When I had my first son, I was 19... I had NO idea what I was doing, and probably way too young to be a mother. But, all I was ever really sure of was that I wanted to be one. I also knew a part of that journey would be breastfeeding. It was important to me. I think as young moms, we often get left out when it comes to breastfeeding. Thankfully in the last 10 years it seems that has gotten a bit better. But, I know for me at the time, there was very little support... and definitely not awesome mom forums on Facebook like there are now. When he was born he was just a tiny 5lbs 15 ounces... I breastfed him exclusively for about 5 months and then started adding in formula, before quickly going to all formula. Why?
Well, in my case I was pregnant with his brother at 6 weeks and my supply just TANKED. I know now how I could have tried to work through that, but at the time... the uneducated pediatrician didn't help, just told me to give formula... which is a vicious cycle that just speeds up the loss of milk. When Zavery was born I had two kids under the age of one (that was a rollercoaster) we had two great days of breastfeeding and I woke up from a nap in the hospital to a nurse helping my husband give the baby a bottle of formula. I was furious. And from that point on he NEVER had a good latch again. I had a pump but I didn't respond well to it. I would get a half ounce at a time... he absolutely would NOT nurse at the breast. We tried everything. Everything to the point of holding a bottle nipple in to his mouth while I had expressed in to that. Eventually I gave up. I was crushed and heart broken and I most definitely feel as though this was a huge part of my PPD after he was born. The worst part was he didn't tolerate formula. He cried constantly, we tried about 13 different formulas, all causing him to be sick, gassy, diarrhea, etc. I forever have this mom guilt that it’s my fault because if he could have just breastfed, he would have been fine... When my daughter was born, I had spent SO much time educating myself. I had a good pump on hand; all the best Tommee Tippee bottles, shields, EVERYTHING I could need in case she was the same way... of course, since I was organized and prepared... she came out, latched perfectly, and never had a SINGLE problem. The week before her first birthday she nursed less and less, and morning of her birthday she nursed that morning and never again. I did it! I nursed a baby to 1 year. It was so important to me to hit that milestone. Now here we are with baby #4, my son Larz. Things started out great until about 4 weeks old. I am also a birth doula in my free time (ha, I don't have free time - but I make it work) and I had my first post baby birth. He took a bottle great, I pumped while I was there, all was well... until it wasn't. I cried the whole way home terrified he wouldn't want me after my Zavery experience. Got home, ripped off my shirt and went running inside "Baywatch style" to get to my newborn. He chugged and chugged away. *tears of joy* The next morning was weird. He was fidgety and unsatisfied, annoyed with me. The got worse by the day and he fought me with a HARD nursing strike. My supply tanked It was 4 straight weeks of exclusively pumping, syringe feeding, cup feeding, Domperidone, supplements, etc. It was exhausting and emotionally draining. I think all the time how if I could go back to that birth and just stay home, I would. It wasn't worth the three hundred dollars that I made. That experience was too hard to deal with having 3 other kids and a full time from home business. Every single minute was timed out and consumed. Because my supply was low, I had to pump every hour and a half. I would get 1 ounce. Maybe 1.5. Feed it, rinse the pump, and by the time all that was done it was time to start over. You exclusively pumping moms are AMAZING. I have so much respect for moms fighting that journey every day for a year. I’ll be honest and say I was losing hope, quickly. We finally got back fully to the breast after about 6 weeks thanks to trying a SMALLER nipple shield than my flange size, and it worked like a charm. After 3 days we were latching without it and never had a problem again after that. We made it to our goal of a year, and are currently at 13 months and going strong.
Breastfeeding can be easy, it can be hard, and somewhere in between. You have to do what is right for you and your family. But, if it is important to you, do your research, get a second opinion, find a support group, and build a community that will have your back. When things get tough, you will want people to be behind you, cheering you on!
Thanks for reading my journey!