How many of you mamas reading this were not able to breastfeed? Let me tell you about my struggle because the mom shame I received was real. When I got pregnant with Madison I fully planned on breastfeeding and pictured it to be a magical and easy thing. No one told me differently. My baby shower gifts were filled with many nursing gifts and my hospital bag was packed with all the necessities including lanolin nipple cream and nursing bra pads. I was totally prepared and excited.
September 5th was born after the easiest labor and Madison latched instantly! Fast forward to the first night we were in the hospital and she cried literally ALL NIGHT LONG. The next day consisted of more crying to the point of our newborn photographer showed up at the hospital and my husband had to ask her to leave because Madison was so cranky and there was no way we would be able to get any photos done. And then it happened… they said it was time for us to leave… with this baby that we just met that cried all the time. So we headed home and the nursing seemed to be going well, but very painful. I had to clench my jaw every time she latched on and my eyes would fill with tears. I would pump to get some relief but then when I would pump I was not even getting an ounce each time.
Three weeks into being a new mom with a very colic baby I realized that I had a very low milk supply. I was sitting in the living room and she was just crying, and my husband said let’s just make her a bottle with the formula. I instantly started to cry as he made the bottle and then I gave it to her… and just like that the crying stopped. I sat there feeding her and sobbing because the mom guilt set in. The pressures of breastfeeding were weighing heavy on my shoulders and my husband looked at me and said “She stopped crying… she is full and happy”. I felt like I was the worst mom and a failure for giving her formula and I posted in a mom group asking for advice. Every single response back was ways to increase my supply, comments that I needed to keep trying and pretty much that formula was poison and “breast is best” comments.
After a few weeks and finally finding a formula that worked for my daughter and the mom guilt wore off, I finally accepted and embraced that I was not able to breastfeed. Madison ended up needing to be on a special hypoallergenic formula called Nutramigen and suddenly became a happy baby after three months of a very colic baby.
When I was pregnant with my son I had plans yet again to breastfeed but that did not work out after he had a unexpected stay in the hospital and I was encouraged to pump, but once again I was not getting anything when I pumped and the lactation consultant told me that I would not be able to produce much. I was okay with it, and I did not feel bad at all. I knew that I would not put myself through those awful feelings and guilt again.
Mom should never be shamed or made to feel like they are bad moms because they aren’t able to breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed. Try it or don’t try it. If you do try it then hopefully it works for you. If you want to just pump then do that. But do not, under any circumstances, let it drive you insane and do not feel like you have to. You are a good mom and whatever decision you choose for your baby is the best for your child, no matter what your family says, friends, co-workers, or the moms in that mom group online. A fed baby is a happy baby and your baby will benefit from a happy mother who isn’t losing her mind with post-partum because of these stresses.
And I am not saying this is a one way street, I full support breastfeeding mamas. You are giving your little one liquid gold and that is an amazing thing. I mean seriously… our bodies create these amazing little humans, we’ve got bigger things to worry about.
The judgment and shame over not breastfeeding has to end. At the end of the day we are all just moms trying to figure out this crazy life, so we can all just uplift each other and support one another? There is no need for constant judgment over things that at the end of the day the only person that can make decisions for your child, is you. Big kudos to all you mamas out there, mamas who are breastfeeding or bottle feeding… or letting your child eat French fries off your car floor… you are all rock stars.