For all of these reasons listed above, I was all the more accepting of the “Breast is Best” mindset when I was pregnant. I just knew that it would be the way that I would feed my child. I thought the hardest part would be not getting irritated because she would want to eat so much when I would be tired. I had no idea that the hardest part of breastfeeding would be producing milk!
Yes, this may seem like Too Much Information, but I absolutely must talk about how hard it is to Breastfeed – not just for my future self but as a means of support for others who are finding it as hard as I am.
When Gracia was born, although her delivery was really quick, my postpartum experience was one that was less to be desired. The stress in my back that was triggered, I believe, by the car accident we were in a week prior in addition to the two hours of being stitched up compacted with the large loss of blood had me in an exasperated state after delivering her. While I was being tended to, Gracia was first introduced to a pacifier not because she was crying but because she was sucking her thumb. As soon as I was lifted back on my bed and reevaluated for the excruciating back pain, it was then that the nurse brought Gracia to me and asked did I want to nurse. At this point, I was exhausted, still in pain and unsure as to how to even nurse. I told the nurse, please give her a bottle if she is hungry and for her second feed I will learn at that time. I was completely out of it – not to mention my doctor still wasn’t sure if I was going to have a blood transfusion. Thankfully it all went well.
Despite all of that, once it was time to feed Gracia again, I was ready to breastfeed. She latched perfectly and we were able to get a rhythm where she cluster fed while she was in the hospital. The lactation consultant came and observed and even corrected if need be and also taught me how to pump just in case.
Well once we were home and took Gracia to the doctor’s, we realized that she was losing more weight than the average after birth loss of weight. The doctor increased her feeding times from once every three hours to every two hours just to see if she would begin to gain weight. By her next doctors appointment she had began to gain weight so that was a good thing.
We did good for the next two weeks with mostly breastfeeding and supplementing perhaps twice with a bottle when it seemed like she was not full.
It was at that time that it seemed like she was going through a fussy phase and the once happy and content baby was no where to be found. I realized then that it was probably because she was not eating enough. With a bottle, she would eat and soon fall asleep. With breastfeeding, she would fall asleep during the feeding and then when put down she would soon awake and be fussy. I was getting frustrated because she was crying all of the time. My husband began to see the frustration building and began to try to support me by telling me that its ok to do what is best for her. However, I was DETERMINED to breastfeed just because of all the “Breast is Best” messages that I heard. I felt like I was failing my first test as mommy.
I tried EVERYTHING to increase my milk supply. I would pump soon after she fed in order to stimulate more milk, I ate lactation cookies, I tried Mother’s Milk tea as recommended by her Pediatrician, I tried Fenugreek supplements, I even tried dark ale in order to have increased let down and a more relaxing breastfeeding experience since stress is factor… it never increased to the point where I was able to pump the quantity that she was eating. Although people kept telling me that it was fine, that she is probably eating more than I was pumping because “babies have a way to get more milk out of you”, it was not helping my psyche. All I kept thinking about was that I am not like these other mothers with newborn who are having no troubles producing a freezer stash of milk so that when I return to work when she is 6 weeks old, she would still be able to be solely on breast milk. Frustrating was mounting!
Eventually with tears, I gave in. I had the biggest bout of mom guilt. It took me a few days to accept that giving my child formula was still feeding my child to the best of my ability in order for her to grow. I was still able to at least pump a full bottle (2-3 oz or less) once a day. She drinks about 6 bottles of Similac daily so there in lies my frustration.
I wish I had a success story of how I overcame my breastfeeding supply issue, but I can say instead of comparing myself to those who could do it with much more ease, I found support from those who were honest enough to say they too had a hard time.
I also had family support in my husband who reminded me, it wasn’t easy to get pregnant and it may not be easy to breastfeed for us but luckily we can supplement and provide for her. When I stressed about the added cost, his response was best – “God will provide.” And He has.
If it wasn’t easy for you, know that you have a person who sympathizes with you here as well. I will try again with the next baby.