Personal #PureGoals I set for myself and Emily

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30

This post is sponsored by Pampers.

I’m going to share a bit more about my breastfeeding journey over the past 4.5 years in this post but I think it’s important to say a few things first to make sure we are on the same page. I believe “fed is best”, and while breastmilk is great for a baby, I think formula is just fine as well. The baseline goal is to feed the baby, so. . . feed your baby however you want to. My experiences and decisions are all very personal but I hope my sharing them here is a source of encouragement or support if you need it!

I was nervous about breastfeeding with my first son David because it all seemed so complicated and different. I mean there were entire books that were hundreds of pages long dedicated to the subject. In my naïveté I didn’t do a ton of prep work nor did I surround myself with enough support to push through the challenges that were heading my way only after just starting to breastfeed for the first time.

David did not have a good latch leaving me in excruciating, mind-numbing pain every single time he nursed. . . which I was reminded of several times a day because he was a newborn. I tried so many things to help, from a nipple shield to having a lactation consultant come to my house. I even took him to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to see if he was tongue tied. The diagnosis was that he maybe had a slight tongue tie but they weren’t sure cutting it would make a difference or correct his latch since he was already several weeks old at that point.

At about 2 months I decided to stop breastfeeding him. It was a horribly difficult decision for me but I simply couldn’t keep enduring the pain nor could I watch my baby spit up what seemed like an entire feeding after I finished nursing him. In short, I went through a few weeks of guilt mixed with relief, and it was only after a long period of time that I accepted that formula is fine, it can be as convenient as nursing, and that a fed baby was best.

With Luke I struggled with other challenges. His latch was perfect and I genuinely loved nursing him. David was only 14 months old when Luke was born, so nursing him (even in the middle of the night) was sweet because it was my time to just be with him.

The greatest challenge nursing Luke was occupying David during the long feeding sessions as Luke was in no hurry to eat. My stress level sky rocketed, and a few other factors played a roll in that season of my life being generally very stressful. I did not work hard to keep up my supply, and my doctors were concerned about Luke’s very slow weight gain. To boil it down, I felt like I was failing David because I spent so much time nursing Luke and even though I loved nursing him, he wasn’t gaining enough weight so I was therefore failing Luke.

Again, there was a lot of stress!

When I decided to transition Luke onto formula I was only partially confident that it was the right decision. I wasn’t in a very stable mindset during that season, and within about a week of stopping I suffered deep regret. I cried and cried. It was a very hard chapter. My mom suggested that I journal to Luke about how much I loved that season with him so I did. It helped me to express my feelings to the only other person who went through that with me.

Looking back on those chapters is still a little hard at times but more than anything I focus on the fact that I have 2 healthy boys that did just fine on formula. The difficulty in switching both of them to formula was not in the formula itself, it was more my success, or lack there of, with something I was hoping to do.

So upon learning I was pregnant again with Emily, I began to think through what my goals would be for breastfeeding. I wanted to do it again, of course, and having walked that road twice before I felt more prepared than ever to embark on this journey. I knew more about what to look out for in the beginning, and also had read a bit more to gain even more knowledge so I felt confident and sure of myself as I was nursing her.

I did everything in my power to amp up my supply right out of the gate and I think that really helped a lot.

I set a few goals for myself, with the caveat of this being what was working best for her as well (for example, that she was gaining weight, nursing well, etc.). She latched on well immediately, and I can truly say that this has been a dreamy breastfeeding experience. I will still sometimes wonder if I’m supplying enough for her, or if something I ate is making her fussy, but Justin has learned how to reassure me when I spiral with worry.

I continually reset my goal for how long I plan to nurse her based on whether it’s still working best for her and I. It helps me to achieve realistic goals over a long span of time instead of having 1 major goal that I’m not entirely sure I’ll meet.

What I’ve learned the most through mothering my own kids as well as observing other mothers around me is that setting goals and making decisions for your children can be difficult but as long as the purpose is for everyone’s wellbeing, we’re all doing the very best that we can.

That’s my #PureGoals story – and every mom is different. In the end it is about choosing what is best for your baby – be it breast or bottle. I’d love to hear your goals – share them using #PureGoals.

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Comments (84)

  1. Christa K says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Beautiful and real, Kate! Thank you for sharing. God has surely blessed you and Justin with your sweet babies.

  2. Posted August 30, 2018

    Beautiful story! Not a mother myself, but it was nice to read about your experience. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  3. Sherry says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I don’t have any children (except the furry four legged ones) but I enjoy reading about your stories and experiences. You and Justin have three incredibly precious little ones, I mean look at that face, could she be any more adorable? Happy Thursday and we are getting closer (hopefully) to some cooler less humid days. Have a great weekend and hope you will be feeling better from your cold real soon.

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      Yes I hope so too! Thank you!

  4. Lauren says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing, Kate. I know this is a very personal story and one you haven’t shared in the past. I can relate to the deep stress and anguish over feeding your newborn baby…but also the joy of seeing that they are okay years down the road. Your children are very blessed and seem oh so happy!

