We’ve all heard: “Breast is best!”, right?
I remember when I was pregnant, crowd sourcing from other mama’s, I often asked, “Did you breastfeed? For how long?”
It was one of the first decisions my partner and I made, because the idea of it felt easy.
I want to share with you some of the reasons my breastfeeding experience sucked (or why it’s not always as easy as they say it should be).
But it did. Holy eff did it hurt!
There wasn’t anything “wrong” with my son’s latch or the way I held him or how he ate or anything like that. We saw 2 different lactation consultants over the course of my son’s first month and they all said I was doing everything I should be and that my baby was healthy and normal.
But it hurt so bad, my nipples cracked and bled. I had to rent a hospital pump because I couldn’t feed on one side while it healed. I dreaded every single feeding (and that’s OFTEN with a newborn), because I would sob over the pain every time.
I still don’t know what was going on. But I do know I’ve talked to other mama’s after the fact who agreed it’s not always “completely painless”. Lactation consults, doctors and the media made me feel like I was failing and wrong because it hurt. Pain can mean something is wrong but that doesn’t mean breastfeeding is 100% painless or even pleasurable, at least when you first start.
I do know that my son refused to open his mouth wide enough to latch on all the way. That caused part of our problems and until he grew big enough to just have a bigger mouth, my partner and I had to be all up in there, holding my nipple and making sure our newborns mouth was open and on right.
It didn’t feel natural, it didn’t feel like I could throw him in a sling and let him feed when he needed. I needed help and my son just didn’t know hot to figure it out on his own.
Here’s my secret: I didn’t bond with my son until we switched to formula.
My son was 7 months old when we made the decision to switch to formula (due to the fact that I needed to go on strong anti depressants, that’s a discussion for another time. I wrote a little about it on a guest post here.). And for those fist 7 months, I felt like the worst mother in the world because while I loved my baby and took care of him (as best I could), I never looked at him and felt my heart swell.
I never looked at my son’s smiling face and said to myself. “OMG I love this little guy to the end of the earth and back.” No, that intense love didn’t come until I stopped breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding was hard for us, it hurt and it wasn’t comfortable or easy. It made life difficult and we never connected like we should have.
Don’t let anyone tell you the only way to connect and bond with your newborn is breastfeeding. Sometimes breastfeeding is the problem.
Also, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a failure if it takes a while to bond. It’s okay.
I basically had to strip naked to wrangle my son. He would constantly pop off, unlatch, scream and wiggle.
I had to laugh to myself when I was talking with my partner about this point. My brother has a 6 month old and they recently visited us. I asked my husband if he noticed my sister-in-law breastfeeding and how easy it was.
He didn’t even realize it was going on it was so easy for them. 6 months was peak for my son being a stinker and not sitting still while feeding him. No way could I have sat in the middle of a family room and quietly fed him without anyone taking notice.
Here’s the bottom line:
Every woman’s story is different. It’s not always easy or natural or pain-free. It’s not always even the best choice for you and your child. But that doesn’t mean women need to be in the dark about the topic. I wish there were women voicing their stories when I was a new mama. I wish there were people saying breastfeeding sucks! But it can still be worth it.
Want to know a secret? I still miss it. The last few weeks before we switched to formula, we finally got the hang of it. My son and I would cuddle in bed for every feed, he was latching on better and there was no pain. Yeah, he was crazy but cute. I miss it. It had it’s benefits, health wise for him and I’m glad I tried. I’m proud of myself for trying and I’m proud of myself for making the decision to stop.
I encourage you to try, but know that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out. Know that it’s not always perfect.
I encourage you to make a choice that makes sense for their own family.
I encourage you to share your story.