Friday, August 15, 2014

when nursing doesn't work out

A few weeks ago I sat down with my two kids at a public event right as Aubrey's time to eat rolled around. As I pulled out her bottle and began mixing up her formula, I caught the eye of a mom who was sitting with her kids a few feet to my right. I wasn't prepared for the enormous scowl that was plastered all over her face as she looked at the formula I was preparing for my child. It was as if I could hear her saying something like "What kind of mother are you to be feeding formula to your baby when she is so young!?!" I won't say it didn't stun me, but I was super thankful that I had already come to grips with the fact that it's all right if nursing doesn't work out for you.

Both of my children were born with a natural curl back in their tongues when they sucked. This motion caused severe trauma to me when nursing and I had to exclusively pump after a few weeks with both of them. With my first, we exhausted our options trying to make it work. We even had an ENT doctor clip his frenulum to make sure that wasn't causing the problem. With little girl, I knew what the problem probably was and lactation consultants confirmed it. I was doing everything perfect, I just could not control her tongue. The only hope I had was a very slim chance of help from an occupational therapist. 

Not wanting to spend super money for something that probably wouldn't work, I decided to pump exclusively as long as I could, wanting six weeks to be my minimum. 

By the time I got to six weeks with her, I was already having to supplement more than half of her bottle each feeding, so I decided that the goal was to feed her well. Therefore, we switched over completely to formula.

Of course, if you have ever experienced this, you know it is a decision made with tears and painful emotions. As a mother having to give up breastfeeding, you are tempted to feel inadequate and unable to provide for your little one. However, after talking things over with my pediatrician, who reminded me that both he and I were formula fed and we turned out all right, I felt more confident in making the switch.

Yes, I do believe that breastfeeding is best, and if you are able, you most definitely should. If you are in the beginning stages and are having trouble, see a lactation specialist first and talk things over with your pediatrician.

But to those of you who find yourself in a situation where it is just not going to work, please don't beat yourself up. It's just not worth it! As a mom, it is your duty to feed your baby. So, feed him! in whatever way is best. Hold your head up, and fight the urge to explain yourself to everyone - they don't need an explanation. Be confident in your decision and focus on the more important things in life!

For those moms out there who were fortunate to be able to nurse and nurse well, please remember that it doesn't come easy for everyone. Do your best to encourage new moms around you, even if they aren't able to breastfeed. I know that I received some encouragement from ladies in my church family, and that encouragement helped me to let go of guilt and feelings of inadequacy.

If we are blessed with another child, nursing will again be the first option. Hopefully, it will go smoothly, but if it doesn't, it will be OK. 

Thanks for letting me share my heart. I feel like maybe it will help someone else in a similar situation. 

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