Stopping breastfeeding, not being able to breastfeed, choosing NOT to breastfeed from the very beginning: .these are all things that are OK. They DO NOT make you a failure, they DO NOT define you as a mother. It is SO important to know that and equally important to find the support you need, regardless of what your breastfeeding journey may look like and with whatever decisions you make for you and your baby. You are not alone, know that <3
This. This was the first exquisite moment that I held my tiny IUGR preemie. This was also the moment that my hope for a normal breastfeeding relationship was dashed.
The NICU nurses whisked her away before her first latch. There was no golden hour. Grueling hours of unmedicated labor gave way to silence, as my aching body missed those first snuggles. It would be hours before I would see her again and days before I could stretch her out and count all her delicate fingers and toes.
All of 3 pounds, 13 ounces, she and I took the looming possibility of a feeding tube as a challenge. As I whispered how brave she was, I would pray while helping her drink pumped bottles. Then I would pray through the process of pumping 24/7.
So if you are a mama who has a complicated relationship with breastfeeding, then know you are not alone. Far from it. As I reflect on my experience, there are three things that I would say to those on this journey.
First, find different ways to bond with your baby. If breastfeeding isn’t it, find new rituals that you can embrace. Perhaps you take nightly baths with your babe. Maybe you have a song that you sing every time you bottle feed. Maybe it’s as simple as gazing into their eyes and repeating a mantra: “you are magical, strong and brave.”
Second, allow yourself to grieve the loss of control/choice. And don’t process alone. Community is powerful. Therapists are often vital in this healing process.
Third, advocate for and nurture yourself. I know this is a tall order. Eat. Skip a pumping session to sleep four hours in a row. Meditate. Breathe. And wear clothes that make you feel strong in your postpartum body. For me, this was Bao Bei bralettes and bloomers. That combo gave me easy access to both pump on-the-go and stand for long hours in a NICU ward with gentle compression/support. You are fierce and fragile during the fourth trimester. Honor your warrior self. And perhaps repeat this mantra: “I am magical, strong and brave.”
You got this mama.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about breastfeeding has been persistence. Both my breastfeeding journeys have been totally different between two babies. From a too sleepy child, nipple shields, nursing strikes, SNS systems, excessive comfort nursing, pumping, intense letdown, sterilizing on repeat, a low supply, and an over supply, I feel like I’ve seen it all and still have more to come.
Just know that when you have those late night google searches and reading Kelly mom trying to pinpoint the new challenge you’re facing, know that you’re not alone and that it’s called a journey for a reason
After having three children, I feel like I’ve finally learned the best things to know when having a baby. When I had our first, everything seemed overwhelming. I took the classes, I read the books, I bought all the baby things… but none of that prepared me for the real thing. The sleepless nights, the aches of postpartum and the pains of breastfeeding… no one and nothing can prepare you for it. The responsibilities of motherhood and even the fight of time!
But there are things that can help you get through it!
The number one thing is support… doesn’t matter if it’s from your partner, family or friends.. having someone there to help you heal, rest and adjust is SUPER important. An extra pair or hands can make the world of a difference. Even if you do everything for the baby, having someone help with cooking, cleaning and helping the other children (if this isn’t your first) changes the whole experience.
The next important thing is postpartum care… having your bathroom set up for you to take care of your healing body. Having a basket filled with mama diapers, witch hazel spray, the famous peri bottle is key to proper care! This sets you up for a great recovery! And when it comes to breastfeeding, having a basket with all the essentials is also going to help having a successful breastfeeding journey. Nipple cream, nipple shields, burp cloths, pump parts, lactation massager, hydrotherapy (I never ever go a day without comfy cozies from Bao Bei) and a cloth just for your nipples (to lightly tap after a feeding or pump session). Any way you can make your life easier… do it! I’ve had a famous “bucket” for all three that carries everything I need.
The last thing I found extremely beneficial was clothing… wait what? Clothing?…. Yep! I invested in clothes I could wear postpartum AND after postpartum. From Bao Bei, I bought the recovery leggings which I still wear for working out. I also love the postpartum underwear from them that I get to wear at night because I hate wearing pants to bed! And their nursing tops/bralettes are phenomenal. I would spend too much time trying to figure out what to wear due to nursing or pumping and with the tops and nursing bralettes from Bao Bei, I don’t have to worry! It’s easily accessible to do what I need to do and less frustrating too! I know some people don’t want to “waste” their money on clothing items they won’t wear forever, which is totally understandable! But I know I haven’t wasted any money on my purchases from bao Bei because I get to wear them even once I’m done my breastfeeding journey.
The last thing I want to mention is… everyday is going to be different in some way mama. There’s going to be something about your day that caused frustration and maybe some tears. But I’m here to tell you to give yourself some grace. You’re doing your absolute best, even when you feel you may not be. Allow yourself to breathe, give yourself the opportunity to feel before you let go. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the reins but once you do, situations may feel lighter. Enjoy watching your children, and be a child yourself! See life through their lives. Be silly, laugh, dance around, play. Because our inner child needs it too. Dive deep into the life of your child, because soon they’ll be older and we will always look back on the days we got to play with our babies. Create beautiful memories, get a little messy and just live! Time is too precious to waste