As a mother of a toddler, my experience with breastfeeding seems like a blip in the past, but I know how impactful those moments were to me when I was living through them.
Like many moms-to-be, I had every intention to breastfeed. My mother breastfed me for the first nine months, and I had the goal to keep it going for a year (or more, who knew how much I’d like it?)
Once the baby came, I can tell you how much I liked it: not very much. The first days and weeks can be tough for most moms. But my marathon nursing sessions never ended. I was spending up to eight hours a day nursing. Little did I know I was having supply issues and once I found that out, the incessant regimen of nurse, pump, clean, repeat was turning me into a raving loony.
I met with a rockstar lactation consultant who agreed that switching to formula would be best for both me and my child. The baby was starting to decline on the growth chart and I just wasn’t making enough milk despite pumping. At that moment, the sun came out and my world changed.
When looking back at my brief breastfeeding experience I see many holes in how I was educated. I took the labor class, the breastfeeding class, and the infant care class. All classes were hosted by the hospital I was delivering at. In each class, nursing was extolled and I thought I was fully informed about the process, but I was not.
Pumping was only mentioned when it was about the mom going back to work, it was never communicated to me that pumping is a vital element in the nursing regimen of many moms, not just the “working” ones. I didn’t know that if the baby slept through a nursing session, you have to pump. Pumping also was never brought up after my delivery. I asked one nurse if I should use the pump and she said since my supply seemed fine, I didn’t need to.
I didn’t know how serious mastitis was until I got it. I didn’t know that if you got your period back a month after delivery, your supply could drop. No one told me this!
And last but not least I didn’t know that formula, whether supplemented with nursing or used on its own, is very common. It took me a lot of worry, anxiety, and research to come to terms with it. In my opinion, formula feeding should be “normalized” a bit more too.
I can’t write this post without mentioning that I am fortunate to have access to any prenatal resource I desire. There are so many other moms-to-be who don’t have the time and/or money to take the classes and get the information they need.
I can’t put the blame entirely on other people. I’m certain there were ways I could have better educated myself. Perhaps I could have read more books. I thought by taking a hands on approach to my pre-baby education that I would have had most of my bases covered.
Maybe your experience was entirely different. Maybe you gave birth with an arsenal full of proper breastfeeding skills and knowledge. I didn’t. If I had known more about breastfeeding and how to properly troubleshoot issues early on, perhaps my experience would have been different.
All I can say is that my formula fed child is doing just fine and I don’t regret any decision I’ve made.