Breastfeeding is a journey full of every emotion known to man. You experience pain, joy, stress, anxiety, peace, and so much more.
If your breastfeeding journey is anything like my second one, then you’re probably searching for some help.
You see, with my second we had nursing problems coming at us from every angle. At 3 weeks old we found a tumor on her neck which caused her to have very tight muscles and resulted in her struggling to nurse. At 3 months old we found out she was severely tongued, and lip tied and this was another reason she wasn’t gaining weight properly. About 2 weeks after she got her revisions done, she came down with a horrible thrash infection that took 2 bottles of medication and over 3 months to fully cure.
Each of these issues made it very hard for her to nurse. Not only was she struggling to nurse but because she couldn’t fully empty my breasts, my milk supply dropped. Then on top of that the thrush infection took another huge tole on my supply which resulted in us never being able to fully recover.
Talk about feeling defeated, especially since my breastfeeding journey with my 1st born was like that of magical unicorns. I never had a problem with my supply, she latched perfect, and never had even 1 ounce of formula.
Going from that to joining the struggle bus was a lot to handle. I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like I was a horrible parent for going 3 months before noticing my child was basically starving. I felt like a failure because no matter how hard I tried my milk supply wouldn’t increase. I pumped like crazy, took all the supplements, and nursed what felt like a million times a day. Still, my milk supply remained low and seemed to just get worse.
Eventually we had to supplement with formula and not long after that the infection got so bad we had to stop nursing all together.
This was devastating.
During my jorney I learned a few things that helped me process our reality and walk through this struggle. Here’s my advice to you so that you can walk through this journey with a mush grace, love, and peace as you can.
- Give yourself grace.
Every baby and everybody are different. In my case my first nursed like a champ but because of many medical problems with my second we struggled. This could easily be the case for you, but no matter what the reason is for your bumpy journey you need to give yourself grace.
- Enjoy every moment.
Take every day one at a time and enjoy the moments you do have nursing, even if they are short lived. Try to not focus on the bad, but instead focus on the times you do get to nurse your baby, even if you have to supplement.
- Remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
No matter how hard this journey gets you need to remind yourself that you’re doing your best. Sometimes we are dealt a crappie hand, weather that’s medical problems with you or the baby or for some reason your supply just doesn’t come in properly. Even though your hand you’ve been dealt was crappy you need to constantly remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
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- Don’t blame yourself.
When you blame yourself all you’re doing is making the problems worse. Instead of blaming yourself extend yourself some grace and find a moment you can enjoy.
- Allow yourself to grieve.
There’s something about breastfeeding that’s like a rite of passage for us as moms, or so we think. This means that when we can’t we take it personally and as a great loss. Just know that during this like you’re allowed to grieve and its 100% acceptable.
- Join a mom group.
One of the biggest things that helped me during this tough journey, was finding other moms who understood what I was walking through. How I found my mom group was by going to a lactation group once or twice a week. Over time we all got to know each other and started getting together beyond the regular lactation group meetings. Having other moms, I could talk to and who helped me find peace in my journey, was the absolute biggest help I found.
If you can’t find a preexisting lactation group, try asking other moms through local Facebook groups to meet up for coffee or playdates.
Being able to breastfeed your child is important to so many moms, so when the journey isn’t all sunshine and rainbows like we expect, we can feel as if we’re treading water in the middle of the ocean in a storm. Never able to see where the next wave is coming from and impossible for us to see more than what is directly in front of us.
This journey is hard for every mom, but you can come out the other side of this a stronger more beautiful person. You just need to remember to give yourself grace, enjoy every moment, know you’re doing your best, stop blaming yourself, allow yourself to grieve, and find a mom support group. In the end the most important thing is that your baby if fed, period. No matter if that means you can exclusively breastfeed, or you need to supplement, or even if you have to exclusively do formula. Fed is best.