Breastfeeding or nursing your baby is one of the most intimate bonding experiences of motherhood.
However, that experience which went so smoothly with my first born started off as an emotional train wreck with my daughter!!
Breastfeeding is not for everyone! But many who choose (or are able) to nurse their child often enjoy the experience.
I loved nursing my child. I mean the miracle that is the female body.
To conceive, carry, nourish in utero, and give birth to another human being…simply
Then to have this little person completely dependent on you for sustenance outside of the womb…and to provide that nourishment in a way no one else could…through your body.
Did I say A-MA-ZING?!
I relished in those moments when it was just me and my baby, the world swirling around us and we experiencing intimate time together. Our time.
As I mentioned, I had NO issues with my first born. He latched…guzzled and life was good. Sure, there were times when he ravaged my breast and left it raw…but he was fed and I was a good momma.
There may have been areas where I had fallen short as a new momma, but I knew that in this area I was a superstar! My milk came in, it was plentiful and my infant grew into a plump butterball. YES!!
I WAS A SUCCESS!
Years later when I had my daughter I pulled out my SUPERSTAR Breastfeeding Badge and put it on with pride! I knew I would knock it out of the park, yet again.
My body knew what to do, I had mastered the task and now my daughter just needed to do her part. She needed to latch on appropriately and suck.
At first, everything seemed ok. My milk didn’t come in right after delivery, but she latched on and seemed to be getting something. But after three days and a follow up at the birthing center, something wasn’t quite right.
My precious girl had lost a little more than 1 pound. Which was more than 15% of her birth weight, which exceeded the normal rate of weight loss for a breastfed baby.
This was cause for concern.
She simply wasn’t getting the nourishment she needed. The badge of honor tossed aside, I was failing as a momma!!
I became riddled with guilt, and I grew tired of the sound of my own voice berating me:
Why is my body betraying me?
Why am I failing at this?
It’s innate…EVERYONE does it!!
What is wrong with me?
Why am I not producing milk!
Why am I not able to feed my child!
And so much more…
I wasn’t ready to consider giving her formula.
I firmly believed in the benefits of breastfeeding for my baby and myself. For me, breastfeeding would give my child the best possible start in life. I did it for my son, and my daughter deserved at least that much!
But that decision made me feel even worse; formula would have ensured she received nourishment.
Was my pride getting in the way???
But, thankfully there was another solution.
The midwifery clinic where I gave birth offers donated breast milk (YEP, you heard me right). Donated breast milk is just that; breast milk from moms who have a surplus and generously donate their milk.
The donors and the breast milk go through a battery of tests to ensure that neither are infected with any viruses or diseases. Knowing that provided some level of comfort, but to be honest I was a bit resentful.
Someone else would be providing my baby the one thing I prided myself on being able to do!
But she needed the nourishment and I wasn’t ready to give up on nursing.
So, I got over myself!
And I got over the resentment that I could not produce the milk my baby needed. I supplemented my low production with donated breast milk.
We went to the clinic about every 5 days to check her weight and my milk production.
Thankfully, my daughter quickly began to gain weight, my milk did finally come in and I no longer had to supplement with donated breast milk.
That was the longest three weeks I’ve ever experienced.
Perhaps, some would call me crazy and just give their child formula, but it was important to me that my daughter had what I believe to be the best start.
I am grateful for the mommas who donated their breast milk because, for the first three weeks of my daughter’s life, she thrived because of them!
If you are having trouble breastfeeding your baby seek help from a lactation consultant or contact an organization like LaLeche League for support.
You can get past the challenges and over the hurdles and come to really enjoy nursing your baby.
But if by chance, that is not your reality…don’t be beat yourself up!
Life’s too short and you’ve got an infant to get to know and fall deeper and deeper in love with.
Don’t let this one hurdle overshadow all the great things in store for you and your baby!
I wish you the best!