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      Thank you!!

  5. Maureen says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    What a beautiful and vulnerable post Kate! It breaks my heart to hear you talk about feeling like you had somehow “failed” your children when nursing did not work out for as long as you’d hoped–I don’t know you personally, but I know from your blog and Insta that your boys have not been failed by you at all!
    Thank you for sharing. I wish more women would talk about breastfeeding and that soul crushing worry that comes with having a newborn. I’m so happy to hear that it’s going more smoothly for you this time.

  6. Cassidy says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I can’t really breastfeed (IST) and before I knew about the IST with my first, I felt like a complete failure because he was fussy and wasn’t gaining weight. Formula was the best thing to happen to us! I pump for as long as I can, but we are firm and secure in our knowledge that fed is best. It’s funny, what feels like such a big deal in the beginning (and is!) eventually fades and when your kids are a little bigger and happy and healthy, it matters a whole lot less what you fed them to get them to that point. Thank you for sharing!!

  7. Rachel says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing. I had a difficult experience breastfeeding my first, and now pregnant with my second it’s already a subject of worry. Would you be able to share what you did to help your supply early on?

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      I eat oatmeal every morning and drank TONS AND TONS of water. TONS of water. I also pumped as much as I could after I fed her in the very beginning, like the first month or so, to keep “demanding” more so my supply answered that demand.

      • nancy m says
        Posted August 30, 2018

        thanks Kate!
        Rachel, I’m in the same boat, and hope I can feed my second baby with less stress then my first!

    • Katie G says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      If you haven’t already, I suggest joining a breastfeeding group on Facebook or in your area. They are full of supportive women who are either experienced and have excellent suggestions or are struggling just the same. It really helped me to learn a lot and pick up new tips and tricks to make the best of my breastfeeding journey. We made it to 18 months even with a late and low supply, mostly because of the encouragement and information I got from those groups. Good luck!

  8. Mallory says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Didn’t Emily have trouble gaining weight as well? Are you supplementing with her? Wish you would have made more detail instead of making it seems like the boys were difficult and she’s just a dream. Do your boys not care when you feed her and not give them attention?

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      I’m happy to answer these questions! She had a slow weight gain at first but I tried to breastfeed often and pump after she fed to keep my supply up! I also spoke with my pediatrician about giving her an extra week to get back at her birth weight so I could have more time. I am not supplementing her but we do “top her off” with a bottle of pumped milk from the night before every night before bed.
      My experience breastfeeding the boys was difficult, and the stress I experienced was difficult–they boys in and of themselves weren’t difficult. They were infants just being. . .well . . infants! It was more my stress and expectations and lack of experience that made it challenging.
      The boys sometimes have a hard time when I’m feeding her and they want to go outside or something, but generally they have gotten used to waiting a bit AND she’s gotten much more efficient these days! They play together and I’ll sit wherever we are playing to feed her!

      • Lindsey Roy says
        Posted August 30, 2018

        Great positive reply to a rude comment!

        • Holly says
          Posted August 30, 2018

          Gah absolutely! Well done, Kate!

      • Emma says
        Posted August 31, 2018

        You’re awesome, Kate! Always classy!

    • Katie says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      God, I just don’t get the nastiness of strangers on the internet. Mallory, go reevaluate your tone and think about why you’re asking a mother of three whether or not she’s doing enough for her children when she just poured her heart out about a really tough subject. Be kind for heaven’s sake. It’s not that hard.

    • Jennifer Ayling says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      I don’t read that comment as nasty or rude. Maybe a bit abrupt but not nasty. It’s hard to read tone over the internet.

      • Emma says
        Posted September 5, 2018

        Really….. I agree. Oh but how quick they are to call someone out.

    • Michelle says
      Posted August 31, 2018

      Wish you would have made more of an effort to extend kindness to a mom of three young ones. God bless.

  9. becky Fries says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    If i could give you a hug I would! Feeding your baby is so emotional and so personal! I have had a similar experience with my first being breastfed (with difficulty) and my second formula fed. I cried so much when I switch to formula based on my dr recommendation. It is still hard for me to think about those days too. But i have beautiful healthy kids now. I wish I had been more prepared for how to be emotionally ready for what was coming. You keep doing what works for you and Emily!!

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      I agree! Thanks!

  10. Jen says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Wow, thank you for sharing this. I’m getting ready for my second baby and was wondering what breastfeeding this time would be like. My kids are going to be close in age and just like you, I had to give up breastfeeding my first baby after just 2 months and felt like that was the hardest decision to make. Looking back, I know I made the right decision, but I did feel like I was being judged by some because they were successively breastfeeding and I was not. Most people around me were supportive I should note but I had to keep reassuring myself that the important thing is my baby is growing and is no longer struggling after feeding and that’s what matters most. Thank you for sharing your story and I’m glad you are getting to experience this gift with Emily!

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      Thanks Jen! And congrats on baby #2!

