I was 26 years old and in the middle of law school when I had my daughter. I didn't do much research on breastfeeding and figured it's a natural thing to do so it'll just happen. I was soooo wrong!!
I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl and while in the hospital took advantage of the lactation consultant to get help with breastfeeding, after all, this was my first child and I didn't know what I was doing. I found out quickly that I had what’s called inverted nipples. I didn’t even know this was a thing! Inverted nipples is where your nipple retracts inside if you pinch down on the lower part of your breast. I didn't know that this was going to make breastfeeding more challenging! The lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield to help but it didn't. My nipples were constantly in pain from the tugging and pulling.
I thought to myself I’ll pump exclusively, how hard can that be?
So I reached out to a friend I knew, who had exclusively pumped and asked for some advice and felt ready to tackle exclusively pumping. But I didn’t have the best pump. 🤷🏽♀️When I was pregnant everyone from doctors and nurses kept telling me to get a medela pump. I just thought they were in business together or something and that’s why it was highly recommended. Because how could everyone feel the same way about a breast pump!
I had neglected the advise of my doctors and nurses on which breast pump was the best, for many reasons; expense, lack of experience etc. I went with a pump that matched all the bottles I had already registered for and received as a baby shower gift. So I tried pumping exclusively and unfortunately didn’t last long at that either. I felt like a failure, like this should come naturally, why can’t I do this, why can’t I feed my child. It didn’t help that the hospitals put so much pressure with their slogan breast is best. We know breast is best but should we push it into people’s faces so much. For some it’s just not that easy to breastfeed. It’s great if you can do it for a long time or a short time. Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience and same with exclusive pumping since you have to wash everything so often and it’s tiring!
I tried my best and pumped for as long as I could and used formula to supplement. But I was exhausted from lack of sleep, pumping and trying to keep up with school work and house chores. Unfortunately I only lasted a month exclusively pumping. Years later when pregnant with my son, I did more research this time to better prepare to exclusively pump. I got a medela pump through my insurance and read about foods to eat that could help with increasing my milk supply and pumping tricks to increase your supply. I was ready to tackle it on. And when my son was born I did it. I was pumping so much I was able to start freezing milk for him. I was proud I was able to do it. This time I still supplemented with formula so my husband or anyone helping us could feed my son and I could sleep, but also to help keep his weight up and not diminish my breast milk stash too quickly. It can be hard to keep up when exclusively pumping.
I don’t favor breast milk over formula. I think moms need to make that choice for themselves. It’s a personal decision and a hard one to make. I didn’t pump as long as I had planned or wanted to with my son because my husband and I took an international trip when he was 2 1/2 months old. This was a trip that was planned before I was pregnant and we decided to still go. We were gone for 5 days and I couldn’t fathom bringing all the pumping materials with me and making sure he had enough back home. So it was a personal decision to stop pumping early. It wasn’t easy and caused me to have some mom guilt. But ultimately I knew it was the right decision so we wouldn’t have to worry about him having enough milk while we were away.
Both my kids had more formula than breast milk and are fine. I myself only had formula and I’m fine. I don’t think it’s right to stress mothers out, especially new moms into breastfeeding only. Motherhood is stressful enough and causes guilt on its own. All mothers should make the best choice for them whether that be formula or breast milk.