Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Breastfeeding might not work for you

This one is going to take a lot of thought.  All of my issues with breastfeeding were what made me want to start a blog in the first place.  Trying to breastfeed my daughter was one of the most difficult times of my life and I desperately wanted to read something that told me that I was not alone.  I spent hours upon hours searching for the one blog, the one editorial, the one article that would tell me that what I was going through was normal, that I was not the only woman who was having trouble breastfeeding.

Before I start, I want to make it clear that I am not knocking breastfeeding.  I have many good friends who breastfed their children for an entire year and I think that is great.  If you have the desire and ability to breastfeed, more power to you.  If you don't though, that is okay too.

Although the thought of breastfeeding was never really appealing to me, I had always intended to do it for 6 months and continue longer if it was going well.  During my pregnancy, I had no doubt that breastfeeding would be easy for me.  My boobs were huge, like throw them over your shoulders huge, so I figured breastfeeding would be a piece of cake.

My first inkling that something was wrong was in the hospital when I was "nursing" her and nothing was coming out.  The nipple nazis lactation specialists assured me that it was normal and that milk could take 3 to 5 days to come in.  In my post-pregnancy haze, never once did I stop to question how my baby would survive without nourishment for 3 to 5 days.  I just took their word that I would make exactly enough milk for my baby.  During those first two nights in the hospital, I pretty much nursed her constantly, but she was still upset.  I guess I would be too if I was starving.

Night #3: my mom and I were sleeping downstairs at my house with my sweet little Moose (my husband was upstairs because he had to work the next day) and she wouldn't stop screaming.  I called the hospital and was lucky enough to get a nurse who told me to just give her formula, which I happened to have in the house thanks to a good friend who had given me some of her hospital samples.

That night started 6 weeks of pure hell, which I will detail in future posts, but the end result was that I put myself through hell, both physically and mentally, and still was unable to breastfeed.

During that time, I desperately needed support.  I needed to know that I was not the only one struggling with breastfeeding issues, yet every single medical professional just kept telling me, "keep pumping and nursing and you will eventually make enough milk."  Or, my personal favorite, "your body is making enough milk for her even though if seems like it isn't."  Really?  Did they teach you that in medical school because it is week #2 and my baby is still losing weight.

Every single thing that you look up online about breastfeeding says that it is a fact that only a very small percentage of women actually have trouble with milk supply.  They claim that most women just aren't trying hard enough.  Bulls*&%.  I tried harder to breastfeed than I have tried to do anything else in my life.  It just didn't work.

It didn't work and, you know what, that's okay.  It is okay to not breastfeed your baby.  Whether you try as hard as you can and it just doesn't work or whether you just don't want to...it is okay.  Because guess what?  It is not the end of the world.  Your baby will be okay.  Trust me.

When I was struggling (read: on the verge on a mental breakdown) with the decision formula feed my Sweet Moose, my husband asked me something that still sticks in my mind.  He said, "Becky, you run a daycare.  If you were to walk into every room, would you be able to tell who was breastfed and who was formula fed?"  Obviously the answer to that is no.  Apply that to your own life.  The answer is still no.

Again, that is not to say that breastfeeding is not a wonderful thing if it works.  IF IT WORKS.  We all know the benefits of breastfeeding, but it doesn't work for all of us.  And that is okay.  What is not okay is that society makes you feel like a bad mother if you can't, or God Forbid, don't want to breastfeed.  I didn't breastfeed and I am a great mother.  My daughter eats an all organic diet, but more importantly, she is unconditionally loved and cared for, which, let's face it, is the most important thing we can do for our children.

As I started to recover from the experience, I began to share my story with people and was shocked to learn how many women struggle with breastfeeding.  I was both blown away at how many people were in my situation and saddened that I didn't know that when I was going through it.

I will go into more details about my breastfeeding issues in the near future, but in the meantime, if you are struggling with breastfeeding, please know that you are not the only one.  It is normal.  You are a good mom and your baby will be okay.

Nursing my sweet girl (who is getting some extra love
 from Scooter) when we got home from the hospital.


  1. Hey Becky..I could relate this whole thing to what i went through with my daughter. It feels nice to read this

  2. Thank you so much for the comment, Sathya! I am so glad that you were able to relate to this post. Breastfeeding can be SO hard and when I was going through it, I just wished that I could read something to let me know that I was not alone. Hope you are doing well!

  3. I was determined to nurse my first and like you it just didn't work. For 5 weeks we tried everything all the while I was a COMPLETE emotional wreck because she wasn't nursing and I was having to pump and supplement. My husband refers to that time as a "living hell" It was pretty awful. With my second I had high hopes but still had milk supply issues (despite doing EVERYTHING) I agree it has got to be more that a small percentage who don't produce enough.

  4. Thanks so much for the comment and for sharing your experience, Jen B. Even after so much time has passed, it is nice to hear from people who had similar experiences. I am sure that, like myself, you felt really alone while it was going on. Your husband is totally right about it being a "living hell." It certainly takes its toll on the entire family. Was it easier for you to deal with it the second time around??


Thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to hear from you, so please take a minute to leave me any comments, suggestions, funny stories, or advice about this journey called Mommyhood.

Becky :)