This is a more serious toned topic and I know many people will disagree with what I have to say but I feel like it is not said enough.
Let me start off by saying…congratulations to all the moms out there who are able to successfully breastfeed their child as they want/planned.
To those who wanted to breastfeed but was unable to…I’m sorry.
To those who chose not to breastfeed at all…no judgement here and good for you for doing exactly what works best for you and your child.
Now on to the point of this post…
I am a new mom to a, as of today, 8 month old baby boy and I knew well before I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed for at least the first year of my child’s life. But that didn’t work out the way I planned or hoped it would.
I know most, if not all, of the mothers out there have heard “breast if best” and I do not disagree with the many benefits that breastfeeding provides but I feel like we as a society do not respect those who can’t or do not want to breastfeed. It’s sad to me. As the saying goes “you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors”. That’s true, you don’t. So how can someone be judged for a decision they make for themselves and their family?
At the end of my pregnancy I remember watching videos and reading articles of mothers who were shamed because they were breastfeeding their baby in public. It was outrageous and it literally scared me to think about having to feed my baby while we were out and about. I certainly was not going to hide away in the unsanitary environment of a public bathroom. I mean, who would want to eat in a public bathroom?? After he was born, I always had my husband run the errands so I didn’t have to worry about my baby getting hungry in public. It made me sad but I breastfed anyway and stayed home while I did.
We had problems with it from the very beginning. My son had a hard time latching on correctly and because of that, I literally bled trying to feed my baby. I spoke with the pediatrician, my doctor, a lactation consultant, anyone I could think of that may be able to help. No resolution was found. It didn’t matter how much I worked with my son he just couldn’t do it so I pumped after each attempt. I did everything right and we still had to supplement with formula.
Then, one day, we noticed blood in his stool. Naturally, we were very concerned and took him a children’s urgent care center. They tested his stool to confirm that it was in fact blood and then took an x-ray of his abdomen. He had inflammation in his colon and was diagnosed with a cow’s milk protein allergy. We were told to strictly feed him Similac Alimentum formula. We then had a follow up appointment with the lactation consultant at his pediatrician’s office. She told him to continue with the Alimentum and stop breastfeeding. I was instructed to pump after every bottle feeding to keep my milk supply coming but to cut out all dairy in my diet. After a week of no dairy I can continue the no dairy diet and breastfeed while supplementing with the Alimentum formula. After 24 hours of being on the formula, my baby was happy again and there was no blood in his stool. We were able to breathe and sigh of relief.
The relief did not last long though. It seemed that everyday that I was pumping, my milk supply was decreasing. DECREASING! How could that be? Again, I was doing everything right. So when my baby turned one month old, I was no longer able to breastfeed. And I was sad, again.
No one warns you how hard breastfeeding is. No one warns you that it take work and practice. No one warns you that even though it’s a natural act, the ability to do so does not come naturally. So I was disappointed and I felt like a failure. Like a bad mother.
I breastfed through many tears, from both my son and myself. I stayed up nights pumping after every feeding and bottle my baby had. I fed him with bloody and bruised breasts. I did everything I could possibly do but my body still failed me.
Now my baby is exclusively bottle fed with formula. Similac Alimentum to be exact because we can’t introduce anything else until he is 12 months old because of the severity of his allergy. The sad part of this is that I was so worried to breastfeed in public because of the shaming I had read so much about and now I get stern looks from people anytime I pull out a bottle and begin mixing his formula. Complete strangers judging me because I’m feeding my baby and the only response I have for people like that is…Shame on you.
My baby is happy and healthy. He is right on track with all of his developmental milestones and even ahead with some of them. If you ask me, that’s all that matters.
So let’s stop judging situations we know nothing about and start supporting each other as mothers. As parents. As a community. We have young ones watching everything we do, let’s show them how to love each other.