Trying to nurse was a big struggle for me. When I was pregnant I read a book about breastfeeding. I knew technically how it should be done so it should be easy, right? Wrong! It was very difficult. M.J. did not know how to latch so when he did it wasn’t all the way so he did not get very much milk. He wanted to nurse all the time. Other moms told me that was normal for a newborn which may have been true, but I couldn’t handle it. Some moms encouraged me to lie down so I could sleep while he nursed. I couldn’t even figure out how to latch him while I was sitting up and I was way too paranoid to sleep with him so that was a no-go. I told my husband one day that I was pretty sure I had only gotten 30 minutes of sleep in the past two days. He had to go to work so he called his mom to come watch M.J. while I slept. I have no idea how moms with no support do it. I had a lot of support, but the newborn stage was probably one of the most stressful times of my life. I saw a couple lactation consultants, but it still wasn’t working. I regretted reading the book about breastfeeding, it made me feel like a failure. I regretted asking other moms for advice; they seemed to have it all figured out and I didn’t.
Some people had suggested exclusively pumping to me, but I didn’t want to because I wanted to bond with my baby. I also wasn’t sure when I was going to have time to pump when I had a baby who wanted to be on my boob All. Day. Long. But I realized I was getting so stressed out and frustrated. I was getting angry with my newborn who just wanted a full belly. I decided to exclusively pump and I think it was one of the best decisions I made for our family.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. I had to pump for 30 minutes (40 in the morning) after I gave my son every bottle. There were lots of bottles and pump parts that had to be washed every day. It was difficult to leave the house. I would feel sad when I saw other moms nursing their babies. I felt like a failure; I wondered, “Did I give up too soon?” Dan was very supportive, he encouraged me and said it wasn’t my fault that M.J. wouldn’t nurse. He washed bottles and fed M.J. when he could.
Even though exclusively pumping was difficult there were some benefits: Dan was able to feed our baby; I was able to leave him with Dan if I needed a break; and I knew how much milk he was drinking. I’m glad I decided to pump; I still believe it was the right choice for me. I don’t think there is any wrong choice for feeding your baby. If you nurse your baby that’s wonderful. If you are comfortable nursing in public that’s great. If you’re not comfortable nursing in public that’s also okay. If you exclusively pump either by choice or necessity that’s also great. If you formula feed either by choice or necessity that’s also wonderful. If you do a combination of these three that’s awesome. We all love our babies and will feed them whatever way works for us.