I Don't Know If I Want To Breastfeed, A New Mom's Experience
Before I Had Her
I would like to preface this article by saying that I am strongly in the camp of “fed is best.” Due to circumstances regarding baby or mom breastfeeding isn't always an option, and I would like to stress that every mom and baby’s nursing relationship is completely unique.
When I found out I was pregnant among the thousands of questions and thoughts that zipped through my head, breastfeeding was one of them. I knew I was willing to try but from the start I was anxious about it, the idea of nursing had always simply irked me and I couldn't tell you exactly why. Thinking I could get comfortable with the idea I began searching for documentaries revolving around the topic and Netflix delivered, although it seemingly made things worse, watching other mothers breastfeed made me incredibly uncomfortable and I never really understood why. Before my daughter came into the picture I, like most parents, had ideas of how I would raise my child. Some of these parenting decisions I had no problem sticking with but like the majority of new parents, there were things that flew right out of the window from the get go. When it came to nursing, I regret feeling a small wish that we would be unable to nurse. I had a secret hope that I wouldn't produce enough milk, that she would be unable to latch, any and all of the above. Just typing these words now cause sheer embarrassment and regret, but it was how I felt at the time. I knew the benefits of breastmilk, and how they are superior to formula in many ways: easier digestion, antibodies passed on to baby, vitamins and minerals tailored exactly for baby’s age, and the ever so repeated “bonding” that goes on during a feed. I vowed to attempt to breastfeed but was anticipating if we were nursing compatible I would probably wean her to formula within 6 months.
After She Was Born
When my daughter was born the nurse latched her on after nice bath and she had no problem, I was so traumatized from birth after the epidural wore off that it barely registered what was going on. After a day of her slipping off during each feed the lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield to try and she took to it immediately. The first three weeks were quite a blur, days were spent melting together and trying to understand why my daughter would projectile vomit and scream when laid down flat, we soon learned she had acid reflux and her medicine coupled with an angled sleep helped her immensely. Throughout the first three weeks I did not experience any pain due to the shield I was given, although it was a hassle keeping it clean and getting it on before each feed, it was tolerable. Within those weeks I become so exhausted from nursing, I was the sole provider of food (aside from an occasional pumped bottle my husband fed her so I could sleep) and it was getting to me. If I could just give her a bottle of formula every now and then I wouldn't feel so bombarded, I would feel back to myself a bit. One night I was feeling sleepier than usual and attempted to feed her some formula and she flat out refused, spit it back out at me, I handed her over to her dad and stepped out of the room for him to try with no luck. It was in that moment that I began to feel trapped, either she would nurse or I would have to pump a bottle for her which equaled to no rest for me. I pushed on through those difficult days and after the first dreadful few weeks, nursing became more enjoyable, I got more sleep, my daughter got on her reflux medication and I began to feel like a human again. It was when I began having a clear head I recognized how lucky I was to have a fairly uneventful breastfeeding journey, some mothers desperately hope to nurse and are unable too, so how could I complain? I had no supply issues, no nipple pain, and aside from using a shield my baby was clearly getting the milk she needed, I also began to realize how much time would be spent cleaning and sterilizing bottles and preparing them for her to eat. The best thing about nursing my daughter was recognizing that it was and is the only thing I can do for my precious baby that nobody else can, and this is what drove my bonding experience with her, it all began to make sense. The older she got, the easier nursing became and we soon were able to ditch the nipple shield and breastfeeding became quick and efficient. My daughter is now eight months old and has never been sick, I like to think my breastmilk has had something to do with that. The fact that we still nurse is shocking to me, I would've never guessed that I would love it as much as I do. Our babies really do grow so fast and with growth comes independence, so when we nurse now it takes me back to when she was still the tiny newborn cradled in my arms. I kick myself constantly for silently judging others for breastfeeding publicly, but I wouldn't have ever realized how natural nursing actually is and feels until I experienced it for myself.
Regardless of how you choose to feed your baby, the important thing is that your little one is loved and you are happy. If you decide that breastfeeding isn't for you, try to made a conscious effort not to judge moms that do, it is an incredibly difficult thing to master and if someone's cover slips off because their baby is grabbing and kicking while trying to fill their tummies it won't scar you for life, I promise.