Last month was National Breastfeeding Month, and as a mother of a young son, as well as being a part of that age group now where everyone is expanding their families, I was exposed to breast feeding posts, articles, and resources all month long. Let me start off by saying I do think breast feeding is a wonderful and amazing choice for any mother to give their child. However, what no one talks about nearly enough is how hard it can be and the anguish some mothers go through when they aren’t able to pull off this amazing feat.
I, unfortunately, am one of those moms. Throughout my pregnancy, I read books, researched online, picked out the best breast pump that my insurance would cover, and pretty much thought I would be ready for this whole breastfeeding thing when the time arrived. When the time came, instead of the uncomplicated breast feeding experience I had planned and hoped to have, I experienced one where nothing ever went just quite right. Most disappointingly, even with nursing around the clock and pumping, I never produced a large enough milk supply to sustain my newborn son.
The day I realized I would have to give my son formula was one of the most disappointing days I experienced as a new mom. The tears flowed as I prepared a bottle of formula to give him, and they didn’t stop flowing for days to come. Yes, postpartum hormones were partially to blame for that, but in all honestly, I truly felt like a failure. My body had failed me, and I had failed my son by not being able to give him the healthiest feeding choice possible.
It took weeks for me to start to realize that I choosing to feed my son the best way that worked for us didn’t make me a failure. To realize that most importantly, he was a healthy and happy baby and would remain so throughout the first year of formula feeding. I still sorely wish that breastfeeding would have worked out for me, but I cherish those first weeks of struggling, pain and inadequate milk supply, as they are moments of bonding that I experienced with my new baby that I wouldn’t take back for anything in the world.
Moms, it’s not the end of the world if breastfeeding doesn’t work out – even if it seems like it at the time. There will be so many more moments where you’ll feel like you’re failing and struggling to have it all together. Don’t let making the best feeding choice for your baby and yourself become one of them. My most repeated mantra to myself during those days was “give yourself grace.” I needed to tell myself that, and perhaps you need to hear it too.