Recently I received private messages from two friends, both asked my opinion on whether they should keep trying to breast feed or not. When breast feeding goes wrong, it can go really wrong, and what then?
[Just a disclaimer before any other women decide to jump me and cut my boobs off - I fully support breast feeding women. I think it is one of the most incredible things a mother can share with her baby, and that if you are capable of doing it well then you should be doing it].
Women like me will continue to struggle to feed our babies when it just isn't working for us or them. Women like me struggle each day to reach the breast feeding milestones we had in our heads "If I can just make it to 6 months" or "12 months." Meanwhile we feel like we are on the verge of nervous break down from exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
Back in my breast feeding days I had joined a couple Facebook pages on breast feeding. One was very helpful while the other, which claimed to be all about supporting the breast feeding mother, just wasn't at all. The final straw for me (with that page) came when they wrote a status saying that any woman who claims she has low supply doesn't, and low supply just does not exist. It's always something else that is the issue because our bodies were meant to provide enough milk for our babies. What happened next was a bunch of women making all sorts of mean comments in the thread about their "friends" who had claimed low supply. Comments like "I've never believed my friend who told me she had low supply. I think it's BS and that she just didn't want to be bothered with the work that goes into it." I commented to the admin on the page that this thread was so discouraging, that I was trying so hard every single day to give my baby enough milk and it just wasn't enough, he had lost weight and I was forced to mix feed. Her response just wasn't good enough and so I ended up leaving the "support group." Don't stay in support groups that don't support you. Simple, right?
|Have you ever seen anyone more tired in all your life?|
Besides the judgement you get from other mums there's also the friends and family who don't understand why you keep trying so hard to keep breastfeeding. Most who didn't understand have never had a baby so I would explain to them that before having my baby I didn't understand it either, just that it was something I wanted to do. I didn't know the surge of hormones that would come in to play, and how the oxytocin that my baby and I would give off to each other would make the experience almost addictive. It was incredibly bonding and I had a strong desire bordering on obsession that made me want to continue to try it even though it really was not working for us.
The amount of sleep deprivation that I coped with on a day to day level made me bat-shit crazy. I fixated on things I normally wouldn't have. My anxiety went through the roof to the point that when I did have the opportunity to sleep my mind and heart would just race.
|I tried so hard to enjoy moments like these|
|One of the rare moments we saw our son's tongue because he had a posterior tongue tie|
|Look at the crazy lady trying to BF on holidays in Canada, with my travel Brest Friend Pillow|
I wish other people let me off the hook too. I'm so glad my husband encouraged me to breast feed our baby like he did but looking back I wish he had told me to quit sooner.
We made it to 5 months. My son had pretty much decided at around 3 months that breast feeding was hard work for him and taking a bottle was so much easier. I should have taken his cue. He screamed and rarely stayed on the breast for more than 2 minutes a side. 5 months old is when I also started Zoloft. I grieved the breast feeding relationship for that first week after, but then I felt intense relief and even freedom. I started to enjoy my little boy in a way I thought could not be possible.
A wise woman once told me "Once your kids are in school no one will know the difference between the breast fed ones and the formula fed ones."
I'll add to that by saying 'but I bet you'll be able to see the difference in the ones who weren't loved.'
*Read more about My Year Since Post Natal Depression here