  11. Posted August 30, 2018

    Kate, When I was pregnant with my daughter; I was going to be Mother Earth…I was going breastfeed for two years…make homade organic baby food…clean with essential oils..not allow her to eat processed foods or watch to much iPad. I was determined, very adamant.

    Well…everything I planned for her went down the toilet…even a pain meds free birth. When I had my daughter I nursed her for 3 months..initially she has a difficult time latching..then I put some sugar water in my breast (sorry tmi 😳) and she went to town. Then there were major factors in my personal life that took over..I became very stressed and my milk supply dried up..no matter what I did. My marriage was falling apart; and my ex-husband turned to drugs. So I turned to formula, it was such a hard decision because I wanted to breastfeed her…I enjoyed it. Such a beautiful and wondering bonding experience. But I was robbed of it; at the end of the day I felt like a failure..because my marriage was failing and I was failing as a mom that couldnt produce enough milk to feed her baby. The stress was terrible. But my daughter survived on formula and now she’s a healthy and happy 4 year old.
    I remember feeling so worried what people would think when I stopped breastfeeding..because I was so adamant on doing it for myself. But at the end of the day we are parents and we will walk through fire for our children no matter what. Breastfeeding is a personal choice to make..and if you formula feed your child that’s just as fine as the boob.
    At the end of the day we try to do the very best by our children no matter what. And love them with all our hearts!
    Thanks Kate for sharing your experiences with us; we are all in this together…breast feeding or not. 🙌🏻 #PureGoals

  12. Valerie says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thanks for sharing Kate! I love hearing how other moms have worked (are working) through the different challenges of breastfeeding. It is hard!! I had one baby that was mostly formula fed, one I exclusively pumped for, my third (and currently my fourth) were/are both great nursers! Definitely challenges with each one, but as you said, fed is best absolutely.
    So interesting how each baby feeding experience can be so different!

  13. Gracen says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing, Kate, and for being so real about breastfeeding. I think many times, women don’t understand how hard it’s going to be and then they deal with a tremendous amount of worry and guilt whether they continue to breastfeed or choose formula. I breastfed both of my sons and it was extremely hard (and painful) in the beginning. I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for it, but it’s tremendously helpful when other women who’ve been through it, give an accurate description of what it will be like. It may be natural, but it’s not easy.

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      Love that last line of your comment. It’s true!

  14. Kathleen says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your story. I struggled to breast feed my first born. I had to have an emergency C-section and nothing about his birth went anything like I thought it would. He had trouble latching and I was a new mom trying my best. I had a lactation consultant that was absolutely horrible and she just made things worse. He was not gaining weight so we switched to formula and he was a much happier baby. With my second I had planned a C-section and she ended up in the NICU for 8 days. It was very stressful and the medication they had her on made it hard for her to gain weight. Breastfeeding was very difficult and we again went with formula. I had many people tell me how awful I was because I didn’t breastfeed….not a great thing for a mom with crazy hormonal swings to hear. My husband was wonderful and he did a lot of late night/early morning feedings when I needed to rest. My kids are now 13 and 8 years old, they are very healthy, happy and growing like weeds ! My 13 year old is as tall as I am ! Fed is best and don’t let anyone make you feel like you are a bad mother because breastfeeding doesn’t work for you and your child !

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      I’m sorry you had a hard experience but I’m so happy to hear you + your kids are healthy and happy! You are right, FED is best 🙂

  15. Carolyn says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    More people need to talk about things like this! Thank you!! I had an incredibly hard time breastfeeding my first child. I cried everyday for 2 months, and then one day realized how much I was focusing on “breastfeeding” and “beating myself up,” and not focusing on enjoying this new precious life we brought into our family. When I switched to formula, it was the biggest weight off my shoulders, and everybody in our house was happier! Ha! By the time our 2nd child was born, I promised myself I wouldn’t worry myself like that or beat myself up again, we would take it one day at a time! There was no way I was gonna miss out on those precious moments in the beginning because of mom guilt. And you are right, fed is best! Everybody’s situation and experiences are different! It’s what makes us all unique and amazing moms!

    • Lindsay says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      This sounds like me! Whatever gives you peace and takes away anxiety, I’m all for!!

  16. Ashley says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing! I had a similar experience with my first as you did with David and I felt guilty about it at the time, but it was short lived once I saw how much happier and more relaxed she was with a belly full of formula. When I got pregnant with my 2nd I started having a lot of guilty feelings about it and a lot of those feelings of failure were coming back, worse than when I first stopped nursing. I prepped myself for breastfeeding the 2nd by doing a ton of research, taking a class, talking to other moms who had been successful with breastfeeding (something I didn’t have the first time), and am so thankful that I was able to nurse her until she was almost 2.

    Like you, I set little goals- 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc. and kept going as long as it was working for us both. This summer she was only nursing in the middle of the night and I knew it was only for comfort, so I decided to wean her off of that, about 2 months shy of her turning 2.

    Even with my 2nd, there were hours and days that were HARD and I thought about giving up. Honestly if there had been formula in the house on some of those days I would have given it to her, but we stuck it out.

