Breast is best.... As a new mom, I know that statement is easier said than done. I made all the mistakes there are to make when it comes to breastfeeding....
1. INTRODUCING A BOTTLE
From what I know now, this was my number 1 mistake. I didn't have enough education in the beginning to know that introducing a bottle too early can be a breastfeeding death sentence. Most experts recommend waiting 1 month (as long as baby is latching well) before introducing a bottle. Too early may confuse baby (and end up very painful for mom). Breast nipples are very different from bottle nipples. Duh. Bottle nipples let liquid flow much easier and quicker. Whereas baby has to work harder to get milk from the breast. The way baby drinks from each is different. Which is why this leads to latching issues.
We introduced a bottle in the first few weeks. Probably due, in part, to mistake number 2....
(Tilly was also a preemie. So, we had to use this crazy syringe and tubing situation. It was inserted into her mouth while she was still latched on. It didn't seem to work correctly. Another reason things went array.)
2. WANTING DAD TO HELP
I wanted him to help. I wanted him to feel needed. I wanted ten minutes to myself.
There are better ways to have dad help:
3. NOT SEEKING HELP SOON ENOUGH
Before leaving the hospital, they asked if I wanted to make an appointment to see the lactation consultant. After spending 8 days in the hospital, all I wanted to do was go home! I turned down the opportunity to possibly save breastfeeding for us by getting the proper education I was lacking. Oh, the repercussion of our decisions....
I had been having pain/ trouble for weeks before finally seeking help. I had tried a million or so home remedies. I tried the sheep sweat (lanolin), ew. I was in so much pain, I was only breastfeeding twice a day and pumping 4. Baby was getting the majority of breast milk (the little I was making) through a bottle!
I think I was a bit ashamed that I didn't just naturally know how to make it better. I thought that breastfeeding and motherhood was going to just flow naturally. For some stupid reason I thought it was supposed to be easy or just come to me naturally.
We mother's are human. We don't always have the right answer. Find someone who does. Check out groups like, La Leche League. There is a local group in my area called, Bosom Buddies. It's like a playgroup for babies and a support group for mommies.
Find support from family and friends too! The only person I asked for advice from at first was my mom, who had zero problems breastfeeding. So, she was little help (sorry mom). I took to social media after things started to hit the fan. A friend on Facebook had similar issues with nipple sensitivity. She suggested I put lettuce leaves on my nipples before breastfeeding. Apparently, this is really a thing. Cold cabbage or lettuce leaves placed over the breast soothes and reduces pain and swelling! I wish I had asked for advice sooner!
4. STRESSING OUT
There is so much to stress about after having a baby! Are they healthy? Will I ever sleep again? I'm gonna need how many diapers? I may have to breastfeed (gulp) in PUBLIC?? Is someone gonna stop by my house while I'm topless? (yes, topless)
You need a certain level of confidence to breastfeed in front of people. I attempted my favorite, 'fake it til you make it', approach. When I feel nervous or uncomfortable, as you can imagine, I pretend that I'm not. So, I'd just sit there on the couch with my boob out, like it was nothing. Gawd damn I was so friggin uncomfortable. Especially because people came to see baby. Having them look at baby sucking my boob was super awkward.
It's unfortunate that society puts a sexual emphasis on breasts. I'm sure we've all seen those posts and videos where the girl with the low cut shirt gets hit on, but the breastfeeding mom is called disgusting. WTF?! Seeing things like that puts a certain level of paranoia in place.
Free the nips! Due to my breastfeeding issues, I walked around my house topless. I needed to let my sore nipples breath. This caused a lot of anxiety because people would show up without calling. I'd be vacuuming topless and someone would just show up out of the blue, stay for 3 hours, and completely ruin my, "air out". And that was frustrating! I NEEDED to walk around topless. I NEEDED to air out. I felt, by people showing up, I'd have to cover up, and then in turn, I was a bad mother because I had trouble breastfeeding. When really, I think I would have done better if people had given me the space I needed those first few months.
After introducing a bottle, breastfeeding and pumping became difficult and painful. The stress of me not being able to produce enough milk to feed my baby was daunting. Tilly was born 5lbs and everyone seemed concerned that that was a problem. I was under the assumption that she was going to stay small and fail to thrive if I couldn't fix my breastfeeding issues. I felt horrible that I couldn't do better for her.
The stress, pain, and little milk I was producing wasn't worth it anymore. I finally stopped beating myself up and quit breastfeeding and pumping all together by the time baby was 3 months old. She had already started formula anyway because I wasn't producing enough breast milk.
Once I came to terms that it was really over, (returning the breast pump was a bit emotional) the stress and anxiety disappeared. Needles were no longer exiting my nipples. I still feel bad that I couldn't fix things and keep trying, but I am happier as a mother and that is more important to me. A happy mommy is a good mommy. Yes, breast milk is liquid gold and whatever, but is liquid gold worth it if you suffer in other ways to get it?
5. TRYING TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY
I royally screwed things up by introducing a bottle because I wanted others to feel involved. I believe this was due to me wanting my boyfriend to feel needed by our baby, as well as, worrying about visitors feelings. I felt bad taking baby away from people when they were there to visit. That is such an unfair feeling! You just had a baby. You need time to bond as a family. Not your ENTIRE family. Your new immediate family unit. This is where I messed up, putting others feelings before the health and happiness of me and baby.
Including people in this new adventure is great, but don't include so much that you miss out on precious time with your baby! You'll just end up bitter and jealous, believe me! Don't be afraid to put a set of rules in place. Maybe you have people visit on Wednesdays and Sundays with a 2 hour visit limit. Maybe you'll even be barbaric and ask people to wash their hands before holding baby. Even better is when you ask people to stay away if they are sick. Miraculously, people tend to get better real quick. (eye-roll) LOL!
No one wants to miss out on a baby visit! Babies make people happy. If your family is like most and normal, you have some with depression, anxiety, mental illness, whatever it may be. Babies are unaware of such illness and anxiety. I think that's comforting for people with social issues. They aren't being judged by a peer or even someone that knows anything about them. So, do your best to be understanding of this need in your circle.
I struggled with this at first. I was, on-top-of-the-world, happy after having Tilly. It was hard to remember that my family/ friends were happy for me, but still had their own personal struggles. If you are like me, you are sensitive to peoples energy. It was difficult having sad people visit. Because of my newfound happiness, I could feel their sadness more than ever.
Whew! I know that was a long one, but I felt like I needed to explain, apparently in great detail, why breastfeeding went wrong for me. Breastfeeding isn't just, suck boob, get milk. I went through a lot emotionally that absolutely affected my breastfeeding abilities.
It's natural. It's painful. It's emotional. You might gain a grey hair or two in the process. And, $hit, you might fail all together. It's NOT the end of the world. We live in a modern, convenient society where someone invented formula.
Thanks for stopping!
Until next time,
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