We’ve all been told at one point in early motherhood, “breast is best” or some iteration of the phrase. Generally, I’ve noticed this advice comes from a well-meaning OBGYN or nurse. Other times it comes from a slightly passive aggressive sister-in-law or distant cousin. In the worst of times it comes in the midst of your struggle with nursing from an overtly judgmental mom on a post in a Facebook group.
Regardless of where you’ve heard the phrase, for us moms who have an issue with producing breastmilk or getting a proper latch, the words can be a real punch in the gut. We know the nutritional benefits of breastmilk and yet, for one reason or another find it insanely challenging.
My personal struggle with nursing
For me, both of my children had a difficult time latching in the early days, resulting in not having enough supply for either. I powered through the first year of motherhood attending every breastfeeding class in the county, literally trying everything I could to increase my supply and exclusively breastfeed. I tracked every ounce in and every ounce out.
It drove me mad.
Once my son weaned, I experienced a ground-shaking bout of postpartum anxiety that left me leaving my job to seek treatment. I learned that the weight I had put on my shoulders was crushing my spirit, and I promised I would never let breastfeeding impact my mental health like that again.
Fast-forward to the birth of my daughter.
She was born with congenital hypothyroidism filling her first days of life with a flurry of hospital visits and diagnostics. The plot twist: not only could she not latch, she wasn’t gaining weight and most formulas have ingredients that could interfere with her medications.
I was pushed to the brink yet again in my struggle with nursing.
Luckily, I had surrounded myself with the most supportive and holistic birth team I could ever imagine. We worked through challenges, found solutions, and introduced formula all while managing her condition. Now at eight months strong, she is thriving, despite her rough start in the world. And after eight months of basically pumping and supplementing, I made the firm decision that I am not going to make it to a year.
I only pumped nine ounces total yesterday. I’ll be surprised if I produce enough breastmilk to get to next month. I will continue to let her comfort nurse and provide her with all the love and nutrients she needs to grow until we’re both ready to stop. But the pump is going to be put away soon. I will love her no less. And she will know no lesser love.
Have you had a struggle with nursing? Please let us know in the comments we want to hear your stories!