Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Breast Feeding Woes

There is no question medically that for babies breastfeeding is the best nutrition they can get. However, I want to tell all you women out there that are struggling with it, you ARE NOT A BAD MOTHER!! Everyone is all about the breast and how you have to breast feed, and that is great because really from all I have read breast milk is the best for your baby in a lot of ways. BUT, I am here to say that your baby won't die if you give them formula and your baby won't hate you when they get older because you never bonded over being breast fed.

This is what happened for me:
I really wanted to breast feed my children. I thought that was part of the definition of being a good mom. When my first child was born, I gave it all I had. It DID NOT come naturally for me though. I couldn't get him to latch on easily, he had colic and screamed like crazy which just made it harder. I did not make a lot of milk. Some women have said milk would just drip from them with no effort and could squirt milk into their baby's mouth but that did not happen for me. I had to strip down to feed my baby, it hurt, and I hated it. When I went back to work I tried to pump but soon, I just wasn't making enough milk for it to be worth it. So my first child got about 4 months worth.
Next, I was gung ho about having things go better this time around. I was going to eat, drink tons of water, be stress free and it was going to work this time. Then Viv was born with Downs and was not able to nurse due to her low muscle tone. I pumped for about 4 months and that was about all I could handle.
With my third I was again ready to make this the time I really proved I could nurse my baby!! Instead I got raw nipples and mastitis. I litterally cried every time I nursed it hurt so bad. I only made it to three months this time.
Finally, it was my last chance. I really wanted to nurse at least one of my babies to at least 6 months. This time things did go better, but my sweet baby cried for the first 3 months of her life and it wore me down. I couldn't do it. She too only got about 3 or 4 months worth.

If nursing would have been easier for me I would have done it. Disappoingly, it just didn't happen. It was just extrememly difficult and with my circumstances I gave up. Some might judge me for that, but for those of you who have been in similar situations, you probably get it.
All my kids are healthy and strong. They have grown and developed along a normal course and I feel very bonded to each of them. For a long time I felt like not nursing counted against me as a mother, but I have learned that in the big picture, I did my best and I loved my children and they are happy and healthy.

My advice:
Nurse if you can, but if you can't don't beat yourself up, it has no bearing on you as a mother!


  1. I decided to nurse my baby until she got teeth - she didn't get teeth up, until she was 13 months old (she had some bottom peekers at 1 year) - she started pushing me away at 8 months and I stopped shortly after. She preferred sippy cups - It broke my heart, but my baby was DONE. It's different for everyone.

  2. I completely agree with you and had similar experiences with difficult nursing. One of the problems is that no one is really honest in telling you how hard it is. All the books you buy on breastfeeding tell you how natural it is and how it shouldn't hurt if you are doing it right. Well, I was doing it right and it still hurt!! I ended up pumping exclusively for nearly six months with my first because I felt that terrible mom guilt about giving my baby formula. The second one was much different and I only lasted five weeks. This time around I have the attitude that, if it works out, great. If not, I have one baby that is turning out just fine from having formula at a very early age so who cares.

    I also think we are sent very different messages about breastfeeding. Women are encouraged to do it, it is the best thing and anyone who doesn't do it is a terrible mother! On the other hand, we don't want to see this. If you breastfeed you better make sure that you are locked in your house so no one dare catch a glimpse of your baby eating a meal.

    Anyway, I think that everyone should give nursing a shot, but like you are saying, it's not for everyone.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing. I wasn't able to nurse very much. It was hard because people are so supportive of breastfeeding, but they aren't very supportive of bottle feeding. Thanks for sharing that sometimes bottle feeding is necessary!