Still At It!

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about Nursing Pros…and Cons.  When I wrote this post, I was on “the verge.”

“The verge,” I am referring to is QUITTING breastfeeding!!

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Yes, ME! The girl who once held a job and did nothing but preach the many benefits of nursing your baby. ME! The girl who wants nothing more than to have superior health for myself and my family. ME! The girl who believes in eating as naturally as possible.

Yes, ME!

If you haven’t already inferred, I had a rough beginning in the world of nursing. I was up and down about breastfeeding more times in the first 6-7 weeks than I care to count. I “quit” about 3 times officially, only deciding to give it “one more try” by the next time Hannah needed to eat. I was having so much pain; bleeding/sore nipples, mastitis (twice), a plugged duct, engorgement, etc, that I was absolutely miserable. I caved and gave Hannah some formula a few times, especially when it hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I had reached my mental breaking point (or so it seemed) and heard that if nursing is costing you your sanity, then you need to do what is best for you (a mommy in stress isn’t good for baby either).

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One month out, I called one of my best friends in complete and utter frustration, swearing that I HATED nursing, every single minute of it, and that I just wanted to quit. Instead of hearing all the wonderful benefits of nursing and why I should stick with it, she just listened. There were no guilt trips, no persuasion in either direction, no scolding to just get through it, no rolling of the eyes. She didn’t tell me that it would get better or worse, she just supported whatever I decided and didn’t judge me for either choice.

That is exactly what I needed. I needed someone to vent to who wouldn’t judge me. Thank you dear friend ;)

After our conversation, I hung up feeling so much relief and decided to keep sticking it out until after the 6 week mark (even though at that point I was determined to quit after 6 weeks).

Well guess what happened? Six weeks came and went and things started to get better. It was like my body finally figured out how much milk to produce and slowly the pain was going away.

Suddenly Hannah and I got into a groove. Suddenly I didn’t mind nursing. Suddenly I felt proud of myself. Suddenly I knew I had done the right thing.  It was like a cloud lifted and the sun FINALLY came out.

Today, I feel like I’m a nursing champ. Even though I still have a can of organic Similac Advance sitting in my cupboards “just in case,” I am proud to say that things have been going great. Would I have kept at it if things didn’t get better after 6 weeks? I can’t say for sure. But I do know that I truly appreciated having moral support, without a guilt trip attached.

If I could give any advice to people out there who are nursing, thinking about nursing, or on “the verge,” it would be this; give yourself some credit. Nursing is HARD. Whether you do it for 1 day, 6 months, or 6 years, YOU did something wonderful for your baby. Sure, ideally 1 year plus is optimal, but MOM!! You have to do what is best for YOU and I think that gets lost sometimes after baby comes. You know the whole analogy of putting your mask on before helping your little one?  Look, you can’t save your baby if you’re passed out! So instead of beating yourself up, get out there and find a friend who won’t judge you for whatever decision you make and vent to them. It just might be all the aggression you need to get through the pain and keep going.

From now on, I will advise to give nursing your BEST shot, but ultimately, whatever you decide, it is YOUR decision and no one else’s.

 

QUESTION: 
What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you judge people who choose not to nurse? How long did you nurse for if you did? If you chose to give formula, what were your reasons? 

 

 

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13 comments to Still At It!

  • [...] me. Remember my Pros and Cons of Nursing post? Even though I followed up with a post where I was Still At It, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel for other nursing moms and any problems they may [...]

  • This is so amazing to read. I’m currently working in a rural community trying to promote breastfeeding (the current exclusive breastfeeding rate is less than 30% and PEM and AGE is killing all our babies), but what the doctors and nurses just DON’T understand is how challenging it can be. I am currently in a battle trying to get them all to be more supportive and understanding but they don’t listen! This post is so inspiring to me to get out there with new energy. Well done for keeping it up! So much respect!

  • Pam

    Erin, I don’t remember how long I nursed my first, but I nursed my second for about 2 months. I went back to work and didn’t have a very mommy friendly environment (small business). My third nursed until he was 13 months old, it became a game at that point & I decided he was finished. The first 3 all got teeth at 4 months and so the 3rd bit me twice. The first time I got a breast infection but kept going. He cried the first time I fed him cereal at 6 months. He was very offended. Our 4th I nursed for 12 months, she did the same as our 3rd so we stopped. I loved that time with our kids but also realize what moms are talking about when it doesn’t work or their jobs aren’t supportive to pumping.

