The decision to breastfeed your baby is a personal one. Some know before they are even pregnant that they will breastfeed. Others go back and forth on whether they want a breastfed baby or give their new addition formula. Some moms want to breastfeed but for whatever reason it ends up not being in the cards for them or their little one. No matter what you choose the decision is one that is up to you as a mother. And whatever you choose, it is the right decision.
I decided I wanted to be a breastfeeding mama. This is the story of my breastfeeding journey.
When I found out I was pregnant my husband asked me, "You're going to breastfeed, right?". To be honest I didn't really know the answer to that question. It wasn't something I knew a ton about. It wasn't a question that was ever relevant to my current life up until that moment. I did some research on the benefits of breastfeeding. There is so much information about the subject it can be overwhelming. Especially for a new mom trying to make a decision. After reading about all the benefits for not only my little one but also me, I had made my decision to be a breastfeed.
There is so much more information and studies around breastfeeding vs. formula feeding that you could literally spend days reading it all. If you are on the fence about what you want to do or have any questions I would definitely consult your doctor and do some research of your own!
So, I decided to breastfeed my little munchkin. What next?
During my pregnancy, everyone asked if I was going to breastfeed or give Grace formula. When I say everyone, I mean everyone asked me that question. People I didn't even know asked. Customers I dealt with while at work. People I was standing in line with at the grocery store. It was so odd to me. Who asks a stranger about their breasts?
Something I learned when I was at the point in my pregnancy that my baby bump started to show was that social boundaries (like asking one about their boobs) go out the window and anything is on the table. Why is that?? I could do an entire post on this (and I probably will at some point) . I know I'm getting off topic but still.
Anyway, back to my breastfeeding story. When Grace was born that first feeding was flawless. She latched immediately and it was such a beautiful moment for me as a new mom. It felt right. It was a moment that I really can't find the right words for. Nothing I type will ever be able to do it justice. If you are a mom that has breastfed before you probably know what I'm talking about.
The first night in the hospital was so awful for Grace and I in regards to feeding. I couldn't get her to stay awake long enough to have more than a few seconds of feeding and she just didn't want to latch. My husband and nurses were so encouraging and told me not to get frustrated (easier said than done). Long story short for this one, by the time we left the hospital she was an eating pro!
Grace was a very efficient eater. They said on average a baby will nurse anywhere from 30-45 minutes using each side. Not Grace. She ate about 12-15 minutes from one side and was completely full and satiated. I thought that I was doing something wrong so at her two week check-up I asked my pediatrician about it and she told me not to worry. Grace was gaining weight and growing just fine. She just made the most of her 15 minute feeds. Every baby is different. I considered myself lucky.
One of the hardest parts of my breastfeeding journey was that first week. It hurt like a b*tch! My nipples bled and it hurt so much when she latched. There wasn't enough ointment in the world to help them it seemed like. I honestly didn't think I was going to make it through that first week. I wanted to give up because it hurt so badly. But, I didn't and I'm so glad I kept at it. It has been one of my favorite bonds I have with Grace so far.
It was crazy that my body was sustaining her and giving her all the nutrients she needed to survive and grow. I was so attached to our early morning feedings in our quiet house. Just the two of us. I would talk to her and it was my favorite time of the day.
We were going solid and breastfeeding was going amazingly well until I went back to work after my 12 week maternity leave. My employer did make time for me to pump, but I wasn't able to pump at the same time every day. Some days I would miss a pump session because I was so busy and of course that is awful for keeping your supply up. While I was at work Grace was eating way more at home then what I could keep up with and produce while I was at work. We had a stash in the freezer but we went through that pretty quickly.
I tried everything to produce more milk. Lactation cookies, tea, pumping more often. Nothing worked. I was so frustrated and disappointed.
At five months I finally had to end my breastfeeding journey and switch to formula for Grace. I felt like I was an awful mother for having to make the switch. It was devastating that I couldn't produce what my baby needed. She made the transition really easy and took the formula no problem on like the second or third bottle. This made it a little bit easier on me but not much.
I didn't think I would be so emotional about making the switch but I certainly was. It broke my heart. I felt like I was losing part of the bond I held with my daughter. To this day I still miss the skin to skin contact as she breastfed. I am so jealous of the mamas that go one or two years with their little. Although I couldn't make it to even the first year, I am so grateful I did get to experience that bond with Grace for five whole months.
What was your breastfeeding journey like?
See you soon, E