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.