    Thanks for sharing your stories over the three kids. It’s amazing how different each child is and how regardless of what they’re fed, you have 3 happy, healthy, beautiful children who will thrive.

  17. Deb says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I am so sorry you had such a hard time with your boys….but you did what was best for them and at least tried 🙂 And I hope your time with your daughter continues as long as is best for the both of you! I am so glad looking back that I waited to have my son at 35. I feel like God had a plan for me and I was much more relaxed and calm. I think that has a lot to do with it, being relaxed and not second guessing every little thing. And don’t let other outside people throw your natural instinct off…just stay in tune with you and your baby. My son had issued latching in the beginning and every time the nurse tried to stick her fingers in there and get involved he screamed at her..lol. We had a little talk after that and I told him I wouldn’t let her interfere any more and we’d work it out between us….and things did. I was VERY fortunate to be able to stay home with him for 5 months and he gradually weened himself off by 8 months. In the end he was only breastfeeding after I got home from work and at bedtime….until he was completely distracted during feeding and wouldn’t stay focused, so a bottle with formula took over till he was done with that also around 2. Love your blog and your family….you are a great mother!

  18. Ashley says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Oh, Kate! Thank you for sharing your story! It brings up lots of emotions for me as I struggled with my first for 3 months to help him get the hang of his latch, but when he finally figured it out, it was a dream. We ended up nursing until he was a month shy of 4 when I realized I wasn’t producing anymore. It was hard to have that journey end so abruptly on neither of our terms, but in all honesty, it’s probably what we needed. I wasn’t about to take away his only comfort and he surely wasn’t about to volunteer giving it up. It was then that I (finally) got pregnant with my daughter!
    She had a very quick birth at home and ended up in the NICU for a week because they thought she was fighting an infection. This girl had the perfect latch from the get-go and I was sure it was going to be smooth sailing. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great experience at the hospital and between that and the stress of having a child at home waiting for us to come back, I struggled with pumping and producing. When we got home, she had developed a slight bottle preference from the hospital and like you mentioned, I struggled with the attention I was giving her and not to my son and her nursing sessions became fewer and I was pumping more and long story she self weaned at 4 months. I was HEARTBROKEN. I still am, honestly. I had to quit pumping because I couldn’t put in the effort to pump when her nap times were when I could give my attention to my son and he needed me more than she needed breast milk. She is happy and healthy and thriving, but I do feel guilty that I couldn’t be persistent like I was with her brother.

  19. Lindsay says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your experience! Breastfeeding was by far the most difficult part of my pregnancy, birth, and recovery. My son had a hard time gaining weight and I did EVERYTHING to increase my supply, and it still didn’t seem to be enough. He would get frustrated a cry a lot… it was dark days.

    I exclusively bf for about 2 months and then started supplementing and pumping. Finally went exclusively to formula at 4 months and it was SUCH A GOOD THING for our family. When I think about how much mental energy and TIME went into thinking about bf and pumping… whew!

    I am super curious about how I will feel/approach bf if we have another child. Part of me knows I will try to learn from my past experience, part of me will want to surpass what we were able to do with out son, but part of me will also have much more grace for myself. I totally relate to you saying it was less about formula being bad and more about you not “being successful.” I think i will try to define success as “not being totally consumed by feeding thoughts/worries/anxieties every waking moment.” Ha! Whatever that ends up looking like will be success for me!

  20. Tracy says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing. I struggled breastfeeding my daughter due to a tongue and lip tie. The guilt and feeling of not being enough was horrible, but like you I decided a fed baby was best. I think breastfeeding is wonderful and I would love another chance but making other moms feel bad is not good. Thank you for being real.

  21. Krissy says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I’m so grateful you shared your story! I struggled with breastfeeding as well and felt a lot of those similar things. It’s always nice to feel like we’re not alone in it! You’re great!

  22. Angie says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Society puts so much pressure on us moms to breastfeed! I was not able to breastfeed either of my babies, the milk just would not come in so instead of us all crying all the time we switched to formula. I still felt like a failure but each of my kids were happy healthy babies and that’s what’s important. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s a wonderful yet hard season of life and we are all doing the very best we can!

  23. Crystal says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I love reading other mothers feelings on breastfeeding. I also have 3 children. G,B,B. First was difficult, I didn’t expect it to hurt so bad and after about 2 weeks I began supplementing because I just wasn’t producing enough. I continued BF till she was one but it was more of a snack for her and for me I loved the cuddle time. My middle child just wasn’t all that excited about eating and I ended up with a forceful let down which was too much for him so I ended up exclusively pumping. I found that he just couldn’t drink the milk I pumped fast enough before it would go bad. I didn’t want my supply to drop from experience with my first so I stuck to a strict pumping schedule. The bottles starting backing up in the fridge so I started freezing. Within a few weeks my freezer was full and so I decided to put my extra milk to good use since my son only seemed to need half of what I pumped every session. I donated my extra milk to milk banks and I felt very proud. That lasted almost 2 years and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment. We weren’t planning for a third but here he came just last August. He has been my dream breastfeeding baby. Loves nursing. Was a pro from the beginning. I decided I enjoyed donating my extra milk to the hospital so much that I decided to pump after every feeding so I could keep my supply up and continue to donate that milk. My son gets what he needs first then the rest goes to the hospital. He is not lacking any meals either!! He weighs almost as much as his 4 year old brother!! He has slowed now that he is one but we still love the bonding time. Breastfeeding is surely at the top of one of those things I’m going to miss later.

