A couple of weeks ago I read an article on The Huffington Post titled “Breastfeeding is Worth it.” It caught my attention because I am 9 months into exclusively breastfeeding Finn, and I read everything I can find on the topic.
AMB is no stranger to breastfeeding blogs, and even covered the controversial Time Magazine article a few months back. But all of this pro-breastfeeding stuff has put so much pressure on moms. It is one thing to offer information and support, but it’s quite another when mothers are feeling bullied into breastfeeding, and then made to feel guilty when they can’t for whatever reason.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of the AMB Contributor’s stories…we all have our own journey, and no matter what path we take, as moms, we need to stand up for each other, support each other, and give the guilt a rest!
True confession time: I am not one of those moms who is madly in love with breastfeeding. I wish I was! I know that it’s best and I have worked So. Hard. on this, and I am INCREDIBLY proud to have nursed Finn for 9 months…but there is a big part of me who wants to give it up at this very minute.
Then my guilt starts to seep in…
I nursed Hudson for less than 6 months, and I started supplementing him within the first few weeks because he only ate little bits every 1.5-2 hours. At the time I thought I wasn’t producing enough milk, so he must be hungry. It turned out to be food allergy related, but for the past 5 years, I have had major guilt and regret that I hadn’t tried harder to nurse Hudson. That if I would have only known about food allergies and nursing, we could have nursed longer. And I always said that if I had another baby, I would nurse for a year. At least!
When I got pregnant with Finn, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. I wanted to be prepared for every scenario, because we were doing this. I was FULLY committed. I had my husband and friends on my side, we were ready to go.
Finn was born 5.5 weeks early, but latched on like a champ. We were in the groove and then 24 hours later they thought he might have a Staph Infection. So the doctor and nurses started preparing me that we might have to supplement his feedings so that he would not lose weight – in case he needed antibiotics. Immediately I asked for a breast pump and insisted that we would NOT give him formula. They were SO great at my hospital and very supportive. The LC on staff was also incredibly helpful, and then I spend the next 24-36 hours either pumping or nursing. I did not sleep. I was able to supplement all of Finn’s feedings with pumped breast milk. I felt victorious!
Well, as the time went on, the babe turned out to be a marathon nurser. He loves to eat and he likes to take his time. 9 months in, and he is still the same. I have nursed on demand because so much of what I read encourages you to do so, that it is the best way to keep your milk supply up and make sure that baby gets enough. So that is what I do. And a lot of the time, it’s great. But I also have another child, volunteer responsibilities, family obligations and I work! I am fortunate to be able to have Finn with me most of the time, so nursing on demand is relatively easy…but, it is also tedious!
For the past few months, I have been contemplating introducing formula into Finn’s diet. Not because I want to completely stop nursing, but because it would be nice to leave my house for more than 30 minutes, or to go teach a class or sit through an entire church service without having to worry about leaving enough milk!
(Side note: because I nurse on demand, I do not have time to pump as often as I might like. Finn still nurses every couple of hours and I have to take the in between times to do things like take my 6 year old to school.
I have had the hardest time making the leap into introducing him to formula. I have tremendous guilt over offering it. I guess it is a combination of guilt from societal pressures, pressure put on myself, pressure from friends…It’s time for me to get over the guilt and do what makes our family the happiest. If that means a bottle of formula here and there, then so be it.
“…because make no mistake: breastfeeding is worth it. But so is a mother’s sanity, health, and sense of autonomy. One does not supersede or cancel-out the other.” – Suzanne Barston
So how about you? Was your nursing journey smooth or a roller coaster ride? Did you/do you have mom guilt if/when you chose to formula feed?