Breastfeeding Confessions From A New Mom
I want to talk about breastfeeding today. But not in the way you think...
First I want to say, I definitely support and champion breastfeeding and I have been breastfeeding little one for five months now. But I also know that breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone or sometimes isn’t an option and I totally 100% respect that too. That being said: I love being able to have the bonding time with my little girl that nursing provides, it is a magical thing and I’m PROUD of myself and my body for what it can do and has done. When I was pregnant I went to parenting classes and read a lot to try and prepare myself for being a parent (little did I know that no matter how much you think you’re ready, you never truly are). Through all of my reading and all the classes I went to one thing was repeated a lot... I HAD to breastfeed and only breastfeed for at least a year and, if I didn’t, I wasn’t giving my baby everything she needed. But here I am, 5 months and a few days in and I can tell that my body isn’t making enough milk for little one anymore… I pump, I breastfeed, I try it all, but I fear that I’m drying out. What do I do now?! I’m failing my baby! I mean after all, if I don’t breastfeed for a year that isn’t enough, that’s what everyone told me....
Now that I appear to be making less milk and on the downward slope I feel guilty, ashamed and like a failure since I’m not making enough for her anymore. I feel like I’m letting her down, even though I can’t help that my body is changing. But during these moments I ask myself “why am I beating myself up over something I cannot control?”
Why is it that our society has gotten to a place where we beat ourselves up over things we cannot control or how we parent? Aren’t we all doing the best we can? Aren’t we all trying to make it all fall into place as best as possible? Being a parent is the hardest (albeit best) job in the world. We constantly make decisions that someone, somewhere will disagree with. We’re told how to do everything and if you’re not doing it a certain way we’re made to feel as if we’re wrong. Breastfeeding is one of those things. We’re constantly bombarded with products to use, places to go, foods to eat, toys that make them smarter, the list goes on and on. But at the end of the day isn’t every baby different, and isn’t it up to the parents to know what is best for their baby?
Yes, breastfeeding is wonderful and does amazing things for your baby, but it’s also a lot of work and it’s hard on your body and sometimes it just isn’t something your body or situation allows. In the beginning, for me, it was painful, so much so that I dreaded feedings. After that stage passed my body started making too much milk and my boobs would get so full that laying down or pretty much existing hurt. I saw a lactation consultant (these people are wonderful) and we kept working at it. We eventually figured it out and after those hurdles it was great, we got into a routine and got very comfortable with it. But yeah, it was not a walk in the park, at least not in the beginning. But I’m glad I went through all of that, it makes me appreciate what I’m doing for Lil so much more. Any amount of breastfeeding is great, so why am I feeling so down on myself? I should be proud of what I’ve done and what I’ll continue to do for my girl.
I guess where I’m going with this is that I want to tell other moms and myself is that it’s okay! Whatever your situation or your choice is. In fact, it is more than okay. Not every body is the same, every situation is different and what works for some may not work for others. In my group of mommy-friends half of us breastfed and half didn’t and you know what? All our babies are happy, wonderful, healthy and so very loved. The moms in my group who didn’t breastfeed are amazing mothers, not breastfeeding doesn’t change that. What is most important, is that you care, that you try. You’ve done and continue to do something amazing for your child, you choose and pay attention to what is best for them every day. Even if you don’t breastfeed for a year, or if you’ve tried and can’t… YOU ARE NOT FAILING. In fact, you’re amazing and wonderful. You’re a great mom. We should all support and celebrate each other in all of our accomplishments. So yes, I agree that breastfeeding is great, but let’s get out of the routine of beating ourselves up if we don’t breastfeed for a year or at all, let’s not make one mom feel guilty while we celebrate another, lets support each other in every single experience and choice. After-all, showing up and doing the best we can is what matters most.