The two things no one talks about while you’re pregnant: post baby recovery and breastfeeding. Everyone always says, “enjoy your sleep while you can” or “go on as many date nights as possible”, but no one ever talks about the guilt, the bad, and the ugly of all stages of pregnancy and pre and post labor. Not only do people either choose to not discuss or shy away from these subjects, but people pass so much judgement on new moms. Breastfeeding is a hot topic for judgement, “did you know she didn’t breastfeed” or “I can’t believe they’re giving their baby formula”, the list goes on. What I have learned in the seven months of being a mom is, do not pass judgement on other moms! Every mom, every baby, every family has their own set of difficulties and the decisions you make should be made in confidence and supported by those around you. I had my own difficulty with breastfeeding and in that difficulty came an overwhelming sense of guilt and defeat.
Within minutes of Maddison being born, she scrunched up her little face and maneuvered her way over to my boob. I was completely shocked that this brand new baby instinctively knew how to find my boob let alone knew that that was where her food would be coming from. We were lucky, we didn’t have any problems with Maddison latching- she was easy! While we were in the hospital one of the nurses showed me different breastfeeding positions which was helpful, but we didn’t go into detail about breastfeeding. We had to log how frequently she ate, how many pees, how many poops, and the feeding times for each day we stayed in the hospital- this was to ensure she was eating enough. We had a lactation consultant stop by to talk about breastfeeding, but when she came by we had visitors so I asked her to come back at another time… she never did. I thought wow this breastfeeding thing is easy! I didn’t need all the creams I bought, I didn’t have to worry about her latch, things were going great!
Two days after being home from the hospital, we had a doctors appointment where we learned Maddison had dropped a lot of her birth weight- completely normal, but it was due to my milk supply. I don’t know if my milk hadn’t fully come in or if I just wasn’t producing enough. My heart sank when the nurse told me her weight loss was because of my milk supply- this was a feeling of guilt and defeat like I never experienced before- this was just the start of the endless mom guilt. Because of the weight loss, we had to put an intense feeding schedule in place. I had to nurse her on both sides for ten minutes, then pump on each side for ten minutes, then feed her formula with a tube/syringe, then wash the bottles and get ready for the next round. This took place every 2&½- 3 hours around the clock. Doesn’t sound that awful, right? Well the whole feeding process took about 45 minutes to an hour, then factor in all of the visitors, trying to sleep, go to the bathroom, shower, take the dog out, basically any kind of normal life function into it as well … it was rough. Luckily Jake helped with the formula feeding and would wake up with me throughout the night to get everything setup.
Two days in to our new feeding routine and our diligent note taking with how much she was eating, how much I was pumping, the pees and poops for the day, we had another appointment to do a weigh-in. On the same day, I had made an emergency appointment because of my recovery- I could barely walk and get in and out of the car. I thought I had everything scheduled so perfectly as I usually do, I’m a planner what can I say! We had to drive downtown San Francisco and I had my appointment set first thing, we had a two hour gap in between where we went and did our feeding routine in the car, then planned on being fully prepared for Maddisons weigh-in. Jake and I decided we should walk and grab a coffee down the street since we had almost another full hour before Maddison’s appointment. As we’re slowly walking back, we get a call from the nurse asking where we were since our appointment started thirty minutes ago- mombrain! Maddison had gained her birthweight back, but they told us to keep her on the same schedule to help her gain more weight.
About one week into the feeding schedule I had had enough. I was defeated; I was exhausted, drained, emotional and had a short-fuse especially with Jake when he didn’t wash a bottle or didn’t get up in time. I called Kaiser and asked to speak to a lactation consultant who told me to stop what I was doing immediately because I was causing more harm and interfering with my milk production- this call turned into a sudden onset of waterworks. I was told to feed Maddison on demand- as much as she wanted. I learned that the baby dictates your milk supply, so by feeding on demand, it would help produce more milk. I started taking supplements to help increase my supply, played around with “booby bites” and lactation cookies, ordered lactation bars, tried to eat certain foods that increase your supply,, I was doing anything and everything to try and up my milk production. I went to a lactation consultant who weighed Maddison after I fed her to get an idea of how much I was producing and gave me some more tips on how to increase my supply. I was also given the hospital grade pump to take home and told to pump after nursing. The guilt started to melt away and the feeling of dread I had associated with breastfeeding stopped as soon as I started to embrace that I was doing everything I could to be a good mom.
It’s now been seven months of breastfeeding. I remember telling myself I could make it to two full months and to know that I’ve made it to seven is such a feeling of accomplishment. My goal is to make it to a full year, but Maddison has two bottom teeth and I know more will be coming, so we’ll see if I can stick to that goal! Breastfeeding is tough, it requires a lot of sacrifice and dedication. To all the moms out there, whether you’re breastfeeding or not, just remember, YOU’VE GOT THIS!