When I was pregnant, I didn’t really think about the way I was going to feed Braden. I knew that nursing was a natural and healthy option for feeding him, but I was grateful to know there were backup options (like formula) if I had any problems.
I had heard so many different moms who said that nursing is the best and that they never want to stop. I also heard other moms who hated it and had so many problems that they either had to endure or feed their baby formula. Nursing is no party, but it is definitely worth a try if it is something you are able to do.
When Braden was born, he did pretty well with nursing, but after a few days he was falling asleep all the time and clamping down on me, which was not my idea of fun. I was producing plenty of breast milk, so I decided to pump instead. That is a whole other thing to figure out, and it is not any more fun. Before my milk regulated, some days I would pump 10 oz every 3 hours, which was SO PAINFUL. Any time I felt like my milk production was slowing down at all, I would take Fenugreek supplements because I was so afraid of drying up.
One day, after coming home from the beach, my body hurt so bad from holding him, and I was running a fever. I thought I had gotten a cold that Dallas had, but the day after, my fever broke and I could think straight again, I realized that I was engorged and that I had mastitis. Thankfully, my uncle is a doctor (since we didn’t have insurance at the time), and I was able to get antibiotics without a giant bill. But it is still not something I want to get ever again. Fevers SUCK.
After that, I backed off on the supplements and oatmeal (lactation) cookies and just let my body do what it wanted to. I also decided that it would probably be a good idea for me to try nursing again because Braden was staying awake more often while eating, and he would be able to clean me out a lot better than the pumping machine. My family was also coming to visit a couple weeks later, and I didn’t want to have to worry about pumping or getting engorged again if we were out exploring the city for too long.
Braden was three months old at that point, so I read a couple things online about ‘nursing best practices’ and tried again. (It turns out I had him latched the wrong way, and that is why he kept biting me.) It definitely went much smoother. Sometimes it was a struggle, but we finally got the hang of it. Plus, I was SO grateful to not have to wash those dang pump things anymore! Usually when nighttime came around I didn’t have very much left to feed him, so we supplemented with formula.
Braden is now five months old, and I can tell that I’m not producing as much as I use to, but that’s okay. We’ve started adding rice cereal to his bottles, and the other night we fed him rice cereal from a bowl (yes, it was very messy)!
I tell you all of this because I feel like I’ve tried it all. No two weeks have really been the same. There were times in his first couple of months when I had to feed him formula, even when I was producing so much milk. Part of me is not very upset that I’m starting to dry up now, because even though nursing is very convenient, it’s also very painful (at times) and exhausting.
We have have a different journey with raising our children, and all of us want was is best for them. At times it’s hard, but we also have to choose what is best for BOTH of us. It’s so important to find a good support system of family and friends, and get professional help when you need it. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t nurse your baby 100% in his/her first year. For most of us, that’s just not realistic.
“Breast is best”, or whatever they say, but FEEDING your baby is even more important. Your baby will still be healthy and fine from eating formula.
I was excited when The Honest Company reached out to me and asked if I would write about this topic to increase awareness. I hope that you share my story and others like it with your friends and family who may need it.
Being a mom is hard. You feel like everyone needs something from you all the time. But being a mom is also the most fun and amazing thing! It’s important to be able to enjoy it! At the end of the day your body is tired and parts of it even hurt. Having problems with nursing or pumping, on top of that, is so draining. At some point you are going to have to listen to your body and just do what is best for YOU, too.
Photography by Allie Roundy Photography