Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why I Chose To Breastfeed When I Failed The First Two Times

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week.  Here is some additional information if you are interested in finding out more:
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
Breastfeed Chicago
La Leche League International 

Look for local events promoting breastfeeding as well.

*Disclaimer - I realize that people have the power of choice.  Whether that choice is made through necessity or willingness.  In no way is this post written in an attempt to bash women who do not breastfeed.*

How did I fail at breastfeeding?  Well, I really didn't fail.  With my now 14 year old I could only nurse him while I was on maternity leave.  The day care that I had enrolled him in did not accept breast milk and insisted on formula.  At the time I was more interested in safety and security and I made the decision to enroll him in a day care that did not allow breast milk to be brought in.  Now, looking back, because everything is clearer in hindsight, I realize that I had other options available that may have allowed me the opportunity to pump and supply milk AND I realize that in fact, you don't need a separate refrigerator to store pumped breast milk.  So, I nursed for 6 weeks and then forced weaned my child to supplement him on formula.
When my second son was born five years later the necessity to breastfeed was more from an economical perspective than really anything else.  Formula is fricking expensive!  But, I suffered from intense postpartum depression that required me to take medication that eventually dried up my supply.

In both instance I felt like a failure.

I felt like I wasn't a woman nor a mother.

It sucked.

Because, here is this act that I can do, I'm capable of doing, supplying my child with milk and yet I can't.

A year after my second son was born I went in for a mammogram and was told that I had dense breast.  And, it was possible that this was the cause for my inability to continue nursing my 2nd son, not the medication.

I wasn't buying it.  Though I kept in the back of my mind as a way to ease by pride.

When my third son was born eight years later I had read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and attending a few LLL meetings.  I had read Beyond the Sling and scoured every breastfeeding and holistic sight for information.

I WAS going to breastfeed my son.

And here's the thing, I had the knowledge, I was educated in the matter but, what I think really made the difference was that I WAS going to breastfeed my son.  I wasn't sending my child to day care.  I wasn't in a situation where I needed to stop nursing for any reason.  I WAS going to do it.

I was determined, and I made up my mind.

And, let me tell you the first week SUCKED!  *pun intended*  At our first follow up appointment 24 hours after discharge from the hospital I brought the possibly of being tongue tied to the doctor.  She checked it out and said "Huh?  I think you may be right.  Here is a referral to a specialist."   A specialist whom we couldn't get in to see until a week later.  I was nursing literally 24 hours a day because my child was not getting enough milk at each feeding.  I was sleep deprived and cranky.  And, I felt like I was a failure.  I felt like maybe I wasn't designed to nurse my children.  Sleep deprivation will make you think some crazy ass things, let me tell you.

I found solace by reaching out on Facebook, to other mom's whom I knew were either breastfeeding or had. I re-read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  I made calls to my LLL leaders and spoke with the Mother's Help nurse at the hospital I delivered at.  I threw out all the advice I got that did not align with me being able to breastfeed my son.

When we went to our appointment at the ENT, she gave us a run down of what tongue tie was and what it was not.  I knew he was tongue tied.  When she looked at the underside of him tongue, she confirmed it to be the case.  The best part, she was able to snip the tie right there in the office.  The first time my baby nursed after the procedure he fell asleep within minutes because he had gotten more milk in that moment that he had at any of the other nurslings prior to that.

He was full.  He was satisfied.  He was happy.

I thought that if I could nurse for three months, that would be fantastic.

At three months I though that if I could nurse for six months, that would be fantastic.

At six months I though that if I could nurse for nine months, that would be fantastic.

My third son self-weened one week prior to his first birthday.  With the introduction of solid foods around that time, his desire to nurse diminished.

I wasn't a failure.

I was a woman and I was a mom.

My body did exactly what it was designed to do and I was delighted.

Here are the top 5 reasons I chose to breastfeed my third son when my first two attempts didn't work out.


  1. Promotes Emotions Health - having a documented case of postpartum depression looming in my background I seriously did not want to go through that again.  Studies have shown that there is less postpartum anxiety and depression in woman who breastfeed than in those who formula-feed their babies.
  2. Costs Less - holy cow is formula expensive!  
  3. Gut Health - have you ever swallowed an SOS pad?  Neither have I, but that is a pretty graphic representation of what happens to your babies gut when you introduce formula.  And, gut health is so important for a number of reasons, the least of which is having a healthy immune system.  
  4. Bonding - skin to skin contact and the time it takes for a baby to nurse helps them to feel safe and secure.  It helps them to realize that they are loved and that they will be taken care of.
  5. Mothering Hormones - breastfeeding releases a whole score of awesome hormones and helps chemical reactions to take place in you.  It's like a high.   
Always do what is right for your family, no matter what others may think.  

5 months old

1 comment:

  1. I love that kid and am so glad you were able to nurse him!

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