Breastfeeding is a hot topic for new moms and also a sensitive topic to some. For me, personally, it was just another thing to add to the long list of reasons why I considered myself a “bad mom”.
Let’s just be honest – breastfeeding is HARD. Yes, it saves you money and is good for the baby, but as if becoming a mom isn’t hard enough, you throw the pressure of breastfeeding onto it and it is almost like society is setting mothers up to fail. I remember in the hospital after I had each kid, the nurses pushed breastfeeding so hard that I actually had to fire one nurse. The pressure I felt was insurmountable. After I had my daughter, I did give it a try for nearly 4 months. It was truly exhausting. Moms have enough to deal with postpartum (recovering from delivery, hormones being completely out of whack, sleep deprovision, and being responsible to keep this new tiny baby alive and taken care of, just to name a few) and we are also expected feed the baby from our own body. I had thoughts of “I just lent out my body for 9 months to grow this child and now I STILL can’t have coffee or wine AND I have to watch what I eat because I am STILL sharing my body?” How is that fair?!
On top of that, I remember with my daughter feeling like I was a solo parent. My husband is a very hands on dad, he is awesome and has always made me feel like we are a team; but when Rylie was a baby and I was breastfeeding I remember feeling like I just could not escape. One time I went to blow dry my hair (god forbid) and Rylie got hungry. Instead of being able to pick up a bottle and feed her, my husband had to interrupt the one thing I had planned on doing for self care that day to have me breastfeed. It was exhausting, draining, and frustrating. I hated how my husband slept next to me in the middle of the night while I had to lend out my body. Four months in I was done, depleted, frustrated beyond belief. I needed some help and if that meant giving formula, then so be it. Luckily, I am surrounded by family and friends who are very supportive and not one of them had anything negative to say to me about giving formula. I actually received more positive feedback that I was making the right decision for my family because I was truly drowning myself in motherhood and something had to give.
With J, I had a C Section. They could not get my IV in my hand or my forearm so they put it right in the crevice of my arm where they typically take blood from. I am already squeamish when it comes to needles so having it right there was tough for me. After delivery, when it came time for his first feeding, of course the nurses tried to stick him directly onto my boob. And because I told them that I had breastfed my daughter for a few months, they assumed I was an expert (which I was not; I did not have the best experience the first time around) so they basically stuck him on and walked away. I was truly shocked at how little support I was receiving. When I did ask for help, I was given an attitude and was told that “other moms needed more help than me”. That was when I had to have my mom step in (thank goodness) and get me a new nurse.
A lactation consultant came in next and she really did try to help me but at that point I was in tears, feeling so defeated, uncomfortable, and ashamed that I failed at this. My son was crying and hungry and all I wanted was to feed him but it felt impossible. Making the decision to formula feed was not easy and I did not take it lightly but it seemed like it was my only option at the time. “Fed is Best” is the saying that I heard after I got out of the hospital. I only wish someone had told me that sooner.
I know this post is not for everyone. Not everyone has the same experience that I did, but unfortunately this was mine. It was not enjoyable. If I could go back, I would tell the nurses at the hospital to leave me the hell alone and stop putting so much pressure on me and to give me some formula! Hindsight is always 20/20 but I wish I had been stronger in knowing what makes a “good mom” and although breastfeeding definitely has its benefits, it does not constitute whether somebody is a good mom or not.