Breastfeeding doesn't work all the time for everyone. That's okay.
There is nothing in the world that quite compares to the joyous feeling of bringing a new baby home. They smell wonderful, they fill your home with love — and in the beginning, nothing bothers you, not even their crying.
Well, nothing except for the nightmare that breastfeeding brings on for so many new moms.
Here’s the thing: breastfeeding might come easy to some, but for many it is a very difficult path that we so desperately try to pursue because we know that “breast is best” (we promise you don’t need to remind us). And the shame that is aimed at women who may have no choice but to supplement or full-time formula feed is honestly getting out of hand.
I can tell you firsthand, I gave breastfeeding my all with our second child. I had a breast reduction when I was seventeen, and I was unfortunately advised by doctors (I know, I know) not to even bother trying with our first. So I didn’t. But I wish that I had.
Then here I was, eight years later, deciding to go all in and make breastfeeding work for me and our new babe.
Knowing that this was going to be a challenge, I did my best and exhausted myself trying to make it work. I left the hospital needing to supplement because I already wasn’t producing enough and waiting for my full supply to come in. My days quickly turned into a cycle of feeding, pumping, supplementing (which killed me), hydrating and guzzling lactogenic foods and supplements whenever there was a spare moment. Nowhere in that cycle did I have time for sleep, work, myself or my family.
I would love to set the record straight for women everywhere: fed is best. And I promise, with every cell in my body, that you and the rest of the world would probably be more upset with new moms if they weren’t feeding their children at all. So please, chill out.
I started spiraling out of control with the obsession to make this work. Why? Well, I wanted it for my daughter, but I was also pressured by both my hospital and our pediatrician. It got ugly and I felt horrible during a time when everything should have felt nothing but wonderful.
Finally, about five weeks into our daughter’s life, my husband sat me down and told me to stop putting so much pressure on myself.
“Babe, if it’s not working, it’s not working. You are making yourself sick over this.”
He was absolutely right.
With the Center For Disease Control stating that postpartum depression impacts 900,000 women each year, I can’t help but think if I didn’t take a step back (with the help of my husband) to evaluate the situation that I might have been part of that number. I was losing myself completely to fulfill the need of being a “perfect mom” — something that so many of us directly correlate to being a “breastfeeding mom.”
And the day I finally packed that breast pump and put it away, I cried.
And the first time I fed our little one formula for a whole day? I cried then, too.
It’s not easy letting go, but sometimes it’s the best choice. And moms have to be able to make that decision, something that is no one else’s business but their own.
So you know what? I would love to set the record straight for women everywhere: fed is best. And I promise, with every cell in my body, that you and the rest of the world would probably be more upset with new moms if they weren’t feeding their children at all. So please, chill out. Stop pressuring new moms who are waking up every single day and doing the best that they can for their new baby. We are all in this together.