Breastfeeding Month: The Real

So happy breastfeeding to all the mommas who have chosen to embark on the journey. Let me say now that my only major concern for babies is that they are healthy and are fed. I have 3 kids and they all have been breast and formula fed. I’ve never been the type to advocate so much for breastfeeding that I’ve mommy shamed another woman for choosing what works for her. Breastfeeding is not just about getting milk to a baby but it takes a toll on a woman’s body and mind. Do what’s best for you, your baby, and your mental health. Let me break down from my experience the real behind the scene issues:

My eldest baby

My eldest is now 9 and won’t remember if I gave her formula or not but when she was born 6 weeks early I wasn’t sure what method of feeding I would do. I considered formula for the convenience. Soon as she was born I was encouraged to breastfeed to help her get stronger. I wasn’t able to have her latch so I pumped her milk. I was doing well but even with a lot of production she wasn’t gaining a whole lot and I was told to put her on a formula that was specifically for premature babies. If you have ever paid for formula you know that it’s not cheap to begin with. So this new formula was even more expensive.

I didn’t feel a sense of guilt for stopping the breastfeeding journey. The delivery was so traumatic that as long as she was healthy I didn’t care. I didn’t have a lot of folks shaming me and to be honest she was in the NICU and between visits, healing from a c-section, and my emotions all over the place I might have given out a 2 piece to folks. My body was doing the most but I do remember being super engorged, in pain, etc. Getting past the pain and making the choice I did for her worked out for us.

The Middle Child

My son, whew he was the picture perfect pregnancy. He was due September 20th and came September 12. So having gone full term I was just happy. I wanted to breastfeed right off the bat because when I had the eldest the nurses was so good at helping me that I wanted to try again. So I embarked on the journey again. He was 7 pounds 4 ozs. at birth and yet I was told he was too small and I was pretty discouraged to breastfeed from my nurses and told to formula feed him. This was not what I had experienced the first time. I think because I was dealing with serious postpartum depression I didn’t even speak up for what I wanted.

Guilt set in. But the guilt was being hammered by the postpartum and I gave into the formula feeding to be honest. My son went from newborn clothes straight to 3-6 months clothes. He was huge. All of the doctors saying “see what I said.” Let me say what I know now is that I should have asked for a Lactation consultant. I should have trusted my intuition. I could have kept on going but I allowed other voices to be my guide.

My littlest

My younger baby boo and I had a traumatic pregnancy and delivery. From the blood clot in my brain to hemorrhaging and having to be readmitted for internal bleeding I was still determined to breastfeed. The extra week in the hospital I was readmitted the same day I was discharged and that was when my milk came in. The nursing staff actually had to pump me physically. I had too many things going on and was focused on living. Shout out to University of Penn for the amazing nursing staff!

My husband had all three kids and I pumped what I could and supplemented with formula. The week came and went and I was discharged and went home nervous that after a week my newborn wouldn’t latch. She did and that started out our journey!!

However let me highlight a few things that most if not all breastfeeding moms know:

  • My daughter wouldn’t take a bottle. It didn’t matter if the bottle was shaped to be close to an actual breast or not. When I first had her I had her at work with me for 6 months and when I took her to daycare despite having a ready supply of frozen milk she wouldn’t take it. She would literally not eat all day until I picked her up. I took her to a Lactation consultant and her pediatrician and eventually had to stop working to nurse her on demand.
  • Yes I tried the give her a bottle with her dad or another family member, she wouldn’t even take it not even from me.
  • I spent more nights worrying about her intake
  • I was worn out and stressed out
  • I was a human pacifier and bottle
  • The Benefits

    • Not having to worry about making a bottle and always ready
      Weight loss I went down to my pre-pregnancy weight with nursing before my 6 week check up
      Baby was healthy and is my healthiest child now
      Bonding was immeasurable-til this day she’s super close to me

    What folks don’t talk about:

    Nursing is a mental and emotional job! I say job because outside of general care of a baby, there are cluster feeds aka when your baby can and will want to eat more than the 2 hours apart. There are growth spurts. There is mastitis. The pain and agony to get passed that has my breast hurting as I type. Also if you don’t have a lot of encouraging family surrounding you it makes it hard. You have support systems that say mean things like, “you’re not giving them enough.” “That baby would sleep if you gave him/her cereal.” “You’re doing this so nobody else can hold the baby.” “Cover up.” These are the types of reasons why breastfeeding involves more than that just feeding a baby. It is mentally and emotionally demanding.

    Pumping mothers

    This is just as hard to do as it is to have a child directly breastfeed. Some women are hard pumping at work all day and that is a lot of work! Some women prefer pumping over the traditional breastfeeding. It is not easy. You see pictures of women who have these stashed or milk that look like they could feed an army or babies and then you second guess what you are producing. Some women naturally over produce. Some do not! A women especially if she’s going back into the work force after maternity leave are stressed out trying to prepare as much milk as they can!

    Saying things like eeew that’s gross, just stop! Even if you never had a child learn to mute your words if you can’t find something positive to say! Mommas are our here giving life to our future! Formula or breastfeeding it don’t matter. What you don’t understand don’t always need a clap back! Learn to support one another no matter!

    Would I do it again? Absolutely but luckily I don’t have to!! I enjoyed the time with each child in their journey and it didn’t matter that I had to supplement, pump exclusively, or have that time cut short. I made it through and did what was best for me at the time.

    Grateful for my time!

    I was about to go 2.5 years with my youngest and that is a super power well within itself! All of the crying I did over spilled milk! Yes this is a thing. After I worked hard to get milk together having it spill will evoke real tears! All my breastfeeding mommas know what I mean!!

    So to all moms do not mommy shame someone else for their choices. If you breastfeed you know the mental and emotional anguish you have chosen. As natural of a process its supposed to be, there are women who can’t and women who feel bad for not choosing the option! All women who are taking care of babies could use a little extra love for its not as easy as we mommas make it!

    Recently the law was passed that all mothers in all 50 states can breastfeed in public. Regardless of where you stand on the covering up of a mother or not she has a right to feed her child. I personally never breastfed my child in public without a cover but I’ve seen other moms do it and it doesn’t bother me. I usually give a smile or head nod to let them know that I understand!

    Little side note: most babies burn up under those cute little cover ups and they will pull themselves out of it but still nurse! So sometimes the babies are letting you know let them alone!

    If you have chosen to breastfeed, congrats on your journey!

    Extra Nugget: Let me end by saying to all women or men please mind business when it comes to asking a woman whether she’s having a baby or not. It’s her decision and you don’t get a choice in meddling in someone’s uterus. If you see a woman and she looks like she put on weight, it’s disrespectful to ask are you pregnant? If she wanted you to know she in her time would announce it! It’s actually disrespectful to ask how far along are you?! You don’t know what’s going on with that woman! Let us be our brother and sister’s keeper and be mindful of our words and gestures!

    Happy national breastfeeding month!

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