Its hard to believe that simply feeding your baby can be such a hot topic among moms. Also the pressure placed on Moms is unbelievable.
I follow a few Mom Vloggers on Youtube and one mom shared her experience breastfeeding on her channel. It got me thinking that if more mom’s shared their experience, how awesome would that be for new moms? So I felt I needed to share my story.
When I was pregnant with my first, I had a lot of pressure placed on me from my now ex-in laws to breastfeed. I was made to feel like they had all breastfed their babies, while washing cloth diapers in the river, in the middle of a snowstorm barefoot. So since I had a 1 year maternity leave, and nothing to do, I should have no issues. I mean breastfeeding is what all GOOD Moms do, I wanted to be a Good Mom right?!?
Honestly no one had breastfed in my family. So I had no exposure to it growing up. So how hard could it really be?
OMG! It was hard! It was terrible. I hated it. What was suppose to be a close bonding experience quickly turned into a nightmare. I felt used.
Looking back now, I realize I was suffering from postpartum depression. I had a terrible, traumatizing induction, labour and delivery. Let’s be honest, considering that I got pregnant at 19 years old, and should have had a healthy pregnancy being so young, it was anything but healthy. This all wore me down.
I mostly remember being alone during this time. I remember my baby needed to nurse so much, but because I was shy, I was often in a bedroom nursing. I desperately needed to be with people, yet I was locked away in a room with a child I felt was just using me.
This was affecting my bond to him. I didn’t want to hold him, he might want to nurse. I didn’t want him to keep using me. I really struggled sharing my body with someone like this.
After 3 weeks I had enough. I couldn’t do it anymore. I remember calling the public health nurse and asking her how to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. I could tell she really did not want me to do this. She told me to replace one feeding with a bottle of formula for a week, then after that week replace another feeding. I told her that was going to take forever, she had no sympathy and said if I didn’t want to get mastitis(infection of the breast tissue) this is how it needed to be done.
I was beside myself, I couldn’t do that! I wanted this over now. So I called my doctor and he got me in for an appointment right away. I told him what was happening and what was suggested to me. He told me that wasn’t necessary and I could just switch one feeding nurse him, the next breastfeed him. After a day or two do 2 bottle feedings and one breastfeeding, then just stop. Following this advice I weaned him in a week.
My now ex-mother in law worked at the daycare centre in our local town, she slandered me to my friends who had children there. I was so selfish she told them. Implying that I was a bad mom, because you know GOOD Moms breastfeed. My family on the other hand completely supported my decision, so for that I was so grateful.
After all this I swore if I ever had another child I would not even try breastfeeding. I was going straight to formula.
Then a month shy of 7 years later I had my next child.
Over this time I had been exposed to more moms who breastfed their children. It actually started to become the norm. After some research my positions softened up on the subject. My oldest dealt with a lot of allergies and I wanted to do everything in my power to help my youngest to avoid this experience.
I made a deal with myself. I’d commit to it for 3 months. From what I read online after the first 3 months, typically breastfeeding becomes easier than bottle feeding.
The first few weeks were tough. My son was 5lbs 15oz at birth and 5lbs 8oz when we left the hospital. His mouth was so tiny that the newborn soothers I had brought for him were way too big for his tiny mouth. Luckily I made connections with this wonderful nurse’s aid, she snuck into the NICU and got Little Z a preemie size soother. But because his mouth was so tiny, it made getting a perfect latch difficult. So it was a bit painful to nurse for the first little while.
I think it was my second night home, I remember crying on the couch in our living room on the phone with the breastfeeding support line at 5am. My son had started breastfeeding at 10pm and at 5am was still nursing. He would not allow me to pull him away from the breast. When I had to stop to use the washroom he would scream until he was put back on the breast. As any mother knows he cry of a newborn rips at your soul. Finally he stopped and allowed me to put him down. I found out that this was quite normal as he was helping my milk come in.
