I always knew I was going to breastfeed my babies. What I didn’t know was just how hard it would be. The emotional, physical and mental toll it would take on me.
My son was born in 2016. I tried breastfeeding right away. When he didn’t latch on, I supplemented with formula and breastfed half of the time. I didn’t reach out for help. I did really try hard to make breastfeeding happen though. The amount of guilt I felt was pretty ridiculous. Whenever I talked to or read about a mother who was exclusively breastfeeding her baby – the guilt and envy weighed on me very heavily.
When my milk completely dried up 13 months in, I felt sad. Like I didn’t accomplish an unwritten goal. Even though I had so many people tell me how great I did – I just didn’t believe them.
However, there was another issue that contributed to my breastfeeding difficulties. I only fully produced milk on one side. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my left side. My baby wouldn’t latch on that side. So I pumped. I hand expressed. I took supplements. I drank mothers milk tea. I drank so much water. I ate snacks. Nothing worked. I still only produced on one side.
Once I had my second baby in 2019, I immediately introduced her to the left side. She wasn’t interested either. I did all of the same things the second time around to get a supply on both sides. That one side still wasn’t interested in participating in this breastfeeding thing. I still went strong on the working side though. Better than the first time around. Still having to supplement with formula. Which I was fine with. My guilt this time around wasn’t really there. I knew I was doing everything I could.
When my second baby was about six months old – I finally consulted with a lactation specialist. She and I spoke about my non supplying boob. And we came to the conclusion that I have Insufficient Glandular Tissue in my left breast. So during puberty the lactation glands just didn’t fully develop.
It felt amazing to finally have answers. It gave me peace of mind and I was able to accept that I’ll just never fully produce milk in my left breast. No more guilt.
Why do we do that to ourselves though? Guilt ourselves if we aren’t doing something we feel like we ‘should’ be doing. We carry so much guilt for things we cannot control. Can’t we give ourselves a break? Isn’t there enough judgement of mothers going on? Don’t add to it.
I eventually came to realize the extra stress I was adding to my life by being consumed with this breastfeeding guilt. It just wasn’t worth it. Once my milk dried up this second time around. I felt relief. I felt free. Free from a gallon of water a day. Free from extra snacks when I just wasnt hungry. Free from that nasty mothers milk tea. Free from the constant worry. Free from it all.
Whatever you are doing. However you are feeding your baby. You are doing amazing. You are the best mommy. And your baby loves you.
If breastfeeding is your goal – educate yourself. See a lactation specialist. Make sure you are completely prepared for all that comes with breastfeeding. It’s a commitment. But its beautiful and oh so worth it.
If you choose to formula feed or have to formula feed for whatever reason, awesome. You are still doing amazing. Try out bottles and find the one your baby loves. Prepare yourself for that journey too. There is a lot that comes with it. And it’s still beautiful. You can still bond with your baby when using a bottle.
Free yourself from the guilt. Move forward in your motherhood journey and accept the choices you made. Because I guarantee you made them with the best intentions. With love.
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