It’s World Breastfeeding Week and I would like to say that all you breastfeeding mamas are awesome. I’m amazed by those of you who power through it for months or even years at a time. After failing miserably at being a breastfeeding mama, I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt that I couldn’t shake for a long time. On top of suffering from PPA (read about that here) I had this feeling of failure that permeated the entire first year of my daughter’s life. Five years later, I was able to recognize why I failed. Here is some advice for you mamas in the struggle.
Breastfeeding is natural but it doesn’t come naturally (to everyone):
I wish I had known this before I started. All the literature about breastfeeding listed all of the benefits provided by breastfeeding moms, but it never addressed the possible complications. I simply thought that like some other friends I had, I would simply put my babe on the breast and all would be right with the world. For many women, that’s exactly what happens. For others, that is the furthest thing from the truth. If I had known some of the struggles I might face, I probably would have stuck with it longer. I wouldn’t have felt as though there was something wrong with me.
I didn’t have a support network:
Many of the women around me either didn’t breastfeed or didn’t have any issues. By the time I met some women who were struggling, I had already given up. The lactation consultant on staff at the hospital told me to alternate breasts, checked for a good latch (the one thing I DID have going for me) and went on her merry way. Once I left the hospital, I had no idea where to go for resources. While my pediatrician was helpful, I really needed to be in touch with other moms who would be able to offer support and resources. If you are expecting, definitely seek out a lactation support group or new mom support group for those first crucial days of feeding. I promise that you will not regret it.
I wasn’t prepared for the judgment:
Feeding my baby poison? I didn’t know that was a thing. Apparently there is a pretty big divide when it comes to breastfeeding and non breastfeeding moms. I was in no way prepared for the judgment I would face when I finally switched to formula. It felt like I was feeding my baby some mixture of goat’s blood and poison. Yes, I was actually hiding from mothers who were breastfeeding out of fear of being judged (feel free to judge me on this post). Of course, it may not have been as dramatic as it felt, but it was my first introduction to the so-called “mommy wars” and it wasn’t very pleasant. I just wished that I had been more informed and confident in my decisions. Perhaps the judgment would not have affected me so much. My advice? No matter how you end up feeding your baby, stay strong in your decisions. Remember that there is always someone out there ready to judge, but their opinions don’t matter.
I didn’t do my homework:
I didn’t think I had to research anything about breastfeeding. I was so clueless that I didn’t even have any bottles except for a few that came along with my pump. Boy was I ill prepared. I had no idea that I would be feeding almost non stop and not every 2-3 hours like all the books said. I didn’t know that leaving the house for an hour to “escape” to CVS would require careful planning. Trying to learn all of this information while going through it was certainly not optimal. I only wish that I had done at least as much homework about breastfeeding as I had done on infant car seats.
There is a message out there that women all over the world are able to breastfeed while working in the fields, giving speeches at the UN and possibly while directing air traffic into JFK. I imagine that this is true, but I bet those women did their homework! If I had to do it all over again, I would be sure to do my homework, get support and ignore all the feelings of guilt and inadequacy. For all you rock star mamas out there (breastfeeding or otherwise) a fed baby is a happy baby.