However things were different this time around. While feeding him while we were out I no longer felt isolated. While I would leave the group and move to another room, I didn’t lock myself up in a room. I always allowed people to come sit with me and keep me company. I know I could have just nursed where I was, it was less distracting to be in a smaller group.
I remember one of hubby’s little cousin’s who was about 6 at the time asking to come with me when I went inside to feed the baby. I covered him up when we sat on the couch and started nursing while we talked. Then suddenly she asked me, so when are you going to feed the baby? She thought I was going to feed him with a bottle. I told her I was feeding him. “But how?” she asked. Just as she asked her mom came into the house. I told her I’m sure her mom would be happy to explain it to her. Her mom explained I was feeding the baby like cats feed their kittens with their body. That was enough of an explanation for her.
As expected nursing became easier and easier. The thought of the added hassle of washing bottles, buying formula, mixing formula, and actually having to get up in the middle of the night and mix a bottle first seemed like such a hassle. It was so much easier to reach over and feed him while we were still both half asleep.
3 months turned to 6 months. 6 months turned to 12 months. My ultimate goal was to nurse till he was 1 years old. Thing is when he turned 1 I could not image stopping. Then I read the World Health Organization(WHO) recommends that children be breastfed to 2 years old and beyond. So that became my new goal.
I want to recommend though that you are careful what you refer to nursing as with your child. I remember when my youngest was about 16 months my friend showed up to pick something up a few minutes after he had woken up. I was holding him at the door chatting with her and suddenly my son started tapping my breast calling and yelling “BOOB!!! BOOB!!BOOOOB!!!” He was not interested in our conversation, he was hungry and he was hungry now! So make sure you call nursing something your comfortable with your child screaming for in random places.
At around 17 months, nursing got hard again. My son started biting me. I’m not talking little nips, he drew blood. Everyone around me it was ok to quit. But I couldn’t, the boob was the answer to many problems.
You’re tired? Here’s a boob.
You’re hungry? Here’s a boob.
You fell and hurt yourself? He’s a boob.
You’re sad? Here’s a boob.
Something scared you? Here’s a boob
You’re grumpy? Here’s a boob.
You’re bored? Here’s a boob.
I want to sit down and I am tired of chasing you around. Here, have a boob.
I was not ready to give up something that made my life easier!
So I called the La Leche League Breastfeeding Support line. The coach who called me back was so helpful. She encouraged me so much. She told me how awesome it was I wanted to work this out even though my son was already past a year old. She gave me some great ideas, like dream feeding.
What is dream feeding? Dream feeding is when you feed your child when he or she is already asleep.
We figured that the bites were happening because he was now discovering his environment and got excited when something new came in in sight. He also was sensing my apprehension and anxiety and that is why the bites were continuing. So I started waiting till he was napping or asleep for the night and I would feed him then in the dark. Nursing was so second nature to him, he did it with ease. This allowed me to relax while nursing again, and my anxiety levels decreased. Eventually the biting completely stopped.
Then he was 2, and neither of us were ready to stop nursing yet. This was shocking to me, while I accepted that other moms breastfeed past 2, I never expected to be one of them. Each to there own, but I had felt at this point that is enough. I guess I didn’t really understand breastfeeding and the bond that it created.
We continued nursing till one night 2 months before his 3rd birthday I put him down to bed and he didn’t ask to nurse. When I sat down I realized that he didn’t ask and I forgot to offer. Then I thought about it more carefully and realized, he hadn’t asked in a long time, I was just offering.
Maybe he was ready to wean? I was so torn. Were we ready? I went straight to the local Facebook attachment parenting group I was part of at the time. I explained my story and asked for advice. The response was pretty much the same, they felt he was naturally weaning and I should accept that. There seems from others experience to be a sensitive window when they are willing to self wean. Other mothers talked about missing that window and now their children are 4 and not wanting to wean, and mom is done. It has become an ordeal for these little ones. Now I’m sure this is not the case for everyone, but I wanted this breastfeeding relationship to end well, so now was the time.
