The internet is full of successful stories about breastfeeding moms, and the benefits of breastfeeding your baby. Yeah, yeah, we all get it, it is brilliant, but what about the rest of us that do not succeed? Why are not more stories about the failures of breastfeeding journeys? Mothers who fail this should also have a saying in it, and they should deserve appraisals, the same as the ones that succeed. So, I decided to share with you the story of my failure: the breastfeeding journey of my son, lille Pat. Yes, it was a disaster, but, hey, I am still a good mom, and he is a healthy active beautiful boy J … that grew up with formula.
I will start by saying that the beginning of breastfeeding is a journey … through hell. Being a first time mom, made this even more difficult. Why? Because I could not realize completely what the reward would be at the end of the journey – in case I succeeded. So, giving up was a thought that would come many times through my head, and the motivation to continue with the breastfeeding was not always strong enough. Now, I had some people around me, mothers with experience, that would try to convince me to not give up, but that was the problem: too many people telling you what you should do and what not, and implying you are a shitty mom for not trying harder, was the real put off.
Mastitis- everyone should know about it BEFORE the breastfeeding starts
Lille Pat was born two weeks earlier than the due date, and a very tiny boy (2,700 kg), who did not like to be breastfed. He would always refuse the breasts, and cry for hours for being hungry. That lead to me getting mastitis (the breast infection, due to the milk not getting out completely). Since the mastitis has the same symptoms as a normal cold/flu, it took me one week until I went to the ER. Got admitted for 3 days, and lille Pat was fed milk through a bottle (my milk), as per my request. So, it took 3 days to completely ruin my breastfeeding journey. No matter what I did after, I did not manage to convince lille P to breastfeed again. Nope, he loved the milk bottle. So, I got an electrical pump and fed him the milk through a baby bottle for 5 months. After that, my milk was gone.
The “you always have enough milk for your baby” B***S***
Lille Pat would cry for hours in the beginning, and I didn’t know what it was. When I went to the hospital, and got admitted with mastitis, Pat got a bottle of formula. He was so hungry that he finished the bottle in less than a minute. During the 3 days that I spend in the hospital, I used an electric pump to take out the milk, and, by doing so, I got to see how much milk I was producing – a third of what my new baby needed. So, the nurses told me to keep feeding him my milk, and supplement with formula for the rest. I have been told many times after that, to stop feeding him the formula, and just continue with the milk I was producing, and that eventually my supply will increase and it will be enough for Pat. But those were the experienced mothers, who were trying to guilt me for everything I was doing. No matter how many times I told them that the doctors said that I have to supplement with formula because my body was not producing enough milk, they knew better. Never listen to those people, try to get rid of them as soon as possible. Back then, I questioned myself many times, but after my second breastfeeding experience, now I am confident that INDEED there are mothers that DO NOT and WILL NOT produce enough milk, no matter what they do.
It’s all about the baby
No matter how successful or not you are at breastfeeding, in the end it comes down to how cooperative the baby is. You can try as much as you want (I tried for 3 months with Pat), if the baby refuses the breasts, then there is so much you can do. Lille Anny was a delight. No matter how painful it was, or how hungry she was, she always wanted to be on the breasts. So, listening to your baby, is a smart move. In the end, a healthy and happy mom is more useful than a mom who struggles.
The pain is the real deal
Throughout the pregnancy we are told how painful the natural birth will be, and the midwives try to prepare us for the big moment. Yes, ok, but nobody told me about the hell I was about to go through, once I started to breastfeed. You see those nice photos of moms holding their babies, looking happily ever after, but nobody told me about the pain behind that smile. Nobody told me about the bloody nipples, and that I would start crying every time the baby would wake up, and demand food. Nobody said anything about the mastitis, and the breast pain you get together with the fever. The natural birth lasted for 36 hours, but the breastfeeding process (for lille Anny) took almost 12 weeks to become painless. And that lasted only for few months, until the first tooth appeared. Then the pain was back, since most of the babies have a tendency to bite. Getting the breastfeeding process in place I would consider more challenging than the birth process. I strongly believe midwives should talk more about it with the future moms to be. And why not, make a plan, to follow, so that they will not give up, or at least to feel like they have tried everything before deciding to quit. In my next article I will talk more about my experience with lille Anny, and describe in details the plan that I prepared beforehand, plan that I tried to stick with it in order to not give up.
Nothing to be ashamed of – there is nothing wrong with failing
Considering that there are so many factors that influence someone’s breastfeeding experience, there really should not be mothers trying to shame the ones that don’t. Maybe they don’t do it on purpose, but sometimes, just the simple question: oh, is that formula? it’s enough to put off a new mom. How do I deal with unwelcome questions I get? I use sarcasms. So, my answer to the previous question, usually it was: Yes, it is, but I didn’t think you would like some, so I have no extra left for you J.
Have you tried to breastfeed and fail, and would like to share your story with us? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment, or contact me directly on my Facebook page, or at the email address email@example.com .