This is the image of a very tired and worn out new momma who was on the verge of giving up.
When I was pregnant with Baby A I could not wait to breastfeed. I thought how your body worked to provide exactly what your baby needed was so miraculous and looked forward to bounding with my little guy. I was told that he would want to nurse as soon as he was born; however, beyond a little nuzzle, he was far more interested in sleeping.
I expected a hungry baby who woke up every hour to feed, but instead my baby slept through the night and would go four or five hours throughout the day before wanting to eat again. I was having to wake him up to feed him. The challenge of keeping him awake during a feed was a whole different ball game. We tried cold water, wet wipes, talking, jostling, burping, but nothing would keep him awake.
As the days went by our pediatrician became more and more insistent that I would have to switch to formula. Devastated, I called my midwife to set up an appointment with my lactation specialist. After seeing my little guy and talking to me to figure out how we were nursing they came to the conclusion that his mouth was just very small still andwas causing him to have trouble attaining a proper latch. In order to keep him breastfed while trying to help him put on enough weight to make the pediatrician happy, the midwife had me start expressing milk and feeding it to him with a spoon or tear-dropper all while trying to encourage him to latch. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t do the one thing my body was supposed to know how to naturally do. I was terrified that all my efforts wouldn’t be enough to keep him healthy.
This went on for what seemed like an eternity, every feeding lasting any where form forty minutes to an hour and a half. I used a combination of pumping, nipple shields, breast shells, and skin-to-skin to help encourage him to latch- but it always seemed like we would end up back at square one. At seven days postpartum I ended up in the ER due to severe bleeding. While at the hospital I had to leave my newborn son with my sister and mother-in-law to bottle feed on formula. I had to have a surgery and was on medication that caused me to have to pump and dump my milk for 24 hours. I was sure that this was going to be the breaking point of nursing him. What if he liked the bottle more? What if my milk supply dropped too low to recover? But in the days after my surgery my little man had grown up and filled out just enough that he was able to finally latch!
Over the next few weeks I still struggled to get him on a routine, I had a severe milk supply drop, and he went through a phase where he was refusing to nurse after I went back to work. Through it all I stayed focused on doing what I needed to in order to keep that bond with my baby. My husband was so encouraging and helped me whenever I felt overwhelmed and now today my little guy is a nursing champ. Despite wanting to give up many times I am so glad I stuck with it!
I will tell you, breastfeeding is one of the most natural things, but it does not always come naturally. Give yourself some time to figure it out, it is new for both you and your baby. Don’t feel embarrassed if your struggling with it, so many women give up because they are too ashamed to reach out for help. You are not doing anything wrong! Sometimes we just need a little guidance- please get in touch with a lactation specialist before you give up. You know what is best for your little one, stick with your gut and don’t give up! If you find that breastfeeding is not an option for you do not count it as a failure. As a momma you will do everything in your power to help your baby thrive whether it be through formula or breast milk- everyone’s journey is different.