I honestly cannot believe the differences in my two experiences. Who knows though, if I ever were to have another child (WHICH I WON”T!! Just making that clear lol) it may not go as well as it did with Z. I have know babies to self wean at 6 months old, never able to latch, etc.
Do I feel guilty about formula feeding my oldest? Originally I did, But not anymore. It was what was best for us at the time. He was fed, he was held, he was cuddled. I held his bottle(then cup at 7 months old) for him till he started daycare at 11 months. I was a single working mom. I’m not sure I would have had the energy to nurse as long as I did as well. Maybe I could have. But like I said, I’m not ashamed.
Feel free to watch my youtube video on my experience, and share your experience, opinions and comments below.
As a child growing up I loved going to the dentist. Honestly I don’t know why, but I was always excited to go, while the rest of my family dreaded the appointment.
As I grew up I knew that was the field I wanted to go into. So when the time came to go to college, I happily signed up at the local community college to become a dental assistant. My plan was to get my feet wet, and make sure this was the field I wanted to get into. If it was then I could invest more of my time into becoming a dental hygienist or a dentist.
Well I worked as a dental assistant for 6+ years. However after those year I decided that this wasn’t the right career for me. I was burnt out. So I let my license go and opened my own daycare. I’ve never looked back.
Fast forward to last week. It had been a while since my last cleaning. Yikes! I was due. Now throughout my whole pregnancy and while breastfeeding my gums have been very sensitive and bleed easily, due to hormone changes.
I was chatting with my hygienist about the conditions of my gums and she asked me, “How old is this baby you’re breastfeeding?
Oh no… The load question.
“He’s two and a half. ” I answered.
“Ohhhhh…. well.” I could see in her eyes she was judging me. ” I could not image breastfeeding a child with teeth.” she said with an almost disgusted tone.
“Well his pediatrician says the new guidelines are to encourage mom’s to breastfeed till 2.” I replied.
“Well that must be new.” She replied. “My son is 3 and I never heard such a thing.”
This is where I’m disappointed in myself. I started making excuses as to why I was still breastfeeding.
“Well, he’s allergic to milk, so its just easier this way.” I told her. When in reality I don’t believe cows milk is not the optimal food for our children. But I didn’t want to get into that with her. I just wanted this conversation to end.
“Well have you tried soy milk? she answered back.
“Well he doesn’t drink coconut milk or almond milk. However he loves water and raw smoothies. I don’t want to feed him soy milk because I read that its not great for little boys.”
“Really? I’ll have to look into that.” She said. It seemed like this was something she was willing to believe. “My Sister in Law is a immunologist and she said after a year there is no more benefits to breastfeeding.”
“Well it certainly can’t hurt. ” I answered back, with a slightly insulted tone in my voice.
“Oh no no!” she quickly answered “I’m sure it doesn’t.”
She continued my cleaning and after a few minutes of only the sound of the ultrasonic scaler she said. “I breastfed only till my son was 6 months, but then I dried up.”
I spit my extra saliva into the saliva ejector and then said. “That is awesome. You put your best effort into it and I’m sure your son got lots out of it.”
And then there was no more breastfeeding talk.
I can’t help but wonder if the reason she was so judgemental at first about extended breastfeeding, was because she was insecure about how long she breastfed for.
A mother who breastfeeds for 1 year is not better than one that only breastfed for 1 month or did not breastfeed at all.
I’m disappointed in how I allowed myself to feel shamed and started making excuses. But at the end of the conversation I am happy I was able to praise her on her breastfeeding experiences. Hopefully that will help her see I did not think I was better than her.
One thing I wish for 2015 is this. I hope that these Mommy Wars can stop. Breast vs formula. Cloth Vs Disposables and so on. Yes it is one thing to get the information out there. But there is no need to shame people who do something different than you. Nor should anyone allow themselves to feel ashamed if someone doesn’t agree with you.