Breast Feeding Gone Wrong

 
Recently I received private messages from two friends, both asking my opinion on whether they should keep trying to breast feed or not. When breast feeding goes wrong, it can go really wrong, and what then?

[Just a disclaimer before any other women decide to jump me and cut my boobs off – I fully support breast feeding women. I think it is one of the most incredible things a mother can share with her baby, and that if you are capable of doing it well then you should be doing it].

Women like me will continue to struggle to feed our babies when it just isn’t working for us or them. Women like me struggle each day to reach the breast feeding milestones we had in our heads “If I can just make it to 6 months” or “12 months.” Meanwhile we feel like we are on the verge of nervous break down from exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

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Back in my breast feeding days I had joined a couple Facebook pages on breast feeding. One was very helpful while the other, which claimed to be all about supporting the breast feeding mother, just wasn’t at all. The final straw for me (with that page) came when they wrote a status saying that any woman who claims she has low supply doesn’t. That low supply just does not exist, and that something else that is the issue because our bodies were meant to provide enough milk for our babies. What happened next was a bunch of women making all sorts of mean comments in the thread about their “friends” who had claimed low supply. Comments like “I’ve never believed my friend who told me she had low supply. I think it’s BS and that she just didn’t want to be bothered with the work that goes into it.” I commented to the admin on the page that this thread was so discouraging because I was trying so hard every single day to give my baby enough milk and it just wasn’t enough, he had lost weight and I was forced to mix feed. Her response just wasn’t good enough and so I ended up leaving the “support group.” Don’t stay in support groups that don’t support you. Simple, right? I wish I’d known at the time about the website Hello Mamas, where I would have found mamas in the same boat as me just by visiting their forum and starting a chat. I’m sure I would have felt less alone.

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                     Have you ever seen anyone more tired in all your life?

 

I spent my days on my couch feeding or pumping or having that little guy sleep on me because of his silent reflux (- I didn’t know what it was for the first 7 weeks but my son would wake and scream in pain every time I put him down to sleep). In my ‘spare time’ (HA HA), when I was able to leave my lounge room, I was washing bottles and making up formula and maybe grabbing something somewhat edible from the kitchen for myself, and peeing. Even when we did get our baby medicated and in his own bed for sleeps, I would still be pumping while he slept.

Besides the judgement you get from other mums there’s also the friends and family who don’t understand why you keep trying so hard to keep breastfeeding. Most who didn’t understand have never had a baby so I would explain to them that before having my baby I didn’t understand it either, just that it was something I wanted to do. I didn’t know the surge of hormones that would come in to play, and how the oxytocin that my baby and I would give off to each other would make the experience almost addictive. It was incredibly bonding and I had a strong desire bordering on obsession that made me want to continue to try it even though it really was not working for us.

The amount of sleep deprivation that I coped with on a day to day level made me bat-shit crazy. I fixated on things I normally wouldn’t have. My anxiety went through the roof to the point that when I did have the opportunity to sleep my mind and heart would just race.

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                             I tried so hard to enjoy moments like these

 

I wanted so badly to bring myself and my baby to the point where we could exclusively breast feed (not believing the nurses who said I had low-supply), and I did everything I could to make that happen, including having my son’s posterior tongue and lip ties cut.

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              One of the rare moments we saw our son’s tongue because he had a posterior tongue tie

What I learned from this experience, and what I told my friends that asked for my opinion, is that if breast feeding is robbing you of the ability to really enjoy your baby to the fullest then you should very seriously consider exclusively formula feeding. If you have done everything you can to have that breast feeding relationship with your baby and you are left feeling like your mental health is taking an unprecedented dive into the volcano of Mordor then it’s time to ask yourself if the price you’re paying is worth it. Are you getting what you want out of the relationship with your baby – while they are this little and beautiful? Or is every day a painful haze of heavy eyes, and constant thoughts of SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP, and eyes that brim over with tears whenever anyone asks how you are?

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                          Look at the crazy lady trying to BF on holidays in Canada, with my travel Brest                       Friend Pillow

 

I think it’s quite possible that I could have avoided falling into Post Natal Depression had I just let myself off the hook with breast feeding, if I just stopped feeling guilty about not being able to keep it up. I would have gotten more sleep. I know I could have enjoyed my baby so much more instead of looking back on those first few months and flinching at the pain I endured and put my whole family through.
I wish other people let me off the hook too instead of judging me or pushing me to breast feed when it turned out it wasn’t right for me and my bub. I’m so glad my husband encouraged me to breast feed our baby like he did but looking back I wish he had told me to quit sooner.

We made it to 5 months. My son had pretty much decided at around 3 months that breast feeding was hard work for him and taking a bottle was so much easier. I should have taken his cue. He screamed and rarely stayed on the breast for more than 2 minutes a side. 5 months old also marked when I also started Zoloft. I grieved the breast feeding relationship for that first week after, but then I felt intense relief and even freedom. I started to enjoy my little boy in a way I thought could not be possible.

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A wise woman once told me “Once your kids are in school no one will know the difference between the breast fed ones and the formula fed ones.”

If you don’t get the support you need from the people around you it can really send you backwards. For Anyone reading who struggled with breast feeding like I did I encourage you to use Mum Finder on this site to find women who understand what you are going through, and will send you forwards with hope, instead of backwards with negativity and judgement.

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Peachy Keen Mumma, also known as Jess, is a 32 year old Mother of one, sibling of eight, and big sister of five. A Canadian, Ecuadorian, Australian and American, she loves sharing recipes, reviews, and some fun life things along the way. Did we mention we love her sense of humor too? ;) 

Note: Jess is also a Hello Mamas influencer! Interested in learning more about what that means? Contact us!

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