I wanted to open this discussion on this platform, because I think there definitely needs to be something said about this topic, to all of the moms out there!
I remember carrying Brielle and picturing what our first year would look like, how things would go, and kind of predicting our future together. It definitely involved exclusively breastfeeding/pumping for an entire year.
I read ALL the baby books that I could (I was actually finishing up with my RN degree when I was pregnant with her) and so I was pretty informed on how MANY women were able to successfully breastfeed, and how with a lot of work and lot of patience MOST women could do it.
When I pushed Brielle out, I knew they were going to try to latch her on pretty quickly after delivery.. which I was 100% ok with. What I thought would happen naturally with me producing colostrum seemed to be effective, and then about day 3-4 it seemed to turn into milk. What I didn’t understand was that I was not feeding Brielle enough milk, and IT. FREAKING. HURT! She literally was a latching champ, and I couldn’t understand why she always hungry! After her initial 2 week check-up, she dropped a little weight (to be expected) but her Pediatrician did inform me that I should probably think about supplementation in the near future if she doesn’t start putting the weight back on.
I left that appointment CRYING (ok, I was full on bawling to my mom) and I knew I had to do something! So I made an appointment with a lactation consultant in Austin and I was ready to try ANYTHING for my baby girl. I mean I bought ALL the teas, cookies, disgusting flavor drops that you can put in your tea to increase supply, you name it.. I bought it. But while I was there, she noticed how amazing Brielle nursed, and weighed her after nursing on both sides, and she did notice that one Breast was producing significantly less milk than the other. She also stated that the gap between my breasts could be a cause of low-supply as well.
So I went home and I was determined to do anything to get my supply up.. I even lost TONS of sleep pumping incessantly in between each of her feedings. But I just couldn’t produce enough milk. I broke down when I realized that I put SO much pressure on myself to do something my body just couldn’t do, and I had to come to realization that if formula is what is best for my baby girl to get fed, and grow, and that was going to have to be ok!
So I supplemented half of every feeding with formula until about 4-6 months when my supply just started to decrease so much that there wasn’t really a point to continuing, so I chose to exclusively formula feed until she turned 1.
I couldn’t believe I got SO caught up with this idea that since ALL my friends could do it, and my own mother did it, that it would just work with me.
I was part of that society that just assumed all women should breastfeed because it’s what is said to be best for the baby (except of course if there is drug-use involved or potentially hazardous medication that could be passed within the breastmilk) but what if women couldn’t? Would that make them less of a mom? What if they chose to only formula feed because they did not have any desire to breastfeed? Or what if they chose to pump? It absolutely all comes down to what is best for your baby, and that is different for every single one of moms (and dads) to determine.
I didn’t feel bad with Rochelle when my breastmilk couldn’t keep with her night-time round the clock feeding and I had to use formula, or when Malachi turned 4 months old and I had to switch to two different formulas (at the same time) that he would tolerate when my supply could no longer keep up.
Y’all, God created each one of us differently, and I know for a fact that you cannot tell if one school-aged child was breastfed vs. formula fed by the way they look on the exterior. It’s amazing to me that so much judgement/pressure gets put on us moms to make a decision while we are pregnant as to how we are going to feed our baby after we welcome them into this world. Sometimes, we just have to follow our gut and our intuition as to what we feel is best during that first year of life (or longer for some.)
I just want to tell you all to let that struggling mom out there that says breastfeeding is hard, IT IS. Let them know they are doing a great job! Or that mom who has to pump because she works full time and cannot breastfeed at all times, give her a high five! Or what about the moms that formula feeds around the clock and has to wash 500 bottle parts a day? Tell her she is doing amazing!!
Instead of judgement, let’s spread positivity and encouragement to one another! Parenting is hard, but with a little help, a little positivity, and a LOT of love, we can do this!
©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.