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When I had my first child, I was adamant I would breastfeed. I had heard so many positive reasons for breastfeeding like decreasing allergies, breast milk changing based on your baby’s needs, more bonding time, and weight loss. All of it sounded great.
My friends reminded me it wouldn’t be all glitter and sparkles. They told me you need to feed your baby more often (meaning a lot less sleep), educated me on engorged breasts and how painful they are, and gave me pads to help not leak through my shirt.
I knew breastfeeding would be painful, especially when my little one got teeth, but I knew it would be worth it. With all the information I learned, still, nothing prepared me for what was to come.
The Untold Struggle of Breastfeeding
While in the hospital, the nurses and a lactation specialist came in to help make sure I understood how to breastfeed. They made sure my baby latched. After a few tries, she did. After the specialist left, I struggled with getting her to latch again, but I knew it would take a bit to get her to learn.
The day I went to leave the hospital, I breastfed my baby for about 30 minutes, but she was still crying. The nurses told me she is probably just hungry. I was baffled how a newborn baby could still be hungry after 30 minutes of breastfeeding.
We vowed to not use pacifiers for the first few weeks to help with nipple confusion, but after another 30 minutes of feeding her and her still crying, we gave up and asked for a pacifier to get us to the car. I didn’t want to look like a bad parent to everyone and their mothers in the hospital.
After one day at home, I was struggling to get my daughter to latch. We called the lactation specialist and she had us come to the hospital for another consultation. She gave me a nipple guard to help. It did.
She then had me use a breast pump to work to extract some milk for 1-2 minutes before breastfeeding. My daughter latched much more easily.
I wasn’t getting much milk out, so she recommended I pump every 2 hours between breastfeeding and sent me home. This would help my milk come in better, or so they said.
After 3 days I headed to our pediatrician for my daughter’s newborn checkup. She was still under her birth weight and had actually lost more weight.
The doctor told me not to worry since it could take up to 7-10 days to get back there. She wanted me to keep coming back each week until she was back up to that weight.
She was still under her birth weight and had actually lost more weight.
I continued to do exactly as the doctor said for the next week. It was draining, but my husband was there supporting me along the way.
The Challenge Continued
At my next doctor’s visit, she told me my daughter was still under birth weight and had lost even more weight. I confirmed what I was doing with my daughter. She told me it’s possible my milk hadn’t come in yet but should come in soon.
I should keep doing what I was doing. In the meantime, I should supplement one feeding a day to make sure she was getting the nutrition she needed.
The next week I did what the doctor said again. My husband fed my daughter when we supplemented while I pumped to help my milk come in.
The next 2 doctor appointments were even more disappointing. She ended up having us supplement half of what we were feeding her (me pumping while my husband fed). She was STILL losing weight.
I was making about 1 oz of milk a day by pumping. Everyone was lost and had no information as to why I wasn’t able to make enough. It was defeating. I gave up.
It destroyed me inside that my body would not do what mothers are intended for their babies. Everyone else was able to breastfeed, so why wasn’t I?
It was defeating. I gave up.
What I Found Out
We ended up feeding my daughter formula to ensure she was getting the nutrition she needed. It helped. A lot. She started sleeping through the night at 3 months and immediately starting gaining back weight. She seemed less cranky and cried less.
Looking back in hindsight, my daughter was hungry at the hospital. She wouldn’t stop crying because I wasn’t able to feed her.
Everyone had educated me on how to breastfeed and how to keep your milk up, but no one brought up the possibility of having no milk. No one told me that there are millions of people who formula feed and their kids turn out fine. No one told me that was okay.
We are trying for our second child and I have no intent on breastfeeding. The exhaustion, constant stress, and lots of doctor appointments (they were getting costly!) were not worth it to me.
I think back that if my doctor hadn’t told me to supplement, my daughter could have starved to death. The formula worked fine for our daughter who is now 2 and healthy.
Do you know anyone that experienced a lack of milk supply when they had their child?