    I am also a fed is best person just because I’ve been on both sides of that scale. I encourage all moms to do what they feels best. If breastfeeding your first didn’t work out that’s ok. If you really want to, try again, each child is so different. You might be surprised but again, it’s all a unique and personal journey!

  24. Audra Lavery says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    You’re doing so great, Kate! Keep up the good work! I know it’s hard work and you’re doing what’s best for you and your sweet family!! Hugs!

  25. Brooke says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for posting this! Breastfeeding is so hard for so many reasons and just isn’t talked about enough. I had so many struggles similar to yours with Luke and David including long feedings, weight gain issues, reflux and a tongue tie with my son. The guilt and pressure I put on myself topped off the perfect storm. For any Mama out there struggling… you are not alone! End of the day, Fed really is best.

  26. Julissa says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I love this! I set small goals for myself for breastfeeding I started with 2 weeks and I think that made all the difference! I felt so awesome meeting that goal I wanted to keep going. Also pumping all the time totally helped! Congrats on meeting the goals. She is so beautiful!

  27. Beth says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your experience. My breastfeeding story is similar and I hope to still have a third child and am still taking notes to make it a better experience. My son just didn’t gain enough weight nursing and it broke my heart. And then with my daughter I went in confident but struggled with supply and helping her gain. I worked my tail off to try and succeed with her. I stopped around four months and it was so difficult. I wasn’t prepared for how emotional breastfeeding can be! May I ask how you helped spur on good supply right after Emily was born?

  28. Karissa says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I’d love to know what you used to “amp up” your supply as soon as you could. I have two little ones and both times I’ve had to supplement with formula right away and stopped nursing after only a few months. I just never have enough supply no matter what I’ve tried. I’d love to know what you tried!!!

  29. Aleassa says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Wow, I’m amazed at how similar my story is to yours, although I do not really have a breastfeeding “success” story with any of my 4 babies. For my firstborn I was able to pump for 9 months and supplement with formula, and that is as close to a success as I got. I can relate to the tears and feelings of failure. It can really mess with your emotions. Thanks for being brave enough to share your story. I absolutely love your motto of “Fed is best!”

    • Megan says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      Nine months of pumping, with or without supplementing with formula, is a huge success! Pumping is the worst!

      • Aleassa says
        Posted August 30, 2018

        Thanks for that, that’s super sweet of you to say! ❤️

    • Amy says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      Aleassa, I currently exclusively pump and have been for 10 months now. Pumping is hard, be proud momma.

      • Aleassa says
        Posted August 30, 2018

        Wow, you are awesome! Way to go! ❤️😊

  30. Courtney says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I just wanted to reach out and say thank you. Thank you for that post I have been following you for years and being a mom for the first time to my beautiful baby girl Charlie Mae who is now 11 months old my entire life has changed. Breastfeeding was my hardest struggle and I continue to struggle to this day about the decision to stop. For some reason your post made me feel better everything you said I’ve heard before but from family friends and loved ones but hearing it from a “stranger” someone I look up to a follow for unrelated context but for some reason coming from you made me feel so much better. So I just wanted to say thank you!

    • Kate says
      Posted August 30, 2018

      I’m so glad I could help. It’s such an emotional journey!

  31. Carly M says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your story! I have a six month old baby girl and we had a great start to breastfeeding. I exclusively breastfed her for 4 months without any issues and really enjoyed the experience. After I went back to work, my supply dropped (even though I was pumping five or six times a day and nursing two or three times a day). I had to start supplementing her with a little bit of formula because I was one bottle of pumped milk short every day. At the same time, she was diagnosed with a dairy intolerance, so I could not use any milk I had previously pumped for my freezer stash. I was devastated and spent many days feeling terrible and desperately trying to up my supply. I eventually realized these “efforts” were costing me time with my baby or even 10 minutes to myself before I fell asleep.

    I have recently decided to cut down my pumping sessions at work and breastfeed her only in the morning and evenings. The guilt I feel is all-consuming. I believe this is largely because there seem to be two camps when it comes to feeding – intense supporters of exclusive breastfeeding for a year or more or formula feeders. I’ve found very little support or information on breastfeeding for many months, but less than a year and/or combination feeding. I am really not ready to give up nursing, but I also can’t be pumping 5 times a day. I wish there was support out there to tell women that it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey as it continues!

