When you see a mom breast feeding its looks so natural and peaceful, but little do women know it is very, very difficult.
When I got pregnant with my first child, I was determined that MY baby would only get breast milk. I wanted him to get all the nutrients of the colostrum and the natural benefits of the the breast milk. Well my son was born and I began breast feeding. Boy was it challenging. By day 3, my son had developed jaundice and had to be put under the florescent lights. I stayed in the hospital with him (even after I was discharged!) so that I could ensure that he got breast milk whenever he demanded it. I sat in the “mothers room” and waited by the phone for the nurses to call and tell me it was time to feed. Like the dutiful mom that I was, I went down every three hours and ensure he was well fed. When he was finally well enough to go home, the nurse handed me a couple of cans of formula and said I could continue to supplement him at home with this. I was horrified! They were feeding my baby formula while he was in the hospital, while I sat by the phone in the tiny depressing (instead of wandering the halls)waiting for the call that my baby was hungry. Well I threw out the cans and went home with the mission in mind that my baby would only get breast milk from then on. As the weeks went by, my struggle got worse and worse. My nipples were cracked and raw, my breast were large and sore and I was frustrated. I tried every position; football, cradle, lying down…nothing seemed to work. I wasn’t going to give up. I didn’t want to fail society and go against “the breast is best”. Finally it got to the point at 4 weeks, where every time my son cried to feed, I’d cry. My loving husband sat me down and said it wasn’t worth it. My son needed me to happy and if giving him formula would reduce my stress then that is what I needed to do. It was hard. I felt like a failure. I’d see a mother breast feeding their infant and feel guilty that I was giving my child “fast food” while that mom was giving their infant “gourmet”. Needless to say when I noticed how my son grew and flourished, I felt better. My son is now 5 years old, smart as a whip and very health.
O.K. so I wasn’t able to breast feed my first son (he turned out happy and health), but I was determined to try again. Before the birth of my second son I attended breast feeding classes, visited a lactation consultant and researched, researched, researched the proper way to breast feed to ensure that I would get it this time. My second son was born and this time I request he be placed on the breast right away! It was a glorious moment. He latched and everything was good. Apparently, I relaxed to soon. A few days later, the same problems that I had with my first son began to appear. I had trouble latching, my nipples were bleeding, he was fussy on the breast, then the worse case scenario occurred; I got sever mastitis. If the flu like symptoms (fever, chills, tiredness, weakness) weren’t enough, the rock the size of a golf ball in my beast settled it. I tried to “feed threw it” but I couldn’t. Again I turned to formula. This time I wasn’t as upset. I knew my baby would be getting the nutrients he needed to grow happy and healthy, but I felt like a failure yet again.
O.K. breast feeding didn’t work out the first two times, it probably won’t work out this time. With the birth of my daughter, I decided I’ll try breast feeding but if it doesn’t work out, I was O.K. with it. Well my beautiful daughter is 7 weeks old and currently breast feeding like an angel. I love the bonding aspect and the closeness I feel while breast feeding.
The point of this blog is not to say that if you don’t breast feed you are a failure or a bad mom. That is far from the point of it. I just wanted to share that breast feeding is hard work. Society places a lot of stress and pressure on new moms making us feel like failures if you can’t breast feed your baby. I hope the troubles I had will allow other new moms to feel like they are not alone. Formula is a perfectly good alternative to breast feeding. It produces health, happy, loving babies and children. Do what is best for you! Keep trying! Just because one child can’t do it, doesn’t mean another won’t either.