “think” you should feed your baby. People are SO quick to judge without knowing the reasoning behind WHY women are breastfeeding or formula feeding. Maybe their baby just would not latch despite their best efforts or maybe their supply was too low for baby to thrive. They could also have a medical condition that prevents them from breastfeeding. Maybe, just maybe they didn’t want to breastfeed! I know some women who didn’t want to be solely responsible for feeding their baby and that is OKAY. Breastfeeding is not for everyone.
Hold The Bottle! 🍼
When I first got pregnant I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought. I thought if I could do it, great and if it didn’t work out then oh well. Rol and I took a breastfeeding class about a month before I delivered and after that class I wanted to breastfeed SO BAD. Formula feeding just wasn’t an option in my mind after that. I was determined to make it work, whatever it took. I got so caught up in “breast is best” and that was all I could think about. This did not mean I was at all judging other women for their decision to formula feed. This was just what I wanted for my baby. I wanted to experience that bond.
Fast forward to a month later and Lincoln latched no problem within an hour of being born so I thought we would be well on our way to breastfeeding. The first couple of days were extremely difficult. I was going on almost no sleep, between feeding him every 1-2 hours and staying awake to make sure he was breathing(yup, first time mom over here👋🏻.) I thought we were doing okay though. He seemed to be eating but he was taking forever to eat so I figured something wasn’t right. Turns out, he was basically starving and I didn’t realize. Not to mention the sore nipples!! I remember learning in the breastfeeding class that if it hurts the latch isn’t right but I kept trying because I wanted it to work so damn bad. Eventually I HAD to stop because the pain was unbearable and it got to the point where I dreaded feeding him and I was in tears at every feed. I can HONESTLY say it was worse than labour. I’m sure that sounds absolutely crazy but it really was.
So Much Guilt
During this time, Rol kept telling me that we should just supplement with formula. I was so dead against it until he made me realize that desite my best efforts to breastfeed, our baby was not getting the nutrients and food that he needed. I had SO much guilt. Guilt for not being able to successfully feed my baby and then guilt for “caving in” and giving him formula. We didn’t even have any bottles in the house because my plan was to breastfeed so Rol had to run out and grab bottles. I felt like a complete failure. I couldn’t even manage to feed my own baby.
How I Increased My Milk Supply
A couple of days later, I decided to call my lactation consulatant to see if she could come and help with the latch and get my supply up because clearly this was not working. She was a miracle worker…she helped me fix my poor latch, which gave my sore and cracked nipples a chance to heal and she told me to start taking supplements to help increase my supply. I starting taking Fenugreek,Blessed Thistle(NOT the same as Milk Thistle FYI), Mother’s Milk Tea and then finally Domperidone which my midwife had prescribed for me. My mom was also making me lactation cookies around the clock. They are a little higher in calories BUT they are so delicious!! The key ingredient in them is brewer’s yeast which is said to help increase milk supply. My midwife had also spoke to me about renting a breast pump to give my nipples a break so I rented one of those and she wrote me a prescription for APNO (all purpose nipple ointment.) That ointment was also a lifesaver. A friend had also suggested I try going to Durham Region Health Department in Whitby where they offer free breastfeeding consultations. They helped me latch properly and watched to make sure Lincoln was eating correctly. They gave me tips and tricks and were extremely patient. I highly recommend taking advantage of this service if you are having troubles!!
My UNsuccess Story
After taking all of the supplements and getting help through lactation consultants and other moms, unfortunately I had to give up breastfeeding. I breastfed for 2 months while supplementing with formula but it just simply was not working. Not to mention, even if Lincoln was sleeping a few hours straight through the night, I was getting up every couple of hours just to pump to increase my supply. It was completely exhausting. Especially because I would only pump about 3 ounces total in 20-30 minutes. The supplements definitely DID help increase my supply but it still was not enough to be able to exclusively breastfeed.
The first 2 months of Lincoln’s life were spent with me worrying and being completely stressed out when I should have been enjoying being a new mom. I would talk to some breastfeeding moms and they were saying they were breastfeeding successfully and they had bags full of breastmilk in their freezers. I remember feeling SO jealous. The most jealous I have been in my life. How could these women be feeding their babies and still have enough stock in their freezers to feed baby for months?!?! I admire all of you. Seriously.
My Baby Needs Milk, Not Your Approval
To all of the moms struggling, I know how you feel. If you really want to breastfeed, you can! Try not to get discouraged and reach out for help if you need to! If you don’t want to or can’t breastfeed, that is perfectly fine as well. Lincoln is exclusively formula fed and he is thriving. I was told by many friends and family that a “fed baby is a happy baby” which is absolutely true. It took me a while to accept that fact but once I did, I was able to be a much better, more present mom to Lincoln and finally start to enjoy this amazing journey. Do what you want and need to do for YOUR baby and remember a fed baby is a happy baby. I had to and still have to be reminded of this sometimes. Being a new mom is hard enough, you do not need others trying to put down your parenting style. Be present and enjoy your amazing new bundle(s) of joy!!