  32. Courtneay says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I too tried with my first and did not succeed! I had my second in June and we are still pressing through. We do supplement and I struggled with that decision not because I didn’t want him to have formula, just the feeling I wasn’t doing good enough. He was jaundice and having trouble gaining weight. Breastfeeding is a lot of work but so rewarding! Kudos to you for what you have already accomplished!

  33. Terri says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Breastfeeding and potty training are the two hardest things I’ve dealt with as a parent. I appreciate you sharing your story and to know I’m not alone in the woes of breastfeeding. My daughter was super slow to gain weight, even fell off the growth chart, and I started giving her formula around 3-4 months. My son is currently also slow to gain, but quicker than my daughter was. I decide to join the breastfeeding support group offered by my hospital this time. It’s great to nurse with other moms and helpful to have the session facilitated by a lactation consultant. Thank you again. You are a great mom! We are all great moms.

  34. Amy says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Like you, I have 2 boys and a girl. And our babies are very close in ages. My boys are 5 and 3.5. My youngest is 10 months. I struggled with breastfeeding the boys and suffered so much guilt for stopping. I also went into baby #3 with more knowledge, a better support system, determination, and short term goals. I pushed through the pain, survived mastitis, and ultimately became so overwhelmed with managing my time with my 3 kids. I decided I’d pump for some of her feedings and with time, it turned into pumping for ALL of her feedings. I exclusively pumped for her until she was about 9 months. That’s when I got my period back, and my once “just enough” supply dipped enough that I had to introduce formula. Now she is 10 months old and I’m still pumping, and she gets half formula and half breastmilk. My goal all along has been to get to 12 months. My goal has pretty much stayed the same, but I’ve tweaked it to include supplementing, and my ultimate goal now is to provide her with at least 1 breastmilk bottle until she turns 1.

  35. Justine says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thanks for sharing something so personal, Kate. I’m so glad that your breastfeeding journey with Emily has been what you’ve wanted it to be. Your kids seem so happy. They are so lucky to have you as their mom!

  36. Courtney Hudson says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this Kate. I am a first time mom to a one month old that I am breastfeeding. The process of Breastfeeding came rather easy for us but I still struggle several times a week with the guilt. Am I producing enough, why is she sometimes fussing while at the breast, did I eat something wrong, feed her too much, and don’t even get me started on finding the time to pump to build up a stash for when I go back to work. It is so nice to hear other women have the same worries and that we are not alone. It is something that we need to be more open about discussing because I think we would all feel much more supported and connected

  37. Caitlin says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I’m currently struggling with low supply. What are the things you’re doing to increase and maintain your supply?

  38. Carolyn Cheeseman says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    As a mom of 2 boys who breastfed I can relate to all of those feelings! The guilt us new moms feel is crazy, and so much is because of our own expectations!

    You’re such a great mom. So wonderful to share this. Thank you.

  39. Stephanie Hanson says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing! I have a three month old baby girl and breastfeeding DID NOT work for us. I, too, felt like a complete failure as a mother in that I couldn’t provide for her most basic need. I pumped for a couple of months, but ultimately decided it was best for my mental and emotional health to switch to formula. I still struggle with the fact that it didn’t work as I expected, but she is happy, healthy and thriving so I really cannot complain. I appreciate your candor – being a mama is hard!

  40. Megan says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    This post hits so close to home! I stopped at 2 months with my first and was heart broken. It was so hard and the guilt was real. It had never came easy. With my second, he had latch issues and we saw an OT and it changed everything! He is turning one in a month and we are still going! I did the same thing with my goals, little goals along the way. It made it so much easier. So glad you shared this and my mama heart hurts for your hard times.

  41. Jessica says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    I had a wonderful experience breastfeeding my daughter with no problems for the first year. No soreness, problems latching, my milk came in with no problem, pumping while working full time was not a problem at all and my baby gained weight as she was supposed to. I don’t say this to make any mama feel bad or discouraged but rather to give encouragement. I truly hated the idea of nursing when I was pregnant and the only reason I went to the lactation class before I had her was because I felt pressure from everybody that I was going to be a wretched mother if I didn’t breastfeed, including from my husband.
    When I had her and they asked if I was ready to try I said yes convinced it wouldn’t work, we would start formula and I’d be able to say I tried and not be judged so harshly. To my absolute shock she immediately latched and we were off and running. I truly did not care if she was on formula or not. Maybe it was due to having gone through many years of heartbreak and four miscarriages to hold my precious baby. I simply did not care how she received her nutrition. I just wanted her to be healthy and to remove anything that made me feel pressured and took away from bonding with my gift from God.

    There have been times I’ve teared up hearing my co-workers heartbroken because they couldn’t nurse and it was so easy for me. My hurt hearts knowing the amount of pressure they feel to be the “perfect” mother and live up to the ridiculous pressure we feel. My hurt hearts knowing their feelings of guilt is taking away from enjoying their babies as much as they could.

    My advice to any mama to be is let it go. Remove that pressure and expectation from yourself. If it works, you’re a great mama! If it doesn’t work and you use formula, you’re a great mama! Give yourself grace and enjoy the precious baby you were gifted!

