We’ve all met moms who’ve tried everything to make breastfeeding work for their baby, because they know it’s best; but they’re losing their minds because it’s just not happening. They love their bundle of joy so much they’ll do whatever it takes to get them what they need, but either they’re not producing enough milk, or the baby just isn’t gaining weight, or, as in the case of my second born, they’re simply not strong enough to breastfeed.
I’m sharing my breastfeeding stories for every mama out there that’s beating themselves up because they failed at breastfeeding; who’s ridden with guilt because despite epic effort on their part, it just didn’t work out.
My firstborn was great at breastfeeding. I fed her eleven months and then she pretty much weaned herself. My last-born I nursed thirteen months, although I came close to quitting at ten months when he nearly gnawed my breast off. My middle child had problems related to the fact that he had heart surgery at one day old (read about that here).
Jac almost had to come home with a G-tube. We were very fortunate that he would take the bottle, and that I had a vast supply of pumped milk. From the beginning he had formula, though, because he wasn’t eating enough and his breastmilk had to be fortified.
When I got home, I thought things would get better, but they didn’t. Every feeding was a struggle. Poor little Jac screamed and cried through the whole thing: all five minutes of it. I was supplementing with formula-fortified breastmilk. I was trying to pump, but it was so hard! To this day I have the utmost respect for working moms who pump. I was working at home, and taking care of my two small children, while the baby had health problems and was in therapy, was overwhelming to me.
So when my expressed milk supply ran out at around six weeks, I decided to stop the misery I was putting my son through. I switched to straight formula. Feedings were much easier. I did have a hard time connecting with my son early on, but now we have a sweet relationship.
Looking back, I have no regrets. That was the most overwhelming season of my life. My son is now strong and active, and has conquered a myriad of health issues. Not every child is the same and not every situation is the same.
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding or feeling guilty for quitting, remember this: you are the best mama for your child. Your sacrifices and unconditional love are forming a tiny human absolutely dependent upon you, not your breastmilk, for survival. For the mamas who have persevered and conquered biting and latching issues and everything else, you are amazing!
Feeding your baby formula does not make you a bad mom. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. There’s great organic formula out there that is wonderful for your baby. Taking care of yourself by taking great prenatal vitamins while you’re pregnant, and eating healthy food is important if you think you might breastfeed. Whether you’re nursing or giving your baby formula, make sure you get plenty of rest and have alone time. A happy mama makes a happy family!