It is something I was unable to do with my son 8 years ago. Partly because I was 17, and mostly uneducated about breastfeeding. I knew that it was best, and that if the baby nursed only a few times, that was still really good! We had latching difficulties on one breast, and I just gave up. I didn't fight it, it didn't hurt my feelings, I just said "Oh well, its not working" and went to formula. I did this in the hospital. Back then there weren't hospital nurses who cared so much about breastfeeding that they were willing to help. Also, my mom didn't breastfeed my sister and I, and couldn't offer much support or tips or anything. So, I did what any frustrated teenager would do: give up.
But this time. I am 26 years old (which is the same age my mom had her 2nd, my sister). I am more informed about breastfeeding, my husband (whom I met after my son was born) is super supportive, and so is many people I know. I admit, I had a rough time for a short while. In the hospital I gave an ounce of formula to my baby because my nipple hurt so bad, and I just couldn't bring myself to let her nurse from it. I was crying, and the nurse helped me out. That nurse later helped me get a good latch with the baby, and showed me what I did wrong and how I could make it work. She was so helpful!
After we got home, it still went pretty easy. Then we hit a rough patch at about 2 weeks. She wanted to nurse for what felt like all the time. She was using me as a pacifier. I hear that is normal, but it wasn't to me, and it hurt! She was nursing so much, that it was as if my nipples were raw. I couldn't handle it. I gave in and gave her some formula in between nursings to try to get her more full and to hopefully let my nipples breathe. I went and rented a breast pump (hospital grade from WIC), and that helped, but I wasn't pumping enough to get her full at a feeding. I would still have to either put her on, or give her formula. She didn't have much of it at all -in fact, the can I used (Enfamil for Newborns) is still mostly full!
I felt really bad about giving her formula. When she would look at me while I fed her formula, it was as if she knew the difference. Her eyes just said "Mommy, what is this? It tastes funny". I cried about it. I didn't want to do it, but at the same time, my nipples hurt so bad that I would cry through her nursing. I felt like a failure. I didn't understand why something so natural hurt so bad. Why would something so natural, be so hard?! Women have been feeding their children from their breasts since people started walking the Earth. So why was it so damn difficult for me? Well, when I went to my two week checkup (I had a c-section), my doctor asked if I had any post partum blues or depression. I told her that I didn't think I did, but that my husband was worried -- and then I broke down. I cried in the doctors office and told her what was going on. She reassured me and said that she went through the exact same thing. She knew exactly how I felt, and what I was going through. She gave me some encouraging words, tips, and told me that it is OK if I chose to give formula to the baby. That made me feel better. I have to say though, the thought of giving up breastfeeding this time around was a lot harder than it was with my son. And I think this is mainly because now I was educated. And I don't want to spend a crap load of money on formula! Also, she spit up - only a little - with formula. But never with breast milk. I felt bad that I was giving my baby something that made her too full and she didn't know when to stop and would throw up. It hurt my heart.
But, some how, I got stronger. I pumped a bit more, which seemed to help heal my nipples. And now, at 3.5 weeks, I haven't given her any formula at all for almost a week. We did realize though that in order to stop her from always using me as a pacifier (one night was literally from 11:30pm to almost 5am) that I needed to give her a binky. I hated that idea, but when the first night it worked wonders (almost 5 hours of sleep, then 4 hrs, and fed for 15 mins between each one) I decided that she gets to keep it. I still hold her and love her and cuddle with her. But at the same time, mommy wants to eat, and use the bathroom, and I have to work a little during the week too. I need a little time to myself to be able to do these things. And if a paci helps, then we must use a paci. and you know what --- I am OK with that!
And I have to say, the Similac Simply Smart bottle, has really been a help for when I give her breast milk that I've pumped. She takes to it really well, and doesn't seem to know the difference. (I wish they paid me to say that, but they didn't)
I have learned that like my birth plan, my "baby plan" isn't going as planned! And that it is OK to stray away from what I originally had intended. Not everything goes as planned, and we must do what works best for us. I don't know how long I'll breastfeed for. I am hoping I can make it to 6 mos at least. And then maybe just pump from there. Who knows, maybe I'll go a whole year or more!? I am just excited I made it past 2 days, and 1 week, and 2 weeks, and now past 3 weeks. I will take it one step at a time, and see how it goes. That's how you gotta take life anyways, right?
What are your breastfeeding experiences? Does any of my post sound familiar? Sound off in the comments!
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