To the Mom who Hates Breastfeeding...
This post started with an Instagram caption…
To the mama who hates breastfeeding:
I hear you.
I see you.
Most importantly, I know what it feels like. I know what it feels like when you’re sobbing because your nipples hurt. I know what it feels like when the baby is screaming to be fed and you can’t bring yourself to pick them up to feed. I know what it feels like when someone assumes you’re breastfeeding and you have to kindly tell them that you’re not.
I could sit here and tell you every issue Jasper and I had in those first two weeks where I was struggling to breastfeed. I could blame the fact that he had to have his glucose checked every two hours in the hospital that first day. I could blame his small chin and a tongue tie. But at the end of the day, I would just be saying all of those things to make excuses. Because society tells us that breast is best and that something needs to be wrong with us or the baby in order for us to not even be trying.
I knew I would share our story when I was ready and here’s the honest truth: I hated breastfeeding and I don’t regret my decision to formula feed one bit. It’s 2019, let’s stop romanticizing breastfeeding at the expense of the mother. You cannot be a good mom, wife, partner, human, etc. if you’re living in constant anxiety over breastfeeding. We spend so much time and energy trying to normalize breastfeeding (which I’m all for) but we forget that formula feeding needs to be normalized too.
We all grow up to eat off the dollar menu at McDonalds anyways 🤷🏻♀️ At the end of the day, FED IS BEST. If you’re breastfeeding great, pumping, great, formula, great! If you’re doing a combination, that’s great too! The most important thing is that you’re taking care of yourself and your baby. It doesn’t have to be a one way thing.
Our story starts with pregnancy. Throughout pregnancy I was asked repeatedly if I would breastfeed. I knew it would be hard, I knew that it might be challenging, that it might not work. I apprehensively said yes every time even though I didn’t really want to. I mean, I guess I should try, right? Is what I would tell myself. Everyone was encouraging me that I would be able to do it. But what everyone didn’t tell me is how much anxiety filled me in those first few moments after Jasper’s birth in anticipation of breastfeeding. Would he latch? Would he be getting enough? Would I get any sleep?
If you’ve read Jasper’s birth story, you may already know that he was born very blue. Thankfully I had an amazing doctor I completely trusted so when I saw that he wasn’t worried, I didn’t worry. Eventually Jasper pinked up and they laid him on my chest. That moment was supposed to be one of the best, happiest moments of my life. Instead of soaking in that moment with my husband, all I can remember is the lactation consultant making her way to my side to “coach” me on breastfeeding. Within 5 minutes, she had given me an entire run down on breastfeeding positions, breastfeeding techniques, etc. I never saw her or another lactation consultant again while I was in the hospital. Do you think I remember anything she said? Seriously the only thing I remember her saying was instructing me on the football hold with my tiny 6 lb baby.
Jasper was so small that his glucose needed to be checked every two or three hours that first day. I immediately started associating breastfeeding with him getting his foot pricked. Is it working? Is he getting enough of what he needs? Am I even doing anything correctly? Nurses tried to help. They threw a nipple shield on me in the middle of the night the first night. I had no reason to object (they are trained professionals, aren’t they?) and didn’t know anything about the right fit, the pros and cons of using a nipple shield, etc. The constant check ins for his glucose gave me so much anxiety when it came to breastfeeding that I should have stopped that first night. But they kept encouraging me. Kept telling me that we would figure it out.
When he wasn’t gaining enough weight in the first two weeks, the weight checks quadrupled my anxiety. We saw a lactation consultant who instructed me to feed him on both sides, then pump. I started this cycle and by the time I was finished pumping it was time to feed Jasper again. The rest of my body was healing perfectly but my nipples were another story. They checked his latch. High pallet, tongue tie, small chin. He had a strong suck but a terrible latch. They recommended multiple solutions. We saw an ENT about the tongue tie. “Most babies eventually figure it out.” She said. Excuse me? You want me to subject myself to this for the foreseeable future in the hopes that he MIGHT figure it out?
The only people during the first two weeks of Jasper’s life who told me that it was okay to stop, to switch to formula was my mother and my husband. (Thank God for moms, am I right?). Every time a doctor or nurse mentioned it, it was like something sour was coming out of their mouth. The hospital preached breastfeeding friendliness but I had barely been given any real help in the two weeks I struggled to breastfeed.
At Jasper’s two week appointment, he had surpassed his birth weight by a great deal. I had managed to do that breastfeeding, despite all of our challenges. But that was the day I decided to switch to formula and it was the best decision I have ever made for myself and my family. I’m sharing our story because I know there is someone out there who needs to read it. Someone out there needs to know before even having their baby that it’s okay to not try breastfeeding. Heck, I already know I won’t be even trying with any future children. Someone out there needs to read this as a reminder to be more compassionate to moms who choose not or cannot breastfeed. Whoever you are, I wanted to share my story with you in the hopes that it encourages you to make the decision you feel is best for you, your baby, and your family.
What to Do if You Hate Breastfeeding
Find support - whoever that is, even if it’s me, find someone who will support your decision to stop breastfeeding or to not even try breastfeeding at all. While the breast is best people might be louder, I promise there are plenty of us out here who truly believe that fed is best, no matter what! Trying, not trying, one day, two weeks, none of these markers make us any better or worse than the mom next to us.
Talk to your doctor - When you’ve made the decision to stop breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about safely weaning. I had mastitis and I would not wish it on my worst enemy. They will probably try to talk you out of your decision but focus on your WHY and your support system and push through. Advocate for your mental and physical health.
Don’t worry about bonding with your baby - Breastfeeding, despite what some people will tell you, is not a magical unicorn way of bonding with your baby. Baby-wearing and skin to skin are other great ways to bond with your baby that don’t involve breastfeeding.
Remember that you’re a great mom - Not breastfeeding doesn’t instantly make you a bad mom. We’re all just doing the best we can. Making a decision that will help your mental and physical health is the best thing you can do for your baby!