Do you ever feel like a bad mom because you don’t breastfeed (anymore)? Do you feel judged when you prepare a bottle in public? I know I certainly did, and I think it is really unfair! Not everyone can or wants to breastfeed and I think we need to accept and respect that more. I wanted to share my story to give breastfeeding moms insight in the world of a bottle feeding mom and letting everyone out there know that it is not always a choice we make, but a choice made for us.
So let me share a little bit of a personal story today, but something that is really close to my heart and important to me.
Ever since I can remember I had the thought of breastfeeding my babies and always felt like everyone who didn’t breastfeed, was not trying hard enough or just lazy. I used to think everyone could breastfeed. And boy was I wrong about that! (I learned the hard way).
During my pregnancy I bought all the items I needed to breastfeed properly. I had bought a new wardrobe to fit my new life and had only one bottle for the rare occasion I would pump milk and my husband had to feed our boy. It never even came to mind that it might not be as easy as it looked in pictures or on that course I had followed during my pregnancy.
About an hour after our son was born the nurse helped me to feed him. I was ready but apparently our son was not. It took him a long time to latch properly and eventually she told me I needed a nipple shield. So we tried and he drank a little bit of milk for about 5 minutes. I fed him with the shield the entire evening and night and he drank a tiny bit of milk every time, but I thought it was normal.
The next day a lactation specialist came by and told me I had to stop using the shield immediately. So I did. I had to hand pump some milk and feed him that in order to get my milk supply up and try to feed him as often as I could. So we went home with that knowledge and tried to do so.
Two days in
The second day after he was born, my midwife came by and told me to start feeding him formula. He was not growing and I did not have enough milk. She suggested to start pumping regularly to get my supply up and try to feed him my milk as often as possible. So my schedule looked a bit like this:
- breastfeed him for 15 minutes (in which he would hardly drink any milk)
- Prepare a bottle and feed him the bottle
- pump for about half an hour
I usually was busy feeding for an hour and a half and was cuddling for an hour, just to start over again.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It is totally worth the time invested. But when you pump for half an hour to get just about 10 drops of milk, it gets kind of discouraging.
5 weeks later
I kept the schedule mentioned above for a couple of weeks, but my milk supply did not go up.
I remember one day very clearly. My son had latched on perfectly and seemed to be drinking. He was ‘drinking’ for half an hour and I was over the moon! After a few minutes he started to cry for more milk, so I thought he might not have gotten enough. So I prepared a bottle for him to give him a bit extra.
He drank the entire bottle!
So basically, he didn’t drink anything during the half hour he was breastfeeding. I was devastated and I told my husband I was not sure if I could keep doing this. My milk supply was terrible and I was lucky if I could have one of his 6 bottles a day to be my milk. And that was after pumping milk 6 times a day for half an hour per session.
I decided to stop
So even though it was a really hard decision, I decided to stop. I felt so bad! About a week or so later I saw an article online that stated that everyone could breastfeed and you didn’t try hard enough. It said you should try to do something extreme, which meant pumping for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, pumping for 10 minutes, etc. And do this the entire day.
So a week after I had decided to stop I did this exact thing and actually cried a few times that day. It was just not working. When my husband came home he told me it was okay to stop breastfeeding, and it felt so good to hear him say that.
So after five hard weeks we switched to formula only and I felt so much better. My baby was growing well and he did great, and mom was feeling much better!
Why am I sharing this?
You might wonder why I decided to share this story, and to be honest, I don’t really know why. I have seen so many articles about breastfeeding and telling you how to get your supply up. But sometimes it just doesn’t work. And I know it still makes me sad, but in a good way. I am sad that I felt pushed into breastfeeding for so long and am glad I decided to make a decision to stop. It made our life so much better.
I am still very much in favour of breastfeeding and with a second baby I will definitely try to make it work again! But if it doesn’t work, I know I don’t have to feel bad about it.
So I guess my reason for writing this is to let you know that it is okay to not breastfeed. Especially if you just can’t!
If you have gone through a similar situation, let me and my readers know in the comments below! I would love to hear your story!