My sister was born to breastfeed. From her very first baby, she just had a knack with it. Of course, she’d always loved babies and had always been around them. She had (has) a natural calmness about her that I think must have helped.
I grew up thinking I never wanted kids and did not spend a lot of time with babies. Ironic, then, that I married a man with three of them. But my first baby, Parker, didn’t come along until I was 31. And when he came, after 26 hours of labor and an emergency c-section, weighing in at 8 pounds 14 ounces, he was apparently starving to death. At least, that’s how it felt when it seemed he was tearing my nipples completely off.
Breastfeeding my baby was important to me. I’d read all the stuff about the benefits of breast milk and how nursing should continue at least through the first year. But as I sat in the hospital with my bleeding nipple and my hungry, starving child, I really wondered if we’d make it.
Tiana could nurse anywhere. She was discreet and could throw a blanket over her shoulder and efficiently feed both her babies in the time it took me to figure out how to unhook my nursing bra and position Parker. Even when I did successfully manage to nurse my son, it seemed like I wasn’t producing enough breast milk to keep him satisfied. Tiana could nurse the twins and still pump two bottles…I could pump about ½ an ounce if I was lucky.
When Parker was two months old and we were both stressed out at every feeding, I realized that breastfeeding was not working. Instead of having the intimate bonding moments I had envisioned, many of our sessions ended with me feeling like a failure and him crying in frustration over not being able to get enough to eat.
The switch to formula was the best move I ever made. Our feeding times became the special, quiet, close moments I’d always wanted. Parker was finally getting as much as he wanted to eat and I wasn’t ending each feeding feeling inadequate. I could leave the house again without worrying that he’d get hungry.
Yes, breastfeeding is important, and you should do it if you can. But if you can’t, I think it’s ok to do what you need to do to meet your baby’s needs – and not beat yourself up about it!