  42. Evelyn Nunes says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing. My first born is almost 4 weeks and it has been hard. I’m now having lactation appointments twice a week. Her latch is still not good, but I have hope that it’s improving.
    Breastfeeding is very emotional for us , and we need to go through it postpartum, with little sleep and all day… I totally understand women who give up, our mental state is also important. I want to enjoy my baby and I’m trying to do it, but if it doesn’t get better, we will need to have a new plan.

  43. Pamela Rodilosso says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Kate, thank you so much for sharing this! It is so helpful and encouraging to read what you and other commenters have been through. It’s made me think back on this journey with my daughter, and I still feel so emotional about it.

    My daughter is now 2 but it was SO. HARD. for the first year of her life. When she was just 4 days old, she had been struggling and crying at my breast for about 4 hours because she wasn’t getting what she needed. She went really weak and pale, and was moving really slowly. My momma instincts kicked in and I reached out to a close friend who was also breastfeeding and asked if she had any stored that I could have. I drove to her house, praying the whole way for my brand new baby girl, drove home, and asked my husband to feed her because I was a mess. Little did I know that I was dehydrated and just needed to keep up with my water. But no one told me, and I had noooo idea.

    It did get better after that, but then found out in the months following that she was sensitive to many of the foods I was eating (dairy, wheat, eggs). She also had eczema, so I had to stay away from anything that would irritate it. To make the rest of this long story short, I had to make a big diet change, went through 45 pounds of weight gain (which I can’t explain because I ate home-cooked meals, maybe it was all the avocados lol), had major struggles in my marriage, and still had to work to keep my milk supply up everyday.

    I pushed through and did this for a year. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it did leave me with many things to consider for the next baby. That’s why I’m so thankful that you and other commenters have opened up, because it has helped me accept the possibility that I may not be able to breastfeed my next baby for as long as I did my first. And that’s okay.

    So again, thank you! I’m so happy that you are having a better experience, and pray that you will be able to reach each goal you set!

  44. Kristy D says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing. The pressure of breastfeeding is unreal. It comes with so many challenges and it is different for everyone. Supporting each other and sharing our struggles is the best thing that we can do.

  45. Rebecca says
    Posted August 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your story. Breastfeeding was the most difficult and most beautiful experience that I have ever endured as a mother. I’m blessed that I nursed my first for 20 months and I’m currently nursing my second, who is now 9 months. We’ve had so many tears shed together, that I often wonder how in the would we made it. But I always try to encourage other moms to try breastfeeding and if it doesn’t work out, not to be ashamed. A fed baby is a healthy baby.

  46. Sara H says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    Kate, I can not say Thank you enough for writing this. I too did not have a good experience breast feeding my first child and then with my 2nd it was easier latching, etc but my son was 16 months and as much as I LOVED my time with my daughter, It was hard!!! She wasn’t gaining weight And I was so stressed about both of my babies for different reasons. I have been feeling so guilty the last couple weeks with the decision to stop breastfeeding and just formula. I just tell my self it’s what’s best for my family. But really and truly thank you for letting me know I am not alone.

  47. Kristin says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    I think you nailed it by noting the support system. You need a team of people behind you cheering you on, from husbands, partners, other moms breastfeeding, moms who have, consultants, whoever. Just anyone to say, “I know it’s hard, keep going, you got this”.

    Old Wives Tale that I swear works: Cool Blue Gatorade. Just one a day. I drink a ton of water too and if I skip my Gatorade or try a new flavor, I notice a big difference in my supply. I’m going on 9 months now and the journey has been crazy, but support and Gatorade has gotten me through!!

    • bre carroll says
      Posted August 31, 2018

      I didn’t notice the Blue gatorade thing, but gatorade in general (I’ll have to try blue next time..I liked the orange ;)) helped a ton with keeping my supply up. Must have kept the body hydrated or something lol!

  48. Susy says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    I love the idea of small goals. When I had my first, I wanted to get out of the hospital breastfeeding, then I wanted to make it to 6 weeks, then 3 months, then 6, 9 months…and we made it all the way to 12! I was working full time and had to start supplementing around 9-10 months. Those short, attainable goals really helped me feel like I could go on. Also having supportive women around to offer advice was huge. It saved me in the first few weeks when everything was overwhelming. You’re doing a great job, and thanks for sharing!

    • Abigail Murrish says
      Posted August 31, 2018

      I love this perspective, Susy!

  49. Antonella says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    Thanks for sharing Kate. I‘m a new mom from switzerland. In Switzerland we have a midwife and lactation consultant occasionally (or as often as you need her) come to your house the first six weeks after birth to help with all the new challenges.
    I had a very hard time breastfeeding as well and I told her it was very important to me to breastfeed my baby. At the begining my milk ducts were so clogged that we had to give the baby formula bottles so she wouldn‘t starve herself into sleep. Meanwhile I pumped as often as possible to increase my supply as well as make the milk flow well again (in addition I took lecithin and drank a lot of fennel tea).
    After a few days I would pump a little until the milk flowed and then breastfeed and in the end give her formula as much as she wanted. She then started requesting less formula because my supply increased. And now I‘m breastfeeding exclusivly. I read everywhere not to give a newborn any bottles unless you want to give up breastfeeding. But my journey shows that determination and great support by the people around you (especially a midwife and lactation consultant) are key to achieve goals. Also it taught me that giving formula or supplementing with formula can be a great stress relieve.
    Every journey is different and very personal. In the end the wellbeing of your baby is the most important thing regardless how your baby is fed.
    I‘m glad mothers like you share their experiences to encourage others! Thank you very much!

