Breastfeeding…. Such a loaded topic for some. The guilt, the stress, and it’s not always an easy task. I am forever jealous of those who it comes easily for because with both kids, it was a huge undertaking.
With little Sierra, four short years ago, I was unable to get her to latch. After many attempts and many lactation consultants’ help, I started pumping while still in the hospital. Still hoping not to give up on the breastfeeding concept, I was finger feeding her for the whole first week of her life (finger feeding = syringe full of pumped milk attached to a tube taped to my finger, baby latches to my finger and drinks milk through the tube). I was told doing this would keep her used to skin contact and I could keep trying to get her to latch…. So, I kept trying!
After a week of a frustrated baby, a few more trips to see lactation consultants, and a syringe that no longer held enough milk for one feeding, I made the decision to exclusively pump. I introduced a bottle and began on my 10 month voyage as an exclusive pumper. Such a hard decision to make! I was guilted by lactation professionals and really what felt like the world around me but I had to make the best decision for my baby and for me, and I couldn’t keep trying to force something that wasn’t working for her.
So, I religiously pumped every 2-3 hours, 24 hours a day for 10 very long months! It was NOT easy! I had guilt about not being able to breastfeed, but I knew breastmilk was best so I wouldn’t give up. I was going to do what was best for my baby… Was it convenient? No way! Did meetings at work get in the way of my schedule? All the time! Was it tough to juggle pumping, feeding baby and washing so many pump parts and bottles, yes! I got really good at pumping in public, sometimes in the most hilarious places. But hey, a mamas gotta do what a mamas gotta do!
And then there was my supply… I learned quickly that no matter how rigid my pumping schedule, whether or not I ate oatmeal and took supplements, I was not a big producer. From the get-go I essentially produced exactly the amount of milk baby needed, so the minute she needed a bit more, I had to start supplementing. I was power pumping, reading everything I could get my hands on, and I just didn’t quite have enough milk. Oh the stress of not having enough! But I tried to keep reminding myself that she was still getting mostly breastmilk and it was better than nothing! I knew from everything I read that a pump doesn’t remove milk as efficiently as a baby and I had to keep up the hard work to keep my supply in line with what baby needed. Nonetheless, I had to supplement here and there from about a month old, until my pump and I broke up when she was 10 months old. It was a long journey and it was so hard but I take pride in what I was able to provide for my little one.
I strongly believe that each mommy needs to decide what’s best for her baby and herself, after all, we need to make it out alive too! So no judgement here of those who don’t jump through the hoops I did and props to those who did that and more!
I am 5 1/2 months into a completely different breastfeeding journey with baby Aviana. In the hospital, right away, she latched! I wanted so badly for this experience to be different and it was! Not to say that made it a walk in the park (although not having the excessive washing of bottles and pump parts was pretty nice) but I had my share of bleeding nipples and the like. Not to mention my supply still wasn’t quite enough, even with baby exclusively breastfeeding.
So a few weeks in, supplementing began again. Most days it was only a couple of ounces of formula she needed and when I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave, my pump and I started our affair again, this time a much more limited one.
No two breastfeeding journeys are alike and every baby is different! I would be lying if I said I had never wondered if I could have done a better job or tried harder to get baby #1 to latch but I can’t go backwards, I can only move forward and remember that I did the best I could with what I had at the time.
This is my breastfeeding journey… Tell me yours!