Everyone has an opinion, and I’m sure you’ve heard them all:
- “Breastfeeding is the only way to feed your baby”
- “It was super easy and I’m still breastfeeding at 15 months”
- “I will never do that, formula is the way to go”
- “It is really hard but I made it work for a while”
- “It’s cost effective, so why not!”
- “I’d like my husband to be able to bond with baby through feeding”
I could go on and on, because everyone has something different to say. The most common opinion I’ve heard is “it’s the best way to feed your baby and you’ll get the hang of it.”
That is what I assumed would happen. It probably wasn’t going to be magically easy as soon as he was born, but we’d get the hang of it. However, Oliver threw me another curve ball. I fully intended to breastfeed and I had everything I thought I needed for success. But he never got the hang of it. There were a number of factors that led us down the path to exclusively pumping, but I’d say the top two were:
- Oliver would get super frustrated every time I tried
- I was exhausted
It is a lot of work being pregnant, giving birth, and taking care of a newborn while you’re recovering from a c-section. No matter how you give birth or how you feed your baby, there is no getting around it. It’s exhausting! And I was mentally, physically, and emotionally tired. Every time he cried when we tried breastfeeding it broke my heart and I cried right along with him. All I wanted was for him to be fed, and really, that’s the right answer.
For those of you without children, or who have never had to use a breast pump, let me just tell you that it’s the most difficult way to feed a baby. It’s three times as much work as breastfeeding or formula, and some women can’t even produce enough milk to feed baby through pumping, which is super frustrating.
I was glad I was able to provide him with my breast milk, but it was a daily struggle for me. There were a lot of times where I was pumping in the backseat of the car, and I would have to tell myself to just get through today and then evaluate where I was at. There were many middle-of-the-night-feedings/pump sessions that ended in tears, and I would tell hubby that I couldn’t do it anymore. But I kept on for 4 months. I probably would have continued after I went back to work, but I was sort of weaned off pumping without realizing it when my machine slowly died. I ended up exclusively pumping for him for 4 months, and feeding him milk I had stored until 6 months.
It was a huge struggle for me because I put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt a lot of guilt when I stopped pumping, especially because it happened to correlate with my return to work. It felt like I was cutting the cord all at once and sending him off in the world without me. But after a couple weeks on formula, I was able to accept that he was thriving, and I’d given him a great start.
I will happily try breastfeeding our next little nugget, and I’ll hopefully have more success. But if not, that’s okay too! Life is bigger than what we feed our babies – and they’ll all be eating chicken nuggets dipped in ketchup sooner or later 🙂