  • Hi Erin! I think I might have commented back when you first shared that you were struggling – and I am so glad you were able to stick with it!! I used to judge people who didn’t nurse pretty harshly — that it, until I had my first baby and found out how hard and painful it can be!! Now I can completely understand why people have to/want to stop, and I’ve never even had thrush or mastitis!! I just had some regular pain with the first, and a lot of difficulty with the latch, etc, and the next four were fairly smooth. Then with number six, back in August when he was 4 weeks old I started having chapped and cracked nipples, and I did actually start crying almost every time I nursed. I was able to switch to pumping about 3/4 of the nursings each day (I guess I’m a lot less concerned about nipple confusion with number 6 than I used to be with the others, but, then again, I never had much of a need to pump with most of the others.) Anyway, all is going well now, but I totally understand anyone who needs to stop nursing. One day at a time – and it’s not going to kill anyone to switch to formula- although in many cases it could really, really, help the mom and the baby who’s relying on that mom to have her sanity and her health :)

  • I love the photo of you with Hannah! What a precious girl! And those sunglasses are FABULOUS.She’s stylin’ at such a young age; I can only imagine the fashionista she’ll become in 15 years. ;)

    Breastfeeding is such a stigmatized subject; I feel as though the mother really can’t “win” on this one. Either she’s “offending” someone by feeding her child in public (oh my gosh, boobs!), or she’s in pain (ouch), OR–on the other end–she’s feeding her baby artificial formula (heaven forbid). The best approach is definitely doing what’s right for YOU. Listening to your body. Venting to a friend. Allowing yourself the time to adjust. Finding your groove. :) I’m so so happy to hear that things are going better now! xoxo <3

  • I am so glad that things got better and you have stuck it out!
    I feel for you! Although I don’t have kids, my friend had horrible problems (mastitis a couple times as well) and I know just what you are going through.
    Keep up the great work, momma! :)

  • With my first, I introduced formula after 3 months, because we had been struggling with thrush for pretty much those whole 3 months. When I found myself literally screaming and crying on the couch when he latched, I decided that I had had enough. Once he was weaned, we were both happier. His constant diaper rash (characteristic of thrush) cleared up and he was spitting up a lot less. With my second, I introduced formula when I went back to school full-time at 7 months, and she was weaned by 8 months due to my school schedule. Unfortunately, I was never able to pump very much, although I did try from the time she was born to pump and freeze – I just never seemed to have an abundant supply, even though I did everything I could to ensure that I did. I have definitely felt judged for lots of parenting decisions, but I try to ignore it, and I try not to judge other moms (even though it can be hard when you see things that I consider really unsafe, like co-sleeping and placing babies on their stomachs for sleep, etc.)

  • Meg

    Yay! I’m so glad that the clouds lifted and things got better! I was worried for a second at the beginning of your post. Probably because I was worried about being able to stick with it myself someday! I don’t think I judge people who choose not to breastfeed as much as I don’t understand their decision. But since most times, I don’t hear from them their personal reasons why, I try to accept that everyone has good reasons for choosing what they do.

  • Amy

    It is INCREDIBLY refreshing to read an honest viewpoint on breastfeeding. My attitude from the VERY beginning has been that, I will do it as long as I am able and comfortable, because I know how good breastmilk is for my baby. However, to this day (6 months in) I have never had a plugged duct, mastitis…not so much as a cracked nipple. And STILL I’m not a huge fan! I literally only continue because there really aren’t any roadblocks, and I feel it’s fair to keep giving it if it keeps producing. I feel like it belongs to her, not me, if that makes sense.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing an honest, realistic opinion on the experience of breastfeeding. So many people paint the picture of a beautiful, magical bond that is heavenly right from the beginning. I worried something was wrong with me, because so many books, blogs, etc made it seem like I should really enjoy it from the get-go, and I just didn’t, at all.

    I now see that being a great mom doesn’t mean conforming to anyone else’s standards or expectations. It means navigating life with your baby, and doing what works best for the both of you and keeps you both happy!

    Go, mama, go! You rock!

  • Reading this is a bit intimidating, I’m planning for breastfeeding, but this is the first time i read real emotions from angry frustrated mom , anyway thnx for sharing your experience

  • Wow you guys are looking great. Have your husband do anything you wont because really my hat if for you ladies that have to endure not only the pregnancy and birth but many things to follow. Good luck!

  • Kim

    Well I was also adamant about nursing until I faced the realities. Ultimately with work and a newborn in child care, I nursed on demand all night but used formula during the day. It was the best fit for me and we did that for 7 months. I really enjoyed the time with my daughter at night. Working within child welfare now, I know how dangerous sleeping with my newborn was and I would never, ever do it now. It makes me shudder to think about having her in bed with me on a featherbed with blankets and pillows, but it was 12 years ago and they didn’t educate about co-sleeping so that people could make informed decisions. I would still nurse her, but would put her back in her safe sleep environment afterwards!

    Sounds like this experience has been wonderful for you to get a well rounded perspective on supporting your consumers in the future!

  • Good for you for sticking with it! The first 6 weeks are definitely the hardest!!! I tell all moms that! For my it was the first 5-6 months haha..so tough! But here I am..17 months later..still at it too!!! You girls look great :-)

    Oh and as for book recs–I say read a bunch and go with what approach you feel is best. Baby Led Weaning, Raising Healthy Happy Babies (Kim Corrigan), Nourishing Traditions. Off the top of my head those are a couple. I read some, did online research and just went with my own intuition. You know what you’re doing! And I am working on all my baby recipe stuff so I will let you know when it’s close to finish for review ;-)

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