I have been pregnant or nursing for over 3.5 years and to be honest, I am a combination of being over it, and wanting to hold on a little bit longer. What I do know is after 9 months of breastfeeding I am done.
Breastfeeding never came easy to me. Keeping up my supply was a struggle to say the least. I drank all the teas, ate all the foods, took all the supplements and I was a slave to the pump - nursing and then another 20-40 minutes on the pump. To top it all off, my body image has also suffered. My body retains a lot of fat, the longer I nurse the more weight I gain and I would remind myself this is temporary. With Sienna, I lost all of my milk at 6 months postpartum when I went back to work, got a stomach bug.
I was devastated.
Breastfeeding is hard - so many things need to line up perfectly for it to come “naturally” and so many of these things are out of our control.
Preparing for Audrey’s arrival, I knew the odds of nursing successfully were stacked against me, especially since I was returning to work one month later. So I prepared myself ahead of time and stocked up on everything that I needed to increase my milk supply - see the vague list above. I approached my second postpartum period fully understanding of how my body works and decided to just roll with it.
As prepared as I was, I was not prepared for her to have an upper lip tie. We were headed into Christmas holidays which meant a month of extremely painful breastfeeding. Bleeding, toe curling pain, fever, chills, and avoiding nursing when I could. I wore a nipple shield for months as I retrained Audrey’s latch with the help of lactation consultants (shoutout to BABIES NATURALLY).
I persisted, because I knew this was temporary. Funny thing is I have nothing against formula. I am grateful that there is an option that is readily available. So why persist? I love breastfeeding, and with help both times, it became enjoyable. It was something I could give my babies that no one else could. Raising two babies left me exhausted, but I loved time spent together in the middle of the night, and Audrey drifting off to sleep in my arms. Other nights, she was awake for hours and crying with no way to soothe her - but thats what babies do, right?
And then a bomb was dropped. Audrey gained 3.5lbs in 6 months - that's it.
I didn’t understand how that was possible when I was doing everything “right” and with everything we had been through, the success we were having... How was her weight gain so low?
Turns out she wasn’t transferring properly.
She wasn't feeding as well as I thought, she was using me as a soother. I thought she was a good sleeper, but she was actually lethargic. I noticed my milk decreasing significantly around this time and the doctor believes I was losing actually losing my milk long before, I just didn’t know it.
I burst out crying.
After this diagnosis, I blamed myself. She was putting on a good show for everyone, because no one saw an issue with her feeding once the lip tie was corrected. So, I let nature take its course. I was done with the supplements. I was done with foods, teas, and extra pumping sessions - I can still hear the sound of that pump. And even though, I wasn’t ready to let go, I had to for my own sanity.
So, I quit.
Looking back on my breastfeeding journey, I see so much pressure I placed on myself on top of the stress of figuring out how to be a parent and raise a tiny human.
The next time you judge someone for a choice they are making, whether it’s how they feed their baby or how they are showing up in the world - remember, you don’t know their story. You don’t know the steps that led to this one moment you are seeing them.
Be kind to yourself and others. Be caring and compassionate. Know that you are the best mama for your baby. Understand that we are all trying to do the best we can on this crazy adventure called “Motherhood”.
Did this resonate with you? Leave me a comment below.
Treat yourself like someone you love,