Last month was National Breastfeeding Month. I’m sure you knew that, how could you not? My newsfeeds were flooded with breastfeeding posts, articles and pictures celebrating some pretty bad-ass moms, as I’m sure yours were too. I absolutely applaud these moms. They are warriors. They have a strength and courage that some may not realize. And while I completely agree with celebrating them, National Breastfeeding Month couldn’t have come at a worse time for me.
There I was, during National Breastfeeding Month with a newborn and struggling. Struggling hard to do something that you would think would come easy, you would think would be natural because it’s what our bodies are made to do, right? There have been many celebrities and organizations such as the bra company ThirdLove, who recently came out with their first nursing bra, who have been encouraging women to share their breastfeeding experiences, but I have been hesitant to share my own story. Because my story isn’t like a lot of the stories shared last month. It hasn’t been picture perfect. It hasn’t been pleasant. It hasn’t been successful
I haven’t loved breastfeeding.
It seems like when you’re pregnant and postpartum everyone wants to talk about the changes to your belly, but what about the changes in your breasts? What about the struggle that is – breastfeeding. I don’t think it’s talked about enough and I don’t think anyone is truly prepared for it. I know I wasn’t. Not the first time around, nor this time around.
Last month I wrote a late night emotional Facebook post about my struggle with breastfeeding. Although I received only positive replies… I quickly deleted it because I was embarrassed.
I was embarrassed that it wasn’t working out. I was embarrassed that I was struggling. And I continued to beat myself up about it until I watched a video called I love my baby but, I haven’t loved breastfeeding that much.
I absolutely applaud Whitney Port for her courage to talk about her breastfeeding experience and struggles so openly. That must have been scary. In fact, I bawled my eyes out when I watched her video because we were sharing the same journey and going through the same things. I absolutely felt her pain…I was right there too.
During the first 2 months of my breastfeeding journey with Connor we had supply issues, latching issues, tongue tie, cracking, bleeding, clogged ducts, engorgement, mastitis, thrush and the most painful let-downs I have ever experienced. I’ve tried nipple shields, nipple balms, supplements and countless visits to my lactation consultant. Never did I think I would have issues (for the second time) breastfeeding one of my babies.
With my first I had similar issues (minus the tongue tie and thrush). After being put on an antibiotic that I wasn’t able to breastfeed on (had to pump and dump), we had major latching and supply issues once I was off them. So I switched him to formula because he needed to be fed. I remember being upset about it for a couple days and then realized it was what was best for us in our situation at the time.
So why is this time around so different? Why do I feel like the worlds worst mother if I “quit”?
I think the media and internet has a lot to do with it. National Breastfeeding Month wasn’t really a thing across social media 6 years ago when I had my first (or at least I wasn’t exposed to it). I also didn’t have friends with kids, so I wasn’t comparing myself to them and their success with breastfeeding like I am now. And although many people around me have been trying to be encouraging, “It gets better! Just keep going – your baby needs this! Breast is Best!”, part of me just really wants to hear “it’s okay if you want to stop, it’s okay if you want to bottle feed, it’s okay if this is too much and too painful and not getting any better. You are still a good mom, you are not failing“.
My baby is now 2 months old and we have tried our best. In the end no matter what one chooses (breastfeeding, pumping, formula feeding etc.) it’s YOUR choice. As long as your child is fed and happy, that’s all that should matter. Us women need to come together and build each other up, not tear each other down. Motherhood is hard enough as it is.
I’d love to hear about your experience with breastfeeding! If you’d like to contribute an article to Peanut in my Belly, please click here.