Most of you know that I have been breastfeeding my son since the day he was born and it hasn’t been all fun and games. It has been hard, time consuming, stressful, painful, and it really takes a toll on your body. BUT, you do what is best for your child albeit the fact that it is HARD. It is my pet peeve when people say they didn’t breastfeed because it was difficult or they just “couldn’t”.
Fun fact: Every single human can breastfeed. What did children eat hundreds of years ago when formula didn’t exist? No ones milk supply comes immediately after birth and it takes some work for your body to start producing and supplying you with milk. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand kind of business. The more you breastfeed (or pump) the more your body works to supply your demand!
Believe me I get it, it is a full-time job and you need commitment and resilience to be able to keep up, unless you are one of the lucky few who has been blessed with an oversupply of milk. In that case, count your blessings. I know it isn’t for everyone and that’s okay but I just think that the benefits of liquid gold outweigh the struggles.
Why I decided to breastfeed…
I am a firm believer in science and research, which probably stems from studying Psychology as an undergrad. Whatever the reason, research is the first thing I do when I want information on something – and I don’t mean Google. I mean published research that you can find on different websites that include an abstract and everything. You know research research.
Disclaimer: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I am not against formula feeding. I’m just providing you with facts about breastfeeding based on countless studies.
Here are the facts presented in one particular article that just blew my mind:
- “The risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections in the first year is reduced 72% if infants breastfed exclusively for more than 4 months”
- “The severity (duration of hospitalization and oxygen requirements) of respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis is reduced by 74% in infants who breastfed exclusively for 4 months compared with infants who never or only partially breastfed”
- “It has been calculated that more than 900 infant lives per year may be saved in the United States if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed for 6 months.”
- “There is a protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding for 3 to 4 months in reducing the incidence of clinical asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema by 27% in a low-risk population and up to 42% in infants with positive family history”
- “There is a reduction of 52% in the risk of developing celiac disease in infants who were breastfed at the time of gluten exposure.”
- ” there is a 15% to 30% reduction in adolescent and adult obesity rates if any breastfeeding occurred in infancy compared with no breastfeeding”
- “Up to a 30% reduction in the incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus is reported for infants who exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months”
- “There is a reduction in leukemia that is correlated with the duration of breastfeeding. A reduction of 20% in the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia and 15% in the risk of acute myeloid leukemia in infants breastfed for 6 months or longer.”
I mean these are the findings of just ONE article. Can you imagine that you, as a mother, have the power to REDUCE the risk of certain diseases such as diabetes. That’s mind-blowing!
Read the article here.
Keeping all these facts, plus more, in mind I knew that I wanted to breastfeed from day 1. The first thing I told the nurses at the hospital was that there would absolutely be no formula and that he would be exclusively breastfed. I didn’t even make it an option, which I feel like was the main driving point for me to work harder to kick-start my supply. When you set your mind to something, whether it’s to formula feed from birth or to breastfeed, you’re already mentally prepared to do so.
My breastfeeding journey…
I breastfeed Levon, my son, for about 3 weeks until I realized it just wasn’t working out for us. I literally didn’t and couldn’t leave my bed because he would eat 15 min, sleep 30 min, eat 15, sleep 15, eat 20, sleep 10. It was just an extremely exhausting and depressive cycle. He was getting frustrated with me because he was still hungry and I was getting frustrated because I was bed bound. After weeks of trying to make it work I decided to pump and bottle feed. I figured, at least he’s getting breastmilk!
I was really upset about it at first because obviously breast feeding was way better than bottle feeding for many reasons. The most important being that the babies saliva tells your body which immune factors to produce in order to protect the baby from certain infections (more here). However, I grew fond of the idea because now he was full and could sleep in peace and he wouldn’t get used to being in my arms all day.
When it came to my supply it was like a roller coaster ride and very restrictive. In the beginning it was barely there because my body was just getting used to a new vacuum – pumping. Then once I got the hang of it and could actually leave the house for 2 hours (max) it was like heaven lol. It was not ideal, but it was good enough for me.
