Before I gave birth to our daughter, I was certain that I would breastfeed. My mom, aunt, sister and grandmothers did so I was determined to follow suit. I liked that breastfeeding would give me the opportunity to bond with baby and give her a healthy start, that it was accessible, free of charge and that there was absolutely zero chance that my breast milk would be recalled. Breast was best. Breast was the way to go. Breast also hurt like hell and caused many of emotional breakdowns, blood (literally), sweat and tears. Breastfeeding quickly turned into my worst nightmare.
Because labour and delivery wasn’t enough of an emotional roller coaster, breastfeeding came in and turned me into a monster… and when I say monster I mean a full on Randall vs. Sully. Things got ugly and ugly fast. Breastfeeding did not come naturally to me and it was more painful than I had ever anticipated. I put a lot of pressure on myself to push through it (as if I hadn’t done enough pushing already). I was producing SO much milk SO quickly that it seemed like a complete waste to just give up.
At the hospital, nurses who I’m sure had the best intentions, made breastfeeding feel THAT much more challenging. While I appreciated their knowledge, I had a different nurse which felt like every half hour come in and show me a new hold and it was incredibly overwhelming. Too many opinions is never a good thing but as a novice parent I wanted to listen to all of the experts advice because I didn’t know what the f*** I was doing and these people at the hospital new best…. so I thought.
Things quickly ended up getting to the point where I hated feeding my daughter. The idea of putting her on my breast brought me to tears which was a terrible feeling. My nipples were soar, bruised, chapped and worse of all.. bleeding!! I can vividly remember one of our first nights home with our baby where I fed her and endured the pain only to have her spit up blood moments later. Blood!?! I was horrified!!
My husband was an absolute trooper during these first few weeks postpartum. He was my go-to and basically lived at Walmart and drug stores to buy things that were supposed to help with breastfeeding. Nipple shields, Lanolin cream, breast bumps and bottles… you name it, we bought it. I was desperate for some relief and so was he.
At this point, you’d think that I would have just thrown in the towel, given up the breastfeeding and introduced formula, but something inside me said that I’d regret giving this up. As much as I hated breastfeeding, I hated the idea of giving up even more. Perhaps I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and I suppose that I was being incredibly stubborn, but I like to think that this was my first mommy instinct and I’m so happy that I stuck with it! My daughter is 4 1/2 months old now and I’ve been breastfeeding her and will continue to do so. It’s become natural to me, so much so that I don’t even realise she’s latched on!
I wanted to share my story with you not for praise and not because I think formula feeding is bad, but because I want to give those of you who may be in a similar position as I was some hope and encouragement to follow your instincts.. whatever that may be!
There is no right or wrong way to feed your baby and no one should tell you otherwise. Whether you want to breastfeed or formula feed is completely up to you! They say breast is best and that formula is okay too… but the real message should be that YOU know best and that your baby will be okay with whichever you choose!