Boy have I been procrastinating writing this post.
I’ve been scared to admit this to anyone except my husband. I’ve been hiding what feels like a dark and dirty secret.
I didn’t really want to breastfeed.
Did you just judge me a little? Its ok if you did, I judged me ALOT for feeling that way, way more than you could ever judge me.
Let me back up
Its been just over a year since I found out I was pregnant. What a whirlwind of emotions that is. And while my brain is basically mush these days I can CLEARLY remember my first midwife appointment when I was 10 weeks pregnant. My midwife (whom I love for the record) looked at me and said, “You’re planning on breastfeeding right?” It caught me off guard because it wasn’t really a question. It was more of a statement like good moms breastfeed you know.
Like I said, It caught me off guard. I hadn’t decided yet whether or not I was going to breastfeed. In that moment I was so overwhelmed by the nauseousness, the hormones, and the pamphlets they were handing me about genetic defect testing that I hadn’t though much about breastfeeding. I told my midwife that I was planning on breastfeeding, but in the back of mind there was a voice that whispered, “I don’t really want to do that, it seems weird.”
It seemed like everywhere I went all the talk was about how you HAVE to breastfeed. Birthing classes, midwife appointments, even random strangers would ask me about it. I felt like if I voiced the fear and concerns I was having to anyone then I was basically a terrible mother and DHS should be called immediately.
Now I’m a health nut so I understood what the research said about breastfeeding being best for the baby. I didn’t disagree with that and I felt like it was something that I should do, but it just seemed weird. Everyone kept saying how its just so natural, but someone sucking on my tit 8-12 times a day for 20 minutes+ a time did NOT seem natural to me at the time. Plus the thought of me being the sole source of food for another person was all consuming. I wanted to be able to leave her and get out of the house for a few hours, I wanted to be able to sleep more than 2 hours at a time, I wanted my husband to be able to help feed her, I wanted to maintain just a smidge of myself. Was that to much to ask?
As my due date grew closer and closer my anxiety over this grew and grew. I spent way more time worrying about feel like I had to breastfeed than I spent worrying about giving birth. WAY MORE time.
I’m so lucky though to have such a supportive husband. He assured me that no matter what our baby was going to be healthy and happy and he was going to stand by whatever decision I made. He encouraged me to just give it a try for a couple weeks and if it doesn’t work out we can feed her formula, she won’t die. So that’s what I did. I made the commitment that I would try for a month and then reevaluate at the end of 1 month.
Then she was born
A few minutes after her very awesome birth her nurse brought her over to me and said, looks like she is already rooting around so you can go ahead and feed her anytime. “Oh Shit” I thought, its time to do this thing. I nervously looked at my friend and doula, Jen, and said, “I don’t know what to do here, can you help me?” Thank God for her. She helped me get Piper latched on, gave me a ton of tips, and help me find the most comfortable nursing positions.
Then Something incredible happened
I’m convinced that first nursing session changed me. All of a sudden I was no longer thinking about how weird this was. I was giving my baby what she needed, food. I was taking care of her. All of a sudden I was willing to do anything for this little person that I JUST MET. The only way I can describe the transformation that happened to me in those moments is that it was completely natural.
Yep, that thing that I had said did not seem completely natural all of a sudden was. I realize that this is not the case for every woman, but for me it was. My instincts just took over I did what I needed to do for my baby. Please don’t misunderstand my words here. Just because it was natural did not mean it was easy. I still felt like I needed a 3rd hand to get everything situated. While my worries about it being weird were gone they were replaced with worries about whether or not she was getting enough, am I doing it right, is it supposed to feel like that etc (another blog post for another day). So easy, no, but the desire to do it was 100% there despite all the fears that I had previously had. And that desire to want to breastfeed and the fact that it seemed so instinctual was what carried me through (easily) that first month that I had committed to. At the end of 1 month it seemed almost crazy to me to think about not breastfeeding anymore, by that point it had become easy.
And what about my fears from before?
I mentioned earlier that when I was pregnant I was worried about being the sole source of food for the baby, about not being able to leave her, about having to feed her in the middle of the night. What happened to those? They weren’t just gone, but I figured it out.
Piper took a bottle within a few days of being born. I was having to pump in addition to nursing her (long story) and I didn’t want all that extra colostrum going to waste so we started giving her just a little bit of milk in a bottle. Now I know that goes against all conventional breastfeeding advice. Breastfeeding advocates shout from the roof tops about nipple confusion but I disregarded that and did what I needed to do. For us, it worked just fine. She took a bottle, a boob, a pacifier, whatever and it caused no issues.
It was nice that Tyler had the ability to give her a bottle occasionally, but I still needed to pump if I wasn’t going to feed her, aka I had to get up in the middle of the night those first few weeks no matter which way we fed her. Miss Piper was a fantastic sleeper from the get go though and would generally go 4 hours between feedings at night so getting up to feed her was not as big of an issue as I thought it would be.
All I can say is this
If you are pregnant and reading this and having the same fears as I did, know that its normal and I feel for you. Its ok if you are weirded out by the idea of breastfeeding, I was. But if you want to do it (even though you think its weird) then just commit to trying it. Try it for a month and give yourself the option to quit if it just doesn’t work. You aren’t a bad mom if you give your kid formula, despite the attitude that some may have. I say screw them. Formula fed or breastfed we all love our babies the same (deeply and endlessly). We need to stop treating moms that formula feed like second hand citizens.
I’ll be honest with you. I try not to over think about breastfeeding. While I’m feeding her if I overanalyze the process I find myself weirded out by it again, but when I just let go and follow the baby and my body’s lead, things happen very naturally and its kind of an incredible thing.
Now I want to hear from you!
Are you a pregnant mom having fears or concerns about breastfeeding? Don’t keep them to yourself, share with me in the comments below, maybe I can help. And for the experienced mamas out there… Was breastfeeding hard or easy for you? I want to hear your story.
This is my story and I understand that it is very different from other’s. For some breastfeeding is incredibly easy and natural and for others it is very trying and difficult and can leave you feeling inadequate. I feel like woman who have an easy time breastfeeding don’t do a great job of supporting other woman that are struggling. There is judgement and an endless amount of unsolicited advice (if you’d just try this or do that…) when there needs to be more empathy and support. If you’re a mama who is struggling, I want you to know that I feel for you and its ok if it isn’t working. Formula isn’t crack, it isn’t going to hurt your baby. Hell, I was formula fed and I’m one of the healthiest people around. Bottom line, what your baby needs more than breastmilk is a mom that isn’t losing their shit, frustrated, and sad. They need a mentally healthy mama so do what you have to do to be that mom and if anyone judges you, FUCK THEM, they don’t know your struggle.