“Are you going to breastfeed?” That was the number one question I was asked when I was pregnant with my daughter. I would always answer “I’m going to try”. I didn’t know whether it was going to work for us for sure. I didn’t know if I was going to have trouble with my milk supply. I didn’t know if she would latch or not. I didn’t know much about it at all. I knew I wanted to and that was pretty much it.
Toward the end of my pregnancy I told myself… don’t say “I’ll try”. Say “yes”. I was determined. The moment I was reunited with my daughter in the recovery room after my c-section, I asked to try to breastfeed her. I didn’t know the first thing about how to start, but I knew that the sooner I attempted the better our outcome would be. It worked. She latched on wonderfully and all the nurses talked about how great her latch was. The nurses were impressed at my tiny, 37 week, IUGR baby. Mind you, this was all while I was still on those heavy pain meds.
As soon as those pain meds wore off and my milk came in with a vengeance… I realized how TORTUROUS breastfeeding was. The nipple pain was unbearable and I was in tears every time she latched on. After countless nurses and lactation consultants evaluated us while we were feeding, they would all say “her latch is great”, “keep going”,”don’t give up”. But I was suffering. Here I was, trying to bond with my newborn baby, but I was too busy yelling in agony during a time that was supposed to be “such a strong bonding experience” between the two of us. I was really pushed to keep going and “suffer through it” as some of them would say. “It’ll get better”. Which it did… after 3 weeks of complete agony. Was it worth it? Yes and no. I’ll tell you why.
I know that I gave her the best start I could possibly give her, in my opinion. She is healthy and thriving and that makes me feel good as a breastfeeding mother. While I am currently breastfeeding her, I am still saying I am not sure if it is always worth it. The first two weeks of her life, I was struggling. I was crying every day, every feeding. Which, if you have ever had a baby, that is every 2 hours at least. I wasn’t enjoying her like I should have been at that time. I “suffered through” because I felt that it was best for HER. It certainly wasn’t for ME. My mental health was at risk and the last thing I needed was postpartum depression. I pushed through anyway and made it to where it isn’t excruciating anymore, but it is still uncomfortable at times.
At first, I felt bad that I didn’t like breastfeeding. I still don’t. I’m still doing it, but I’m not a fan. I’m going to go as long as possible but I may not reach my original goal. Guess what? That’s okay. There is SO MUCH pressure on women to breastfeed their babies. It’s not worth it for every woman and child. No, I didn’t end up with depression, but that doesn’t mean another woman wouldn’t. It isn’t worth losing your sanity over. You always hear about how it is best for the baby, which it usually is… USUALLY. But what about mothers? Breastfeeding is supposed to be a “relationship” between mother and child, right? Moms count too. All of those “breastfeed or bust” people need to take a step back… and mind their own boobies. Stop shoving breastfeeding down everyone’s throat. Formula isn’t the devil. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It can be a life saver for some families. Some babies suffer when they are breastfed and are completely different babies when their mothers switch to formula. THAT is worth it. We need to stop pressuring mothers that they absolutely need to breastfeed. They don’t. We need to stop pressuring mothers altogether. Whatever choice you make, which WILL be judged no matter what, is YOUR choice as a mother. If you breastfeed or formula feed, be proud. You are feeding your precious child, the best way you can. Motherhood is hard, I am only 7 weeks in and I can see that. Let’s not make it harder on ourselves or on each other.