My pump was attached to my hip at all times, so much so that I had this intense fear of leaving the house without it. You know when you’re about to dash out the door and you do a little mental rundown to make sure you have everything. Well, the first thing on my list was “did you pack your pump and all the other sh*t that goes with it?” I would be the mom next to you in the dressing room pumping because it’s almost time for a feeding and I don’t want to get screamed at in the middle of the mall. I was also the mom that went to parties with her pump. At my cousin-in-laws wedding I would go to the brides private room, take off my dress, pump, secure the milk in a bottle, wrap the bottle in something, tape it down, then Uber it to my house so my mom could feed him. Oh, and the pumping happened every 30 minutes because I had a low supply. It’s safe to say I was pretty much not present at that wedding, that’s what I mean by very restrictive. But like I said earlier, it’s a sacrifice you make and it’s challenging but it’s worth it!
I did however have times, well one time, where I was producing a good amount and could actually go on vacation…YAY! I think it took me like a month to save up for a 3 day vacation lol, but I had no complaints because that was better than no vacation.
Basically, my son was exclusively fed breastmilk for 4.5 months until I got a really bad infection and it effected my milk supply immensely. Anytime I got sick or my body was trying to overcome something my supply dropped tremendously. I would pump every single hour to get a few ounces of milk so I could feed him. It was torture! This infection was a little bit different though, it had gotten really dangerous and a lot worse in a matter of days so I needed to start on antibiotics ASAP. Since I was on antibiotics I decided to give him formula because my doctor and I decided that we didn’t want to expose him to that if we didn’t have to. I also kind of had no choice because I was producing close to nothing.
I had gone through a crazy depression period because of my supply for about a month leading up to my infection. It was as if postpartum depression had hit me 3 months after having the baby. I didn’t want to eat, leave the house, talk to anyone, nothing. I just wanted to stay in bed and hang out with the baby. I wasn’t making that much milk and it was a constant mental and physical struggle to get through the day. I hid it pretty well from my family and friends but it was pretty much the low point of my postpartum days. Your mood and your mental strength has everything to do with your body producing milk and since I wasn’t able to get myself out of that funk, my supply was suffering. It’s safe to say a cup of hormones with a dash of depression and a sprinkle of an infection led me to stop breastfeeding.
This was the toughest transition for me. I would cry every time I gave Levon a bottle of formula (hormones are NO JOKE) because I felt like I had failed him. It was hard for me to see it any other way because of all the knowledge I had about breastmilk. But eventually I realized that I had no choice, I couldn’t starve him with my nonexistent milk supply so this was what I was forced to do. To be honest, because I was forced to give formula (no supply and being on antibiotics) I didn’t feel as bad about it. It was the perfect “excuse” to make me feel better. Now he is a few days shy of being 7 months old and he drinks formula.
Is life easier this way? YES, obviously. Can I go on vacation anytime I please? YES. Can I finally leave the house without my heavy pump? YES. Can I finally enjoy some wine? YES. Would I do it all over again in order to breastfeed? YESSSS!
Which formula I use..
I’ve only given him Holle formula which is an imported product from Europe.
Why? Because it is:
- Highest European Organic standards (99% organic – small local farms production)
- Unmatched quality of ingredients compared to other leading brands
- Free from: added sugar – color – gluten – wheat – preservatives
- Contains NO: Brown rice syrup/DHA – ARA/harmful GMO or fluoride!
Moms, read your ingredient labels when it comes to formula! If the first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup then remember that that is THE MOST potent ingredient in that formula. Also, just because your doctor suggests a certain formula brand that does not mean you have to give your baby that formula! Most pediatricians are paid by those brand reps to advertise ONLY their formulas. Just like pharmaceutical companies pay most doctors to push out ONLY their meds. Just do your own thorough research.
That’s pretty much the whole story on my breastfeeding experience and why I stopped.
I hope this was helpful to some of you and if you are going through the same struggles just remember that you have to stay mentally strong in order for your body to produce milk. I know, easier said than done. But you got this, don’t give up!
If you have any questions feel free to comment below.