Breastfeeding is Not a Piece of Cake
Veteran mamas have a tendency to make breastfeeding look overly simple. Well, as a second time mama myself, I’m here to tell you that that’s not always the case. Breastfeeding is not a piece of cake. Although I’m currently at a good place in my breastfeeding journey, it’s taken a lot of tenacity and hard work to get here. There were so many times that I wanted to give up along the way.
I want to start out by saying that I don’t judge you one bit if you’ve started breastfeeding your child and given up. Or if you’ve chosen to bottle feed your baby from the get go. These are deeply personal decisions, and no one has the right to tell you what’s best for you and your child. This is simply a way for me to share my own trials and tribulations with breastfeeding. It’s also a way to stand in solidarity with other mothers who may be struggling to nurse their child.
2/3 of Moms Give Up Nursing Within the First Year
In fact, “Around 80% of moms in the US begin breastfeeding their newborns, but only about a third of them are still nursing by the time their babies turn one” (https://www.kindredbravely.com/blogs/bravely/top-reasons-moms-stop-breastfeeding). Like so many other mamas, the people around me encouraged me to breastfeed my daughter because of all of the health benefits associated with breastmilk. I felt determined to nurse her but there were so many days that I wanted to throw in the towel.
Let me back up here and say that our breastfeeding journey got off to a rocky start. As a first timer, I was having a hard time getting my newborn baby to latch on, even after we left the hospital. Once we got home, I had to feed her breastmilk through a tube until I was able to get her to latch on regularly. And even after that, there were days when she didn’t want to nurse and did better with taking a bottle. Despite having breastmilk stored in the freezer, on those days I had to pump on the fly to keep up my supply.
I Pumped for A Month Straight
There was one month in particular when my daughter refused to nurse and I had to pump one hundred percent of the time. I realize now that it was probably due to my lack of experience and comfortability with breastfeeding that made my daughter refuse to nurse for a time. Quite honestly, if it weren’t for the mounting peer pressure to persevere, I would have given up entirely.
But I kept at it. And when I felt overwhelmed, I turned to lactation consultants and other mom’s online testimonies for support. To my immense relief, my daughter began taking the breast again. And other than preferring one breast over the other near the end of our breastfeeding journey, things smoothed out after that. She nursed until she was 14-months-old.
It Was Easier the Second Time Around
When my husband and I got pregnant with our second daughter, I told him that I would only breastfeed if it came more naturally this time around. I also told him that I was never pumping again unless we made plans to go out on a date. (Have you ever pumped for a month straight?). Well, I was in luck because my second daughter came out of the womb ready to latch on to my nipple. Maybe she was born hungry. Or maybe I had more experience with breastfeeding the second time around. All I know is that God heard my prayers. And now, at 18-months-old I can’t get her to stop nursing. (Perhaps I’ll do a blog post about how to ween a toddler off the breast when this is all over).
If you take just one thing away from this post, let it be this. I understand that breastfeeding is incredibly difficult and can (literally) cause blood, sweat and tears. I understand that there will be times when you want to give up. I understand if you do give up because it’s just not working out for you and your baby. I understand if you choose not to breastfeed in the first place. None of these reasons make you a bad mother. Hang in there. And keep seeking the support of others moms who know what you’re going through. Remember, breastfeeding is not a piece of cake.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in reading about my personal battle with postpartum anxiety & depression. You can find that here.