I know there’s a lot of pressure to breastfeed and provide your baby with those golden drops of natural goodness, and that level of pressure tends to be elevated in Portland, land of gluten-free, all-natural, organic, cage-free everything so I was prepared to be in this breastfeeding chapter for the long haul.
In hindsight, I stepped into my breastfeeding journey incredibly overconfident. During pregnancy I got pretty good at “trusting the process” and just figured that if my body could figure out how to deliver a baby, feeding a baby should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. It’s actually laughable how wrong I was.
Days after my daughter was born, I was in the lactation clinic and the nurses said I was doing a wonderful job, but they suggested I supplement with formula due to my low supply. The way they approached this was incredible and I never felt shamed or judged. Honestly, I still felt like a rockstar because I was feeding my baby and doing whatever it took to make sure she was gaining an appropriate amount of weight.
The following few weeks brought the insanely time consuming routine of nursing first, followed by pumping to increase my supply, and supplementing with formula when the few drops of milk I pumped were gone. I’m pretty sure 75% of my days were dedicated just to this routine. It was exhausting and if there’s one thing to make you feel not sexy...it’s a breast pump. Honestly, the sound of that machine still gives me nightmares. But I was giving it my best shot and feeding my baby the best way I could.
Around five weeks postpartum, my supply of liquid gold had dwindled down to almost nothing. I went back to the lactation clinic for the 4th of 5th time, but this time felt different. I was really nervous that I was going to be scolded. I braced myself for all the “you should have done…” comments that will make any hormonal woman cry on the spot.
I sat down in the chair and shared my progress (or lack thereof) with my lactation consultant, and was ready for my lecture to begin on how I was failing as a mother. In this moment, my breastfeeding guardian angel stepped in. She simply held my hand and said the one thing I needed to hear in this moment:
“You’re an amazing mother and your job is to make sure your baby is fed, however you need to make that happen. This can be a very emotional experience, but we’re here to help you.” Que the water works. The kindness this woman gave me in a time when I felt like I was failing left an unforgettable mark on my heart.
At just five weeks postpartum, my breastmilk supply was drier than the Sahara and I got my period the following week. Breastfeeding just wasn’t in the cards for me. I didn’t beat myself up over it or look at it as a failure or a missed opportunity to bond with my baby. Instead, I celebrated all of the amazing things my body had done for me and looked forward to dumping the pump, so I could make room for our new bonding time full of outings and adventures.
I’m sharing this personal experience because mothers, new moms especially, have a list a mile long of things they need to be doing to feel like they aren’t failing. Ladies, take that list, burn it, and never look back. It’s so important that we do what works best for our bodies, our babies, and our families and tune out the rest of the noise. I promise you, you are definitely not failing. You are honoring your body and for that, you are a freaking rockstar.
XO - Chandler