  50. Erin says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story with us. I had a tough time breastfeeding my oldest with an over-active let down and too much supply. I remember people making me feel like I had the “non-problem”. It didn’t feel that way when I was curled in a ball on the bathroom floor from the pain. I remember struggling with the decisions to continue or not. You make us all feel very connected and supported. Thank you for your honesty!!

  51. Renee says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    Thank you for sharing! I can relate so much to your experience. I have a 9 month old little girl that I struggled to breastfeed due to low supply. After a few months of feeding and pumping around the clock, I decided formula was best for all of us. I struggled with the guilt and feeling of failure that I hadn’t followed through on something I had set out to do. But, at the end of the day, I have a happy, healthy baby girl and that’s all that matters! Glad to hear that your experience with Emily is going well!

  52. Abigail says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    As a mama-to-be, you have no idea how much I appreciated reading this. I really want to breastfeed and taking reasonable steps to prep, but I also want to embrace what’s best for my baby and myself. Thank you so much for sharing.

  53. bre carroll says
    Posted August 31, 2018

    Thank you for sharing! I agree that breastfeeding is sooo hard and my friend and I talk about how all encompassing it is when you are in the middle of it. I had excruciating pain and even had sores so bad that a lactation consultant told me to take a break from nursing (Are they allowed to say that haha). I had the worst pain (worse than labor in my opinion) for 3+ months, and pain, albeit less, until 6 months. Whenever we talk about having another baby, I hate to say that it is the nursing that gives me pause to have another baby for a bit (I’ll get over it but it almost feels like PTSD from BFing…yeesh). All that to say, I love that you talked about having short term goals. My friend gave me the same advice. In the beginning, I took it one day at a time. As we got going with breast feeding, we took it week by week, then month by month. I feel like this way of looking at feeding my child didn’t make me feel like a failure. And I 100% agree that fed is best. We had to do formula for a few days due to an antibiotic I had to take, and my baby did fine. Moms love their babies and just want what is best. Thank you again for sharing!

  54. Jenny says
    Posted September 1, 2018

    Emily is adorable and looks so happy! Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

  55. Jenn S. says
    Posted September 2, 2018

    Kate,

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    I couldn’t help but notice in the pictures of Emily, though, that her eyes seem to be two different colors – or at least two different depths. Is this a trick of the light, or does your precious girl seem to have heterochromia? If so, that’s pretty nifty!

  56. Amanda says
    Posted September 7, 2018

    Expecting my first baby in March and just trying to be as prepared as possible for breastfeeding. In your post you say, “I knew more about what to look out for in the beginning, and also had read a bit more to gain even more knowledge”. Can you elaborate more on what things you were looking out for and what you read to help you gain more knowledge? Thanks!

  57. Lisa Hays says
    Posted September 10, 2018

    I love “fed is best”. Life is hard enough without mom’s guilting others about feeding choices… or working outside the home…..baby shoes or barefoot…………

    You do you!

  58. Jasmine says
    Posted September 18, 2018

    Did you begin pumping after Emily nursed right away or did you wait a few days or weeks? My babies were “lazy nursers” according to my ped so they wanted to be attached constantly, especially in the early days/weeks and I was always worried that if I pumped, there would be nothing there for them in 10 minutes when they wanted to nurse again. I really feel like that may have hurt my supply early on. Do you still pump after nursing or do you feel your supply is well established enough that you don’t need to do that anymore? Sorry for all of the questions, I am getting ready and trying to set goals for my third but I had a very similar experience to yours with my first two and I want to be realistic with myself. I was able to feed my first breast milk until she was 6 months but had to exclusively pump starting at two months because she was not transferring enough milk and due to friction and blistering from the pump, every single ounce was excruciating! I was able to feed my second breast milk until he was just over one but I ended up having to exclusively pump when he was about 6 months old. Thanks to a gentler but more effective (for me) pump and coconut oil I didn’t have the pain, but I needed to be really strict about my pumping schedule or I would begin to lose ounces. It was exhausting! I’m really hoping that if I can establish a good supply early, I may not have those difficulties.

    • Kate says
      Posted September 18, 2018

      I actually pumped in the hospital to get my milk to come in (it took a few days). And spent a little bit of time pumping after she nursed in the very very beginning. But I stopped doing that at about 5-6 weeks or so, and it wasn’t after every time she nursed. I pump every night at around 10:00pm to keep my supply up since she doesn’t wake in the night to nurse!