What they don't tell you about feeding your baby
What they don't tell you about feeding your baby is:
No matter how you choose to do it (breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding, partially pumping, etc.) you will most likely question how you do it, if it's the "correct" way, if you'll be judged by your decision, is baby getting enough, is this milk upsetting their tummy, and on and on and on and on our questions go.
I would love to confidently say that feeding babies was a wonderful journey for me but the reality is, I learned a lot because I went through a lot. I don't regret the decisions I made when it came to feeding my babies; but the one thing that I know and want to prepare women for is that it's a challenge. Like any other challenge, if you are prepared for it and are educated, you can and will get through that season of your life. At times you feel discouraged and defeated- this is normal. At times you will want to give up breastfeeding- this is normal. At times you will feel like an awful mother & judged for choosing to feed with bottles- this is normal. At times you would rather eat anchovies than wash another dang bottle or pump part- this is normal.
But here's the bottom line, no matter what you choose to do or changes you make, you are doing what is best for you and you are baby. Don't ever forget that.
I began my journey making the decision to breastfeed. I didn't really read any books, I didn't really inform myself on it but I was pretty confident that it would work out: Charlee would latch fine and it wouldn't be a struggle. And then after I was in labor for 24+ hours, I tried to nurse Charlee and it just wasn't happening. I tried and tried numerous times, the lactation consultant came to help me but there was no change. I would spend an entire HOUR just trying to get her to latch. We were both frustrated and exhausted. In between all of this, I resorted to pumping. Never in my dreams did I think I would have to hand express colostrum into a spoon and feed her with a syringe (if you don't know what I'm talking about, feel free to comment or message me). So that was basically our new pattern: I tried nursing, after she wouldn't for so long, I pumped and we bottle fed (this was once we were home and my milk had come in). I felt like an awful mother. I also was an emotional mess because I was doing double the work: pumping, feeding, washing EVERYTHING. Repeat. I continued to try and nurse though, I really felt like I shouldn't give up. After about 7-8 weeks, during one of my trials of trying to nurse, Charlee LATCHED. I'm not joking. I'm pretty sure I was alone in our apartment and almost pooped my pants. Mainly because I was in shock that it just happened out of no where and I thought there was no end of pumping in sight. I ended up breastfeeding Charlee until she was 11 months old. (We did formula for a short time and then transitioned to milk.) My gut told me not to give up and to keep trying. My heart was fine with exclusively pumping but I would just give it a try every now and then hoping she would get it. I'm so thankful I trusted my gut.
With Lilly, it was an easier situation overall but this was my struggle: I wanted to breastfeed her, I worked full time & I had another not-even-2-year-old little girl to take care of. Lilly had difficulty latching at first but over some time, she got the hang of it and we both were breastfeeding pros. I nursed her while I was home on leave and then when I returned to work, I pumped. However, for whatever reason, my supply was no where near as much as it was when I had Charlee (I personally think that was the case because I pumped from the very beginning). So at some point we did have to end up supplementing with formula. It was so much sooner than what I wanted to and once again, I felt like a failure. I felt like an awful mother. We eventually transitioned to formula full time and I stopped pumping when she was around 8 months. Looking back, I don't regret that decision because I think it saved my mental and emotional health. I stopped pumping/nursing as I entered the new school year that ended up being the most challenging year of my career. It was comforting to know that Lilly was going to be fed, nourished and taken care of without me stressing about pumping the right number of ounces each day. I also could enjoy precious time at home with my baby & toddler who just wanted their mommy with them; not strapped to a machine.
I used to wonder what it would like if I did things differently or if I made the "right" decisions. But I'm so incredibly thankful for the experiences that I had because I truly feel like I've been through it all: breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, pumping at work, formula, etc. I can offer my expertise in this area to moms and truly be able to empathize with them through all of the different transitions feeding your baby can bring.
If you are struggling and needing help or advice, please don't hesitate to reach out 💛
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