I’ve shared our early breastfeeding journey and my favorite things about breastfeeding for Baby H’s first 6 months. I think it also makes sense to share our current and ongoing struggles.
I absolutely LOVE the post “To The Mom Who Didn’t Breastfeed” on Scary Mommy because there’s so much truth to that post. I love this part:
Breastfeeding is about more than the milk.
It’s about feeding your baby against your body, the two of you gazing at each other in wonder.
It is connection. It is touch. It is two souls who spent ages looking for one another and are now earthbound, nestled together.
Breastfeeding is about the relief of holding your child safe in your arms.You can do that no matter how you feed your baby.
The most important thing is to feed and love the baby, so why is there so much stress about breastfeeding? Breastfeeding is HARD. It is a constant struggle for us, despite the thought that we should have it figured out by now. I can’t count how many times I’ve thought about quitting. Here are some of the reasons that keep going through my head trying to convince me to stop:
- I only produce 2-3 oz a feeding. This is how much I pump, yes, but we also confirmed this several times with weighing baby before and after a feeding using the scale at support group. My output has not changed yet now Baby H is eating 6-8 oz most feedings. I’ve tried to increase my supply using lactation cookies, making oatmeal with brewer’s yeast and flax, taking Fenugreek, etc. with no changes. So that means after nursing I still give him a lot of formula. This means feedings where I choose to nurse first take ages. This is why I take shortcuts at night – because I just don’t have it in me for an hour-and-a-half-long feeding when I’m getting less than 5 hours of sleep at night as it is.
- Following that, I still get up early to pump before going to work, while Baby H is still sleeping. I could get an extra precious half hour of sleep if I didn’t do that.
- Baby H’s outright REFUSAL to nurse. The nursing strike we went through at 4 months was brutal, but I’m talking about an almost daily refusal of some nursing sessions. I know it takes a while for milk to let down, and yes he has to work hard for little output. (I mean, what is 2 oz when he wants 8?) But when he turns his head and pushes me away and only takes a bottle that feeding, well, I get a bit upset. Pumping isn’t pleasant, and it is worse when I’m home and yet still end up needing to pump. Then he’ll gladly drink what I just pumped out of a bottle.
- Even when he doesn’t refuse, he gets so distracted and unlatches to look around the room, try to climb up the couch, and whatever else he can think of. It is frustrating to hold a squirmy baby that makes you spill milk.
Despite that, I keep going. I just can’t see myself stopping just yet. Not while I still have some milk to provide. Breastfeeding is something I’ve never been able to do before and being able to do this now is absolutely amazing. I keep going because this is a special relationship only he and I can have together, and I’m not ready for it to change.
One thing I will say, because I keep encountering women who are apparently being told otherwise and it fills me with Hulk-like hormonal rage: EVERY. SINGLE. DROP. of breastmilk that a mother shares with her baby is precious. Is worth it. Is a gift. Is AMAZING. Any breastfeeding is beautiful breastfeeding and if you nursed for 10 minutes or 10 years, you’re a breastfeeding mother and I’d like to shake your hand.
So, despite the challenges and toll this takes on my body, I’m still doing what I can to continue my breastfeeding relationship for as long as I can.