my view on world breastfeeding week


World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7. Who knew? I sure didn’t, until this year, when my fellow mom bloggers took to social media to post pictures of their little ones nursing, with their post proclaiming “breast is best” and touting what a beautiful experience it is to nurse their child and how they wouldn’t have it any other way. And to them I say, Bravo Mama!

I, on the other hand, have no such picture to share and I am at peace with that.

As a non-mom, I always thought breastfeeding was simple. I’d be at my girlfriend’s house visiting with her and she would gracefully draw her child to her breast, and her daughter would latch and eat like a champ. Easy peasy, right? As I was nearing 6 months of pregnancy, multiple friends broke the news to me that breastfeeding is anything but easy, especially in the beginning. So I did what any good planner would do: I signed us up for a breastfeeding class. And I say “us” because I was advised to bring my husband. Neither he nor I could figure out why he should be there, but I didn’t want to be the only husbandless prego lady in the room, so he dutifully joined me. After a two-hour class, we were fully armed with everything we needed to know about latching, clogged ducts, mastitis, , football holds, and even leak guards. If it was nursing related, we were officially in the know!

Approximately one month before my due date we received sample formula in the mail. I was going to toss it in the trash – no need for formula; I was going to be a lean mean nursing machine. My husband convinced me to put it in the pantry, just in case. I had no idea at the time how grateful I would be to him for that! Over the course of the next month I bought every cream, leak guard, nursing tank and pumping accessory I could find. I’m a planner, remember!?! I was going to nail this nursing thing. It was difficult for others, but not for me. I was ready!

And then April 2, 2017 rolled around. At 12:34am Juliet graced us with her presence and by 12:36, she was lying on my chest. Skin-to-skin. I immediately applied her to my breast, just as I had been instructed. I knew she wouldn’t really get anything during that feed, but it should get us started on the path to a successful nursing experience. I tried to nurse her all night long and in to the next day. I think every nurse in the nursery came in to help us. We had a 2-hour session that ended with both Juliet and I both in tears. It was not going well. Every holding position I tried felt like she may suffocate or break. I just wanted to go home and nurse my baby the way I thought would work.

We left the hospital around noon the following day; I got home and continued trying to nurse. It was working a little – she was getting my “liquid gold” but she was not a happy camper. She seemed as though she was in pain. Was she just hungry? Was something else wrong? I had no idea, but I knew something wasn’t right. Around 4am that night/the next morning, after nursing her for hours on end through excruciating needle-like pain, I ventured to the pantry and made her first bottle while silently thanking my husband and telling myself that I was not a failure but instead was doing what felt right for my newborn baby. When my husband awoke the next morning I confessed to what I had done and he responded with complete support. I, on the other hand, was embarrassed. Friends and family would come to our house during that first week and I would have a bottle stocked away upstairs and I would take her upstairs to feed her so that nobody would know I wasn’t actually nursing her. I didn’t want anyone to know that my lean mean breastfeeding machine plan had failed.

At our first pediatrician appointment we found that our daughter had dropped too much weight. Our pediatrician advised me to stick with the formula and mix in breast milk to try to get the added nutrients. With each ounce of my milk that she drank, she would writhe in pain. I gave up dairy and caffeine, no broccoli for me! Still in pain! Her bottom broke out in a diaper rash, complete with sores that were so bad they were bleeding. My milk did not agree with her. I kept pumping with the hope that after her tummy got a little more developed she would be able to tolerate my milk and in the meantime we tried 6 different formulas until we found the real liquid gold. Actually, based on the price tag, we refer to it as “liquid platinum” – Similac Alimentum, a hypo-allergenic formula.

Juliet’s tummy never accepted my milk, but I’m pleased to say that she is a very happy baby who is gaining weight as she should be and is a strong and healthy four-month old. I didn’t get to enjoy the breastfeeding experience as most moms do, but I am no less of a mother and my daughter is no worse off than the other children who were breastfed.

I’ve mostly found the motherhood community to be a supportive group, but the bold statement of “breast is best” is alienating to those of us who were not able to do so. If you were successful in breastfeeding, I am overjoyed for you. To those of you who were not, for whatever reason, know that this mama applauds you for making what was likely a very tough decision.

To all moms, I say cheers to happy, healthy and strong babies – no matter what they eat!


Comments

  1. Good for you mama! You are doing what is right for your baby, and that is not the same for everyone. We all get to have our own experience. I commmend you for your honesty lady!!!

  2. I hate that that you felt you had to breastfeed and that it was superior to everything else. It’s not. Feeding your baby is best no matter what. This definitely needs to be addressed and talked about more. Thanks for sharing your story, Lindsey.

    • Delicately Balancing Life

      I’m happy that I can play a small part in getting people to talk about this very important issue! xoxoxo

  3. Thanks for sharing! I’ve never once felt bad for formula feeding all three of my kiddos. They’re healthy and strong and that’s all that matters. I agree the “breast is best” statement can feel very alienting and it’s hard not to feel judged for formula feeding! Hopefully all mamas can just support each other more and continue to do what’s best for our own kids.

  4. I love the fed is best! I had to switch my son to formula at 6 months and I’d love to switch my daughter to formula now! It’s about what is best for your baby and you! I’ll have to check out the one you used, too, since she’s allergic to dairy. So glad you found what worked for you!

    • Delicately Balancing Life

      I’d recommend trying it, but buy a small bottle of the pre-mixed formula because it’s much less expensive and you can find out if she will drink it or not. I’ve heard a lot of babies don’t like the way it tastes. Gratefully Juliet doesn’t mind it…probably because we started her on it so early! Good luck, mama! xoxoxo

  5. Lindsey I absolutely loved reading your viewpoint. I had to switch to formula at some point and yes of course we try to breastfeed but I think being flexible and not feeling like we are not good enough if our child doesn’t get our milk is important to. Thank you for sharing your story! I think our journeys are all unique and perfect as they are. Xoxo

  6. Good for you mama! Fed really is best. 🙂 I feel it is super important for women and mothers to support and encourage one another. You know what is best for your family! Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Delicately Balancing Life

      Thanks, Amanda! The motherhood community is an amazing support system when we all come together! It’s why I so enjoy being a mom blogger! xoxoxoxo

  7. What you said is so true, cheers to Happy strong babies no tater what they eat. Breastfeeding was tough for me too. My babies were preemies and never quite got the latch and I ended up exclusively pumping. I was wrecked with guilt that I had to pump and supplement with formula. Thank you for writing this I needed to hear this.

  8. Great post! I was in the same position as you, but I love the saying “Fed is best”!

  9. Thank you for sharing this Lindsey! I too went to the breastfeeding class and planned on nursing my girls exclusively. They. It’s had latching issues due to their small size and we tried for a month and never for there. They also had to go on nutramigen hypoallergenic formula which about broke the bank hahaha! But in the end “fed is best” and they are healthy thriving girls! I’m glad you found what works for you all!

  10. Mama, thank you so much for sharing your perspective and experience! I can imagine there are many moms who feel similarly during a week when breastfeeding is being specifically honored. And I love changing the idea around breast is best because there are so many other factors that are involved! I had a crazy journey with my first and she ended up being formula and pumped milk fed for several weeks before I went breast. But she was always fed formula along the way because it saved my sanity!!

  11. I cannot like this post enough. Having to go to formula was an incredibly difficult decision for me, as like you, I had made every plan that I would be a lean, mean breastfeeding machine. I never realized how difficult it could be until the time came to actually do it. Now that my little guy is four months old, I am so glad that I made that decision, though. It allows me to actually enjoy the time I spend with my son! Cheers to you, mama.

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